Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Leaving Las Vegas

So here I am again in Sin City. Unlike Nicholas Cage's character in the film Leaving Las Vegas, I am not here to befriend a kind-hearted prostitute whilst drinking myself to death, although that's always an option in this town. No, I am here for the largest annual event in the timeshare industry: ARDA World 2012, being held at the Venetian on The Strip in Las Vegas, NV.

ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association, and as a foot soldier in the battle to educate the traveling public about the benefits of timeshare travel, it is the one industry event I attend (albeit begrudgingly). I mean, which would you rather do: spend some time at a great timeshare rental in Las Vegas, or attend a seminar called "Is Fractional Development in Critical Condition"? But hey, every industry needs its big events, and timeshare is no different. And any good convention town is going to have great timeshare resorts nearby. Las Vegas delivers on that and so much more.

Why just last night I saw Steve Wynn at The Wynn casino and hotel after a great performance of Le Rêve (the dream), which is a visual and musical extravaganza set in a one million gallon tank of water. The show was created by Franco Dragone of Cirque du Soleil fame, but is not actually a Cirque show. It features acrobatics, diving, state-of-the-art special effects, and about fifty of the most physically fit people you'll ever see in one place, outside of an olympic gymnastics event. It's rumored to have cost $40 million dollars to produce, which is about how much damage Wynn claims to have inadvertently done to one of his treasured Picasso masterpieces. Did you hear about this?

Wynn collects hundreds of millions of dollars worth of artwork, and one of his favorites is a painting called, not coincidentally, Le Rêve, by Pablo Picasso. He was so fond of the painting that the hotel and casino now bearing his surname, was originally slated to be called Le Rêve. Nonetheless, he was persuaded to sell the painting a few years back for the unheard of price of $139 million dollars, to a NYC hedge fund mogul, whose probably worth about half that amount now. But seriously, this would have been the most expensive artwork deal of all time. But before he shipped it off to the fellow and received his money, Wynn had some friends by to see it one last time. Sort of a farewell. Now to be fair, Wynn has an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa which destroys peripheral vision, and he occasionally bumps into things on either side of him. So he was showing the painting off to his friends, with it on an easel behind him, while gesticulating with his hands and backing up. Do you see where this is going? That's right, he put his elbow right through the darn thing! Now most of us would have immediately jumped out of a window or in some other way ended our own misery at that point. But he is reported to have said "I can't believe I just did that," and later refered to it as a "$40 million dollar elbow". I guess when you are worth $2.3 billion (with a "b"), you can let stuff like that roll right off of you. The deal fell through, obviously, and he had the painting repaired and returned to his own wall. They say you cannot see the tear at all, but only a fool would buy it now.

While my room is not adorned with millions of dollars in artwork, I have some really nice digs for the week at The Villas at Polo Towers, right on Las Vegas Boulevard. My one-bedroom unit features a king bed, kitchen with granite counter-tops, living room, and a private balcony. Plus there is a state-of-the-art fitness center, roof-top pool and spa, family water park, men's and women's steam rooms, and massage therapists on-site. All this for less than $100/night by renting from an owner. No wonder RedWeek members rate this place a perfect 5-stars.

Well, I am heading back to the convention for a forum on social media and timeshare, which actually looks pretty interesting. Considering that I have my own blog and Facebook page, I need to stay sharp on this stuff. Speaking of Facebook, did you see where their planned IPO is being estimated to make Mark Zuckerberg worth $20 billion dollars? I wonder if likes Picasso?

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