Tag Archives: hotels

Economy-Busting $40,000 Motel Rooms in Las Vegas

A library with dark, wood-paneled walls and a bookcase filled with leather-bound books sits adjacent to a regal living room at Caesars Palace’s Octavius Tower. You’d almost forget you were in Las Vegas if not for the tanning pool patrons outside the window. 

The antique-looking books in the library are seldom used, but they add to the villa’s residential illusion. So does the formal dining room that seats 12 and the media room with movie theater-style seating. 

The centerpiece of each villa is the patio overlooking the pool area. The villas opened last fall, but the new Garden of the Gods pool just began to welcome summer visitors. 

The three massive villas are the newest suites at Caesars Palace. With nearly 10,000 square feet of space, they’re some of the most opulent and largest suites on the Las Vegas Strip. The villas are on the second floor of Caesars’ unfinished Octavius Tower and are part of the resort’s long line of over-the-top suites.

 From the private elevator to the 24-hour butler service, everything about the Octavius villas feels exclusive, including the price tag. The cost for a night is $40,000. The price isn’t recession-friendly, but their patrons aren’t exactly struggling in today’s economy. 

The Octavius villas feel more like miniature mansions than hotel suites. Caesars spent about $15 million on each villa – a total of $45 million – to accomplish that goal. The villas are a collection of eclectic furnishings and faux artifacts, giving the feel of a collector’s well-kept home. 

Wilson & Associates designed each suite with an individual identity — an opulent Grecian palace, an Old World Spanish home and a Parisian luxury apartment.

The design firm is responsible for other suites at Caesars, as well as the fantasy suites at the Palms and the rooms and lobby at The Venetian. 

At 9,930 square feet, the Greek-style villa, which Caesars Palace dubs “Constantine,” is the largest of the three. The four-bedroom villa is far from subtle, but it’s subtly Greek with its fake marble columns and terracotta painted vases. 

After stepping off the private elevator into the marble foyer of the Greek villa, guests will find a formal sitting room, a grand Steinway piano and working fireplace. On the other side of the hall are rooms with a pool table, a restaurant-sized bar and a theater. 

Down a long hallway there are four bedrooms, each the size of a large hotel room, with walk-in closets and their own bathrooms. With custom marble and mosaics, no two bathrooms in the three villas have the same stonework. 

Inside the Greek villa, the master suite’s bathroom is almost as large as the bedroom itself. The bathroom is covered in green and beige marble and features his and her toilets, sinks and vanities. It also has a steam shower, towel-warming racks and flat-screen TVs, among other amenities. A marble-topped tub with gold-plated fixtures is the centerpiece of the lavish master bath. 

As trivial as they seem, the toilets are often the talk of the suites.  They’re controlled by remotes, function as bidets, have heated seats and the lid opens as guests approach. There’s never a reason to touch the toilet seat. 

The villas are filled with quirks galore: mirrors that turn into TVs, pianos that play themselves and chairs that massage to the beat of an iPod’s song. A networked system allows the butler to control every device in the villa. 

Though the three villas have different design schemes, they have similar amenities. The French villa is light and airy. The Spanish villa is designed with distressed wood throughout the main rooms. 

Off each living room is the patio that overlooks the pools. Each patio includes a fire pit, dining table and a private Jacuzzi. 

The view of Flamingo Road is less impressive. Those views are reserved for penthouses and other suites higher than the pool level. The resort’s two 10,000-square-foot penthouses in the Forum Tower are still the largest suites at the resort. Caesars Palace now has 11 villas, 11 penthouses and about 200 suites.

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Cosmopolitan Hotel-Casino Plans December Opening in Las Vegas

The new $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel-casino will open mid-December with about one-third of its 2,995 total rooms delaying opening until July 2011. 

It’s likely to be the last major new hotel-casino to open on the struggling Las Vegas Strip for at least a few years. 

Cosmopolitan’s CEO John Unwin said the hotel’s amenities include 13 restaurants, a spa, nightclub, 150,000 square feet of meeting and convention space and retail stores.

