Attending Medtrade Spring means visiting Las Vegas ù variously nicknamed Sin City, Lost Wages and the Entertainment Capital of the World. Some 37 million people visit this city every year, and the home medical equipment industry is gearing up for its annual pilgrimage to the Las Vegas Convention Center, with Medtrade Spring opening on March 22.
Getting around Vegas can be an adventure in itself given all of today's choices, from public buses downtown to stretch limousines with tinted windows. Most out-of-town visitors arrive by car, bus or airplane (the city is not directly accessible by train), then use a number of different transportation methods, including their feet. A word of caution to would-be pedestrians: Huge marquees and towering landmarks can make hotels and casinos seem closer than they really are!
For incoming jet-setters, McCarran International Airport is 1 mile from the southern part of Las Vegas Blvd. South, aka The Strip; 3.5 miles from the Las Vegas Convention Center (site of Medtrade Spring) and 5 miles from downtown Las Vegas.
If you're flying in, your first task will be getting from the airport to your hotel. You have several choices.
Shuttles: One-way trips cost about $4.50 to $6 per person to hotels on The Strip and slightly more for downtown hotels.
Taxicabs: Up to five passengers can ride for one price, at $1.80 per mile. Add $1.20 for trips that start at the airport. Around Las Vegas, rates start at an automatic $2.70 per trip, plus mileage charges.
Sedans/Limousines: Walk-up charges from the airport start at about $35 per hour for sedans and about $42 per hour for limousines.
If you prefer to do your own driving, rental cars run about $25-30 per day for an economy-size vehicle.
Once you've checked into your hotel, it's time to hit the streets ù whether to set up your booth at the convention center, grab a bite to eat or try your luck at a blackjack table or roulette wheel. In addition to the aforementioned taxis and rental cars, consider hopping Las Vegas' new monorail to travel up and down The Strip.
Las Vegas' monorail system runs along Las Vegas Blvd. South and also to the Las Vegas Hilton and the convention center. There are seven stations, located at the Sahara Hotel & Casino; Las Vegas Hilton; convention center; Harrah's/Imperial Palace; Flamingo Hilton/Caesars Palace; Bally's/Paris Las Vegas; and MGM Grand. A monorail will stop at each station every four to 12 minutes, with more monorails added (and wait times decreasing) as rider traffic increases. On average, expect to wait five to six minutes before a monorail arrives.
Buy tickets from machines at any station, or order tickets online (but note that there's a seven- to 10-business-day turnaround for online purchases, unless you pay for expedited mailing). Take a single ride (one-way) for $5, or save some cash by buying rides in bulk: two rides for $9 (shareable ticket); 10 rides for $35 (shareable ticket) or a non-transferable one-day pass with unlimited rides for $15. Buy non-transferable, unlimited-ride three-day passes online for $40 (www.lvmonorail.com).
Monorail pros include the fact that the trains run continuously most of the day (7 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday-Saturday), so waiting time should be relatively short. And monorail rides, even at the full $5 per trip, are cheaper than nearly any cab ride (no tipping required, either!).
A few monorail cons: Depending on where you're staying, you may have either convenient or significant walks to your hotel. If your hotel is not listed among the stations, you will likely have to cross the street to even get to the monorail station; all Strip stations are located on the east side of Las Vegas Blvd. South. The monorail station at the Convention Center is located across the parking lot, so that, too, is a bit of a walk.
And so far, the monorail runs almost entirely along The Strip. If you want to go downtown, else beyond Las Vegas Blvd. South or when it's time to head back to the airport to go home ù you'll need to try a different method of transportation.