Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our Top 15 Las Vegas Values

It's assumed that most Vegas visitors have their own list of cost or time saving factors that they personally enjoy and favor..as it should be. Here's ours.. (and we reserve the right to change these as our experiences and Vegas itself continues to evolve.)

1. SOUTHWEST AIRLINES AS AIR CARRIER :
In our experience, you can't beat this airline for average lowest fares to Vegas. Sign up for their e-mail and "Ding" services for online special offers. ( link)

2. ALWAYS RENT A CAR :
Even though presently car rental rates are trending upwards (perhaps partially due to reduced fuel prices) , we still feel that car rental provides for greater flexibility and freedom while in Sin City. With a modicum of research time and effort, it's possible to
find a decent deal in spite of the exorbitant taxes and fees associated with on-airport rentals (it can represent as much as 30 -
50% of overall rental costs). There are some off-airport sites that can potentially offer reduced daily rates but renters have to consider the added headaches of some of these options ; additionally, some off-airport rates ( eg strip motel site rentals) are actually higher than what can be obtained at the McCarran airport facility. When comparing car rental costs vs fees for taxis and shuttles, most times you'll find that you'll be ahead with the car , particularly if you consider the value and freedom to make spontaneous dashes somewhere when you want.

3. ELLIS ISLAND STEAK SPECIAL (OFF - STRIP) :
This is still a bargain at $6.95 (recently increased from $4.95). It's not on the menu..just request it. Ellis Island is located on
Koval Lane which parallels the strip a few blocks to the east.

4. SHRIMP COCKTAIL AT GOLDEN GATE (DOWNTOWN) :
Still just 99 cents for player's club members ( $1.99 for nonmembers) . My wife considers this a must ..so I tag along (worth it).

5. COUPON USE :
There's bunches of available free coupons and a few excellent purchasable bulk coupon sources for use in Vegas (refer to
Jan. 11, 2009 post here). These collectively can make a huge difference in your Vegas savings quest with a little invested
time and effort . We always purchase at least two bulk coupon sets from both the Las Vegas Advisor (now the Members Rewards Book, formerly Pocketbook Of Values) and the American Casino Guide . Two orders of each of these sources saves / produces about 4 -6 times their cost on average for us.

6. PLAYING THE COMP GAME :
If you literally "play your cards right" (or play high-payback slots / VP properly and with sound money management) , comp accrual can add very real dollars to your Vegas budget. I play $5 - $25 minimum blackjack (only those with good rule sets!)
and both the wife and I play high-payback slots / VP at 40 cents - $2.00 per spin denominations. We haven't paid for a room in Vegas for more than 2 years (8 trips lasting 4 - 9 days each ). There are ways to work the system (refer to articles
regarding gambling comps and some Las Vegas casinos offering recent player favorable blackjack rule sets
for 6 deck shoe and 2 deck pitch games with 3 : 2 natural payoffs.

7. VEGAS BUFFETS :
These obviously vary in price, service, culinary variety, and quality . We try to hit the upper end buffets (eg Bellagio's) at a shift / meal type changeover ; ie we buy in toward the end of the lunch buffet price at 30 -45 minutes before they switch to the
dinner offerings and sample both which results in a cost -savings of about 16 bucks. You have to identify the buffet locales
that do not close between shifts (some do ; refer to info regarding Vegas buffets that stay open between meal type changeovers) . We also load up at some of the cheaper buffets such as Terrible's
(mediocre quality) and Orleans (very good) and also utilize many 2 for 1 buffet coupons to save bucks at several off-strip
locales. We seldom experience more than one buffet a day while in Vegas but we take full advantage of it . If you load up properly (and actually survive it) , the calorie intake can sustain you for most of the day.

8. MGM MIRAGE PLAYER'S CLUB** :
Hands down, this club has provided us with the best overall comp rewards (mostly reflected in free room offers). Harrah's TR
club hasn't come close and we've given them ample play and opportunity. Additionally , there are generally better blackjack
games (player-favorable rule sets at $25 minimums) at MGM properties vs Harrah's. ( link )

**POST UPDATE 2/1/09 : I have to give Harrah's Total Rewards player's program some credit / kudos for the recent onslaught
of comp offers for us personally. It's completely unprecedented and great..I give them their due. See above post dated today
entitled "Harrah's Total Rewards 'Hot Deals ' Tip ". And then check their website yourself. :)

9. PLAYER'S CLUB AND HOTEL - CASINO E-MAIL LIST MEMBERSHIPS :
Particularly now (due to economic situation) , the value of this effort can't be overemphasized. Classic no-brainer value here.

10. FAB FOUR MANIA BEATLE'S IMPERSONATION SHOW :
We've always located discount tickets for this show (eg @ Goldstar , Tix4Tonight ,etc.) and found it to be comparatively worth the full price ticket. These guys have the Beatle's vocals, music, and mannerisms nailed ; it's a good show for fans of their
music ..or not.

11. STRATOSPHERE FREE FUNBOOK :
This funbook has had a good relative reputation in Vegas for years. There's some great gambling and dining goodies here.
You can pick it up for free at the Stratosphere player's club desk .

12. THE FREE STRIP SPECTACLE AT NIGHT ;
Bellagio's fountains, Mirage's Volcano, Luxor's pyramid beam, the visual of several converged casinos at the corner of
Tropicana Ave. and Las Vegas Boulevard (New York New York, MGM Grand, Excalibur, etc) , The Eiffel Tower at Paris, and the melded, skewed, and occasionally drunken, entertaining behavior of humans and a few monkeys along this iconic locale.

13. VEGAS OPTIONS :
The choices are truly endless. There's value in this fact as long as your cash and ability to remain standing hold out.