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NASCAR in Las Vegas Will Exceed Super Bowl Fan Draw

The many NASCAR driver meet-and-greet events and deafening varooms befitting plenty of exciting dirt track racing action all started yesterday in Las Vegas.  By the time the marquee Sprint Cup Shelby American on Sunday is over, an estimated 300,000 people will have experienced the roar of racing in their ears and smell of gasoline enticing their nostrils.   That’s four times the attendance at the Super Bowl, according to Chris Powell, president of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

For the Sprint Cup race alone – the biggest event of the weekend – in 2009 about 140,000 spectators saw the race.  That’s down from about 152,000 in 2008 and the record attendance of 156,000 in 2007. 

Regardless of the ending attendance figure this year, the significant question is if those people can translate into record spending.  Most Las Vegans are hoping and praying it does, giving their languishing economy a much needed economic bump. 

Out-of-towners hold the key trump card to this weekend’s economic prosperity, comprising 70 percent of the race crowd invading Las Vegas. 

Attempting to lure more tourists to the track than prior years, race ticket prices at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway have been greatly reduced this year. With more people attending, hopefully, that will translate into more ancilliary spending on goods and services. 

Las Vegas hotels will undoubtedly be the major economic beneficiaries. The recessionary price levels of hotel rooms that have plagued Las Vegas for the past year have virtually disappeared, albeit temporarily. The Riviera, mirroring what most Las Vegas hotels are doing, is jacking their weekend’s room rates to a whopping $224 per night.  But next weekend the Riviera will zoom back down to their customary $79 level. 

Budget hotel are also raising their rates, as well the higher priced Strip hotels, such as Harrah’s that is sold out all weekend, and Wynn Las Vegas and the Hard Rock Hotel, both sold out on Saturday. 

VEGAS.com reports their Web site’s hotel room sales are up 30 percent. 

Rolling up the total revenue picture, excluding gambling revenue, the associated revenues from last year’s NASCAR weekend raked in $107 million, according to the Las Vegas convention and Visitors Authority. 

But that doesn’t come close to 2008 revenue, when the haul was $134 million. Most don’t think this year will equal that level. However, should the heavy rain that is anticipated to blanket Las Vegas intermittently on Saturday postpone Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300 race and cause the race to move to Monday, that might be just the silver lining needed to help close the revenue gap, keeping race fans in Las Vegas and extra day or two, perhaps aided in no small part by the dangling carrot of being able to see heartthrob racer Danica Patrick strut her stuff. 

Will this year’s racing events add up to yielding the top revenue producing weekend in Las Vegas?

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Harrah’s Starts to Manage Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on Saturday

Harrah’s Entertainment is taking over management of hotel operations at the Planet Hollywood casino-resort in Las Vegas as it continues to negotiate with lenders to buy the property. 

The privately held casino operator, who likes Planet Hollywood for its location and brand, said today that it would start managing the hotel at midnight this Saturday, Jan. 16. 

Regulatory filings show the resort defaulted on an $860 million loan in September. 

There is no deal yet for Harrah’s to take ownership of the property, but the gambling giant has applied with Nevada gambling regulators for a license to run it. 

Planet Hollywood has 2,500 rooms and manages another 1,200 units, including vacation homes and regular hotel rooms, in a tower that opened earlier this month.

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New Hotel Rooms Aplenty in Las Vegas Create Buyer’s Nirvana

Recession?  What recession?  Apparently, Las Vegas is being true to its persona- betting heavily that 1,575 new hotel rooms are just what the doctor ordered- if not now, maybe in the future? 

A mere two weeks after the debut of the Aria at the $8.5 billion new CityCenter, two more casino properties have entered the Las Vegas lodging fray in a market already straining to fill the rooms it already has, witnessed by an average mid-80 percent fill rate and drastically declining room rates. 

The 52-story PH Towers at Planet Hollywood Resort have just added 1,201 rooms yesterday.  The rooms are being marketed at $229 midweek and $349 weekends.   And the top four floors will be 16 condominiums for sale, ranging from 6,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet.

