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Las Vegas deemed sexiest city in America, just in time for a Valentine’s Day tourism bump

Randy Anderson and Jenni Lafollette of Minneapolis, Minn. look at a photo on their digital camera after getting married Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Las Vegas wedding chapels were busy all day as many couples wanted to get married on the date of 12-12-12.

Las Vegas Weddings

Christopher Pruett, left, and Cindy Zuniga of Honolulu, Hawaii, kiss after being pronounced man and wife at the Little White Wedding Chapel, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011 in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas, for the sixth year in a row, will be the most popular Valentine's Day destination in America.

The city also scored an added bonus this year: It was named the nation's sexiest city by customers of the travel website orbitz.com.

With reasonable midwinter deals abounding, Las Vegas is expected to have a big turnout for Valentine’s Day, as well as the three-day Presidents Day weekend that begins the day after Valentine’s Day.

“With Valentine’s Day backing into the Presidents Day weekend this year, it is easy to plan a long, romantic weekend getaway,” Orbitz Senior Travel Editor Jeanenne Tornatore said. “In a recent Orbitz survey, long weekends were a part of nearly three-fourths of Americans’ vacation strategy, with 71 percent taking the same or more long-weekend vacations over the previous year. Travelers are increasingly working their vacation banks to their advantage and planning multiple long-weekend trips to different destinations instead of just one long vacation.”

Las Vegas has been the top Valentine’s Day destination for the past five years. This year, it beat out New York; Orlando, Fla.; Miami; New Orleans; Houston; Chicago; San Francisco; Atlantic City; and Honolulu for the top spot.

Las Vegas helped itself in the rankings by having the third-lowest average daily room rate among the top 10 cities, at $145 a night.

It also was one of three destinations with a lower rate this year than a year ago. The city’s average rate for a hotel room this year is 7 percent less than it was in 2012. The biggest room rate decline occurred in New Orleans, where the rate was down 35 percent to $191 a night. Orbitz officials noted than unlike most years, the Mardi Gras revelry will be over before Valentine’s Day.

The highest average daily room rate among the top 10 cities is $287 a night in Miami; the lowest is $118 a night in Orlando.

Although Las Vegas has its value proposition in place, it has something else going for it. It’s sexy.

That was the conclusion Orbitz users came to in a nationwide survey conducted last month.

When asked what makes a city sexy, respondents said they were equally enthralled by location, scenery, architecture and quaint neighborhoods (32 percent). Other stimulating factors included culture (13 percent), people (11 percent) and nightlife (9 percent).

When selecting a hotel, travelers said they look for amenities to help set the mood: champagne and chocolates on arrival (34 percent), breakfast in bed (27 percent) and couples' spa services (26 percent).

Based on those criteria, Las Vegas finished ahead of Miami; New Orleans; San Francisco; New York; Aspen, Colo.; and Los Angeles for sexiness. Internationally, the world’s sexiest cities, according to the survey, are Paris; Rio de Janeiro; Tahiti; St. Tropez, France; Barcelona, Spain; Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Tokyo.

As part of the survey, Orbitz created a video asking travelers to weigh in on why they think Las Vegas is sexy. The answers:

“The bottle service and the hot ladies … that’s the reason that I’m going.”

“The showgirls. The sequins. The outfits.”

“It’s the buffets. … There’s nothing sexier than the free crab legs.”

“The Strip. It’s kind of a dirty word.”

“Diamonds and feathers. It’s the showgirls.”

“What makes Vegas sexy is the people. It’s kind of weird. If you’re married, you’re looking straight ahead. You can’t wander too far because you have eye boundaries. That’s what makes it sexy.”

Despite Las Vegas' sexiness, and its designation as the marriage capital of the world, officials with the Clark County Clerk’s Office’s Marriage Bureau said they aren’t expecting as big a rush for Valentine’s Day weddings as they have seen in past years. Because Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday, they expect only a small bump in people lining up Feb. 13 and 14. Couples prefer weekends to tie the knot.

“In a big year, we’ll have 400 to 500 people on the 13th and maybe 300 on the 14th,” said Neftali Cota, Clark County’s marriage services supervisor.

On an average day, 150 to 200 people apply for marriage licenses, Cota said.

In 2012, which also was a midweek Valentine’s Day, the county issued 428 licenses on the 13th and 326 on the 14th.

When Valentine’s Day falls on Saturday or Sunday during the three-day weekend — as it did in 2009 and 2010 — there’s a huge turnout. Cota said there were 850 licenses issued on Feb. 13, 2010.

The Clark County Clerk’s Marriage Bureau is open daily from 8 a.m. to midnight.

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