Sunday, August 16, 2009

Innovations in Separating You and Your Cash

I have to give props to the guys over at MGM/Mirage for coming up with innovative ways to part you from your cash even in this tough economic environment. First, they started the latest hot trend in bargain dining, the "All-Day Buffet." For one low price, you can gorge yourself from morning to night thus insuring that you never even leave your hotel. It started at the Excalibur Buffet, which I wouldn't eat a single meal at let alone three, but the idea has now spread all over town from the locals joints up to the higher-end places.

The gurus at the MGM Grand have now come up with another way to keep you captive in their hotel. They recently introduced the "Prima VIP Privilege" program. Basically, you post $500 to your room account at check-in which you then use for food, drinks and entertainment. In exchange, they bestow upon you a bevy of goodies and perks. You get VIP Check-In, free suite upgrade, 2 for 1 entrees at most restaurants and 2 for 1 drinks at most bars. VIP Access to Studio 54 and Tabu, 1 round-trip limo to another MGM property and some others goodies. It sounds like an awesome deal. The catch? If you don't use the $500, no refunds. You lose what ever is left over. Therein the lies the pitfall of most "good" Vegas deals like this. The casinos are marketers second to none and while the offer is 100% legit, you have to work to get your money's worth out of it and they know most people simply won't do it. For every guy who get the maximum value out of it, 5 will leave $100 in their account on the way out the door.

Offers like this have made "working the Vegas deal" a science onto itself. Casinos work non-stop to get people in the doors. Everything from 2 for 1 coupons in the magazines to fully comped suites for the best players. For those in the know and are willing to put in a little effort, working these casino offers can be quite lucretive. For example, the "Prima" deal can be a nice windfall if you plan on eating most of your meals at MGM, going to their shows and partying at their clubs. For a 3 or 4 night stay, $500 is pretty easy to spend and scoring those added free perks along the way on as a bonus makes it a great deal. You just need to plan for it going in otherwise you will find yourself leaving money on the table. Learning these little insider tips on how casinos work have saved me literally thousands of dollars over the years. Looking back on my first couple of trips, I laugh at some of the foolish things I did with my money! Two great sources I use for finding the best deals in town and how to take advantage of them are the Las Vegas Advisor and the weekly LV Review-Journal column, Player's Edge. Both are worthy resources that everyone who is going to Vegas should have bookmarked. In the case of the LV Advisor, the membership is the best $50 I ever spent. It can pay for itself tenfold in a single trip. And no, they don't pay me to pimp for them!

Click Here for more details about MGM Grand's Prima program.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Vdara Opening Delayed...

I just spoke with the Director of Hotel Operations at Vdara, the 1st piece of City Center scheduled to open, and was told my reservation for opening night of October 1st has been cancelled and they are now delaying the opening until December 1st, 16 days before the opening of the rest of City Center.

Booking a room on the opening night of a hotel is always fraught with risk. Most usually don't hit their targets and if they do, it's usually with a "soft opening." So I was kind of expecting this to happen though was hoping that it wouldn't be delayed. She was very apologetic and comped me 2 nights once they do open. I used one of them for the new opening night of Dec 1st.

Updated: 08/03/09 4:00PM

Just to add a little more detail about our conversation... She mentioned the reason for the delay was Vdara is relying on the rest of City Center to provide many of its amenities. Since it will not be opened for 2 and half months after the planned Vdara opening, they would not be able "to provide their guests a complete experience." So instead of going with the "soft" opening, they decided to push it back closer to the December 16th opening of the rest of City Center while still giving themselves 2 weeks to work out any kinks. It also seems to me that it is convenient reasoning if they aren't quite ready to open the place. It makes sense from a PR stand-point. There is way too much at stake with this whole project to risk starting off with bad press if you can just as easily give yourself 2 months to get everything right.

Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!