The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is about family, food and football, but it’s also the gateway to another Las Vegas favorite: heavily discounted room rates.
Just one key event — the 10-day National Finals Rodeo — stands between avid deal seekers and a monthlong bounty of inexpensive hotel rooms.
“We’re on the precipice of swinging into one of the big bargain times of year,” Las Vegas Advisor Publisher Anthony Curtis said. “If it wasn’t for the cowboys, we’d have 30 days of it.”
That said, Thanksgiving travelers shouldn’t expect bargains in Las Vegas. Unlike hotels in other urban centers where travel declines during the Thanksgiving holiday, local resort operators are able to boost room rates to take advantage of travel to Las Vegas.
To be sure, room rates through Sunday will reflect the influx of an anticipated 278,000 holiday visitors, up 3.3 percent from 269,000 a year ago, as forecast by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. A total of 318,000 visitors were here for New Year’s Eve 2010.
“It’s not New Year’s Eve, Memorial, Labor or President’s Day weekend, but Thanksgiving is strong in the sense that it gives us a chance to finish November strong,” said Chris Baldizan, vice president of entertainment for Mandalay Bay.
Some Strip operators will tap into this weekend’s family vibe to drive business through their properties. Mandalay Bay presents David Foster & Friends on Friday night and Vincente Fernandez on Saturday, targeting a wide range of baby boomers. Caesars Palace presents Sting on Friday, Janet Jackson on Saturday.
Room rates will begin their annual monthlong decline after this coming Sunday. The sole blip: the rodeo, which begins Dec. 1 at the Thomas & Mack Center and was brought here in 1985 with a heavy push from casino developer Michael Gaughan to boost early December business throughout the valley.
Researchers at lasvegasadvisor.com recently checked pre- and post-NFR room rates for every hotel-casino in the Las Vegas valley, a total of 95 properties, and found 41 with nightly room rates of less than $40. Twenty-nine of the 41 were below $30, and seven had rooms listed for under $20 — Boulder Station ($19.99), Santa Fe Station ($19.37), Gold Spike ($18), Imperial Palace ($17.50), Fiesta Rancho ($15.38), and this year’s low-rate champ, Fiesta Henderson ($14.81). Room rates will surge in the days before New Year’s Eve, one of the most expensive times of year.
“Thanksgiving is a different kind of holiday. It’s not like Vegas is going to be like some kind of ghost town,” Curtis said. “It’s just not like the other big weekends the rest of the year.”