All Eyes On Vegas Once More


Production is about to resume from a new base at the top of the valley…

A few weeks ago I announced here that I would be leaving Oregon and moving full-time to Sin City. A lot has happened since that article was published, most of it great…and some a bit sad.

It’s rare that I share personal details at Vegas Unfiltered…that is, unless they’re related to the topic at hand. But I’m pleased to say that my crew of rescue kitties and I survived the two-day drive. We settled into our new home and are adjusting quite nicely. All have done remarkably well…except for a big orange tabby named “Sunny”.

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Sunny enjoys watching the sunrise with his dad on our overnight drive to Vegas…

Sunny has had a really tough life. I found him dying in a snow storm four years ago in rural Salem Oregon. He had been run over and left for dead. I took him to a vet, he survived surgeries and an extensive recovery period. Despite having feline HIV (yes, that’s a real thing), Sunny grew to be healthy, happy and loved.

Sadly, only two days after unloading my moving truck, Sunny was at the Las Vegas Veterinary Specialty Center. His new oncologist and I were discussing options to treat his lymphoma, a non-curable cancer.

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As I write this, Sunny is in the next room being comforted by his gal-pal Tasha. My buddy underwent his first chemotherapy treatment last Thursday and is still hanging in there. Life for him will go on as long as the fates (and wonders of science) can allow my pal to enjoy being with us while remaining comfortable.

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            George Blick will be in the Vegas Unfiltered spotlight very soon…

In the meantime, yours truly is ready to get back to publishing new profiles and experiences. Next up will be a profile of multi-hyphenate performer George Blick. Soon after will be a luxury Grand Canyon tour with Serenity Helicopters, a true VIP service. I’ll also be publishing my next piece through BestOfVegas.com. More on that one later.

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Thank you for sticking with me during this time of transition. I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait….these Vegas sunrises are certainly inspiring enough! Our Vegas Unfiltered adventure together is just beginning!

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Photos: Sammasseur, Serenity Helicopters, George Blick

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Look Out, Vegas…Here I Come!


Yes, I’m finally moving to Las Vegas…

My love affair with Sin City began when I started dating my now-husband, a fresh-out-of-medical-school doctor. Ryan encouraged me to go with him to Las Vegas for our first vacation together. This was back in 2005…when we were both living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Ryan’s words echoed those of my mother, a long-time Vegas junkie. She was convinced that it was the place for me…and she was right. Our mutual fascination with the city even inspired a very popular article that I penned for Vegas Chatter.

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Now, after eight years of Oregon life…with frequent flights back and forth…it’s time to call Las Vegas home. We’ll still maintain a residence in Salem….Oregon’s capital, where its capitol building is located (if you want to have fun with English). But now my base of operations will be the southwest part of the Vegas valley in an area called Mountain’s Edge.

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Being one of the few non-locals (sometimes the only) on the team of several Vegas-centric websites has, I believe, given this writer a perspective that only visitors to the city can have. But I plan on maintaining that point of view going forward.

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It’s easy to allow amazing things to become “normal” when you see them every day. But I’m not about to become jaded with all that the Strip and surrounding regions have to offer. My heart will still be firmly planted in two different states. I’ll just be watching sunsets from my rooftop deck now…and keeping a watchful eye on the city from afar.

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The postings here might slow down a bit while we get things set up in the new household. My cats (especially one-eared panther Tommy) are going to love the view. But stick with Vegas Unfiltered through this very short adjustment period. Things are about to get really exciting!

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Photos: Sammasseur

 

Behind the Mysterious Doors of the 29th Floor

 


A long-touted mystery is about to be revealed…

You may remember the pictoral series I did with photographer Greg C. on the splendid and spectacular Westgate Sky Villas. Ornate and opulent, the Sky Villas are the height of classic Sin City excess. While you can visit them via our articles, these high-roller penthouses are out of reach for just about everyone.