Not to be outdone, the Hard Rock Hotel also yesterday added their HRH tower, bringing 374 more rooms that include seven penthouse suites and eight spa villas.  Opening with their tower is the 25,000-square-foot Reliquary Spa, a new parking garage with a porte-cochere and 40,000 square feet of new casino space.  Think it ends there?  Hardly.  A new Hard Rock nightclub, the 14,000-square-foot Vanity, waits opening on Dec. 31, which will also mark lights out for the venerable celebrity hangout, Body English.

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Historic Binion’s Hotel in Las Vegas to Close

Another legendary landmark Las Vegas hotel has put up a permanent no vacancy sign. Binion’s announced Monday it will shut down its 365 rooms on Dec. 14. The casino and other operations, though, will reportedly remain open. 

Binion’s officials have said the reason for shutting down the hotel operations was because of the ever slumping economy which has forced room rates to drop and vacancies to rise. 

Even though the casino will stay open, there’s no question the decision will be a blow to a downtown that has struggled — even during the talks of revitalization. 

It’s been a staple on Fremont Street for more than half a century. Word of the closure spread quickly. 

Binion’s original coffee shop and Keno operation will also close, but the entire casino operation — including the Sports Book and the famed poker room which hosted the World Series of Poker from 1970 to 2005 — will stay open. 

But the hotel closure could impact gaming. 

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is trying to help Binion’s owners and lenders hammer out a deal to keep the hotel open. He said he does not think this will impact his plan to revitalize downtown. 

“Once you start saying you’re not going to do those things, then you recede. Vegas is a very funny place. We go through these ups and downs. We’ve been here before, perhaps not to this level, but I don’t blame this on Las Vegas. Las Vegas has the infrastructure in place. We’ve got the best hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment,” Goodman said. 

Goodman said it’s hard to find investors to come in with fresh money to refurbish rooms, but he’s not giving up.  “We have to keep pushing forward, now more than ever,” Goodman said. 

About 100 people will be laid off when the hotel closes. 

Anyone who has a reservation after Dec. 14 is being referred to Binion’s sister property across the street, The Four Queens. 

Most of the restaurants, including the famed Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse, will remain open.

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Bravo for Wynn Las Vegas Encore

Travel and Leisure Magazine named the Wynn Las Vegas Encore to its “It List:  45 Best New Hotels in 2009” in its June issue.  The “It List” is an annual list compiled by the magazine. Encore

Travel and Leisure editors said while there are touches of opulence and luxury around every corner, “we fell for the natural touches:  sunlight inside casino and a botanical backdrop of sculpted flower beds, laurel tree, and spotted palms that make the 2.3 million square feet of public space feel downright cozy.” 

The $2.3 billion Encore, Steve Wynn’s latest creation, opened last December in Las Vegas.  It has 2,034 rooms and suites, 72,000 square feet of gaming space, five restaurants and 11 high-end retail stores.

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Las Vegas Room Occupancy Rates Bounce Back

roomsLas Vegas is not going back to their heyday of charging $500 per night room rates.   With ever increasing competition and the growing room inventory, those days are probably gone forever.  

But visitors are now at least starting to return to the bright neon of Las Vegas, lured by the lower relative room rates and successful direct marketing drives by Las Vegas hotels that are filling the weekday void left by conventiongoers whose budgets have dwindled. 

Las Vegas vigorous room marketing efforts are at last starting to pay off.  

With Las Vegas hotel demand and occupancy rates inching upwards, Las Vegas resort executives are rethinking their room strategies and are considering increasing room rates, a move that could contribute to improving their sagging profit margins and contribute to the start of a healthy Las Vegas business rebound in 2010. 

“The weekends are consistently solid now,” MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren said during a conference call last week to discuss first-quarter earnings.  “Even when we don’t have a major event we are able to occupy rooms at a solid level.” 

In January, MGM Mirage’s hotels had an occupancy rate in the 70s- a respectable statistic for many major cities but ranked poor for Las Vegas, where hotels have historically operated at higher than 90 percent occupancy.  That figures has risen each month this year, reaching 95 percent in March and 97 percent in April, in line with a year ago before business worsened. 

Las Vegas room rates although increasing, are still depressed, according to official figures from earnings reports and tourism officials.  MGM Mirage’s revenue per available room was $102, or 34 percent lower in the first quarter than the year-earlier period. 

