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Pencil: Cheapskating The Strip

By Chuckmonster on Tuesday, 26th October 2010 5:51am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 5


You know it was was only a matter of time before two of our meta subject memes car crashed into each other. And where else would we do it but for the quartet of cheapness that lives at the northern end of The Las Vegas Strip. Yeah, today we're going to pencil out room rates for a number of different hotel room offerings from The Riviera, Stratosphere, Sahara and Circus Circus. For shirts and giggles we decided to throw 2006-2009's low rolling punching bag Tropicana into the mix, not as an insult but more to measure how far they've come.

Before we get started, take a moment to write down the pecking order - from lowest to highest - you expect these resorts to fall into. If you're really game (and without peeking), pencil in an average daily room rate you'd be ok with paying for each one. I'm truly interested to hear what the difference is between your expectations and how reality pencils itself out in the comments.

Room rates were culled from property websites on Tuesday October 26th at 2am.

Our objective is to codify a pecking order of the lower rolling major Strip casinos by comparing and contrasting room rates of their lowest priced room offerings and, if available, most recently renovated non-suite room offerings.

At the Sahara, we've culled prices of the Sahara Standard and Sahara Superior (renovated) rooms. At Riviera, the Riviera Oasis and Riviera Premiere (renovated) rooms. At Stratosphere the Stratosphere Deluxe and Stratosphere Select (renovated) rooms. At Circus Circus we used their basic rate calendar which doesn't specify room offerings. For Tropicana we culled rates for their Tropicana Deluxe (renovated) rooms only as the non-renovated rooms are no longer available.

For the entire period - November 1st-30th, 2010 - the average room rate for ALL properties and room types was $58. The property offerings that sat above the $58 line are ALL of the recently renovated rooms. Of the properties with both renovated and non-renovated rooms, Riviera is charging the highest premium over standard rooms (+$33 / +76%). Sahara's increase is (+$20 / 65%) and Stratosphere is a meager $7 (12%) . For the entire sample period, Tropicana's "best in class" renovated rooms command the highest rack rate at $97/night average, $21 more than Riviera's Premium rooms at $76/night.

Looking at the data as a graph reveals a ton of information, some of which might be applicable to our other room rate study about booking windows... it looks like nearly all of these properties sit on their turd scraping rates until about two weeks before the the arrival date whereupon volatility sends rates through the roof. It is very possible that the $180 November 3rd rate for Circus Circus was $39 bucks two weeks ago. Seeing that Riviera is completely sold out for Nov 4 leads me to believe that they are hosting a sold out convention and Circus Circus is reaping proximity benefits.

The general acceptance that Tropicana is pricing itself as a 4 star property is somewhat debunked according to the data. Despite the renovated rooms, if you book outside of the 2 week window and are mindful of weekend spikes, the Tropicana really is a phenomenal value - brand new rooms, brand new casino, brand new restaurants, new shows and a completely re-energized staff is easily worth the $1-$5 premium you'll pay over the Riviera's absolute best offerings.

I flat out refuse to stay in any non-renovated hotel room. Spooj covered headboards, funky comforters, stinky ass drapes, beat down furniture and frayed carpeting will guarantee that I am going to have a lousy trip. My hotel room is an oasis in the middle of the madness... I need it to be clean, comfortable and pleasant to spend time in. If it ain't, I get really fucking cranky.

Fortunately for us, all of the hotels we've sampled here have renovated room options that absolutely worth the upgrade. But how do the renovated rooms stack up against each other? Let's take a looksi.

The average daily rate for all of the renovated rooms sampled is $73/night, +$15/24% premium over the total average. These rates are primarily driven by volatility within the two week advance booking window where three of the four sampled offerings jump over the $115/night mark, with Tropicana banging its head against the $200/night ceiling. Take that away and we're looking at recently renovated rooms for mid-week pricing of about $50 and weekends at around $75. Again, in this scenario, the Tropicana's value proposition makes this an incredibly easy decision.

Ok... for those who went through the trouble writing all that stuff down at the outset, here's how the pecking order is defined via room rates.

Sahara $38
Riviera $43
Stratosphere $54
Circus Circus $72
Tropicana $97

Did the outcome surprise anyone? It certainly did me... I had it pegged thusly: Stratosphere, Riviera, Sahara, Circus Circus then Tropicana at the top.

Tagged: pencil   cheapskating   tropicana   riviera   circus circus   stratosphere   sahara   


Comments & Discussion:

I had Circus and the Strat flopped--figured Riv gets a bump from its convention presence, and Strat to an extent draws on an international market that probably drives up their ADRs.

Thanks again for a great look at the numbers behind the rooms. This is really invaluable stuff.

Was in the Strat last month at it was definitely looking improved. Circus should be last for the throngs of screaming kids roaming the halls.

Mr. Monster, interesting analysis but your assertion about timing is incorrect. The first week of November is abnormally high because of citywide compression due to the AAIW/Sema (auto shows). Its basic supply and demand. The auto shows bring in lots of business allowing everyone to raise their rates. November is a typically crappy month and those rates will probably stay pretty flat through the rest of the month as there is minimal demand.

The first time I went to Vegas (April 2004), I stayed at the Riv and I think I paid about $25-30 a night for four nights via a travel site (Which charged me a $75 "booking fee" as well, which was my own damn fault as it was my maiden trip and made some rookie errors along the way.).

I wonder how the Impotent Palace and Casino Royale compares in terms of room rates?

It's interesting that the Strat seems to be the popular choice of international visitors. I guess the travel companies they book their packages through typically throw them the Strat (or even Circus Circus), as I know I've flown out to Vegas on an early evening flight that is predominantly filled with European passengers as it is the first ATL-LAS flight after the main bank of flights from Europe (In fact, the flight is the tag on leg of Delta's MAN-ATL flight.) and I've overheard many of them talking to other passengers and saying they're staying at the Strat.

Damn! I was sooo close! I had everything correct except for the Strat/Riv.

I'm curious to see how Downtown racks up now with Binion's and Plaza (soon to be) closed, and also with the upgrades at El Cortez and Gold Spike.

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