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Penn and Teller - 2 Funny Fellers in Las Vegas
by Linda Lane

Penn and Teller - 2 Funny Fellers in Las Vegas

Penn and Teller make their own brand of magic six nights a week at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Iconoclasts to the bone, Penn is tall and verbose, Teller, diminutive and silent. Together they are known as the Bad Boys of Magic.

Recently, I had the unique, slightly unnerving pleasure of seeing the internationally famous duo perform live at the Samba Room, the showroom created especially for them at the Rio.

It's 8:30 p.m. and the show is scheduled to begin at nine. Hot jazz is being played from stage left. There is no curtain. The stage is awash in a red hue over a bright high gloss red and black checkerboard floor with a thin red frame and Penn and Teller spelled out in flame red against a black backdrop. Audience members are trooping on stage, taking pictures in front of two large empty boxes, one Plexiglas, the other wood.

"Feel free to open them up and see what they're made of ? but please, for your own safety, do not try to get inside one of the boxes."

It's the pianist speaking to the audience. Mike Jones, as he will later be introduced, is playing jazz on a baby grand Kawai piano while someone wearing a hat, who looks suspiciously like Penn Gillette, is standing next to him playing the bass.

I take Jones' invitation and venture up on stage. What a heady feeling. How much fun is this to stand on the very stage where magic is about to happen? Like my fellow audience members I lift the lid of the Plexiglas box and it seems to be nothing more nor less than it appears. The wooden box is heavy and well constructed. There are no visible clues.

"I'm going to play one more very fast song giving you time to carelessly run on stage and look at the two boxes that will be used in the box escape challenge tonight." The last group hurries on stage to investigate the props, and to capture the memory on their digital cameras.

Nine o'clock rolls around and every seat looks occupied. "That's Jonesy ? our friend ? Penn tells the audience as he and Teller burst onto the stage. "This is not your typical Las Vegas show!" he boasts. "Teller and I write our own stuff. We've been doing magic together for thirty years."

Penn and Teller are wearing matching English cut suits with vests, crisp white shirts, and beautiful but unmatched silk ties. Penn sports comfy black shoes, Teller, spats. Aside from the obvious difference in their sizes and personalities, they appear to be benign, well-dressed magicians. Penn plays the bass — letting us know he was on stage studying us pre-show, and Teller with his cherubic smile plays the vibes.

Each performer has his own bag of tricks. Penn is the narrator, taking us through the behind-the-scenes machinations of two magic tricks that we have all seen a hundred times. Demystifying one of the ways magicians make a person disappear and reappear, as well as how they separate them from their limbs ? feet dangling or hands motioning from a small box ? and then "ABRACADABRA" ? the body is whole again, is fascinating. Revealing the secret of the box escape trick is no less surprising than an informant whispering the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden to Tom Brokaw on the six o'clock news. The revelation is a gift and the audience is theirs.

Teller searches the crowd for a volunteer. He latches onto a gray-haired lady who he helps on stage. Without speaking he presents a fish bowl and proceeds to make live gold fish appear along with coins. It's an enjoyable, Chaplinesque segment.

Penn, who is a master juggler, begins by juggling torches. Once he ignites them the danger and excitement is amplified. But he's just getting started. Not only does he juggle fire, he juggles broken glass bottles. Mesmerizing best describes Penn's juggling.

"We've only done one bit where Teller talks," Penn tells the audience as he introduces his little partner who is wearing a green rubber suit, yellow shoes, and a hard hat and pushing a loud wood chipper stage center. Naturally Teller's voice doesn't carry over the loud gnawing machine. He performs a trick with a live rabbit that defies imagination.

Extreme tricks are softened by humor and musical interludes. One of Penn's most vivid segments is a romantic couch setting with a beautiful woman. This is a blast of fire that you will never forget. The audience is never bored.

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Linda Lane, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent – Read Jetsetters Magazine at To book travel visit at and for Beach Resorts visit Beach Booker at

About the Author

Linda Lane, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at Leave your email next to the logo for FREE e travel newsletter.


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Westin Luxury in Las Vegas
by Kriss Hammond

Westin Luxury in Las Vegas

As they say in real estate, "location, location, location", and in Las Vegas, the new Westin Casuarina is a real estate dream come true for leisure or for the business traveler.

Although not located directly on the Strip, the Westin is within walking distance to Bally's Hotel and Casino for traditional Vegas entertainment, Caesars Palace for the new Colloseum, the Flamingo Hilton for the magnificent gardens, and the Bellagio for fine dining at Picasso's.

The new 825-guestroom Westin Casuarina is the sister property to the Westin Casuarina Grand Cayman, and it is built around the eko-skeleton of the former Maxim Hotel, but you won't recognized the dramatic and expensive and expansive design changes of the Asian owned and Sheraton branded Westin. Hopefully they add the Maxim's infamous Sunday champagne brunch to the list of amenities!

After pumping millions of dollars into the makeover, the first Westin in Nevada has rolled out the red carpet for a price conscious clientele that still wants high end amenities, such as business services, high speed internet access, breakout business conference rooms, and a 3,500 square foot ballroom.

