Seniors love Las Vegas. Every time I go I see thousands of seniors having a good time. Still, there are probably a lot of seniors who would love to go to Vegas, but think it is just too expensive. Here are a few ideas for a Las Vegas budget for the frugal senior.
THE CHEAPEST WAY TO FLY TO VEGAS
Book about 14 days in advance. It’s not always an advantage to book months ahead of your trip. This is especially true when you are traveling in the off-season to Vegas. However, don’t wait until the last day as prices may rise as the plane fills.
Depart on a Saturday as most people want to be there for the Friday and not miss out on the full weekend. For retirees, this is a perfect time because they most likely won’t mind missing out on the pool party.
I have always found that Tuesday and Thursday are the best days to leave Vegas for home. For example, I just came back to Canada from Vegas on a Thursday flight that had just 53 passengers on it. I had three seats to myself.
Don’t think you are ahead of the game by getting your boarding pass and seat selection at your hotel the day before your flight. You’re not. Get your boarding pass and make your seat selection at the airport. Most people have made their seat selections and you have the choice of what is left. I had three seats to myself by doing this.
I found the three cheapest months to fly to Vegas are October, August, and January. Just be sure it’s mid-January after the big tech conference that takes place in early January. Prices for everything spike when that’s happening.
BEST BUDGET PLACES TO STAY IN VEGAS
First of all, stay off the strip. It’s usually really busy and everything is ultra-expensive. That includes the price of a room and your dining options.
Your best bet is to stay downtown on Fremont Street or one of the hotels close to Fremont. Instead of $150-$200 a night you will most likely pay $60-$75 a night(or less).
The strip has the highest resort fees by far. For instance, all the higher end MGM Resorts that include Vdara, Aria, and Bellagio charge $45 USD a night. For Canadians, this is about $53. Outrageous when you consider you can pretty much get a room for that price on Fremont Street. The Wynn, Encore, Palazzo, Venetian, Nobu, and Ceasar’s Palace also charge $45.
Part of paying for resort fees in the MGM hotels is for free WiFi, but it’s free to anyone who walks into the hotel whether they are a guest or not.
This is tacked onto your bill and you pay it when you check out. Not a lot of fun if you already left a lot of money in the slots and on the tables. Don’t forget that you pay 13.38% taxes on this as well.
Most of the other strip hotels will charge between $32 and $35.
Except for the Golden Nugget that just raised their resort fee to $34, most of the downtown hotels are far less than the strip. Golden Nugget will offer room specials sometimes as low as $39 a night in the off-season, and the resort fee pretty well doubles that price.
Be Connected Hotels which include the California, Fremont, and Main Street Station Hotels on and near Fremont Street charge a much more reasonable $16.99.
The El Cortez is a pretty neat old school hotel and casino that charges $17.95.
The Four Queens on Fremont is one of the last hotels in Las Vegas to not charge any resort fee.
Don’t Forget! In the event you are booking your room online the price (apart from the Four Queen’s)does not include their resort fee. You will have to pay that at checkout.
CHEAP DINING OPTIONS IN VEGAS
Wherever the hotels cost less, fine dining and buffets will cost less as well.
For example, the dinner buffet at the Bellagio has a hefty cost of $41. This is the same for most of the high-end hotels, and some even cost more. It boggles the mind that people will pat $41 USD plus taxes for a buffet.
Fremont Street is the place to eat in Las Vegas. The Paradise Buffet has excellent buffet prices at some of the best prices in Las Vegas.
Breakfast Monday to Friday, 7 AM to 10:30 AM ($9.99)
Champagne Brunch Saturday and Sunday 7 AM to 3 PM ($14.99)
Lunch Monday to Friday 11 AM to 3 PM ($10.99)
Dinner Sunday, Monday (Prime Rib Nights) 4 PM to 10 PM ($16.99), Tuesday (Seafood night):4 PM to 10 PM ($26.99). Wednesday (Steak night) 4 PM to 10 PM ($17.99). Thursday (Prime Rib night) 4 PM to 10 PM ($16.99). Friday (Seafood night) 4 PM to 11 PM ($26.99) Saturday (Steak Night) 4 PM to 11 PM ($17.99)
Also, there will be a deduction of at least a dollar if you have a Be Connected Players Card that is Emerald, Sapphire, Titanium, or Onyx.
Kids three and under eat free. Kids 4 to 10 pay one dollar less than adult prices. If kids are eleven and over pay full price.
Magnolia’s in the Four Queens has a big variety on their menu with lots of daily specials. There are many, many meals in the $10 range. This is one of my favorite places to eat breakfast unless I decide to do the Fremont Paradise buffet for breakfast. Be sure to have a Four Queen’s players card as this will save you a bit of money when you pay the bill.
BEST ODDS AND CHEAPEST GAMBLING
Downtown is also the top choice if you are looking for the best gambling odds.
You will see very few regulars gambling on the strip at the high-end hotels because they know better. However, you will see all kinds of them downtown because they know the odds are better.
That means your chances of winning on the slots are better.
Also, the table games are cheaper. Many of the big strip casinos have higher table limits on roulette, blackjack, and many other games.
If roulette is your table game of choice be sure to visit the El Cortex. It’s just two blocks off of Fremont Street. They are one of the few casinos in Las Vegas that feature 50-cent roulette. For $20 you will get 40 chips and the table limit is just $5.
Many of the strip casinos will require you to bet at least $20 a spin.
You can play lots of numbers and play many more games with 50-cent chips. It’s ideal for those just learning the game or for those who know a great deal when they see one. You can also play $1 or $5 chips if you want.
Over the years I have stayed at the Encore, Bellagio, Excalibur, Golden Nugget, Palace Station, The Orleans, The four Queens, The Fremont, The Aria, Park, Mirage, Palazzo, MGM Grand, and some casinos that have long since closed.
On my last trip, I stayed at the Bellagio for two nights, the Four Queen’s for two nights, and the Orleans for two nights. The reason for staying at three hotels is that the Bellagio and Orleans were comped. I paid for the Four Queens but it was just $60 a night with no resort fee.
I will do another post on comps and how important it is to get players cards everywhere casino you play at. You just never know when you will get free hotel stays in the mail.
Overall, I believe seniors on a budget would do best at one of the downtown hotels I mentioned. In the event you want to be away from the noise of Fremont Street, consider the El Cortez, Main Street Station, or California. They are all within easy walking distance of Freemont Street.
Without a doubt, downtown Las Vegas is the best bet for seniors. The hotel prices are less expensive, food is cheaper, resort fees are less, and the odds are better.
Four really good reasons to make downtown your first choice.
Yes, you will see a lot of weirdos on Fremont Street, but then, that’s Vegas. They are just trying to make a buck to survive.
Remember, if you book a hotel right on Fremont Street like the Golden Nugget, Fremont, or Four Queens, request a room on the side of the building opposite from the noise of Fremont Street.
Would you like to share your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.