New Dining and Entertainment Options

Frankie No-No has said "yes" to Sin City. Caesars Palace, one of eight hotels in Las Vegas under the Harrah's Entertainment umbrella, opened up the 200-seat restaurant Rao's (877-346-4624) in December, a far cry from the original 11-table East Harlem establishment that still dishes out the best Mozzarella in Carozza this side of Italy—that's if you can get a reservation, which is tough unless you are willed one. Frank Pellegrino, co-owner of Rao's, is infamous for telling would-be diners: "No, no," when pressed for a reservation. Rao’s Restaurant at Caesars Palace

That terseness should change with the satellite restaurant, which has two 10-table rooms, along with a banquet area totaling 200 seats. And while the original in New York only has one seating time, the Las Vegas outpost has multiple seatings. Reservations should still be made as far in advance as possible.

Meanwhile, diners looking to work off some of Rao's pasta can head over to the Rio Hotel & Casino and its Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley, which was officially opened earlier in March by Pure Management Group, proprietors of the Pure nightclub at Caesars Palace and the sushi restaurant Social House at Treasure Island.

Lucky Strike is a fusion of food, nightlife and sport, says Robert Frey, managing partner of Pure Management Group. There are 10 bowling lanes to roll on, as well as a full-service restaurant and bar. At night the bowling alley feels more like a nightclub with music and drinking. The bar features a raspberry cotton candy martini made with, you guessed it, actual cotton candy. The 25-seat mahogany bar sits opposite the bowling alley and flanks a 156-seat dining area. Keep in mind that after 9 p.m., the venue is open only to guests 21 years of age and over.

The Producers at Paris Las Vegas

One place open to guests of all ages, but perhaps most appreciated by the older crowd, is the recently opened Restaurant Guy Savoy (877-346-4624) on the second floor of CaesarsPalace's AugustusTower. The flagship is in Paris, but this outpost has already received consideration for a prestigious James Beard Foundation award for best new restaurant in the nation for 2007. Savoy is often acknowledged as one of the finest chefs in the world and his prices reflect his mastery: the seven-course prestige menu costs $290 per person.

If you can still stand up straight after dinner, the Paris Las Vegas is staging Mel Brooks' smash Broadway show, The Producers, starring former Baywatch and Knight Rider star, David Hasselhoff, in the role of the flamboyant director, Roger DeBris. Show tickets range from $75.50 to $143.50 and can be reserved at 888-727-4758.

Dining area at at the Rio's Lucky Strike Lanes

While Harrah's Entertainment is actively looking to expand its products and upgrade its facilities (the Harrah's Hotel & Casino is taking out rooms for renovations this summer), the company is also looking for more ways to ingratiate itself with the travel agent community, says Annette Weishaar, director of distribution and leisure sales for Harrah's Entertainment Las Vegas region. "We are focused on the segment," she says. Harrah's has predominantly targeted agents through wholesalers such as Liberty Travel, GoGo and Marc Travel. However, a more direct agent approach is in the works, which will include an e-mail campaign along with a number of promotions. "We want to give value adds at our hotels," Wei-shaar says. This could translate into food and beverage inclusions, spa deals and two-for-one show discounts.

Other issues looking to be addressed include the possibility of making direct bookings on each brand's web site commissionable. Currently, rates are only commissionable if contracted through the global distributions systems or if made by phone. "Agents prefer to book through the GDS," admits Weishaar, "but I think it could be a nice option. There's some demand for it." Weishaar also says that Harrah's will add a dedicated person to deal directly with retail travel agents by mid-April.


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