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May 4, 2005
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  • LasVegas2005.org

  • Since we're in Las Vegas, and the city celebrates its 100th birthday on May 15, why not kick off this historic occasion by checking out their centennial website of the week? It has something (Helldorado Days, concerts, events, exhibits ... ) for everyone.

  • Airbus.com

  • NewAirplane.com

  • If Vegas is not your style, how about websites featuring state-of-the-art new planes? One is Airbus' new A380 jumbo jet. It seats over 800 passengers, and has been all over the news this past week after its successful test launch. The other is Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner. This plane will be eco- and people-friendly, efficient and revolutionary. Check them both out, because for sure they'll both enhance air travel.

HOUSE KEEPING: Remember when you click on the pictures in "Where's Johnny Jet," they will open up in another window. Just click the "x"(close) in each picture to get back to the newsletter. This should alleviate complaints about closing Johnny Jet. Thanks again for your support, and remember: If you book trips on the web, please go through JohnnyJet.com. (It will save you money).

"Maps of Johnny's travels courtesy of MyTripJournal.com. Start a travel website of your own for free now."

Check Out Johnny Jet's New Blog!

Before we get started, I want to alert our Chicago readers that I will be on WTTW Channel 11 (PBS) tonight (May 4) at 7 p.m. And for those in Kentucky: On Friday night, the day before the big horse race, my buddy Joe Lewis is throwing a fun event called Black Tie and Blue Jeans. If you want to join me and a bunch of my friends and family, get a ticket before they sell out. (Click here for more info).

Last week we left off from San Diego. After the 2-hour drive to L.A., my sister and her family hung out with me for a couple of days before going back to Florida. Unfortunately, they left too soon. A few days later a friend called and asked if the little ones were still in town, because he scored VIP tickets to the Kids’ Choice Awards at UCLA. Aaargh! They would have loved to have gone -- they couldn’t stop talking about the awards the entire week they were here. I called to get them to come back out, but my sister quickly shot down that stupid idea. So I went by myself to take lots of pictures, tell them behind-the-scene stories and get gift bags for them from the after-party. I’m glad I went, even though I probably looked strange all alone. I had no idea this is the second toughest ticket to get in town (after the Oscars). But that makes sense: Every kid in L.A. – not to mention the world -- wants to go, because all the top teenybopper and Hollywood A list stars attend. My favorite part of the evening was the dessert bar – the fixins for make your own sundae were outrageous!

Another bummer that Johnny and Amanda left town is because they missed their little cousin Gavin’s 3rd birthday. I went to help out and see some of my friends (Gavin’s friends’ parents). It was pretty funny going to this party, which was catered not only for 3-year-olds but adults as well -- in more ways than one. Standing by the food table (where else would I hang?), I felt like I was in a scene from “Desperate Housewives” when I heard one mother say to another, “How do my boobs look?” She pushed them together, and I almost choked on my cupcake. It turns out the “Balloon Guy” was in the house -- I mean, the park --and all the women went gaga over him. It was classic watching some of these women swarm the dude as he made balloon animals for kids.

At the party we had a surprise guest: Amber Airplane. If you’re new to Johnny Jet, Amber is my ex-girlfriend (it’s a long story, but you can read the past stories here: October 2003, May 2004, June 2004, July 2004). Amber Airplane and I still talk every once in a while, to catch up. She now has a boyfriend in her hometown of Cleveland, so it was only a matter of time before she came to break the news I knew was inevitable. She was there to say goodbye for good, because she’s moving back home. Even though we broke up almost a year ago, it still felt like a blow to the gut. Part of me wanted to stand in front of her moving van with a bouquet of flowers, while the other half just whispered “smile and wish her the best.” That’s what I did. Although I am personally sad, I’m also happy for her, her family and the entire state of Ohio. I know she’ll bring that place even more sunshine than it already has.

