Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Canadian Connection in Vegas

I absolutely LOVE Vegas! 

My wife and I have been going to Vegas since the 1980's. Throughout this time we've seen Vegas grow substantially, corporations racing to build mega resorts, when Mr. Steve Wynn first introduced The Mirage, Las Vegas. 

Back then you could enjoy steak and eggs for only $1.99 

          The Highroller, Las Vegas by Bari Demers

Since then food, entertainment and accommodations have increased considerably.  Sure, you still can get comps (complimentary) meals, rooms and entertainment. 

But first you must get there.


For Canadians, this year has been increasingly expensive, since our dollar has taken a nose dive, closing under 80 cents U.S.  Not to mention the increasing air fare with West Jet and Air Canada has put Canadians into a "Party Pooper Mode". 

And Canadians love to party! 

West Jet and Air Canada has just recently added on additional costs, from baggage to enjoying a 3 tier seating system.  Trust me when I say everything adds up to a considerable cost! 

To totally understand the overall cost, here's a breakdown from flight to hotels in Vegas. 

Note: These prices are relate to Canadians and doesn't include comps for  gamblers or "whales".  The overall costs is based on the average Canadian going to Vegas for their vacation.

Just today, I checked with West Jet Vacations, finding the ever increasing cost of a package. And to be fare (pun used) it's not the Vegas Hotels raising the costs. Each Vegas hotel has remarkable room savings along with complimentary bonuses, trying their best to lure you to Las Vegas. 

Canadians love going to Vegas! 

So why the increasing costs when our dollar is slumping so low?  

 The Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas - Poolside by Bari Demers


Here's a breakdown of rising costs, leaving Calgary, Alberta as an example for 4 days in Las Vegas, from Thursday - Sunday.  

NOTE: I prefer six days myself, a Tuesday to Sunday, but with increasing costs, this option is becoming unreachable. You might as head to Hawaii for this price. 

We will compare 4 Vegas Resorts, beginning with the low end, to medium, along with high end costs. 

The month we will choose is May, since Canadians usually get their tax refund the month before or sooner.  Of course, each month and prices will vary, including what's going on in Vegas.  

This past year Vegas hit a new record of over 40 millions visitors! 

Here's an example of West Jet Vacations package breakdown (includes airfare, accommodations and transfers from airport to hotel) 4 Days in Las Vegas May 2015 from Calgary for 2 : 

NOTE: These prices do not include meals or any adjustments in flight preferences. 
Upgrades of your choice of seating arrangement and extra luggage on the plane expect an extra addition of $45 CA per person.  

To be fare, (intentional pun used)  an additional upgrade of "Premium Seats" will include your choice of alcohol or regular beverage, sandwich with a bag of munchies, plus an extra baggage allowance. (So far in 2015) 

   The Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas - from 16th Flr by Bari Demers


NOTE:  US means United States Currency Prices. CA means Canadian Currency Prices. 

1. Harrah Resort :  (includes taxes)
Classic Room -   $1557.10 CA
Upgrade Room - $1665.50 CA

2. Planet Hollywood Resort Las Vegas: (includes taxes)
Hollywood Hip Room - $1799.20 CA
Upgrade Room - Fountain View Room - $1954.02 CA

3. The Venetian Resort : (includes taxes)
Venezia Bella Suite - $2000.94 CA
Luxury King Suite - $2000.94  CA

4.  Encore at Wynn Las Vegas Resort : (includes taxes)
Room Suite King - $2311.48 CA
Upgrade Room - Panoramic View Suite King - $2510.36 CA

Let's say you received a few awesome complimentary stays in Vegas, where the room for your 4 days are free and includes a couple buffet meals.  If that's the case, your flight with West Jet is : $1341.50  CA for 2.

So, now you know it's going to cost you from $1500 - $2500 CA for 4 days in May 2015.  

Sounds expensive enough? 

Yes.  It certainly is a chunk of change but not unreasonable, but we can't stop here for expenses. 

Next you have to consider the Daily Resort Fees each Vegas hotels add-on ranging from $20 - 30 US (not including taxes) per day! 

Add an additional $140 US for 4 Days.  That's $168.08 CA.

Sub-total : $1700 - $2700 CA (rounded off) depending on which resort you're planning to stay at. 