The Westin Casuarina features four two-bedroom suites and six one-bedroom suites, which are a cut above the standard rooms, but each room has superb amenities, and the most pillows I have ever witnessed in a hotel room: five queen size and king size pillows with a duvet coverlet on the Westin trademarked Heavenly Bed, a custom designed pillow-top mattress set with a cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets, and the soft duvet comforter.

The Heavenly Bath, a moniker also trademarked by the chain, is a customized shower with two heads for power and wider water coverage, and each showerhead has five adjustable jets and spray options, from the light misty feature to the pounding massaging needles, so you can customize your shower depending on how grueling that business conference was. The Heavenly Bath features a curved shower curtain rod that provides eight additional inches of elbowroom and eliminates the dreaded shower curtain cling, and the oversized Brazilian combed cotton bath towels are as big a treat as the custom designed velour bathrobes and spa amenities.

Other in room amenities included a fully stock refreshment center, cable TV, in room movies, a laptop-sized safe and a coffee maker.

For the business traveler the hotel features five contiguous meeting rooms with 10,000 square feet of meeting space and the largest space, the 5,000-square-foot meeting room, can divide into five sections, perfect for a variety of events. Two private boardrooms hold up to ten people each. There is something that sounds totally techy, called the Starwood Turbo Net High Speed Internet access, which is available in all meeting rooms. Westin is the number one upscale hotel chain brand for business, according to Business Travel News in 2003, so there is no excuse now to email or conference call the home office when you road warriors come to Vegas.

What's even better for the business traveler is the new Las Vegas Monorail station across the street from the Westin Casuarina. With a ticket on the new monorail you can attend conventions at the MGM Grand, Sands Convention Center, or the Las Vegas Convention Center, and soon the monorail line will connect to the downtown casinos. Westin offers the best location in Vegas, and away from the hubbub of congestion on the Strip.

The Casuarina Casino is one mile from the Vegas convention Center, Sands Convention Center and Mandalay Bay Convention Center and 1.5 miles from the airport, so even if the monorail still doesn't go to the airport, you are within a quick hop to the conventions, in the largest convention city in the world.

I certainly enjoyed the dining at the Silver Park Grill Restaurant, open around the clock like the rest of the town. Cuisine highlights include prime steak, fresh seafood, and Mediterranean cuisine. Featured items on the menu include crisp ciahbatta sandwiches, field chop salad with bruschetta, yellowfin tuna tartare, prime filet of beef, and hazelnut crusted Seabass. The restaurant seats 250 with a private dining area seating 30. A breakfast buffet is offered in the morning. Meeting planners can choose from a variety of buffets, box luncheons, or reception packages that range in price and selection. They have fresh à la carte California cuisine, but my bet is the breakfast buffet with everything imaginable on the menu, set in an ambience of geometric patterned fabrics.

A translucent screen in the Casino Lounge gives viewers privacy and intimacy of the Casuarina Casino, modeled after European casinos, with sofas, loveseats, and divans artfully placed around the casino floor like a residential living room so onlookers can relax when the lucky lady hands hit handsomely.

For players the 20,000-square-foot casino features 350 slots and video poker machines and ten table games (blackjack, roulette, poker, craps, and pai gow). Slot machines feature ticket-in-ticket out systems. No clanging payouts here! The Premium Players Club allows guests $10 in free slot plays when they sign up for the premium players card, and your are eligible for cash back and personalized benefits. I was playing the penny slots in the state-of-the-art casino and won $3.85, so of course I had to treat myself to a Starbucks café coffee au laite, located on the western end of the hotel, open 24 hours a day.

What I really liked at the hotel was the service, especially something called Westin Express, where you dial one number from your room telephone for all your needs. All rooms have two-line speakerphones with a data port for Internet, and a cordless bedside phone with voice messaging.

The completely refurbished 17-story property reflects Westin's brand standards in the lobby, guestrooms, meeting space, and public areas. A massive $75 million renovation and upgrade over the past years has transformed the location into a modern contemporary architectural design.

The 10,000 square-foot Hibiscus Spa at the Westin Las Vegas opened in April, 2004, and accepts both hotel guests and local residents (with a 20% discount on all spa services and products for Nevada license holders).

After an hour with Kevin who professionally kneaded and firmly pressed out all the stress with a full body Deep Tissue Sports Massage, I am gong to have to come back to take advantage of the discounts. The spa has a unique and extensive menu of massages, facials and body treatments.

Hibiscus Spa is a full-service spa and salon with a retail center, relaxation room, and a complete fitness facility. You can even get a haircut or styling treatment. The spa offers 15 treatment rooms (one with Vichy shower), including three esthetic rooms and one couples room. The spa is great for the business person who really needs the services for a total lifestyle approach that encompasses the entire person – body, mind and spirit. Kevin is a certified Nevada School of Massage therapist that also teaches at the school. He is one of the best I have ever experienced.

Here is a litany of Hibiscus services:

To read this entire feature FREE with photos cut and paste this link:

Kriss Hammond, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent – Read Jetsetters Magazine at To book travel visit at and for Beach Resorts visit Beach Booker at


About the Author

Kriss Hammond, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at Leave your email next to the logo for FREE e travel newsletter.


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