Brit Guide Las Vegas 2010/11

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Latest news

Click here to find the latest tips on what's new - and what's hot - in Sin City.

Brit Guide partners, Alamo, offer 10% off car rental. And they have now introduced Pre Pay for online customers, so you no longer have to pay on arrival, but still get a great deal. Please note, this only applies to online bookings.

 

Hotels and rentals

Caesars Palace

 

HOTELS AND RENTALS

There are some great deals to be had so shop around!

Hotel rates

It has been twenty years since it has been so cheap to book Las Vegas hotel rooms. The sluggish economy is one factor. But a glut of high-end hotel rooms, symbolised by the opening of approximately 5500 rooms through City Center and the new Cosmopolitan, means you can consistently get rooms below $150 a night at the swank Aria, $67 per night at the upscale, all-suite side of HRH Tower (part of Hard Rock Hotel), and MGM Grand consistently at $55 per night or less. This has caused medium and low-end hotels and resorts to lower their prices and has even caused the venerable Sahara to finally close her doors on 6 May 2011.

How low? Palace Station has advertised nightly rates as low as $19, while the $67 per night rate I quoted for HRH Tower was during a busy weekend (a wonderful stay after I discovered it at www.expedia.com). In March, the Riviera advertised two nights absolutely free as long as you show a membership card in another casino’s player’s club (Must call: +01-800-637-5687 or +01-702-794-9571).

Brit Tip

Don’t be shy! If you are celebrating anything on your trip – a birthday, anniversary, planning to ask a special someone the ‘will you?’ question – let the desk clerk know about it at check in. Resorts often will do something special to help their guests in their celebration. A chilled bottle of bubbly in the room is a common result. Some travellers have received complimentary dinners or spa credits. Don’t be shy! Let the resort know what you are doing!

While you are at it, for 2011 you could really cater to the family with a Las Vegas getaway. With some of the city's most opulent suites renting for $40,000 per night or more, the adult-only, non-gaming Rumor Boutique Hotel had a magnificent deal. From 15 June through to 27 December, subject to availability, you can book the entire 150-room hotel for a night for just $13,000.

Brit Tip

One of the best way to get a great room is the $20 tip. When you check in, place a $20 bill between your identification and your credit card when you hand it to the desk clerk. Then ask in as casual a manner as possible, ‘Am I eligible for any free upgrades?’ The clerk sometimes will say no and hand the $20 back. Sometimes, though, the clerk will place you in a bigger room, or one with a great view. This is a common tactic and thousands of travellers every year receive an upgrade – often costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars – all for a $20 tip.

Buyer beware

Most hotels are fighting the rate crash by tacking on mandatory fees, so you need to compare different offerings with a keen eye. The popular trick is adding a daily ‘Resort fee’ – which is supposed to provide ‘free’ services like in-room internet and access to the resort’s spa and fitness facilities – and it can run anywhere from $9 to $30 a day. Somehow, paying for free services isn’t free in our book. There have been a few deals advertised where the mandatory fees were more than the quoted room rate. While these generally still meant they were good deals, they just weren’t nearly as magnificent as when you first read them, so beware. As of March 2011, the new Cosmopolitan, along with all of the Caesars Entertainment properties (Imperial PalaceBally’sHarrah’sRio SuitesParis andCaesars Palace), were the only major properties in the Las Vegas area that did not charge extra resort fees.

NOBU hotel

Get going while the rates are great. Las Vegas tourism is expected to climb higher while almost no additional hotels or resorts are expected to open any time soon. That means the current glut of rooms will probably ease towards the end of 2012, most probably resulting in higher room prices. The only project on the books is from Caesars Palace. The flagship property of Caesar’s Entertainment announced that it's teaming with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's hospitality company to transform the 180-room Centurion Tower into a NOBU-branded hotel, restaurant and lounge. The project should be completed in 2012 and will be the world's first NOBU hotel.

LODGINGS

Here is a look at some of the newest lodging options.

Cosmopolitan

Suave and modern, stylish and clean the Cosmo opened in 2011 to huzzahs from the public. Crystal chandeliers seem to be the theme as the tinkling and subtle lighting from her hundreds of glass fixtures gives Cosmo a subtle glow. Rooms are big, well appointed and most give great views. The Cosmopolitan does not permit smoking in any hotel rooms, but smokers are permitted to light up on their balcony. It's the only casino-resort in Las Vegas to ban smoking in all rooms.It has no less than thirteen top-end restaurants, several chic bars and a spa that no doubt will soon start collecting some world-class awards (Sahra Spa and Hamman) Rates are $160–$560 per night.

(3800 Las Vegas Boulevard South, www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com, +01-702-698-7000)

Hard Rock Hotel featuring HRH Towers

There can be opportunity in a problem. The Hard Rock is famous for her dark interiors and vast collection of rock and roll memorabilia, live shows and an unapologetic embrace of adult Vegas. The weekend ‘Rehab’ pool parties are famous for pounding music and liquor just a level below a fraternity party – and that’s loud!

It has also had a hard time management-wise, having cycled through three different management companies in four years while undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation. Her upgrades were completed in early 2010, so now you have a shining property with undoubted Hard Rock attitude that seems to stagger from one disaster to another. In February, the banks moved in and took her over, but while the legal dust settles the Hard Rock keeps grinding on, and are comfortable in the truly adult attitude of the HRH that gives you an opportunity. How adult? The separate front desk for the HRH Towers – a semi-detached, quasi-boutique suites-only section of the resort – features a large picture of rocker Madonna in her younger, topless years, while the elevator interiors are a retina-searing neon red. How good an opportunity? Room fees of $67 per night for a lovely four-star suite with a shower the size of my kitchen back home. This is at the weekend, mind you.

(4455 Paradise Road, www.hardrockhotel.com, +01-702-693-5000)

Ravella at Lake Las Vegas

Another hotel that has gone through a management change is the old Ritz-Carlton. Situated out to the east of Las Vegas at Lake Las Vegas, the Ravella re-opened in late February 2010 following another of Las Vegas’ multi-million dollar renovations. Early reports are that the hotel and resort are absolutely gorgeous and are also far from crowded, as the company is just starting to market her. So you get a four-star location 30 minutes from the craziness of the Las Vegas strip with golf and water sports close at hand.

(1610 Lake Las Vegas Parkway, Henderson, www.ravellavegas.com)

Vacation rentals

Often overlooked, Las Vegas is one of the best destinations in the world for using vacation rentals. Partly this is because of the vast number of timeshare properties in Sin City. Another reason is a large number of part-time residents in the city. In any case, most weeks there are large numbers of properties available to rent for the weekend or longer. You can stay in a comfortable flat, complete with kitchen and laundry facilities, without having to worry about other guests who have been enjoying liquid refreshment traipsing about and pounding on your door by mistake in the wee hours of the morning.

When you run a search for vacation rentals and find a promising situation, check carefully. Many sites provide reviews of the property and they can show if you have a great deal or something over-priced. A few excellent resources for finding vacation rentals in Las Vegas and area:

www.vrbo.com

www.homeaway.com

www.vacationhomes.com