Unforgettable entertainment, upscale casinos, gourmet dining, and great sightseeing are just a few of the things that draw visitors to Las Vegas, known by many as “the entertainment capital of the world.” But when the AAOS Annual Meeting comes to Las Vegas on March 24–28, my hometown will be “the orthopaedic education capital of the world.”
As local chair, I encourage AAOS members to take advantage of what Las Vegas has to offer and avail themselves of both the multiple learning opportunities and the many leisure activities to be had.
When the Academy held its biggest meeting here in 2009, AAOS members enjoyed a great educational experience, as well as the glamour and fun of this city. The 2015 Annual Meeting promises to have even more exciting learning opportunities, with 30 symposia on cutting-edge orthopaedic topics, and more than 900 paper presentations, 560 posters, and 200 instructional courses by world-renowned faculty. In addition, 14 technical skills courses will focus on step-by-step procedure tips, while the “Game Changer” paper session will identify research that may affect your practice.
Other highlights include more than 650 technical exhibits showcasing the “latest and greatest” orthopaedic products and services. On Specialty Day—Saturday, March 28—more than a dozen specialty societies will explore current research findings in various areas of orthopaedics.
Entertainment and fine dining
At the end of a busy day of learning and connecting with colleagues, AAOS members will have their choice of world-class entertainment. Big-name talent, such as illusionists David Copperfield and Penn & Teller, can be seen at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino and the Rio Hotel, respectively.
Las Vegas is also home to eight Cirque du Soleil shows, more than any other city in the world. Anyone who enjoys amazing acrobatics and gravity-defying stunts should check out “O” (Bellagio), Michael Jackson “ONE” (Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino), Mystére (Treasure Island), The Beatles “LOVE” (Mirage Hotel & Casino), Zumanity (New York-New York Hotel and Casino), Criss Angel “BELIEVE” (Luxor Hotel & Casino), Zarkana (Aria Resort & Casino), or KA (MGM Grand).
Fans of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will be transported to the 1960s by the musical Jersey Boys in Le Theatre des Arts at Paris Las Vegas. Those who prefer the music of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins should head over to The Million Dollar Quartet (Harrah’s Las Vegas) to take in a lively musical that dramatizes the day in 1956 when all four of these ground-breaking musicians jammed together at Sun Records Studio.
Yet another chance to attend an unforgettable concert will be offered by Elton John, who will perform his popular show, The Million Dollar Piano, at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
Any night out in Las Vegas would not be complete without a fantastic meal. Many of the world’s top chefs—Paul Bartolotta, Mario Batali, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, and Giada De Laurentiis, just to name a few—take pride in their signature restaurants here. Their eateries will surely be busy during Annual Meeting, so attendees should make reservations early. Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, which started the celebrity chef restaurant phenomenon in Las Vegas and is located in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, has a casual, patio-style café as well as a formal dining room. Chef Emeril Lagasse has also made his mark on Las Vegas, with the Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian Las Vegas and Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand.
For Italian cuisine, two of my favorites are Il Mulino in The Forum Shops, and Rao’s at Caesars Palace. For Mexican, Javier’s in Aria is superb. For seafood, you can’t go wrong with Bartolotta at the Wynn Las Vegas, or Milos at the Cosmopolitan, which also serves amazing fried octopus. My favorite steak house in Las Vegas is Morton’s at the corner of Flamingo and Paradise Roads, but the rib eye cap at Gordon Ramsay Steak in the Paris Hotel is incredible.
Of course, to have the full Las Vegas experience, visitors must try at least one buffet. It is hard to top the buffet at the Wynn, which offers 15 cooking stations and features grilled meats, seafood, and cakes and other sweets made fresh daily. Bon appétit!
After dinner, late night
If you wish to cap off a fine dinner with a cigar and your favorite drink, I suggest Casa Fuente cigar lounge in the Forum Shops. For the best entertainment value, check out the lounge acts that are usually adjacent to the casino in the hotel. For the price of a drink, you may listen to some very good musicians.
If you are into the nightclub/DJ scene, Las Vegas is leading the craze. Some of the more popular clubs include Marquee at the Cosmopolitan, Hakkasan at the MGM Grand, and XS Nightclub at the Wynn. Lines can be long and bottle service expensive. If you do any significant play in the casino, ask your host to help you get in.
Sightseeing and more
While out and about, it would be difficult not to marvel at the resorts and casinos that line “the Strip,” which stretches for about 4 miles along Las Vegas Boulevard. Visitors interested in seeing the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” neon sign should venture south of Russell Road on Las Vegas Boulevard.
The Bellagio, with its fountain shows that make magnificent use of water, music, and light is another well-known Las Vegas landmark. While at the Bellagio, consider stopping at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, which offers free admission and is stocked with beautiful plants of many varieties. Anyone looking for rest and relaxation can find facials, massages, and other luxurious treatments at any number of Las Vegas spas, including the Canyon Ranch SpaClub® at The Venetian/Palazzo.
AAOS members who bring their families to the meeting can enjoy the education knowing that their families have many options for fun. Consider the Adventuredome Theme Park at Circus Circus; the thrill rides atop the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel, and Tower; the LINQ Ferris wheel, known as the “High Roller”; or the “Big Apple” roller coaster at New York-New York.
Attendees who want to extend their stay and get out into nature should consider visiting Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Situated 17 miles west of the Strip on Charleston Boulevard, Red Rock Canyon offers a 13-mile scenic drive through stunning landscapes, as well as hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, picnic areas, and much more. A trip out to two engineering marvels—the Hoover Dam and the Tillman-O’Callaghan Bridge—is well worth the approximate 40-minute drive from the Strip. And of course, Las Vegas is home to many golf courses, including Shadow Creek Golf Course, which is consistently rated among the country’s top 100 courses. Ask your concierge to secure you a tee time.
Certainly, there is no shortage of sights to see and things to do in Las Vegas during any free time. I wish you an enjoyable and enlightening 2015 Annual Meeting!
Local Committee Chair Fred C. Redfern, MD, has called Las Vegas home for more than 46 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org