Las Vegas for me is an opportunity to combine cheap hotel stays at the Planet Hollywood Sheraton Resort and the Westin Casuarina, along with seeing family relatives who have all moved away from the California Central Coast due to the high cost of living. I occasionally see other hotels like the Wynn, Bellagio, Paris, Venetian, and Mandalay Bay through my sisters’ and friends’ rooms. They spend more money in Vegas on hotels.
November and December often provide a great opportunity to earn Starwood hotel stays during end-of-year lucrative SPG promotions. Getting the necessary 25 hotel stays, or less J, required for SPG Platinum status while earning a good promotion bonus on a sub-$100 rate is my idea of the Vegas trifecta.
Las Vegas is a sure bet for this Starwood Preferred Guest.
The past couple of years I typically stay at both the Westin Casuarina and the Planet Hollywood while in Las Vegas. These hotels are separated by just one long Las Vegas block. Planet Hollywood is on the Las Vegas Strip and the Westin Casuarina is to the rear diagonally on East Flamingo and Koval.
And now there is the Starwood-brand element hotel in the suburb of Summerlin (Loyalty Traveler review here). An aloft hotel is scheduled to open in 2011.
I have always been upgraded to a Resort Vista or Strip Suite at Planet Hollywood as a Platinum member upgrade on my $59 to $79 room rate. I have never been inside a Panorama Suite at Planet Hollywood.
Midweek nights are cheapest for the Las Vegas Strip hotels and the lowest rates can double or triple for Friday and Saturday nights.
Sample rates for Planet Hollywood for Wednesday, August 26 (and Saturday, August 29):
Hollywood Hip $79 ($189) 450 square feet
Hollywood Hip Bellagio Fountain View $129 ($239) 450 square feet
Resort Room $129 ($239) 560 square feet
Resort Vista $189 ($299) 570 square feet
Strip Suite $229 ($339) 850 square feet
Panorama Suite $579 ($689) 1,255 square feet
I had room 2339, a 23rd floor Resort Vista room on the top floor of the short south facing front tower all the way at the front end of the hallway looking over Las Vegas Boulevard.
There is always some gift package associated with the Planet Hollywood rate. Last week I received a free bottle of alcohol on the $71 “Drinks on Us” AAA rate. The room rate included one complimentary bottle for each night of your stay. The choice was vodka, whiskey, tequila, champagne, wine, and some others. I expected generic Planet Hollywood label bottles, but the Planet Hollywood store choices were actually name brands. I recall Skyy vodka, but not the others. I chose a Beringer Chardonnay, but I wish a 6-pack of Stella Artois had been one of the choices.
Planet Hollywood was the Starwood Sheraton Aladdin Hotel and underwent its transformation in 2007. The rooms still have the Arabian features of the Aladdin Hotel present in the bathroom fixtures with genie lamp shaped faucets.
Wikipedia offers a good description of Planet Hollywood along with historical information.
Planet Hollywood attractions:
1. Sizeable rooms and views
2. excitement and location of being on the Las Vegas Strip
3. entertainment options within the Planet Hollywood and Miracle Mile shopping complex
Planet Hollywood detractions:
1. Self-park lot requires a half-mile walk through the Miracle Mile Shops from the parking garage to the casino and through the casino to the elevators. I am familiar enough with the property to be able to walk from the hotel to the garage without getting lost and I clocked my time at 25 minutes to go from my hotel room through the Miracle Mile shops to the car and back again for an item I needed to retrieve. Going to the garage by the street route outside the lobby doors and walking the pavement beneath Planet Hollywood can save five minutes, but is a more hazardous journey weaving through cars, taxis, and busses zipping around the garage area.
2. Planet Hollywood has two large pools that have some of the shortest open pool hours of any casino in Las Vegas. Last November the posted pool hours were just 10am to 4pm. Last week the hours were posted as 9am to 7pm.
Westin Casuarina Attractions:
1. Self park garage has easy and quick access
2. Pool is open nearly 24 hours.
3. Compact hotel and while the hotel has a casino in the lobby, the hotel has a much quieter adult ambience. There are no pole dancers around the slot machines at the Westin.
Westin Casuarina detractions:
1. Rooms are mostly same Classic type and relatively small (370 square feet) compared to planet Hollywood. There are only six top floor Executive suites (750 square feet) and I have never been upgraded to a suite here. There are four top floor Deluxe Suites (1,100 to 1,500 square feet).
2. Generally more expensive than Planet Hollywood.
3. The view one block east of the Las Vegas Strip consists primarily of large empty lots and the backside parking garages of the Las Vegas Strip casinos. This will likely change in the coming years as more casinos and hotels are built off the Strip, but for now the better view is facing north looking across to the Wynn and Encore Casinos.
Westin Casuarina Sample Rates for Wednesday, August 26 (and Saturday, August 29):
Classic Room, Low Floor $130 ($140)
Classic City-View, High Floor $155 ($165)
Deluxe Room, cardio equipment in room $155 ($165)
I never turned on the 42-inch TV over the tub in Room 2339 at the Planet Hollywood. The view through the window kept me mesmerized.
Westin Casuarina attractions:When comparing the hotel experience at the Planet Hollywood and Westin Casuarina I have mixed feelings.The Miracle Mile shopping and entertainment center still looks like Desert Passage when looking up at the disneyesque building façades.
August 25 update: I just looked at some YouTube videos of Planet Hollywood Suites and I was blown away by the upgraded rooms in some of those videos.
There is also a TravelZoo special rate for Panorama Suites for the rest of this year from $199 midweek, however, I just tried 10 sample dates and did not find rate availability for a Panorama Suite.
On a side note: I just read an article from the Las Vegas Sun this morning that ended with a statement that pissed me off. Economic class warfare has placed many hotels in the predicament they now face and is not the way to improve hotel occupancy in this dire economic time for the industry:
Hotels might be discounting more than is necessary while alienating regulars and people with higher expectations, UNLV professor Erdem said.
“Not everyone staying at these hotels minds paying $300 for a room but may mind hanging out with the people who paid $120 at the pool,” he said. “Price isn’t a simple matter.”