Undaunted, Phil Ruffin, who bought Treasure Island from MGM Mirage in March, plans to raise their room rates.  “I’m not going to give rooms away.  That’s a heads-in-beds philosophy,” Ruffin said.  “I don’t want the $50 customer.” 

You can still make money – more money, in fact – by running at 70 to 90 percent occupancy and charging more for rooms, according to Ruffin.

Whether this strategy and others like it continues to work depends on the ongoing reaction of recession-battered tourists that have now tasted sweet vintage hotel price deals in Las Vegas.  

Las Vegas tourism growth, analysts say, will only continue if tourists believe they’re getting a bargain and a good combination deal- not just a good room rate, but meals, shows and drinks as well.

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1930s Trailer Living Becomes En Vogue in Las Vegas

What goes around comes around.  Especially in Las Vegas, a city that continually reinvents itself by offering a blinding array of kitschy, hip, and retro alternatives to delight its visitors.  The newest opportunity:  You can plunk down $45 for an overnight trailer stay smack dab on The Strip in an asphalt campground.  It’s not any trailer.  Oh no. Rather, you get to enjoy ol’ time nostalgia living in a 25-foot classic silver-bullet Airstream trailer.  airstream

Airstream has delivered 10 of its snazzy period travel trailers to the Kampgrounds of America parking lot of Circus Circus in Las Vegas.  They’re available for immediate overnight rentals.  Think of it- could even make for a great honeymoon suite. 

With the prices of mid-level and lower-tier Las Vegas resorts plummeting, it could actually be cheaper to stay at a regular hotel.  But is economy what you really want for your vacation (or your honeymoon)? Consider that by staying in an Airstream you’ll have a bevy of gaudy red plastic flamingos hanging out in your asphalt yard.  Kids won’t be running up and down your hallways.  You will have a full galley, so you can cut down your costs of eating out.  And you won’t have housekeepers banging their vacuum cleaners against your door at an ungodly early hour when you’re otherwise predisposed.  

However, if grilling burgers in the rare air of Vegas or the haunting flamingos get too much, just pull the blinds and hole up inside of your Airstream with some Twinkies and Ho Hos and watch some cable-TV on two Toshiba flat screens.  (Yeah, I know, that doesn’t quite go with the feng shui of the 1930s ambiance, but after all it is Las Vegas.) 

The fact is that you may go so ga-ga over the whole experience that you might want to dig deeper in your pocket and pop for $50,000 for one of your own.  Maybe even a full-time abode?

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Resorts Continue to Build in Las Vegas

Despite our economy, there still is much casino and hotel room construction going on in Las Vegas. In fact, nearly 13,000 hotel rooms remain under construction in 2009.

The $2.9 billion Fontainebleau mega-resort is planned to open late this year.  It features 3,815 rooms and suites; 27 restaurants and bars; a 7-acre pool deck with four pools; a 350,000-square-foot shopping area called the Runway; and a spa with 55 treatment rooms.  That’s a mouthful.

The Silverton Casino Lodge is undergoing a $130-million expansion including adding pools, a high-limit gaming salon and 800 slot machines.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino expects to add 950 guest rooms and expand the pool, while adding more meeting space.

The $1-billion M Resort is heading toward a March 1 opening of its 390 guest rooms and a 100,000-square-foot pool that gives the feel of being in a canyon.

Finally, construction continues on Las Vegas’ 900-lb gorilla, CityCenter, an $8.6-billion development slotted to open in late 2009.  Hotels in the project include the 4,000-room, 61-story Aria Resort & Casino; a 400-room Mandarin Oriental, the first in Las Vegas; and Vdara, an all-suite condo/hotel project with more than 1,500 units. Structural issues have delayed the opening of CityCenter’s Harmon Hotel.

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Largest Hotel in the World Planned for Las Vegas

The U.S. is in the midst of a choking recession.  But that’s not stopping a financially struggling Israel-based development group from planning to build the world’s largest hotel in Las Vegas.firstworldhotel

A holding company that includes the AFI Group, formerly known as the Africa Israel Group, is planning to soon go before the Clark County commissioners in Las Vegas for use permits to build a 6,475-room hotel, casino, and retail complex on 60 acres along Harmon Avenue, west of the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. 