A good way to get someone out of your mind is to go to Vegas. I went for a night with my cousin Dennis. I flew Ted (United’s low-cost airline), while Dennis took American (he’s a mileage freak). Both flights took a quick 47 minutes, but it was good they did not depart at the same time. That gave Dennis enough time to rent a car and pick me up. But I have no idea why he rented a car. We were only going to the Strip, so that was a total waste of money.

THE hotel
We checked into “THE hotel” at Mandalay Bay. This was my first time at what is advertised as “the hotel inside a hotel.” It’s really not though, because both hotels are in separate buildings. THE hotel is in the smaller of the two buildings at Mandalay Bay. THE hotel has 43 floors and 1,120 rooms. Both hotels (THE hotel and Mandalay Bay) are connected by underground walkways. They also have separate entrances and front desks.

I like Mandalay Bay’s entrance better, because guests don’t have to go into a dark underground parking lot to get to their lobby. The whole arrival process at THE hotel made me feel like I was in a Batman movie, maybe because the parking lot looks like a cave. I guess the whole Gotham feel sets the cool mood. The hotel definitely attracts guys who are cool, or at least think they are – that’s why Dennis booked us rooms there. Actually, once you get by all the phony baloney vibes, the place is pretty cool.

Just walking inside the high-ceilinged lobby with its manly minimalist design, you can tell the place is designed with men in mind. Don’t get me wrong, though: A lot of women stay here, and love it. Check-in was quick, the elevator slow. The best part about THE hotel is that all the rooms are large 750 square feet suites. There is a living room with a couch, coffee table, wet bar and desk (with high-speed internet hookup, $11.99 for 24 hours), and a separate bedroom. The two marble and granite bathrooms are good sizes, and have a separate tub and shower. Sleek Bathe products are neatly stored nearby. Each room has two plasma TV’s, with the living room sporting a 42-incher. Now if hotels in cities where nothing goes on had these, that would be great. In Vegas it’s a waste, because most guests don’t spend a lot of time in their rooms. Rates start at $169, though availability is limited (we paid a lot more). THE hotel at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas; tel.: 877-632-7800.


THE hotel doesn’t have a lot to offer in general -- just one 24-hour café and a coffee bar – so it’s a good thing it’s connected to Mandalay Bay. There, guests have access to 16 world-class restaurants, plenty of nightclubs and bars, a mammoth casino, and plenty of swimming pools. In fact, the Travel Channel says Mandalay has the best pool/beach in Vegas. That’s right – beach. There are 11 acres of manmade tropical oasis including a sandy beach, a lazy river ride and three pools. The newest pool, called Moorea Beach Club, is for adults only (21 and up). I didn’t swim because the air was too cold, so I missed out on the 140 plush lounge chairs, chilled towel service, complimentary selection of sun care products and pool side cabanas, as well as its best feature: It’s bikini top-optional. Sounds good to me, except for the charge: Mondays through Thursdays, men pay $20 and women $10. From Friday through Sunday it’s $30 for men, but still only $10 for women. Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas; tel.: 877-632-7800.

We were in Vegas for a few reasons but one was because I was trying out Vegas.com's new Show Packages. My cousin and I received two tickets to a show, plus a prix fixe dinner (appetizer, dinner entrée and dessert) at Spago. We chose Spago because it was right next door to the show, and my boy Wolfgang is the chef. As expected, the food was really good and the service was excellent. My favorite was of course the desserts – ummm! Unfortunately the main entertainer of our show was sick, so the perfomance was canceled. That was just as well though, because I didn't feel like seeing Celine Dion with my cousin. I’ll use that credit the next time I’m in Vega$. Here’s a safe bet: I won't be with Dennis.

We roamed around the shops and ran into two friends, one from Connecticut and the other from California. Small world, huh? We thought that would make us lucky in the casino, but the opposite happened. We were lucky to make it back to THE hotel with our clothes still on. Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas; te;.: 877-427-7243

The one good thing about cousin Dennis renting a car is that I learned Hertz and other companies try to stick customers with high fees for just an extra hour. So be sure to return your car on time, and examine your receipt closely. Dennis wasn’t the only one complaining. On the shuttle bus to the airport another dude swore just like Dennis: “I can’t believe those ****ers tried to charge me an hour for $44!”

