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  • The Venetian Las Vegas vs. the Real Venice

    By Las Vegas Power Pass

    Introducing the opponents... In the red corner, we have the defending champion: Venice, Italy. Also known as the Real Venice, this city has been around since long before the 5th century, although its actual age is uncertain. Known for its waterways, art and culture, and beautiful architecture, it has long been a popular tourist destination and is associated with romantic getaways. And in the blue corner, we have the challenger: The Venetian from Las Vegas. Built in 1996, this resort hotel and casino complex forms part of the largest hotel in the world. It boasts 4,024 rooms and attracts up to two-thirds of all visitors to Las Vegas to its public areas, which include numerous restaurants, shops, theatres and attractions. It takes the Real Venice as its design inspiration and features copies of all of its most distinctive sights: St. Marks' Square, Campanile Tower, Rialto Bridge, the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs.

    How do the two measure up? And what should you expect from a visit? Read on for the low-down from the team from Las Vegas Power Pass.

    The Real Venice

    Known as the "Queen of the Adriatic", the real Venice is situated in northeastern Italy and consists of 118 small islands with an elaborate network of canals. The entire city and its lagoon are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and form a popular tourist destination that attracts around 3,000,000 visitors a year.

    Having been a major maritime power and centre of commerce during the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, Venice has a rich history of art and culture and is the birthplace of Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi, explorer Marco Polo and painter Titian. Popular visitor attractions include famous architecture such as the Palazzo Ducale (the 9th century Doge's Palace, which housed the government of the Republic of Venice for nearly seven centuries) and the Byzantine Basilica of St Mark, named after the city's patron saint. Art galleries such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection for modern art and the Gallerie dell'Accademia for 13-18th-century works are also chart-toppers, not to mention the ubiquitous gondola rides and the many fabulous restaurants.

    It is also famous for its centuries-old tradition of glassmaking, in particular chandeliers and other glassware made on the island of Murano. Other inventions that originated in Venice include eyeglasses, platform shoes and uncorseted dresses - all items that it was once speculated would never be worn by respectable Europeans. All in all, the real Venice is a formidable opponent.

    However, although a visit to Venice can be an enchanting visit to an older time, it can be an expensive trip, particularly for activities such as gondola rides, for which the price may have to be individually negotiated. The central areas can also be inaccessible to elderly and physically disabled visitors, since most transport through the old town relies on water taxis or walking. And did you know that another practice pioneered in Venice is quarantine, invented in 14th century to control the spread of the Black Death?

    The Venetian

    The Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino
    And now to Las Vegas. In 1991, the owner of the Sands Hotel and Casino, Sheldon Adelson, was on honeymoon in Venice. Inspired by the trip and working on his vision of a new mega-resort hotel, he instigated the demolition of the Sands and the construction of The Venetian, a new venture modelled on the Italian city. With later additions, it went on to become the largest hotel in the world, complete with canals, gondolas and singing gondoliers. And in a city that already features a replica Eiffel Tower, Times Square and Zombie Apocalypse Experience, why not?

    The centrepiece is a reconstruction of St Mark's Square, recreated in painstaking detail and featuring many noteworthy sights from Venice. It's a great place to relax, do a spot of shopping or listen to the many musical performances that take place every day. Or to enjoy a gondola ride without a pigeon in sight! Prices start from $19.95 per adult, with photo packages and private boats optionally available. (Gondola rides in Venice start at 80 for a 40-minute ride, for up to six people.)

    The Venetian has 4,024 rooms and suites - equivalent to a third of the room capacity available in Venice itself. However, The Venetian attracts even larger numbers of visitors to its public areas, which contain swimming pools, restaurants, shops and theatres, not to mention the on-site Sands Expo and Convention centre.

    The Venetian also houses Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, which is free to visit with the Las Vegas Power Pass. Why not spend a few hours posing for photos with waxworks of your favourite icons, whether it's the latest A-list celebrities, sports stars or Marvel Super Heroes?

    There is a huge variety of things to do without even setting foot outside of the hotel, include live shows, spa packages, bars and nightclubs, not to mention casinos! The whole operation is run by an 8.500-strong army of staff, who are on hand to ensure you have a fantastic experience whenever you visit.

    The Verdict

    The attention to detail at The Venetian hotel is stunning. From artwork, to entertainment and service, everything has been thought of. Can it hope to really be authentically Italian? Of course not, but it's 100% authentically Las Vegas. While The Venetian cannot compete on history, it's literally at the centre of the 'entertainment capital of the world'. After all, where else could you get off a gondola, take in a show and arrive in Paris or New York just a few minutes later?
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