Currently, the largest hotel in the world is the 6,118-room First World Hotel in Malaysia.  But many of the largest hotels in the world are already in Las Vegas, including the 5,690-room MGM grand, the 4,408-room Luxor, and the 4,341-room Mandalay Bay and The Hotel resorts. 

Approval of the permits would give the group two years to begin construction on the project or seek an extension.  Permit approval would allow the development group to go to investors and banks seeking financing for the project.  No price on the project currently available.

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Donald Trump Just Trumped Himself – Super Las Vegas Deal

Unlike Britney Spears, most of us can’t afford the Hugh Hefner suite at the Palms Casino & Resort.  When we travel to Las Vegas we’re looking for room deals at Priceline.com , Travelocity, and other online merchants.   However, the current economic conditions have caused many four- and five-star hotels in Las Vegas to offer deals – steals – that are well worth the cost of many flights.

 Trump Hotel in Las Vegas – one of the newest and most luxurious hotels here – has just announced that they are offering rooms as low as $89 per night, with no minimum stay.  When booking, just ask for their “Suite Escape” and you’ll get to stay in a Studio Suite.  If the gold “T” on your door doesn’t impress you, perhaps the 500-thread count sheets and floor-to-ceiling 14 carrot gold-gilded windows will.  Spending time at the spa is also not as expensive as it was just 30 days ago.   Depending on the package you select, you could get up to a $50 spa credit for any of their services offered.

 And since you’ll be in Las Vegas anyway (here’s hoping), why not consider booking a reservation to see Carrot Top perform at the Luxor?  Book online and take advantage of a 20% discount on show tickets or call the Luxor at 702-262-4000 and arrange for a dinner and show for less than $100 per person.  (Yes, you read that right.)

Talk about going to Vegas on the cheap. . .

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Las Vegas’ New Cocktail: Neon & Mountain Spritzer

Unbenounced to throngs of Las Vegas casino denizens that seldom shift their gaze up from the one-armed bandits staring in front of them, a unique change of pace environment for fun and frolicking is emerging in Las Vegas.  It is a radical – some say refreshing – departure from the blinding neon and glitz of our valley.

And it’s also that special kind of place where local Las Vegans wouldn’t tell their visitors about it, because then they’d have to pop them to insure the word about the good find doesn’t get out to others.   But Bugsy Siegel is long dead.  (He is, right?)  Safely releasing the cat out of the bag – I hope – the alpine getaway is . . . drum roll . . .Mount Charleston, located about an hour’s drive north from downtown Las Vegas.mountcharleston

But the travel news is much more than just another scenic day trip.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the scenic 64-room Mount Charleston Hotel is being renamed to the Resort on Mount Charleston, and the facility, originally built in the 1980s, is getting a major facelift including the current building of a new gym that will face out to the canyon, and renovations to the bar, dining areas, and spa.  The spiffed-up resort guest suites are planned to feature such amenities as kitchenettes, granite counters, mini-refrigerators, wine refrigerators, ovens, ranges, and even flat-screen TVs. 

And you thought Las Vegas was just for gamblers?   (But for those of you reading this and are getting a nasty flair up of gambling shakes, there are limited video poker machines on the property now with plans for expanding gaming.)

In our challenging economic times, it’s a business risk for Stephen Siegel, owner of the Resort on Mount Charleston, and Michael Crandall, the director of business for the Siegel Group.  But they have an innovative – brilliant – marketing idea:  In addition to expanding their traditional advertising methods to draw new clients, they want to link the Resort on Mount Charleston into listings on Las Vegas hotel-booking websites in search of new customers who want to visit Las Vegas but stay in a more serene or non-Strip setting.  They also want to establish a rewards program that links their resort to their other Las Vegas properties – the Gold Spike apartment complexes and Barcelona hotel-casino – to draw even more potential visitors.

In tough times, the tough always get going.  Godspeed to the Siegel Group.

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