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August 20, 2014

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New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas won’t break the bank

Recession-weary hotels upping room rates anyway

Image

Sam Morris

Robbie Knievel jumps in front of the Mirage volcano on the Strip New Year’s Eve 2008.

Bt the numbers

  • 312,000: Visitors in 2008
  • 315,000: Expected visitors in 2009
  • 98.6%: Occupancy in 2008
  • 96%*: Expected occupancy in 2009
  • *8,000: Approximate increase in room count from 2008
  • $199.5 million: Economic impact in 2008
  • $183.4 million: Expected economic impact in 2009

New Year’s Eve couldn’t come soon enough for Strip hotels.

After taking a yearlong beating, offering rooms at prices that haven’t been as cheap for a decade, some Strip hotels are sold out for New Year’s Eve weekend at relatively jacked-up prices.

The operative word: Relatively.

In a testament to how the Strip is still being bludgeoned by the recession, room rates being charged by hotels this weekend would have been considered a decent price for an average weeknight just a few years ago.

According to the travel and ticketing Web site VEGAS.com, the average price for a New Year’s Eve room in Las Vegas this week is $184 — up a meager $10 from a year ago but still far below the $281 paid by revelers in 2006. (VEGAS.com is a sister company of the Las Vegas Sun.)

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is projecting about 315,000 visitors for the holiday weekend, up an imperceptible 1 percent. The bump might be attributable to the fact that this year, New Year’s Day creates a three-day weekend.

"In the past, New Year’s Eve landing on a weekend has shown to be helpful. If it lands on a Friday or even a Thursday, people will stay the whole weekend," authority spokesman Jeremy Handel said.

But with the addition of 8,000 rooms this year, occupancy will actually dip to 96 percent from 98.6 percent last year, Handel said.

This weekend is one of the three busiest of the year, along with Chinese New Year and the Super Bowl.

Three of MGM Mirage’s Strip properties — Bellagio, Vdara and the Mirage — are sold out for New Year’s Eve.

MGM Mirage spokeswoman Yvette Monet said the company saw guests booking for New Year’s Eve much further in advance than last year, possibly a result of the holiday landing on a weekend.

Elsewhere, last-minute prices range from $225 at Circus Circus, with a two-night minimum stay required, to $470 at MGM Grand.

Harrah’s Entertainment has sold out at five of its eight Las Vegas properties — Caesars Palace, Rio, Flamingo, Paris and Harrah’s.

Harrah’s spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said room rates at the company’s properties are up slightly from last year, but the percentage varies by hotel. Occupancy at Harrah’s properties is expected to be about the same as last year, Peterson said.

Other popular Las Vegas hotels are boasting room rates such as $699 at Palazzo, $399 at Venetian, $499 at the Palms and $519 at Hard Rock with a two-night minimum stay required.

Vegas.com Vice President of Marketing Dan Hippler said the travel booking site has seen a slight uptick in the average length of stay this year — 3.3 nights compared to 3.2 nights in 2008. Vegas.com still has rooms for sale at about 30 hotels around Las Vegas for Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, which covers the two-night minimum most hotels are requiring.

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