Monday, July 9, 2012

The Buffet: 2012 Trip Report Part 3

Part 1: The Plan
Part 2: Baker
Part 3: The Buffet
Part 4: Monday (arrival)
Part 5: Tuesday
Part 6: Wednesday
Part 7: Thursday
Part 8: Friday (departure)

By buffet, I mean a veritable smorgasbord of cheap lodging options, some of which in fact come with a free actual buffet.  Arriving in Las Vegas on a Monday in mid-July and staying until Friday means hotels are practically begging you to fill their rooms that would otherwise be free of human occupancy, and free of income production.

Most folks in this situation would make a beeline for one of the big strip resorts, which can be had way cheaper than investors in the hotels built since 2000 had ever intended - but that is not how we roll.

The strip had rooms this week that were perfectly affordable, even for a tightwad such as myself.  However, we are traveling with kids, so our priorities are different.  A view of the fountains isn't nearly as important as easy access between the parking lot and the hotel room.  It's also nice to have a kitchen, or something approximating a kitchen, at least with a refrigerator and a table with chairs.  As I've said before, we want to be in a place where we and our kids are welcomed and appreciated.  We would like to be able to leave the premises without a long adventure in the parking lot or long wait at the valet station.  Finally, one other reason I don't seek out the higher-end Strip resorts is that I really feel like I can appreciate the trappings of luxury only when I've gotten them for free, or nearly so.  Otherwise, five stars doesn't do much for me that three stars can't.

Finally, having done the strip plenty of times over the last 21 years, we get it, and have had about enough of the crowds and the full retail prices.  We will visit to see the latest display at the Bellagio, maybe go to a spa and one high-end buffet, etc., but most of the time we will be with the kids doing kid stuff, off the strip, as described elsewhere in this blog.  We travel as much as we can.  When we do, we travel relatively frugally, and are always looking for an angle.

Last year, we were able to rent a timeshare on Ebay from someone who couldn't use theirs, for the bargain-basement rate of $259 total for a 7-day stay.  The market definitely seems to have picked up from that all-time low, and it's hard to find a timeshare for only 4 days .

So here are the options we are looking at.  All rates are per night.

Tuscany Suites: room is $32.25 + $14 resort fee + tax, total about $55/night for a 600 s.f. king room with semi-kitchenette (no stove).  Internet is free at the pool, but costs extra in the room. Tuscany is a small casino hotel with low-rise buildings.  The kids would sleep in the convertible sofa bed or in sleeping bags on the floor, which they are fine with and often do at home anyway.  "Resort fee includes:  2 for 1 entree at your choice of 2 restaurants: Cantina or Marilyn's Cafe, $20 food credit with $40 purchase at Tuscany Gardens, Match play on table games, Valet Parking, use of Fitness Center, In-room safes, Local Phone calls, In-room coffee, Internet throughout the reception building and convention public area; extra fee for internet use in suite."

Alexis Park:  I've never stayed here but I guess I signed up for their email list, because they just sent me a juicy offer: "Stay 2 nights and get the second night free plus $20 in free gas card."  (Presumably we would get 2 gas cards for staying 4 nights.)  After clicking through, we apparently can get a 1-bedroom king suite for $49.50/night (that's half the regular room rate, since the second night is free) plus tax, or about $55.  No resort fee, but apparently no free internet anywhere on property.  For about another $15 a night they have an upgraded 2-story loft suite.

The Alexis Park is across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel.  Judging from reviews on TripAdvisor, etc, they seem to get a lot of the low-rent overflow from the Hard Rock, and in fact make every guest sign a "no partying" pledge.  Hmmm.

Sam's Town:  This is a bit far-flung, but a lot of the things we like to do aren't far from it.  Their offer is $26.99/night per room, which includes 2 breakfast buffets per day.  Accounting for tax and resort fee, that comes to $34.73 per night per room.   At that price, we could splurge and get a second room, if they have adjoining rooms, and a good portion of our dining budget would be taken care of.  One feature, which some would consider an asset but is a drawback for us, is its proximity to the Hard Rock Hotel.

The other Coast casinos (Suncoast, Orleans, Gold Coast) have similar deals, although the Sam's town is the lowest.  I do like the Coasts for their inexpensive restaurants, especially the coffee shop.  (However I was at the Gold Coast late one night last year and surprised and angry to learn that the Cortez room is not open for graveyard, only Friday's is.  Not only does Friday's not offer graveyard specials, I think they actually raise their prices at night.  WEAK.)

As it turns out, I later found out that Sam's Town doesn't even have a coffee shop anymore.  WEAKER.

We settled on the Tuscany Suites.  The internet turned out to be a non-issue because my wife just got a wi-fi hotspot for her work.

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