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One floor below, down a quiet and rarely-scene corridor off a private scenic elevator, the north wing of the 29th floor has a series of uniquely designed doors. Behind each is one of a collection of amazing Specialty Suites. Every suite is unique in style and layout, offering amenities in keeping with the theme and atmosphere of its particular presentation.

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Being a frequent and loyal guest of Westgate (as if you didn’t already know that), I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to many of the Specialty Suites….and have actually stayed in several. In fact, I’m typing this piece while reclining in the atrium of the Bahamas Suite…overlooking the lush greens of the  Las Vegas Country Club.

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While I enjoy including photos in my articles to help paint a picture, sometimes it’s best to keep the words to a minimum and let the photos do the talking. So please enjoy this sampling of what lies behind the doors of Westgate’s 29th floor.

The Bahamas Suite –

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The Bahamas Suite is an epic 2,268 square feet of splendor. With a pool table as its centerpiece, the Bahamas Suite has an atrium-style sitting area, suspended swing chair, four-stool bar, king-sized four-poster bed and a large soaking tub with a view of the eastern horizon.

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Velvet chaise lounges, a step-up bedroom area, shower and bidet, a mini kitchen and wall-mounted televisions are enhanced by plush carpeting, deeply-textured wall coverings and a grey-and-purple color scheme. A great place to throw a party…or spoil yourself in the lap of luxury.

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Desert Suite aka “Suzanne Somers Suite” –

2,200 square feet, one bedroom, two baths, large balcony and space to entertain fifty…

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Westgate founder David Siegel has a profound admiration for entertainer Suzanne Somers. Prior to the residency of her “Suzanne Sizzles” musical production, the resort’s CEO commissioned the Desert Suite to be redesigned just for her.

As you may know, Ms. Somers is a survivor of cancer and an advocate for healthy living and natural healing. In order for her to stay here comfortably, Mr. Siegel had the Desert Suite fitted with organic and non-toxic materials that met her lifestyle requirements.

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If you’re a business person (or writer like myself) you couldn’t hope for a more relaxing and inspirational view from your desk. Many a Vegas Unfiltered article was created from this very space.

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Even though Suzanne’s show and personal residencies were short-term, the custom suite that carries her name reflects her role as a crusader for health. I’m betting she felt right at home using the private workout facility.

Under a floor-to-ceiling glass enclosure with retractable shades, Suzanne was able to work up a sweat with a full assortment of free weights and a bench.

Perhaps Suzanne preferred upping her heart rate while drinking in the panoramic view from her own personal treadmill. Afterwards, she (or you) could create a refreshing smoothie in the nicely-stocked kitchenette to enjoy on the expansive balcony.

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What a great cool-down before stepping into the bedroom’s extra-deep tub prior to entertaining in the suite’s sleek, minimalist dining and living spaces.

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The primary bathroom is massive, with dual sinks, a full make-up counter, walk-in shower and bidet.

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          Click here for a 360-degree virtual tour of Suzane Somers Suite…

With all of the comforts of home…and more…you’ll never have to leave the Suzanne Somers Suite. Unless you feel like crossing the hall and visiting…

The Gold Coast Suite

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If minimalist decor doesn’t suit your fancy, perhaps the wilds of Africa’s west coast will put you in the proper mood. Step through these massive carved double doors and into turn-of-the-century British Colonies. The Gold Coast Suite will take you back to a pre-modern era of warm woods, lush textiles and bold animal prints.

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The floor plan of Gold Coast mirrors that of the Bahamas…with the addition of a small balcony off the bedroom. The pool table, spacious living areas and sun room are back. So is the bar…this time enhanced with lots of artwork and expensive-looking accents.

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Nobody wants to “sleep with the fishes” when they get to Sin City, but you can cuddle up next to giraffes, elephants and big cats right here. The Gold Coast Suite boasts a veritable menagerie of African wildlife…so you can throw your own “Hangover”-style bachelor party without the risk of a real life tiger encounter.

