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Pix and Review: New Aliante Station Serves Free Champagne to VIPs, Plus A Private Show By Sheryl Crow

If you’ve never been to a hotel opening party, what you miss is a fairly fancy few hours of free champagne, free food and a free concert.

Sheryl Crow played a surprise, private show for a few hundred lucky VIPs at Aliante Station’s opening Tuesday night. She sounded better than I’ve ever heard her, and that’s not hyperbole. Her performance voice has grown stronger with age. She sang her hits, "Leaving Las Vegas," "Strong Enough," "All I Wanna Do," "If It Makes You Happy" (her best original Tuesday night) and a great cover of Led Zeppelin’s "Rock & Roll."

Crow chatted quite a bit from the stage, asking if everyone in the crowd was up or down at the tables. But the tables still hadn’t opened for business, since the hotel still had an hour to go before turning on their gaming. Then, she figured that out, so she suggested everyone eventually should just go drop a $100 bill on roulette red. Oh, Sheryl, if only I had the disposable income.

Aliante itself is not the next-generation Station Casino that you might expect. It’s pretty and shiny, like Red Rock, but it is more of a half-elegant, half-casual neighborhood Station, in that it’s not gigantic, it doesn’t feature a huge concert venue (Crow sang in a 700-capacity showroom where Smokey Robinson plays soon), and the overall feel is comfort over Strip-like sizzle.

Six restaurants range from affordable (The Original Pancake House and T.G.I. Fridays) to credit card (MRKT Sea & Land and Pips Cucina & Wine Bar). The food court skips Starbucks for a Dunkin’ Donuts, but then, thankfully, there’s a Capriotti’s.

Sign of the times: A very nice and seemingly down-to-earth cocktailer (quite pretty, false bosoms greeting the world, with three kids at home) told my fiancee and me she went to work there while her husband, in construction, was picking up other jobs in our challenging economy.

Some VIP guests told me they drove quite a while to get there, since Aliante is at the 215 in North Las Vegas. Some wondered if locals would drive up there. But when Aliante opened to the public around 11 p.m., it was flooded with locals. And when I drove away, it looked as if a mile or two of cars were lined up to get there.

The question, of course, is will those locals keep pouring in? I imagine many will, since it’s an all-new hotel, accessible to the area. But I switched majors from business to journalism, partly because I do not have a tycoon’s heart, so what do I know?

MY POINT-AND-SHOOT PIX

The lobby:

A line of champagne-bearing women greeting VIPs en route to pool-side fireworks. The pool is nice, warm and features big comfy beds and booths.

The sports book is a boutique but is lined with very comfy chairs, and you can see the action clearly from a circle bar right next to it:

MRKT Sea & Land restaurant and lounge:

The center lounge on the casino floor had thumpy house electronica spinning when I left.

And Pips is pretty with glass walls:

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