Spanish Entrepreneur Opens the Skies Full Throttle to Las Vegas
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard Las Vegas Airlines nonstop Flight #123 from Madrid to Las Vegas. Please unfasten your seat belts, order a cocktail, and let’s get this party started!”
This is not the opening line of a newly contrived and over the top Vegas venue. This could be very well be the opening line for each of the first-and-only nonstop flights from Madrid to Las Vegas operated by theater manager and Broadway theatrical producer (101 Dalmatians) Luis Alvarez.
Each Sunday, five of Spain’s top actors/comedians, complemented by singers and dancers, entertain 300 passengers in a nightclub themed 330 Autobus during the twelve-hour flight to Las Vegas.
In true theatrical fashion, Alvarez was inspired by love to implement his innovative plan to make access to Las Vegas much easier and more entertaining for Europeans.
“I was living with my daughter in New York for two years,” he explained. “When I moved to Vegas her mother told me ‘No way! Not my daughter in Sin City!’ My daughter then went to Spain. It took me 28 hours to get to my home in Madrid from Vegas. It took me another eight hours to rest from the horrible trip. Then I thought, ‘how can I go see my daughter more frequently without having these terrible trips?’
“I thought of Richard Branson and how he once missed a plane to an island. So he took other people along to pay for a chartered plane. He was able to fly for free. I thought I could do the same and charter a plane of 300, then I could go for free.
“I knew how to sell tickets for a show but not tickets for an airplane. But it would all make sense to sell tickets to a show on a plane to Vegas!”
Armed with a heart filled with love and longing and an innovative idea, Alvarez still had to convince a major airline that a direct flight to Las Vegas would be feasible as well as profitable. “In Spain they thought it was a crazy idea to bring celebrities and entertainers on the plane. They didn’t know how many people would be willing to fly nonstop to Las Vegas for seven days. I put up all the risk. I rented a plane and made it happen. I was able to sell out all the seats. Now they are interested in the concept.”
According to Alvarez’ market research, only 16% of the forty million visitors to Las Vegas are from other countries. The average tourist stay is 3.5 days. The eager entrepreneur is out to change that average with his Madrid to Las Vegas all inclusive, seven-day round trip package. “What I like of this city that I try to communicate to Europeans is that Vegas is so much more than The Mob and gambling. Here are the best chefs, the best shows, music in the streets, and the best national parks. Vegas is a theme park for adults.”
The Las Vegas Airlines package includes a round trip ticket complete with on board cabaret-style entertainment, limo service (business class) to the Vdara Hotel, six nights at the Vdara, VIP access to dayclubs and nightclubs (Tao, Marquee and Lavo), a Cirque du Soleil show, and an excursion to the Grand Canyon. A Spanish-speaking host is on hand at the Vdara to give advice to guests on places of interest that are not part of the package.
Another interesting facet that has sprung from this concept of Alvarez is weddings. His in-house research has shown that on each flight at least ten couples are on their way to Las Vegas to get married. “I’m starting my own chapels,” stated Alvarez. “I’ll have limos and chapels. We are shooting a reality TV show right now that will be broadcast in October about the people who come to Vegas to get married.
“I think big in this city because this city allows you to. ‘We are the best at being the first’ is my motto. I hate when people say that everything is invented. Or that a project I was thinking to do is impossible. Where others see a problem an entrepreneur sees opportunity. We have to be very creative. That’s what I like of difficult periods. You are more challenged and become more creative.”
Rather than crash and burn in clichés like “the sky is not the limit” for Luis Alvarez, it seems the West Coast is also on his radar. “Many of the people ask how to go to L.A. and San Francisco. My idea is to open the west coast via Las Vegas with two-day excursions.”
With a back slogan of “what happens in Vegas starts in Madrid” the commercial tagline for Las Vegas Airlines is “Shhh Cabaret Las Vegas Airlines”. As a sample of what flies above, “flight attendants” Gin and Terry’s five minute pre-flight safety video below is worth watching regardless of what language you speak. The two Spanish actors entertain passengers with campy song and dance skits while informing them of the standard inflight safety procedures. Gin and Terry Safety Video
Despite the levity associated with the flight, Alvarez pointed out how safety issues were paramount in putting the show plane together. “Even the inflight DVD had to be sent out to be regulated. It had to sync with the closed circuit system. It cost $8,000 to modify it.”
Alvarez had to be content with the existing sound system. “To use different speakers would make magnetic problems in the plane,” he said. No worries there. It would seem that the word “problem” in the language of Luis Alvarez could best be translated into “opportunity.”
For more information on Las Vegas Airlines and to make reservations, please visit:lasvegasairlines