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The Gold Coast Suite will surround you in luxury with its elevated sleeping quarters and a jetted bathtub boasting an unspoiled view of the city and pool deck below.

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Enjoy the sight of helicopters flying past in an endless stream of sunset tours from the atrium. Relax on one of the enormous colorful sofas and chairs in front of the wall-mounted high-definition screen.

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With so many amenities to offer, the Gold Coast Suite is clearly ideal for entertaining large groups. But if you’re looking for something a little more intimate, you might want to peek through the keyhole of…

The Bedroom Suite – 

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Westgate’s adults-only Bedroom Suite will alter your perceptions of reality…and forever change the way you think about Westgate Resort. This 918-square-ft one bed/one bath retreat is designed for daring couples…and those who want to “tie one on” while in Vegas.

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Step through the polished and slightly-deceiving doors of this entry into a small world of fantasy, bondage and passion. Prepare to be shocked, titillated, amazed and intrigued. Leave your inhibitions in the hallway and indulge in your deepest desires.

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Drink in the colors of red, black…and several shades of grey…that set a sexy tone for memorable encounters. The large circular bed is nestled underneath a matching mirror, tucked into a plush black headboard that divides the sleeping area from a jet tub made just for two.

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Sip champagne as the bubbles flow over your body…and try not to blush as your eyes are drawn to a St. Andrews cross mounted to the wall, complete with softly-lined handcuffs.

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Slip into something comfortable…or out of it, as the case may be…to enjoy a picturesque sunset. Your full-length balcony offers excellent views of the city and mountains that form the western horizon.

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Click here to enjoy a 360-degree virtual tour of The Bedroom Suite.

There are five more Specialty Suites at Westgate Casino Resort to explore. With any luck, I’ll be able to share them with you in a future article. There’s also a myriad of villas that fan out from a central corridor on the same floor.

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These mystery villas carry names like “Windsor”, “Ambassador”, “Mediterranean” and “Viena”. Perhaps they’ll show up in a future article as well.

Acquiring one of the Westgate Specialty Suites is a bit of a gamble. Quite literally, actually. They’re usually reserved for high roller guests but sometimes show up on the Westgate reservation website. Check out this page from time to time and you might get the opportunity to splurge on one for yourself.

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Before we close this chapter, there’s one more perk you should know about….an over-the-top private penthouse elevator straight to the 29th floor. Take a selfie on the plush settee as you enjoy the gorgeous paintings and polished brass.

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All trips to the top should be this fun.

Photos by Sammasseur, Westgate Las Vegas

Models: Lisa and Scott Land, Jeff Desruisseaux

 

 

 

Chocolate Lounge Showcases The Sweeter Side of Las Vegas


Stunning new addition to SUGAR FACTORY hosts 65th birthday of boxing legend Leon Spinks…

As you may remember, Vegas Unfiltered has branched out again and I’m now lending my electronic pen and passion for Vegas by creating articles for BestOfVegas.com.

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My latest is for their “Must-Visit Vegas” column and details the 65th birthday celebration for Olympic Gold Medalist, Vegas resident and legendary boxer Leon Spinks.

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You’ll also learn about the unique venue where the party was held…a whimsical place called The Chocolate Lounge. It’s a new addition to the already-successful Sugar Factory American Brasserie at Fashion Show Mall near Wynn/Encore.

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Read about both by clicking here. Then come back to Vegas Unfiltered for more unique insights into the fun, adventure, lows and highs of Sin City events and trends.

 

 

 

 

Your Invitation to “The Magician’s Study”


Be a part of a Vegas Unfiltered exclusive invitation-only event…

Everyone loves a good mystery. And you’re here because you love all things “Sin City”. Put those two elements together and you’ve got another only-in-Vegas event for the top of your to-do list. This one is called The Magician’s Study.

I first learned about The Magician’s Study just last evening. The entertainer behind this unique experience is already known to me…but must remain a secret to you. That is, until you walk through the doors of his (or her) magical lair.

