Vegas visitors can ride the rails; Trump will stand tall

There's always something new coming out of Las Vegas.

The highly touted $650 million monorail that transports passengers up and down several major Las Vegas Strip casinos is now in service -- most of the time. The completely automated four-car trains carry passengers around a 3.9-mile, Z-shaped track. The trains can travel from one end to the other in 14 minutes, at speeds up to 50 mph, notes the Associated Press.

Passengers pay $3 for a one-way fare and $5.50 for a round-trip ticket, and officials of the privately financed system predict that 20 million visitors a year will ride the rails. Tourism officials are hoping the system can be extended to downtown Las Vegas to the north and to McCarran International Airport to the south

However, the monorail was shut down three weeks ago after a component of the drive train fell off, and the incident is still under investigation. More than 837,000 people rode the train in August, generating $2.5 million in revenue.

Who but Donald Trump could come up with this massive project? The casino and real estate developer -- and now a TV star -- has announced he will build at 60-story, 300-unit condominium tower less than a block from the Strip. The $300 million Trump Tower Las Vegas will be the second-tallest structure in the Strip area after the 1,149-foot Stratosphere tower. Trump's project will soar 600 feet into the air.


Construction may begin within six months with residences ready within about 18 months after the building begins. Price ranges for the Trump Tower Las Vegas have yet to be established, reports AP.

Plans for redeveloping some areas of downtown Las Vegas -- much in need of a new face -- have been announced by Barrick Gaming Corp. Plans include a high-rise residential building, a performing arts center and a medical campus anchored by the Cleveland Clinic. Another part of the project is the first phase of the World Market Center, a 7.5-million-square-foot home furnishings showroom complex and convention facility.

Barrick Gaming acquired several properties, including the Plaza Hotel and casino, the Las Vegas Club, the Gold Spike and the Western Hotel, some months ago.

The historic Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino, damaged by a recent fire, soon will rise from the ashes, reports Travel Weekly. It opened off the Strip in 1955 as the city's first racially integrate casino and in recent years fell on hard times. Now new construction costing $200 million will include a 500-room property, a 40,000-square-foot casino and 20,000-square-feet of meeting space.

Regulators are still mulling over the proposal of Harrah's Entertainment to purchase Caesars Entertainment for about $5.2 billion in cash and stock.

The deal, if it is approved, would create the largest gambling company in the world. Harrah's has 28 properties, mainly riverboat casinos, while Caesars has the same number, most notably Casesars Palace and Bally's Las Vegas.

NWA guarantees low fares

Northwest Airlines has come up with a couple of unique offerings -- unique to the airline industry, that is.


The airline is now guaranteeing that it offers the best airfares available. If a passenger finds a fare -- anywhere -- for the same itinerary and on the same day the original ticket is booked through its Web site, it will refund the difference plus give the customer a $50 voucher for future travel.

NWA also is offering travel insurance through its Web site. For a fee, based on a percent of the ticket, customers can buy $3,000 worth of insurance to cover expenses if the trip has to be canceled. A variety of events are covered.

Su-Lin was first

A sharp-eyed reader with a good memory sets the record straight on pandas in the U.S. We wrote a few weeks back that based on information we received, the first panda to arrive in the U.S. was in 1972 and was placed in the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

But that wasn't the case, and who should know better than Dorothy VanDenBerg of Byron? Dorothy grew up in La Grange, Ill., and remembers as a small child taking the street car -- for a dime -- to visit the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill., near Chicago, and seeing Su-Lin. Su-Lin came to the U.S. from China to San Francisco in December 1936 and was placed in the Brookfield Zoo.

Here and there

American Eagle, the American Airline subsidiary that provides Chicago service here, was one of three regional airlines reporting the top operating profit margin of any U.S. airline in the second quarter. American Eagle's logged a 15.5 percent profitability. Of the major carriers, Northwest ranked highest with a $84.3 million profit.

Bob Retzlaff is travel editor of the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached by phone at (507) 285-7704 or by e-mail at

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