What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas – it entertains Sam Wollaston.
More people visit the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, according to World’s Busiest Hotel (Channel 5), than visit Venice itself. Whoa! That’s extraordinary, isn’t it? (After speaking to various tourist boards, I’m still not sure if it’s true – it seems to depend on whether you count the cruise ships in Venice.) And more than a bit depressing. Plus Vegas gets more tourists than the whole of Great Britain does. Again, whoa. And wow, and why?
Saying wow, whoa, why is what this series is all about. These sort of behind-the-scenes films only work if A) they’ve got good characters or B) they’re about extraordinary places. This is a very much a B) documentary.
There are a few characters: executive chef Olivier; Gloria the maid; Luis, who is the public area department manager (a job that seems to mainly involve dealing with vomit incidents). But they’re not characters we get to know well. I don’t imagine the Venetian’s PR department simply allowed a British TV crew to wander around the hotel corridors at their will, finding characters and stories on their own. I expect it was all very tightly controlled.
And the drama is a little … how shall we say … undramatic. Will the kitchen staff manage to get the meatballs to the conference centre on time? Yes! They will. What about the big Venetian mask that needs to be hung up, another race against the clock? No! But it doesn’t really matter, to be honest.
You know what, though? None of this really matters. Because the scale, and the stats, and the facts about the Venetian are so mind-bogglingly extraordinary. There are 100,000 of those meatballs, for one meal! They have a half-mile journey to get to where 9,000 hungry IT specialists are going to consume them. Breakfast sometimes requires a police convoy. The kitchen covers two acres. The doormen operate a holding pattern used by air-traffic controllers to organise the arrival and departure of taxis and limos. And so on. Wow indeed.