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Your host is an internationally-known (and very charismatic) entertainer. You’ll be drawn into their web of intrigue as you settle in for an intimate evening of astonishment. Here’s an official description courtesy of the star:

The Magician’s Study is a speakeasy-style experience where guests need to first secure a code word to enter. Although you can see available dates and ticket prices on our ticketing page (http://themagiciansstudy.com/tickets ) guests will need the code word to be able to complete their purchase.

Guests will then receive instructions at midday on the day they are attending on where to meet 15 to 30 mins prior to the performance time, adding to the experience and secretive nature of the show.

I have crafted this to be a unique experience where guests feel special being able to attend something so secretive and highly exclusive that not just anyone can purchase tickets to. Guests pass along their code word like passing along a secret to others, allowing them to experience the evening.

The next scheduled session of  is this coming Sunday the 16th at 7pm, with additional dates listed on the official ticketing page. A special Halloween evening performance is slated for 7pm on October 31st. Remember, you must receive the code word before ordering tickets, so follow the full instructions on this page first.

A dedicated Facebook page includes reviews from previous guests and might give you a little more insight into what to expect. This writer isn’t about to spoil anything, but if you’d like to peek behind the magic curtain, it’s yours to discover. You can also reach out by calling 702.934.2481 or emailing info@themagiciansstudy.com.

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Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of a Vegas Unfiltered exclusive. Have yourself a magical time!

The Magician’s Study is for audiences 21 and older. A mixologist will be present to craft custom cocktails for guests. No food is allowed. Due to the intimate nature of this experience, seating is extremely limited. Please RSVP to be considered for an invitation.

 

Escape to Paradise at the Year’s Biggest Party


AFAN’s annual Black and White Ball fundraiser transforms into an 80’s-style pool party for 2018…

Earlier this year I told you about AFAN‘s 28th annual AIDS Walk for Life, which was a massive success. As Nevada’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS, AFAN provides supportive services to more than 1,200 clients. This includes free HIV testing, prevention education, client transportation to healthcare providers, rent and utility assistance, nutritional counseling, food vouchers, mental health therapy and kids’ programs.

AIDS Walk for Life is one of two major events that AFAN organizes…and the other hits Las Vegas this coming weekend. Saturday September 8th, Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay will be host to Escape To Paradise: Black and White Party 2018. Start time is 8:30 pm, with VIP admissions getting a one-hour jump on the fun.

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          Jennifer Romas and Antonio E. Granda Manzano (photo by Noel Dahl)

AFAN’s marketing director Andrew Ryan, best known to audiences as a featured member of DIVAS LAS VEGAS, has been tirelessly promoting Black and White Party in recent weeks. From numerous Facebook posts to nonstop television appearances, the gold-hearted entertainer has been doing a fantastic job to raise awareness for the event…and the AFAN charity as a whole.

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This week, Andrew got to appear…and get comfortable on the couch…with my favorite Chippendale Ryan Worley. The men were on the KTNV’s Morning Blend show to promote B & W with host Jennifer Jean Snyder. You may remember Jennifer as one of my dance partners at last summer’s BAZ Boot Camp.

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                 Andrew Ryan and Ryan Worley on The Morning Blend…

“It’s over the top. It’s glamorous. And it’s one of the most anticipated parties of the year” said co-host Shawn Tempesta. And he couldn’t be more correct, as this year, Black and White Party is going aquatic.

Guests are invited to swim, dance, eat, drink and dress as daring as you care to. Dress code is black and white attire with an 80’s theme encouraged. The party is not family-friendly, as there will be skimpy costumes and adult entertainment galore.

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         Jennifer Romas, Fabian Batey (far right) and the cast of Aussie Heat…

Along with the Chippendales being “ambassadors” of a sort, the gentlemen from Aussie Heat will be stirring up guests’ libidos. So will Jennifer Romas and the ladies of Westgate‘s SEXXY – The Show. Hunky David Goldrake of Tropicana‘s IMAGINARIUM will mystify and astound…along with raising a few pulses.

