I'm on location in Las Vegas, and had the chance to try two decidedly unique group activities here for those who like to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. (Well, a little dirty.)
Dig This is, so I've heard, the country's first heavy-equipment playground. You know how some medicines warn against operating heavy machinery after using? This is what they're talking about.
Visitors can, after a quick introduction (and a breathalyzer test--they're not kidding about those medicines!) hop into a bulldozer or excavator to dig holes and push dirt around in a yard. (It's a great teambuilding activity, and companies like Google and Facebook have reportedly stopped by to run machines around the yard.) The drivers are connected via headset to an instructor at all times, so no worries about not knowing how to stop this crazy thing or running into another operator's space.
The excavators were especially popular, and two other attendees and I practiced picking up basketballs and dropping them into tires to show off our newly learned dexterity. (It's amazing that a machine capable of digging into hard-packed earth can be so precise and gentle that it can be used for a basketball game.)
Call 702-222-4344 and ask for Dave, Mark or Junior when booking. (They're great instructors.)
Once we were good and dusty (and quite proud of ourselves for playing basketball with a 15-ton excavator), we headed over to the Cosmopolitan, one of the newer resorts, which has a great range of high-end restaurants.
Jaleo is an authentic Spanish restaurant with a massive paella grill in the middle of the room, where diners can watch their to-order rice dishes be prepared from scratch. Even better, they can participate (with advanced reservations) and make their own paella while sipping sangria and sampling tapas. (The dish takes a little less than an hour to make, and the guests can be as involved--or uninvolved--as they like in the process.)
While preparing the dish, we learned about Spanish cuisine and about how head chef Jose Andres combines traditional cooking styles with local Southwestern produce. (As many ingredients as possible are locally sourced, and nothing is pre-made, including the chicken stock.) And the final product is simply fantastic.
Tip: While the cocktail is not traditionally Spanish, Jaleo makes some of the best gin-and-tonics I've ever tasted. Be sure to order one.
Bonus: This is one of the few restaurants I've seen in the U.S. with a traditional genuine jamon iberico (traditional Spanish style of cured ham) available for sampling.
Contact Robert Jarrett ([email protected]) for reservations and with any questions.
Today, we're off to explore the Downtown area and the Fremont Street Experience. Stay tuned!