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Jul 12

Las Vegas luxury: It’s almost affordable

As I sit here at the Fairfield Inn by the Las Vegas Airport, I find it odd to be writing about Las Vegas luxury hotels, given my surroundings.  But perhaps this is the best place to do so.  It provides some humility.

Las Vegas is known for being over the top in pretty much every category.  Crazy people, a thousand different Cirque de Soleil shows, restaurants and hotels that scream tacky, etc.  But over the years, Sin City has actually become a little more sophisticated, with non-gambling revenue accounting for about half of the total of the Las Vegas Strip take.  There are numerous five-star restaurants, even if many of them are knock-offs of New York eateries, as well as some very luxurious hotels.  The plus side to LV luxury is that the hotels have the casinos to pick up some of the weight, so you can get a very nice room here for a significant discount to what a similar room costs in most other major cities.


A typical Las Vegas experience

True, you may not be coming here for the luxury experience and there are a number of three and four star hotels that have outstanding rooms and offer tremendous value.  But if you want to splurge, this is the city to do it in.  And if you have no interest in gambling, you’ll be even better off, by letting the slot jockeys pick up a portion of the cost that you’d be paying otherwise.

Bellagio is just so “yesterday” when it comes to high-end hotels.

On my trip, I had a chance to tour the MGM SkyLofts.  And with rooms starting at $750 midweek for a 1,400 square foot loft, it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s a bargain compared to what you’d get anywhere else.

The experience begins at the airport, where you will be picked up in a Rolls Royce by a driver who, surprisingly, doesn’t have an English accent.  You’ll be taken to the hotel and enter through a private SkyLofts entrance.

You can point and laugh at the people in this check-in line.

You can point and laugh at the people in this check-in line.

Check-in is done in your loft.  Need a drink?  If you don’t like the welcome juice, you have a fully-stocked mini-bar (although you may have to pay for the alcohol; non-alcoholic drinks are free).  There will be at least one or two welcome amenities and you will meet your butler as you check in (Again, no Mr. Belvedere.).  Your butler works with a concierge team, who seem to be able to produce just about anything you could want.  No, I don’t know if they can get you that.  But if you need show tickets, restaurant reservations, a bathtub filled with Dom Perignon, etc, they’re the guys to ask.  And if you just feel like relaxing and watching a movie, pay per view is free.

The first floor of your loft is bigger than most hotel rooms, and certainly better appointed.

Yup, that’s the first floor.  We’re movin’ on up to the loft portion, where the bedroom and master bath are.

You can thank my iPhone for that funky angle.

You can thank my iPhone for that funky angle.

Forget the first floor.  The master bath itself is bigger than most hotel rooms.  To put it in perspective, there are two televisions in the bathroom (a term that doesn’t even begin to describe this place) alone: one above the bathtub and one above the sink.

There's a TV over the bathtub so you can get clean while watching SportsCenter.

There’s a TV over the bathtub so you can get clean while watching SportsCenter.

There’s an entirely separate storage and dressing area as well as a shower that doubles as a spa.

If you book through a premium travel agent (Virtuoso, Leading Hotels, etc.), you’ll probably end up with a $100 per day breakfast credit.  And while that sounds like a lot, it can go fast.  But the big bonus, which is unwritten, is that breakfast (or lunch or dinner, for that matter) can be taken at The Mansion (capital “T,” capital “M”).  The Mansion is the ultimate resort for high rollers.  You cannot pay for a room there (although you used to be able to get a one-bedroom villa through American Express for $5,000 per night, one week minimum); you must be, as MGM puts it, a “qualified guest,” meaning that you’re playing a minimum of four hours per day, five figures (before the decimal point) per hand.  On the plus side, if you’ve got a couple of million to burn, they’ll probably comp your stay.  29 villas, a minimum of 2,000 square feet and pretty much anything you could ever ask for.

Bottom Line: You could pay $600 for a smaller suite at the Four Seasons down the road and not get a fraction of the amenities that you get here.  Personally, I’ve never seen anything quite like the SkyLofts.  Should you have the time and disposable income, it looks like a little bit of paradise in the desert.  And you’ll still enjoy that Rolls Royce on the way back to the airport.

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