UNITED STATES

Newest Las Vegas hotel is located downtown

Las Vegas' resurgent downtown has welcomed its newest addition.

The Downtown Grand hotel-casino aims to introduce an element of luxury among the retro casinos that populate old Las Vegas.

The Grand welcomed its first guests last Sunday. It took over the former site of the Lady Luck casino on the corner of 3rd Street and Ogden Avenue.

The downtown area is about 15 minutes north of the Strip. It's anchored by Fremont Street and boasts some of Las Vegas' oldest casinos, including the Golden Nugget.

Black history museum planned for S. Carolina

Standing near where tens of thousands of African slaves landed in Charleston, S.C., Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. announced updated plans on Wednesday for a $75 million International African-American Museum.

"We've been working for over a decade to plan this museum and to carefully understand the opportunity and responsibility we have to tell this part of the American story," he said, standing on the site of Gadsden's Wharf.

The museum will tell the story of African-Americans from the slavery era to the present day, including the Civil War, Reconstruction and Jim Crow periods.

Riley said construction could begin in late 2015 with the museum opening in 2018.

AIRPORTS


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Spa, new restaurants at Chicago's O'Hare

Air travelers might actually want to get stranded at O'Hare International Airport now that the Chicago airport has its first spa.

The international terminal's XpresSpa is offering massages, manicures, hot shaves and yoga.

Chicago aviation officials announced the opening along with Italian restaurant Tocco and a coffee bar from roaster Kofe.

The new offerings are part of a $26.2 million overhaul of the food, retail and other concessions in Terminal 5 that began last year. It's the first redevelopment project since the terminal opened in 1993. Altogether there will be 18 new restaurants and shops.

EUROPE

Theme park proposed for island in Venice

An Italian company that built Coney Island's latest attractions and an amusement park in a never-activated nuclear plant in Germany has unveiled plans to invest $110 million for a theme park in Venice.

Alberto Zamperla, one of the main investors, said the theme park is planned for an abandoned island that once housed an incinerator, bringing economic and environmental benefits by cleaning up a toxic site and creating 500 jobs.

The project envisions a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel, a roller coaster and other rides, alongside installations illustrating the Venetian lagoon's fragile ecology and the city's history.

Zamperla is loath to call it an amusement park -- an easy target for detractors in Venice -- and the plan still faces a series of approvals.

-- Compiled from Associated Press reports