Las Vegas is no longer the land of free as MGM Resorts is quietly going about raising rates. View from the Wing reports that MGM has raised resort fees, which effectively raise hotel rates, to over $50 including tax at four of its top Vegas hotels. These are MGM Grand, Aria, Bellagio, and Vdara.
Resort fees are insidious because there are few ways to avoid them. Even when the room is on sale, or perhaps free, the resort fee is still there to cover such “essential” benefits as local phone calls and bottled water. I think most of us would gladly give up these things to get $50 a day back in our pockets.
On top of that, MGM is also standardizing some of the discounts it offers to M life Rewards members when they book through an MGM website. Previously these discounts varied with your elite status. Now they are a flat 10%.
But there is some hope. First, you could always try to bargain with the front desk and ask that they remove the resort fee. I haven’t done this successfully at MGM, but I know it’s a benefit of Diamond status at Caesars. Big spenders at the casino may also get the fee removed, but I view that as just a casino comp.
Second, you could see if other discounts are available to you. I happen to have M life’s invitation-only NOIR status, and I spend a moderate amount of money when I visit once or twice a year. I’ve regularly seen offers for free room nights at their Las Vegas hotels in my M life account. Those are still there. I’ve got a few free nights at the MGM, Delano, Mirage, and others if I want them. So it seems that while the advertised elite benefit you get as an M life member may have been standardized at 10%, there are still better offers targeted to specific individuals.
Again, I think this is just typical Vegas. The formal casino rewards programs have always been more limited than the targeted offers and comps given to people based on status. I could be a Pearl member and they might still target me with some of these offers based on recent spending patterns.
Finally, you could just stay somewhere else. I was a guest of Hilton at the new Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas earlier this year, which was re-flagged after the Mandarin Oriental moved out. This hotel is in the same City Center complex as Aria and has a great sky bar. It was nice to be recognized as a Diamond member with free breakfast and a room upgrade. The hotel itself was quiet, yet I was still close to the casinos if I wanted some action.
It’s the best of both worlds. Of course you’ll still have to pay a resort fee at the Waldorf Astoria, but at least I think you might be getting a better experience.