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Las Vegas is one of my favorite cities. I have no idea how many trips I have under my belt but got to be close to 25 I am guessing.
From the days of trying to find a cheap package, to trying to get a cheap room comped, to simply flying on points, I’ve experienced them all. There are so many ways to get there and do it cheaply. I will admit, my trips are more focused now and I probably don’t do as much tourist type stuff as I used to, but there are so many things I love about Vegas and so many ways to do it cheaply.
First off, depending where you are coming from, Las Vegas can be a great value flight. You have a couple different options as far as flights. For the first timer or someone that just wants value, a package can get you there cheaply. If you do book a package, I always recommend going through one of the airlines directly so at least you know you’re protected with any flight issues.
If you think you’ll be back or what to protect yourself with better protections in case of travel issues or room assignments, then booking direct can be just as cheap and sometimes cheaper. It also allows you to cancel rooms if you find a better deal which a package may not do.
I tend to stick to the major airlines with Alaska or Southwest. Delta has made its mark a bit larger into the Seattle market so that can be an option too. For the super value seeker, you can do Spirit or Frontier, but please, I say again, please know what you are getting into with those airlines. Other options in my region include Bellingham and Portland. Soon, Everett will enter the market as well.
Research all options. This will take you about 15-20 minutes of your time. Using your dates, go to a site like Google Flights. Enter your dates and see the prices. You can then filter out airlines that you don’t want to use. For example, having Spirit in the search will make flights look much lower.
I talk about hotels in the next section but if you have one in mind then go find the price of that room using a site like Trip Advisor. Don’t forget about resort fees. Now you have hotel and flight prices so you can compare those to package prices if you want to go that route.
For the first timer, I will always suggest the strip.
That’s where you can walk for hours, get blisters, and take in all the sights and sounds of Las Vegas. It’s easier to get your bearing and navigate around. A majority of the hotels are owned by two groups. MGM has a loyalty program called MLIFE where you can get deals by signing up for players cards. You may get return cheap offers on rooms. Caesars has a loyalty program called Total Rewards which I always refer to as the Harrah’s properties.
MLIFE-Mandalay Bay, Delano, Luxor, Excalibur, MGM, MGM Signature, NY NY, Park MGM (formerly Monte Carlo), ARIA, VDARA, Bellagio, Mirage, and Circus Circus,
MGM resorts are in partnership with Hyatt and you can earn Hyatt stays for staying at MLIFE properties.
Total rewards-Caesar’s, RIO (not on strip), Harrah’s, Planet Hollywood, Bally’s, Paris, Flamingo, The LINQ, NOBU, The Cromwell.
Other-On the Strip you have The Venetian and Palazzo both owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The Cosmopolitan is owned by The Blackstone group. Cosmo is partners with the Marriott rewards program. You can earn Marriott stays and benefits for staying here. Treasure Island is independently own by a billionaire. Treasure Island has some great deals if you want to avoid the other big hotels.
If staying off the strip you have the downtown/Fremont area which provides a must-see experience regardless of where you stay. Check out the Fremont street experience at night.
As far as booking hotels, I always recommend booking direct. This gives you a few benefits. First off, you have the ability to usually cancel if you book a refundable rate. This means you can keep searching for better deals or you might simply change your mind. You can book directly through the hotels and sign up for their rewards programs all at the same time if you want. I will say though, signing up for a player’s card in person for the first time usually will gain you valuable perks such as free slot play or giveaways. If you don’t have a player’s card I would direct without a card, get a card when you get there, and add it to your reservation after the fact. You then charge any expenses allowed to your room. This leads to comps perhaps as well. See my comps section for more on that.
You can also use sites like Smarter Vegas
It connects with your promo codes and directs you to the hotel site directly to book. It’s a great place to look.
So, here’s apparently the history of resort fees as told by Anthony Curtis recently at a presentation I was at. He explained that initially it was a way for the hotel to create and charge a fee that the third-party sites like Expedia and Priceline can’t get a cut off. Each booking one of those sites makes, gets a percentage of the room rate but because resort fees are charged by the resort directly, all that money goes to the hotel. In addition, they can make their rates look lower on search engine websites.
However, I think we can agree it has gotten a bit out of hand. You’re not getting much extra. Access to a fitness center? A bottled water in your room maybe? I would prefer the hotels and resort just combine them into one price. Or why not waive the resort fee if you book direct, that way the hotel is getting the cut that would go to the other companies?
My thoughts? Many times, you are still getting a great room for $100 or less sometimes, even with the resort fee. I do the match combined and completely fine paying the fee but would rather see it combined. For those that book through a third party, getting a $300 bill at check out after a week can be a surprise if you don’t pay attention.
RESORT FEES LIST (via Las Vegas Advisor) CLICK HERE