The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel.com’s resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She’s always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.
green writes, “My husband and I enjoy gambling and haven’t been on vacation for many years, we would like a full package including airfare, hotel, food, and possibly some credits for the casino. The time period is from June 21 through June 24. We’ve never been to Las Vegas and are looking forward to some time alone to do what we like to do, and we are totally in the dark about where to begin the search, we live on Cape Cod and would be leaving from Boston. Any help would be greatly appreciated.”
If your vacation dreams include the ringing of slot machines, the neon lights of casinos, and the scent of victory in the air, then Las Vegas is your winning ticket. Sin City is known as a top spot for gambling, but the show-stopping town can’t make it on chips and bread alone, so these days, visitors can enjoy five-star restaurants, first-rate entertainment, and superior shopping.
There are several ways to begin planning a trip to Sin City, but, as with any trip, flexibility can be a big payoff. Since you didn’t mention a budget, I’d assume you’d want the lowest price I can find. Prices can actually vary widely between properties, depending whether you’re on or off the Strip. I’m going to skip the $20 per night motels and fading casinos for something a bit more middle-of-the-pack.
To start planning, you can begin by searching vacation providers like Funjet, United Vacations, and Southwest Vacations for specials. These three package providers are typically safe bets for finding deals to Vegas. However, you may have some trouble finding a package that includes food—Las Vegas doesn’t have the plethora of all-inclusive resorts you might find in a more tropical location—so you may have to forego that option (remember, flexibility is your ace in the hole).
Another thing to consider is that you’re planning this trip pretty far in advance, and while this is usually an effective strategy, many package deals are not yet available for spring and summer travel. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a good price, it just requires a bit more research on your part. You can choose to wait a bit to see if the aforementioned providers start offering specials in the spring, or we can try to find something for you today.
Since I’ve already got you on the line, let’s go with the latter. Though you said you want a package deal, start by comparing airfares for a base price benchmark. For instance, I priced flights starting at $220 per person (with taxes and fees) with Delta Airlines for your specific travel dates.
Next, search for hotels with a provider like hotels.com for your travel times. You’re lucky in the times you wish to go, because midweek prices tend to be lower than weekends. As I mentioned above, I’m going to skip the dirt-cheap properties, and instead focus on more midrange places to stay, like the New York New York Casino, which starts at $75 per night, or $254 (with taxes and fees) for the entire stay. (Note, however, that Circus Circus starts at $27 per night.) So far, the total cost for two people with a stay at New York New York comes to $694 (with taxes and fees), or $347 per person. This price will help you determine if the value is worth the overall cost as you begin searching for vacation packages.
I priced a vacation package with Funjet, including round-trip airfare from Boston and a three-night stay at New York New York starting at $797 for two people (with taxes and fees), or about $399 per person. Southwest Vacations offered a similar package, with a three-night stay at New York New York and round-trip airfare from Boston, starting at $1,030 for two people (with taxes and fees), or about $515 per person. You can see that this time it saves to book separately … or does it?
Before deciding to fold and go with the easy bet, I searched one more provider, and lo and behold, Travelocity sweeps it with a package, including round-trip airfare and three nights at New York New York, starting at $671 for two (with taxes and fees), or about $336 per person. Plus, Travelocity has the option to add a slew of additional perks like show tickets, dining experiences, or shopping coupons for a little extra money.
The main lesson in this is to always compare, compare, compare. Take your base price and then size up the competition, especially when you’re going to a popular destination like Las Vegas.
I hope you and your husband win big during your vacation, both when you book and once you’re in town.
As for my other readers: Have you got a Vegas insider’s tip for green? Have you seen a steal of a vacation package you’d like to share? Please leave a comment in the field below.
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