14. POINT MULTIPLIER / OTHER CASINO GAMBLING PROMOTIONS:
Take advantage of accumulating player's club points during 2 - 10X point multiplier days at many of the off-strip locales .
Refer to the Vegas Values Report at the American Casino Guide website for weekly updated casino promotion offers prior to your trip.

15. TRIP PLANNING WITH UPDATED RESEARCH :
This factor pays off multiplicatively at times. Car rental rates, airfare, room offer deals..like Vegas they change often. Visitors can accomplish this without turning it into a PhD level academic research event. If you enjoy Vegas, you'll enjoy spending time
planning / updating your cost-savings efforts at trip preparation ; it can provide a means to placate your daily routines until you can get there in person. *quivers*


Cheers..
Chuck60

2 comments:

Transcend said...

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PHL Taxi said...

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Mostly Useless (and approximate) Las Vegas Facts

1. Number of Las Vegas citizens   500,000
2. Number of Clark County residents   1,500,000
3. Year first casino licensed   1931
4. Number of slot machines in Vegas   200,000
5. Number of annual Vegas visitors   40,000,000 (and dropping)
6. Number of licensed gambling entities   1700
7. Hours per day average visitor gambles   4
8. Annual state gaming revenue   9 billion (and dropping)
9. Average gambling budget per trip   560  (and dropping)
10. Mean price per acre in valley   161,000.00
11. Price per acre on the Strip   11,000,000.00
12. Number of  hotel rooms   137,000 +
13. Number of pillowcases washed at MGM daily   15,000
14. Number of doors at MGM  18,000 
15. Annual no. toilet paper rolls used at Bally's   1 million
16. Lucky The Clown marquee sign at Circus Circus has
      1232 fluorescent bulbs, 14,498 incandescent bulbs, and
      3/4 mile of neon tubing light  (no wonder they're replacing
      it!)
17. In good times, Excalibur goes through over 44,000 
      Cornish game hens, 15 thousand pounds of hamburger
      meat, and 4200 pounds of prime rib monthly
18. Caesar's Palace has used 2 million plus maraschino 
      cherries, 11 thousand ounces of caviar, 2 million ounces
      of tomato juice, and close to 600 thousand ounces of
      vodka yearly (bloody mary winner?)
19. Mandalay Bay has 5,300 palm trees and their wave pool
      has a capacity of 1,640,270 gallons of water
20. Average nightly room rate  119.00 (and dropping)
21. Average number of Vegas weddings per day   300+
22. Number of golf courses  37
23. Miles of neon tubing on the Strip and Downtown  15,000
24. State's nationwide rank in gold production  1st
25. Cost of Nevada marriage license   35.00
26. Average cost of filing for divorce  450.00
27. Average length of stay for visitors    3.7 days
28. Number of hosted conventions annually  3750
29. The electric bill to operate the Luxor pyramid beam is
      approximately 55.00 per hour.
30. Las Vegas has 17 of the world's 20 largest hotels   

"WHERE'S MY WALLET , ETHEL!? "

Just a cautionary tip when in Vegas.. there are active
pickpockets all over town. I experienced this first-hand
and came within 10 seconds of losing my cash stash last July
while visiting one of those upper end joints on the strip.

I was gambling significantly at a video poker machine, unabashedly slipping C-notes in them. Somebody had been
observing my wagering behavior. I was happily winning at the time and my cautionary tendencies regarding my bankroll
money went south and out the window.

A lady approached me from behind as I played and was all aglow with my run of good luck. She initiated a conversation about nothing and anything . I was concentrating on proper VP strategy and responding to her comments with a lot of "yeah-yeahs". I was fortunate enough to get ahead on the machine again and I cashed out. I had a satchel (I normally never gamble under those conditions) with me that had assorted trip stuff in it. The satchel presence and the relatively high denomination coin-in amount collectively screamed " please rob me!" I placed my wallet in the satchel along with the machine cash-out tickets and proceeded to reconnect with my family and head to our room.

I had developed a sense of cautionary unease as I mulled over the contact with the effusively talkative woman at the VP machine. My senses told me that something about that encounter was skewed, although at the time I didn't know what it was and I wasn't bleeding profusely..yet. My group then proceeded to meander through a very crowded slot machine aisle and some other 6th, 7th, or 8th sense that vaguely detected an impersonal yet succinct encroachment into my personal space kicked in. Instinctively, I immediately dug into the satchel to locate my wallet and it was gone. I then immediately turned around and backtracked about ten feet (a matter of maybe 3 seconds, tops) as my endogenous adrenaline kicked in. I'm not sure that my hair wasn't on fire briefly.

I then spotted my wallet (and life) in a woman's hand who was playing a slot machine. I walked straight at her and demanded it post-haste in a tone that screamed seriousness. I immediately grabbed the wallet and called for security. The woman claimed she picked it up off the floor and so did the man (her accomplice) behind her, both vowing that they were planning to remit it to the security desk. My svelte ass they were.

This team of thieves including the woman who was all goony-googoo at the VP machine were pros. I have to claim part of the blame for the openly careless manner I had displayed with my money. They were held by security and the eye-in-the-sky tapes were to be reviewed.

The good thing is I didn't lose a cent because my peripheral senses kicked in immediately and they didn't have time to bury the evidence ( perhaps they weren't the best of pros?). Take heed folks..these people are everywhere in Vegas. Know where your cash is at all times; take precautions to protect it, don't flaunt it around carelessly as I did, and if you sense something is awry while gambling trust your instincts.

Distractions from one member of a team of thieves is a common MO. Store your gambling session monies in a front pants pocket or in one of those god-awful front-loaded fanny packs (pride be damned). The lesson I learned here after several years of Vegas gambling experiences turned out to be one of the most valuable for me personally.


Cheers..
Chuck60