According to TripAdvisor users, there are two types of people: those who love Las Vegas and those who don't. I thought I was firmly in the second camp, until my partner suggested we go to Vegas for my first Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back. Since doing a little research I've learned there is more to Vegas than Showgirls and The Hangover had me believing.
These tips should help gamblers and non-gamblers, luxury lovers and deal hunters alike to plan the perfect Vegas vacation.
1. Luxury hotels are generally cheaper in Vegas. Like anything in life, the trick is to find a balance. If you're not a gambler, allocate a little more budget to your hotel choice. Weekday hotel competition is fierce, and even luxury hotels will discount weekday stays. By staying Sunday-Thursday we were able to snag a room we probably couldn't afford in another city. In fact, we found deals at two CAA 5-Diamond hotels through an online travel agency and decided to split up our vacation to try out both.
2. Look to local media for off-Strip restaurant recommendations. We're excited to try Philly cheesesteaks and Snow-Cream -- both treats recommended to locals by locals in a local paper. Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor don't just review tourist spots -- residents also share their favourite off-Strip haunts. Or put your faith in the Travelzoo Local Deals section for Vegas, where well-reviewed restaurants package drinks and dinner for a fraction of regular rates.
3. Almost every hour is happy hour in Vegas. Websites like Las Vegas Happy Hour Time to keep track of where to find drink specials on and off the Strip. Themed bars like Frankie's Tiki Room offer a taste of old Las Vegas, while the Strip is chock full of fun places to cool off with an icy beverage. We plan on lobby-hopping at upscale hotels to enjoy fancy drinks over some of the world's best people-watching. Use apps like FourSquare and Travelzoo's mobile app to find deals wherever you may be.
4. Most hotel spas offer day-passes which include access to facilities and light refreshments. Don't be put off by sticker shock -- a $30 or $40 admission is cheaper than any treatment, and you can lounge in peace for as long as you want. In general, the more upscale the hotel, the more serene the pool area -- and some luxury hotels include spa access in their nightly rate.
5. Learn about Vegas by heading off-Strip. The surrounding area has a lively history that's documented by a few unique museums. The Mob Museum tells the story of Vegas as a struggle between law enforcement and organized crime and the Neon Museum preserves some of the most iconic and classic signage that lined the old part of the city. A day pass for both can be purchased for $30, and the Neon Museum can be visited at day or night for two different experiences.
As one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world, the city has shifted from a gambling mecca to something much more diverse, attracting people looking for relaxation to adventure. Because of abundant competition, seasonality and less demand on weekdays, vacation deals to Vegas are not hard to come by. Many deals include air and hotel -- often for the regular cost of airfare alone.
--Brendan McGeagh is a Travelzoo Deal Expert based in Toronto. Travelzoo.ca has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.
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