Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2019

Currently: 72° — Complete forecast

Columnist Muriel Stevens: Shuttles great for weekend vacation travel

FAMILIES SHORT OF time or funds for long vacations are finding weekend trips are a good alternative.

More than 73 percent of Americans are planning vacation travel this year, an 11 percent increase over 1996. Marist Institute for Public Opinion says that about one in five travelers plans a trip within their home state; many others plan to vacation in neighboring regions.

Assisting vacationers who want the fastest and most affordable way to get where they want to go are regional airline services, such as Shuttle by United.

Amos Kazzaz, president of Shuttle by United, expects short-haul travel within the West this summer to far exceed that of last year. Kazzaz said business travelers are the backbone of the Shuttle's strong performance. "A large number of our Shuttle passengers are business frequent flyers," he continued. "It's not unusual to see some of them flying for work during the week and then traveling for fun with their families on weekends."

According to Kazzaz, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver are popular destinations from Las Vegas. Shuttle by United offers 68 daily departures between Las Vegas and these appealing tourist destinations. Additionally, there are 452 daily departures from 20 other Western cities.

Short-haul does not mean short service. Shuttle travel includes automated check-in, seat assignments, Mileage Plus credit and first-class seating.

An additional advantage of Shuttle travel is the freedom of making a trip without advance notice. Shuttle fares are often available on short or no notice, with walk-up fares for as little as $49 each way.

How attractive are these flights to short-haul travelers? On the official start of the summer travel season, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, Shuttle by United set an all-time record with 47,282 passengers boarding from 20 Western markets.

For additional information or reservations call 1-800-SHUTTLE.

D.I. welcomes new P.R.

Desert Inn President Brian Menzel recently hosted a reception to introduce new Public Relations Manager Kelly Griesemer to the media. Griesemer, a 1992 UNLV graduate of the hotel college, has been associated with the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, the Luxor in Las Vegas, and Hyatt Grand Champion Resort in Indian Wells, Calif.

The reception took place in the D.I.'s elegant Portofino Italian restaurant that overlooks the casino. Food stations placed around the dining room featured the cuisine designed for Portofino by Executive Chef Arnauld Briand. The braised oxtail meat served atop truffled brioche slices is a fine example of Briand's ability to turn a homey bistro-style dish into an elegant hors d'oeuvre.

The magnificent changes taking place at the Desert Inn are part of a $200 million renovation and expansion expected to be completed by fall. The European-style decor, known as Mizner Palm Beach, features gold-leafed domed ceilings, imported crystal chandeliers, tall palm trees and imposing columns.

Menzel's dream is to achieve five-star status for the Desert Inn. Training programs are already under way. Judging from the distinctive changes already in place, the rating could become reality.

Wilbur at B & N

Author Todd Wilbur, who now makes his home in Las Vegas, will be signing copies of his latest copycat cookbook "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes" at Barnes & Noble Booksellers on Rainbow, July 12, at 2 p.m.

Wilbur has made a career from cloning such secret recipes as Hostess Twinkies, Tony Roma's barbecue sauce, the Colonel's cole slaw and many other chain restaurant favorites. In August he will tell his story on the Oprah Winfrey show and probably sell a gazillion copies of his books. The recipes are accompanied with blueprints for success. If Wilbur wasn't so eager to share his secrets, he would have made a great spy.

Samples of the recipes, cooked by Wilbur and several of the Barnes & Noble culinary wizards, will be available for tasting.

Brews news

More than 2,200 brew fans attended the Las Vegas International Beer Festival at Bruce Trent Park in Summerlin. Sampled were more than 100 handcrafted beers from across the country.

Among those named top beers of the festival were: Amber Gambler from Holy Cow!, Las Vegas; Ruby Mountain Amber, of Wells; Zebra Beer's Peach Lager, Indian Springs, Ohio; Blue Moon Belgian White, Golden, Colo.; and Red Hook Double Black Stout, with Starbucks coffee, Woodinville, Wash. Judging was done by a panel of brewmasters, home brewers and local celebrities.

Featured at this year's event were local brew pubs Holy Cow!, Barley's, Gordon Biersch, Monte Carlo and Main Street Station. Suds aficionados will be pleased to know more local brew pubs are on their way.