Las Vegas may not seem like a Christmas kind of place there is
certainly no snow, and holiday decorations seem to blend in with
the usual decor. But for the bargain hunters, there’s no place like
Las Vegas in December.
“Historically, December has been a good value month for visitors
coming to Las Vegas,” said Michael Coldwell, direct of public
relations for the Western Region of Park Place Entertainment, the
parent company of Caesars Palace, Paris, Flamingo, Bally’s and Las
Vegas Hilton. “Certainly there are deals out there for the
There are deals galore, but don’t expect them to be as juicy as
they were last December when Las Vegas was still reeling from the
Sept. 11 attacks. Last year, room rates were slashed in an attempt
to boost occupancy.
“I think the general feeling in the city is that recovery is
here or at hand, and I don’t think that the anomalous trends of
2001 are going to be in evidence in 2002,” Coldwell said.
“We certainly hope not,” echoed Kevin Bagger, senior research
analyst for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “The
discounting we saw last year was in response to a crisis to
generate demand after Sept. 11. We won’t see the same this
In fact, Bagger and the other analysts at the Las Vegas
Convention and Visitors Authority expect an increase in occupancy
for September through December to pull the rates into the plus
column by the end of the year.
“We do expect an overall increase of about 1.1% for the year,
even though year to date through July, we are down about 2.3%,” he
said. “To achieve that increase, we’re expecting dramatic increases
September through December because last year’s numbers were so
The low occupancy rates last year generated some terrific deals
that won’t be seen again. But that doesn’t mean bargains aren’t
Caesars Palace, for example, offered rates as low as $89 per
night on weekdays and $129 on weekends last year. This year, during
the slowest time of the month, rates are running $129 during the
week and $199 on weekends. Rooms at the classic resort generally
run from $199 to $239 per night.
The deals get even sweeter at other Park Place resorts. During
the week of Dec. 15, weekday rates at the Flamingo Las Vegas are as
low as $55 per night, and rates at the Las Vegas Hilton start at
At Mandalay Bay, the megaresort at the end of the Strip, weekday
rates for mid-December are as low as $79 per night, climbing to
$149 on weekends. Its sister property, Circus Circus, is offering
rooms at $29 on weekdays and $49 on weekends from Dec. 15 through
Christmas Eve. Rooms at Circus Circus regularly run from $49 to
Other bargains can be found at the Stardust, with deluxe rooms
in the newer part of the hotel available for $60. The Riviera
offers weekend rates starting at $29.
The MGM Mirage’s Bellagio is running weekend rates at $159 in
December, whereas in November rates were as high as $399. Sister
property New York-New York, is offering rooms starting at $60 per
night on weekdays and $90 on weekends, when rates were averaging
$129 earlier in the year.
The middle of December will bring better bargains than the first
of the month when two citywide events will help boost occupancy.
The Billboard Music Awards will be held at the MGM Grand Garden
Arena Dec. 4 leading right into the highly popular National Finals
Rodeo Dec. 6-15. The rodeo brings in hoards of eager fans who pump
up occupancy and room rates during a time that would normally be
New Year’s Eve
Good news: As of this writing, rooms are still available for New
Year’s Eve, and because the holiday falls in the middle of the
week, rates are fairly reasonable. The Stardust, for example, has
rooms for $175, while Excalibur rooms are available for $169. Rates
for New Year’s at the Flamingo are $220 and at the Las Vegas Hilton
While bargains like last winter’s will be as hard to find in Las
Vegas as a white Christmas, bargain hunters can still enjoy nice
escapes for reasonable prices.
More good news: January room rates are still low, but an
increase in convention business keeps that month from being the
bargain- hunter’s dream it was in years past.
“It’s a whole different animal with the beginning of convention
season (in January),” Park Place’s Coldwell said. “That’s not to
say that people shouldn’t check out the packages and see what’s out
Caesars Palace, for example, is offering two-night packages,
including two breakfasts and one dinner for two people, priced at
$300. A similar four-night package runs $520. The packages are
available through Jan. 15 with the exception of the New Year’s
holiday Dec. 27 through Jan. 4.
A package at the Las Vegas Hilton starts at $139 per night for
two people and includes tickets to “Star Trek: The Experience” and
dinner for two at Quark’s, the Star Trek-themed bar and
Santa comes to Las Vegas and he’s not even wearing an Elvis
jumpsuit. Following are a few of the special holiday events to
enjoy during December.
Santa Arrives at Excalibur
Santa holds court in a splendid, old-world setting Nov. 28
through Dec. 24. Children can whisper their Christmas wishes and
have a photo taken with St. Nick. Call 800-937-7777.
Holiday Festival on Fremont Street
A tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 10 kicks off a holiday festival
that runs from Dec. 11 to Dec. 22 at the Fremont Street Experience
in Downtown Las Vegas. A special holiday light-and-sound show is
featured on the huge overhead display canopy.
Cowboy Christmas Gift Show
More than 400 exhibitors offer thousands of gifts with a Western
flair in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo. The show is
open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 5-14 at the Las Vegas Convention
Center, at 3150 Paradise Road.
Call Las Vegas Events at 702-260-8605.