I took a little drive. Several hours later, bright light city gonna set my soul, set my soul on fire ……

Las Vegas holds no interest for me. I don’t drink or gamble or go to very many shows unless it’s a special treat. However I do love my children with all my heart and my oldest son recently graduated from flight attendant school in Vegas. So of course, I was there.

My Elvis Presley radar is finely tuned. Walking where he walked, being where he was, experiencing the places he experienced and trying to imagine and capture some of the nostalgic magic is something I love to do.

Aside from the airport graduation, I had some time to explore. This was a no-brainer – the Westgate Hotel now, aka – the Hilton of the Elvis 70’s, the International when Elvis was first there in 1969 – was high on my list. In fact it was the only place I wanted to go.

As an Elvis historian walking into the lobby of the very fancy and fanciful Westgate, you already know it’s a special place. It’s a place chock full of history, heartbreak, victories and thrills. The stories are endless and as varied as the people themselves. I can picture the excitement of the 70’s when Elvis was in town and Vegas came to life in an extraordinary way. If only those walls could talk!

I took in the myriad of wonderful photos on the walls and intense history attached to a different time and place. My imagination absorbed the thrills that must have happened then, picturing the ghosts of the past, naming the fabulous vintage stars that the majority there today do not not recognize. My own kids didn’t know them. Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Carol Channing, Nancy Sinatra, Wayne Newton, Liza Minelli … absolutely no clue. Currently performing there is Barry Manilow. These twenty somethings have no idea who he is either.

I admit I was a little annoyed with Mr. Manilow. He kept me from viewing the showroom, prima donna. Because he was rehearsing – which is understandable. I like him, but he’s no Elvis – even if he is currently occupying Elvis’s suite on the top floor.

In a very prominent location in the lobby is the beautiful and stunning Presley statue, the King of Vegas. Looking into the face, touching the outstretched hand, reading the appropriate inscribed plaque – Elvis is the absolute embodiment of Las Vegas. It was a definite highlight for me. No matter the hotel name, the Westgate owes its’ fame to Elvis Presley. He is why the halls are still buzzing, why people come from far and wide and choose to stay there. Just as Elvis put Memphis on the map, he did the same for Las Vegas.

It’s absolutely no coincidence Elvis Presley Blvd is right next to Paradise Rd. Anyplace is paradise with Elvis.