I've just got back from a ten day break to the United States with Mrs Stodge and most enjoyable Las Vegas was once again. It's my kind of place - relaxing and invigorating at the same time though it's not to everyone's taste. Nor do I think that it in any way "represents" the "real" America though plenty of real Americans live and visit.
As always, there is the paradox of enormous wealth sitting cheek-by-jowl with enormous poverty. You don't need to go too far from the Strip to see that all is not well with Las Vegas and indeed even on the Strip itself, the incomplete Fontainebleau and Echelon sites as well as the closure of the famous Sahara Hotel on May 16th illustrate that the big gaming operators see the future in Macau and Singapore, not Vegas. Behind the Strip lie unfinished or empty estates and large numbers of foreclosure sales, the fallout of the economic implosion of 2007-09 and the bursting of the Veagas property/asset bubble.
I'm convinced that I've seen the best of Vegas and that the resort is now in a period of decline - the issue of water supply lurks on the horizon and while the weekend visitors will still come, the Convention numbers are weak and the big players, you sense, are already moving off to South-East Asia where Macau, for example, reminds me of what Vegas was in its early pioneer days rather than the bloated haven it is now. Yes, the food in Vegas is fantastic and the place is sill wonderful for those seeking large-scale luxury and small-scale gambling but it's a city that ride the asset boom and crashed big time and I suspect the monuments to that ruination will be rusting on the Strip for decades to come.