Next week we’re off to another fun destination. Stay tuned!

Happy Travels,

Johnny Jet

*Please tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!


  • WTTW Channel 11
  • Blacktie & Bluejeans
  • Ted
  • American Airlines
  • THE hotel
  • Shop Around For Vegas Hotel Deals
  • Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
  • Vegas.com
  • Caesars Palace
  • Hertz
  • Johnny Jet's Blog


  • Frommer's Las Vegas 2005
  • The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas 2005
  • Frommer's Portable Las Vegas for Non-Gamblers
  • Las Vegas Then & Now
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
  • Southwest USA & Las Vegas (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
  • Skin City: Uncovering the Las Vegas Sex Industry
  • How To Gamble At The Casinos Without Getting Plucked Like A Chicken
  • How to Gamble in a Casino
  • Professional Blackjack
  • Las Vegas - Season One Uncut & Uncensored

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    • Last week’s newsletter was an amazing coincidence for me. I just spent the last 4 months living in La Jolla working at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. I loved it there and would never have wanted to leave. Then I got a call saying I was needed in at Ramstein AFB in Germany for 3 months. I left San Diego with the assurance that I could return to San Diego when my 3 months were up. You went from Europe to La Jolla. I went from La Jolla to Europe. I flew Delta Business Elite. It cost me 15,000 miles but it was worth it when I looked back in coach and saw everyone piled in back there. Nine hours overnight crammed into coach is not the way to travel. Thanks for your newsletters. I look forward to them every week. Your faithful reader now in Germany, Jebb Stewart - Germany.
    • So, Dennis and AJ are brothers??? Come on. The next time you go to my favorite city, San Diego, be sure to visit "The Big Kitchen" on Grape St. It was the highlight of our day when we ate breakfast there. It's a small, unassuming little place with lots of charm and personality. The food is terrific too! I keep loving these newsletters, Johnny! I only wish I could be your travel partner, at least for a little while. I doubt if my hubby would appreciate that though. Donna R. Oklahoma
    • Hi Johnny: As always I really enjoyed your trip to Italy and your weekly newsletter. Only one question pertaining to the last newsletter regarding your trip to the US. You mentioned that carts are available (quote: Nearly every other airport in the world gives free luggage carts including the US except in NJ). I know my failing memory might be at fault, but does ORD and ATH have this free cart capability for international travelers? Check it out to humor me. Thanks. Gloria Tzioumis - Milwaukee, WI. REPLY: ORD (Chicago O'Hare) are free. ATH (Athens) do cost 1 euro.
    • I enjoy reading of your travels. However, it gets a bit old when you complain about the food “up front”. You should ride in the back more often. There is no food to complain about! Joe Williams - Memphis, TN
    • Always wondered about Aviara - thanks for posting photos of rooms, pool, etc. Joyce - Chicago
    • I really enjoy all the fun things at Johnny Jet. My daughter is a flight attendant, so we get a lot of great travel information. I especially love all the pictures included in the travel logs and the web cams. Thanks and I look forward to the new adventures. Joy Erskine - Marietta, Georgia
    • It's always a lot of fun and interesting to read your stories. I learn so much from your experience (Four Season) and checking out your pictures you took on your trip. Food, places, sceneries, friends, people and more. You share so much to readers who cant travel to these beautiful part of the world. I feel like I travel and experience what you share to us. Thank you for sharing all those great pictures :) I hope you'll never get tired of your work! Edna - Manila, Philippines
    • Keep traveling - I'm with you vicariously each time and enjoy seeing your adventures and family connections. Geoff - San Diego
    • I just spent about an hour navigating through your web-site...and I must say...I'm blown away! What an incredible business you've grown. I was fascinated, and could have spent hours more pouring through your stories. I was particularly touched by the tributes to your Mom. What an amazing lady she was and what a wonderful way for you and your family to honor her. Mary O - Los Angeles, CA

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