No tourist destination in America has been hit harder than Las Vegas. The current prices there for rooms and meals are so low that they can't be grasped in the abstract; they have to be set forth dollar-by-dollar to be believed.
Because of torrid temperatures discouraging visitors, the casino-hotels of Las Vegas slash their room rates in summer to their lowest levels of the year. A perceptive Web site dealing with Vegas, Anthony Curtis's Las Vegas Advisor, publishes a yearly survey of summer rates at 84 major Vegas hotels, and this year it has found no fewer than 16 properties charging less than $20 a room for Sunday-through-Thursday stays (only one hotel went that low in 2008). These include:
Binion's, Boulder Station, El Cortez, Fiesta Rancho, Four Queens, Golden Gate, Hooters, Palace Station, Plaza, Sahara, Sam's Town, Terrible's, Texas Station and Wild Wild West.
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Hotels charging less than $30 a room per night include Arizona Charlie's Boulder, Arizona Charlie's Decatur, Circus Circus, Fiesta Henderson, Fitzgerald's, Fremont, Gold Coast, Imperial Palace, Main Street Station, Riviera, Silverton, Stratosphere and Tropicana.
Less than $50 a room: Bally's, Casino Royale, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, Luxor, M Resort, Monte Carlo Royal, and South Point.
As for the "high end," you can get a weekday room at New York New York for $53 (that's per room, not per person), at the Marriott for $59, at Paris for $64, Mirage for $79, Mandalay Bay for $96, Bellagio for $112, Red Rock for $125, Encore for $149, Wynn for $155 and the Four Seasons for $229.
And have you heard of the Las Vegas "freecation"? This was offered by several suburban hotels (in Primm, Nev.) until recently (but is no longer available) to Las Vegas locals who could prove they were permanent residents: a room for two nights, breakfast, lunch and dinner, drinks, attraction passes and $50 slot free-play-all for no charge. (The hotel hoped to earn from the casino losses of these guests.)
And then there are meals:
The one-price-and-eat-all-you-want-all-day has become the latest lure created by near-desperate Las Vegas hotels. A commentator on Las Vegas Advisor recently published the one-day rates that major, buffet-featuring hotels are now offering to guests and non-guests equally:
MGM, $29.99 (Mon.-Thu.)
Palace Station, $19.95
Stratosphere, $19.99 (Sun.-Thu.).
And lest there be any doubt, these prices enable you to have: (1) an all-you-can-eat breakfast from a giant selection of breakfast dishes and beverages; (2) an all-you-can-eat lunch from several different food stations; and (3) an all-you-can-eat dinner from the same groaning board.
But you'll need to return to the same hotel at mealtimes to enjoy these Lucullan food orgies. Do that, and you'll reduce your total daily food costs to the kind of amounts that others spend for only one meal. It's the latest Las Vegas effort to attract business at a time when tourism to Sin City is badly down.