As predictably as the tides, summer approaches and the US Travel Association launches their “Daily Getaways” in an attempt to promote travel within the United States. And just like clockwork, the offers mostly generate a yawn from the travel hacking community. As usual, this year USTA is mostly just selling points and discounted theme park tickets. However, I did glance through the Las Vegas vacation packages and spotted a few offers that struck me as potentially good deals.
May 7: 4 nights at the Luxor for $500
The Luxor has a reputation as one of the more run-down properties on the Strip, and I’m sure that’s true, so ignore the value of the room itself: this package comes with a $400 food and beverage credit, and the credit can be used however you wish, while other Daily Getaway packages offer, for example, a $150 credit for a single meal. That reduces the chance of breakage (not using the full value of the credit) and overages (ordering a meal that exceeds the value of the credit), which means it should be worth very close to face value, assuming you value food at the Luxor at face value. Note that according to the terms and conditions the credit can’t be used at Diablo's Cantina or Public House, I assume because they’re owned by a third party, but can be used at Luxor’s TENDER Steakhouse, where entrees start at around $42, so a party of two should be able to get at least two or three meals from a $400 credit.
The Daily Getaway also includes two tickets to Blue Man Group. I know there are lots of options for discounted show tickets in Las Vegas, so it’s fair to value those tickets at perhaps $25 total.
If you get $400 in value from the dining credit, and $25 in value from the show tickets, you’ll be paying $75 total for four nights accommodation. That’s less than the resort fee you’ll pay at most Las Vegas hotels, even on a complimentary stay.
The other thing I liked about this offer is that it specifies the blackout dates in the terms and conditions, instead of simply saying “blackout dates apply” and leaving it up to the discretion of the hotel. The deal can be redeemed through January 31, 2020.
May 23: 4 nights at the Excalibur for $500
A similar deal to the Luxor, but with more restrictions: the $400 dining credit can only be used at the Camelot Steakhouse, which increases the chances of breakage and overages, but $25 per night is still lower than most Las Vegas resort fees, which means this has the opportunity to be a good deal — especially if you like steak!
May 14th: 2 nights at Harrah’s for $299
While not as good a deal as the Luxor or Excalibur, the Harrah’s offer again looks more competitive when you take the food benefit into account: it includes two “Buffet of Buffets” passes (as usual, upgrading to the Caesar’s Bachannal Buffet comes with an additional charge). If you want to try the Buffet of Buffets anyway (I did it once — it’s alright), then this deal will save you $120 plus tax, meaning you’ll pay $180 for two nights and roundtrip airport transportation.
I don’t like that the terms and conditions don’t mention the resort fee, which is $35 per night. Whenever a resort fee isn’t explicitly included, I assume it will be added, although it would be a pleasant surprise if not.
Like the Luxor deal, this offer explicitly names the blackout dates, “New Year’s weekend or Super Bowl weekend.” And finally, this deal has a much longer expiration date than some of the others, since you can book through July 1, 2020.
May 23: 3 nights at Circus Circus for $200
The Circus Circus offer is in some ways the most limited of the Daily Getaways, but also the one I’m most carefully considering buying for myself. It’s by far the cheapest, and explicitly includes the resort fee, so there’s no chance of surprise fees on checkout. The $75 Steak House credit is only good for a single visit, but is also low enough that there’s no chance of breakage. Likewise, it should be easy to get one breakfast buffet and one dinner buffet in over a 3-night stay.
The last time I stayed at Circus Circus they had a pitiful outdoor swimming pool, but it appears they’ve completely redesigned it. Since swimming is one of the funnest things you can do in Las Vegas, I’m considering this package if only to check out the reinvented waterpark.
May 7: 2 nights at New York New York for $549+. The resort fee is explicitly added to this deal, meaning the $475 price has to be adjusted upwards by $74, plus tax. December 28 expiration date and 3 long blackout periods mean there’s virtually no chance you’ll save money buying this deal, even taking the $400 dinner for two at Gallagher’s Steakhouse into account.
May 14: 2 nights at Bally’s for $500. A $150 dining credit, airport transportation, and two show tickets still make this a $350 two-night stay. You can do better.
May 14: 2 nights at Paris for $500. Ostensibly a better deal than Bally’s, but splitting up the $150 dining credit and $150 spa credit increases the chance of breakage and overages. $200 for two nights at Paris just doesn’t add up.
Conclusion: at peak periods, these are all good deals
The fundamental problem with trying to save money in Las Vegas is that 300 or so days a year, Vegas just isn’t that expensive. Between status matches, chain hotel partnerships, and other promos and gimmicks, my airline ticket is usually my biggest travel cost when visiting.
On the other hand, during peak periods, when the biggest national conferences and events come to Vegas, the deals dry up and the hotels and resorts actually try to make a profit from room rates instead of just relying on the slot machines. If you know you’ll visit Vegas during one of those peak periods, and are confident you’re not going to be locked out by limited availability and blackout dates, then jumping on a room rate of $25 or even $100 per night may end up saving you a lot of money.