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      Magician David Goldrake will be getting wet at Daylight Beach Club…

Additional entertainment in the line-up comes courtesy of Jacinthe Morearty (pole-dance artist from 53X), Adore Delano, magician Murray SawChuck, Miss Behave, Norma Llyaman, the cast of VEGAS! The Show, Tenors of Rock, American Idol‘s Kyle Khou, Penn & Teller and East Side Riot. Johnny Randall aka DJ AXIS will be luring you to the dance floor throughout the evening.

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                                                      Jacinthe Morearty…

A veritable mountain of sponsors is providing spirits and nibbles to enjoy at Black and White. Brio Tuscan Grille, Hamburger Mary’s, Four Seasons Hotel, Libertine Social, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, House of Blues and Slice of Vegas Pizza Kitchen will keep you going from the first bite to the last sip.

If you’re not ready to hang up your sexy costume when the party winds down at 11:30 pm, head over to nearby Piranha Nightclub for the official after-party. There will be a free shuttle to transport guests to Piranha from the Black and White event, starting at 11:30 pm.

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100% of the proceeds stay in Nevada to support AFAN’s client services. Aid for AIDS of Nevada provides support and advocacy for adults and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in southern Nevada. AFAN works to reduce HIV infection through prevention education to eliminate fear, prejudice and the stigma associated with the disease.

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General admission, Vip tickets, tables and cabana packages are on sale now at www.afanlv.org.

Photos: Black and White Party, Noel Dahl, Andrew Ryan, David Goldrake, Tommy Mac, Sammasseur 

Find Your Inner Ariel at MERMAID SCHOOL


Weekend childrens’ classes are Westgate’s latest “outside the box”…

Going through my daily round of press release emails is a lot like attacking the pile of presents under the Christmas tree. Some of them I can’t wait to open up (“Chippendales Announces Latest Guest Host”). Others feel obligatory…like a Visa gift card from the mother-in-law (“Hash House A Go Go Introduces New Cocktail, Extends Happy Hour).

Then there are the ones that stink like rotten fish and get tossed into the garbage without opening (“Chris Brown Returns to Drai’s Nightclub”, “Mariah Carey Announces Christmas Show at Caesars Palace”). But my favorite emails are the ones that have you scratching your head in wonder. Things like “Learn To Be A Mermaid at Westgate Las Vegas”. Seriously?

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Regular readers know that bringing the children to Vegas is one of my biggest pet peeves. But Westgate is a different kind of resort. A privately-held timeshare company, their twenty-eight locations cater to families around the country. Of them, only the Vegas location on Paradise Road has a casino (and a topless revue).

Naturally there is crossover of timeshare owners with kids, so Westgate Las Vegas offers a limited selection of entertainment and activities that appeal to the little ones. Shows like Magic of Jen Kramer…and Dirk Arthur before her. Dining at the glorious gardens of Benihana Village. And yes, weekend mermaid classes.

I’ll admit to initially being tempted to toss this press release into the trash folder. But “only in Vegas” experiences should be treasured. So after a long night of partying with the guys, I donned my shades and took the elevator down to Westgate’s expansive third-floor pool deck to meet Mermaid Farasha and the little ones who had lined up for that morning’s class.

Mermaid Farasha DesertSiren goes by the name of Farasha Millner when in human form. A professional belly dancer and mermaid performer, Ms. Farasha travels with her mobile tank and seashell to entertain, educate and promote the “Mermaid Code of Ethics”. In other words, she’s a positive role model for youngsters…and anyone in need of a little course correction through the sea of life.

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I was able to briefly meet Mermaid Farasha before the morning’s class and she was indeed glowing with compliments and positive vibes. “Oooh, you give off a great energy” she cooed in my ear. “You’d make a great mer-man”. Yes, I really was blushing.

