Vegas resorts’ hidden costs

Playing at the Grande Vegas online casino is one of the most popular relaxation activities for gamers worldwide but many gamblers still enjoy going to brick-and-mortar casinos to play in person. Vegas is known for drawing the crowds in with vacation resorts that offer enjoyable vacation packages for groups, singles, families and more.

These “package vacations” are priced to give people the feeling that they are getting a bargain but it’s only when you reach the resort that you find out about the hidden costs that can double, triple or even quadruple your original booking price.

Fees that are tacked on to guest bills include mandatory nightly resort fees, fees for early check-in, late check-out, mini-fridges, roll-away beds, valet and self-parking and more. But until recently, one thing that guests could always count on was the ability to lounge at the hotel pool without worrying about incurring any additional charges other than drinks and munchies.

In a move that other resorts may soon copy, the Las Vegas Bellagio resort will charge you $200 if you want them to reserve a lounge chair alongside the pool’s edge. For a mere $200 the resort will hold a lounge chair, side table, umbrella and towels for you. The experiment launched on Labor Day weekend and, if early reports are accurate, guests can see the practice continue into the future.

The Bellagio isn’t the first Vegas hotel to impose such a charge. At the Excalibur Hotel & Casino, the Bellagio’s lower-cost sister hotel, you can reserve two chairs at the Spring pool for a measly $125. That also gets you a bucket of ice, cold water and some shade.

Similar systems are in place at other hotels in other areas including at the Sheraton Wakikiki in Honolulu and at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix where reserved “plush” chairs ($150) are padded.  “It’s exclusive and it’s reserved in advance and you can come down at your leisure,” says James Anderson, director of sales and marketing for JW Marriott Desert Ridge.

Monetizing the Travel Experience

The trend to monetize the travel experience in Vegas is driven by several factors. For one thing, sophisticated software systems like those of RealTime Reservation and UrVenue are being utilized by hotels to identify areas in which travelers are willing to spend extra.

Over the years, experience has taught the hotels that when people are on vacation, they are much more likely to brush off additional costs as part of their vacation package, rather than become annoyed at the added charges. They see the perks as “conveniences” and feel that they’re entitled to spoil themselves a bit with added amenities, even if they have to pay for them.

In the same way, airlines charge fees for travelers who want to reserve seats in “preferred” parts of the plane or even bring luggage on board. A number of Vegas hotels have turned the monetization of hotel services into an art form, offering customers the opportunity to “customize” their hotel experience with extra services that the uninitiated might think was part of the package that they were paying for as part of their reservation.

In the meantime, consider your pool time wisely.

Buyer Beware

Vegas casino resorts are using numerous techniques to monetize their guests’ travel experience. If you are a traveler who is willing to splurge on your Vegas vacation, read no further. But if you want to hold onto your cash for your casino gaming and other non-hotel expenses, watch out for some of the following techniques (and remember, you might not hear about them until you get your final bill, so check them out before you reserve and order various services:

  1. Resort Fees – Resort fees have become ubiquitous in Vegas and in some other parts of the world but unseasoned travelers are still surprised when they get their final bill. The resort fee is an extra feel that the hotel adds on to its advertised fee so the person making the booking doesn’t know that they will be charged until they receive their final bill.

    Once the guest has already arrived in Las Vegas there’s not much chance that s/he will walk away from the reservation since finding another place to stay isn’t easy (and other hotels likely have their own resort fees).  Resort fees don’t show up on the booking search engine or the hotel’s website where you find the room’s flat rate.

    But, once you arrive at the hotel, the resort fee is added to your total booking fee. The hotels justify the resort fees by saying that they are used to pay for “extras” – WiFi, the pool, even the coffee that’s served in the lobby.  Resort fees may only add up to a couple of dollars per night or much more. You can see if you’re being charged a resort fee by reading the fine print before you book.

  2. WiFi Fee – You would think that, in this day and age, wifi would be a standard amenity in every hotel but that’s not always the case. Some hotels offer “complementary” wifi but others, knowing that most guests check their devices frequently, charge up to $20 a night for Internet access.  If you expect WiFi access, don’t take it for granted that access will be included in the price.

  3. Parking – You’re supposed to drive into the hotel and park as part of your reservation, right? Not in Vegas. Almost all the big hotels in Vegas charge all guests an automatic parking fee – whether or not you park your car there or not!

    Meaning, even if you take a cab from the airport, the hotel will charge you to park!  You can ask to have the charge removed if you don’t park but here again, you have to be on top of things to make sure that you safeguard your pocketbook.

  4. Coffee-Maker Fee – if you think that you’re saving money by making your own coffee in your room with the coffee-maker that’s sitting there, think again. Some hotels charge you a “coffee-maker” fee for using the coffee maker that they provide for your room! If you want to save some pennies, check out the nearby Starbucks.
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