Bet On Las Vegas

L.J. Piernas enjoys much more than gaming

J. Piernas came to Las Vegas seven years ago from the Bay Area as a manager for Nextel. He eventually started his own telecommunications business and later became a realtor for Dyson & Dyson, one of the largest realtors in Southern Nevada.

“Las Vegas is the fastest growing city in the United States,” he says with a Bayou twang (Piernas is a native of New Orleans). It is also in the midst of an image makeover so that it will appeal more to adult sophisticates. The No.1 industry? Gaming, of course. Next is tourism, with significant gains in construction and technology. A popular destination for business conventions, Las Vegas is home to RLLW Inc. (No. 67 on the BE 100s INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE list with $53.3 million in sales). The company oversees Pizza Hut franchises and airport retail establishments.

“There’s affordable housing,” adds Piernas. “The economy is strong. There’s still water and there’s still land. There’s no state tax.” Piernas guides us through–and in some cases directly to–the glitz.

AROUND TOWN
ACCOMMODATIONS
The Mansion is Las Vegas’ best-kept secret. It is located directly behind the casino complex and spread over six acres recreated in the image of Tuscany. Garden or atrium villas include private pools and butler service and are as large as 12,000-square-feet. Prices begin at $5,000 a night. (3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-1111)
Aside from first-class accommodations, Bellagio offers high-end dining, entertainment, and shopping. Via Bellagio includes Giorgio Armani, Chanel, Moschino, and Prada. (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-693-7111)
Fitzgeralds Casino and Hotel is the only African American-owned hotel in town. Owner Don Barden “does an excellent presentation with an older property,” Piernas says. Next to downtown’s glittering Fremont St. Experience, it’s a short cab ride to the Strip. (301 Fremont St.; 800-274-LUCK)

RESTAURANTS
It might not matter what you’re eating atop the Palms Casino at Alizé. Its warm tones and soft light provide a wonderful ambience and one of the best views of the city. It also serves exquisite gourmet French cuisine. (4321 W. Flamingo Rd.; 702-951-7000)
Aqua offers sumptuous and creative seafood dishes like Miso-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass and Lobster Potpie. This place is great for important business meetings. (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-693-7223)
“When you finish all your business and want breakfast, you want to come to M&M Soul Food restaurant.” The chain of L.A. soul food restaurants recently opened an outlet in Las Vegas. It has one of the best breakfasts in town on the weekends. (4485 S. Jones Blvd.; 702-795-3663)

THE SHOWS
Las Vegas shows are legendary. Try to catch the peerless Cirque de Soleil, which offers several shows at MGM properties (877-880-0880), including the all new, ultra sexy Zumanity. Also see the Blue Man Group at the Luxor (3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-262-4400) or Celine Dion’s “A New Day,” concert extravaganza. Dion’s concert replacements are also a great catch at Caesar’s Palace (3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 877-427-7243). Gladys Knight performs at the Flamingo Hilton five nights a week. “It’s a great, great show,” Piernas says. Main floor tickets run $79.50; balcony tickets

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