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Although the Desert Siren was eager to begin, one fledgling mermaid had already been waiting long before anyone else arrived. Nine year old Carson Parker of Florida was up at the crack of dawn…and ready to slip into her fin.

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Accompanied by great aunt Becky Knowles (left) and aunt Kelli Wilkin, Carson was staying at Westgate while mother Melissa Parker, the reigning Mrs. Florida America, was competing in the Mrs. America Pageant. That event was being held the same weekend at the off-Strip resort.

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With her mother in rehearsal for the evening’s show, Carson was eager to learn some new tricks in the water. As fortunes would have it, Carson was already an avid mermaid-er. Adept at doing front flips, she regularly practices at the family’s pool in Melbourne.

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Word had gotten out to Vegas locals about the new classes, too. Seven-year-old Dionni signed up after her mother Tavia heard about Mermaid School from a Facebook friend…who in turn saw a piece on local station KTNV. She proudly posed with her new mermaid fin and couldn’t wait to begin.

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          Seven year old Dionni was eager to go “Under The Sea” in Mermaid School…

Also attending that weekend was Abbie Losch, aka “Mermaid Coral”. You may remember Abbie as the adventurous daughter of Westgate’s own superstar Chef Aaron Losch, whom I profiled earlier this year.

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                   Abbie Losch makes a striking mermaid at Westgate’s pool…

Inside the pool’s merchandise shop, other youngsters were lining up to buy or rent their fins. Some were singing from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, whose soundtrack would soon be playing over and over (and over) on speakers during the morning’s lessons.

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The class began with a preliminary introduction and explanation of basics for the newbies. The students were assisted in learning to don and stand in their fins. Then came introductions all around. The young ladies were asked to choose a personal mermaid name, then the real fun began.

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After a brief absence, the Desert Siren returned to the pool in full mermaid regalia and shimmied into the pool. Along with showing her students new maneuvers, Farasha emphasized the importance of support, encouragement and respect for each other and one’s own self.

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“You’re in control. You are beautiful. In the mermaid’s world we support one another” she told them. The students learned how to tread water, give a “tail salute” and speak seafaring lingo like “Shello!”. But most of all, they learned how to be feminine, graceful and kind. “There’s so much you can do with this. You are a Mer!”.

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As the class wound down, curious onlookers came over to see what Mermaid School was all about and pose for pictures. Then a young boy swam over to chat to Mermaid Farasha about being a mer-man. “I love your British accent, handsome!”. Yes, the classes are open to boys as well.

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If interest continues to grow, there’s a possibility of adding adult groups into the mix. And why not? Apparently this is a new social movement. Mermaid Schools are popping up all over the country. And they’re a nice fit to Westgate’s other poolside offerings like sunrise yoga classes (Friday-Sunday from 7 am to 8 am, weather permitting) and the Silent Savana sunset sessions I told you about here.

Despite Farasha‘s suggestion that I try on the fins myself, I’ll leave that kind of fun to the younger guests. I’ll be content just to sip a fireball mojito and watch the activities from The Playground, Westgate’s 21-and-up dayclub that I told you about here.

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      Kate’s Island Shop at Westgate’s retail corridor has gotten into the mermaid spirit…

That’s what’s so great about Sin City. There’s something for every taste. And just when you think you’ve seen and done it all, another WTF press release will appear in your in-box. Let’s hope the next one isn’t “Mariah Carey Extends Latest Residency”. There’s got to be a limit to the madness!

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All participants agreed to being interviewed and their guardians signed waivers for press coverage…

Tickets for Mermaid Class are available at Serenity Spa at Westgate’s 3rd floor pool deck. Call 702-732-5648 to purchase tickets by phone. Classes are capped at 15 students.

  • Ages: 7-12. [Participants must know how to swim/parent or guardian must be present during the duration of the class and sign Mermaid School waiver.]

  • Price: $25.00 per class

  • Dates/Time: Saturdays & Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 

Photos: Sammasseur, Jamie Losch