Great.  Now we have to add in meals and entertainment. 

On average your meals may be complimentary, but in case they aren't, let's break down the cost of meal per day.  We will pick Aria Casino & Resort as an example. 

Let's also assume you go to the buffet only once a day.  Of course there are many other options, but the price will come out to the same, considering you don't do any Fine Dining options.  Fine Dining alone can cost you between $120 - $300 US per meal for two guests. 

Aria Casino & Resort, Las Vegas

Regular Hours & Pricing as per 2014 - 2015 (It may go up !)

Monday - Friday
7:00 AM - 11:00 AM
$19.99 US (doesn't include taxes) 
Monday - Friday
11:00 AM - 3:30 PM
$23.99 US (doesn't include taxes)

Brunch: Saturday & Sunday - 7:00 AM - 3:30 PM $29.99 US (doesn't include taxes) 
Monday - Thursday
3:30 PM - 10:00 PM
$34.99 US (doesn't include taxes) 

Gourmet Dinner:
Friday - Sunday
3:30 PM - 10:00 PM
$39.99 US (doesn't include taxes)

Also, they like to up-sell : All day, add $12.99 US for unlimited Mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Marys, Sangria, Champagne, Premium Beer and Wine on TAP.

In the 4 days at this particular resort, let's say you decide on this combination: 

Thursday /Day One - Dinner Buffet $38 (includes tax) x 2 = $72 US

Friday / Day Two - Gourmet Dinner Buffet $42 (includes tax) x 2 = $84 US

Saturday/ Day Three - Brunch $32 (includes tax) x 2 = $64 US

Sunday / Day Four - Same/ Brunch $32 x 2 = $64 US 

Sub-total for meals = $284 US or $340.96 CA 
With coffee and/or small meals, midnight snacks and/or treats add on another $200 US or $241 CA to your food budget during your stay.

Sub-total = $581 CA Food costs for 4 Days.  Let's round it off to $600 CA just in case. 

Once again, depending on your gambling expenses you may be comped for the above meals.

BUT - Don't count on it! 

OK.  Here's the sub-total which includes Flight, Hotel, Transfers and Meals.  Sub-total : $2400 - $3400 CA (taxes included)

"Oh, but what about entertainment?" You may ask. 

Entertainment is definitely a must in Vegas. Your in Vegas, so it only makes since to gambling, right? 

After all, you just might WIN MONEY - right? 

Think again! 

Be sure any money towards gambling is part of your entertainment budget! Don't expect to WIN anything. Then, if you do, it's a bonus. Go out and treat yourself to the Fine Dining or favourite show you missed or always wanted to see. 

Just don't count on WINNING- please! 

Let's say during your 4 days, you want to go to a show at Cirque du Soleil, for example. Average cost per person can be from $130 x 2 = $260 US (not including tax). Sure. You can pick the rear balcony seats at $69 US per person, it's up to you.  My wife doesn't recommend it.

Alright, now let's say you want a helicopter experience, flying across the Vegas Strip during the evening.  Wonderful experience and highly recommended.  Our trip with Maverick Helicopters was certainly a blast.  The cost is : $124 US per person x 2 = $248 US or $297.74 CA

Honestly - we had great service with Maverick Helicopters.

Anyway, let's move on. For most of us, gambling, of course, is going to be a part of your entertainment budget, you'll need to consider.  I'll assume  you're a beginner and on a tight budget. Let's start off with $300 US per day for two. 

Gambling Total for 4 days = $1200 US or $1450 CA 

This is a low estimate, you can easily spend $300 per person each day you visit Vegas.  The sky is the limit, depending on your budget, so most experienced gamblers would laugh at my small tight budget.  

But, it's really important to consider what YOU can afford before going to Vegas, otherwise you will be really disappointed and financial in trouble! 

Sub-Total for just gambling and entertainment is $1907 CA. Let's round it off to $2000 CA. 

OK. Now we are ready for the Grand Total for Canadians traveling to Vegas for 4 Days in Vegas.

GRAND TOTAL:  Between  $4500 - $5400 CA in May 2015/ 2 guests at 4 Days. 

Of course, it all depends on how long you stay and what your resort will give as complimentary bonuses (highly depends on your gambling and weekly specials). 

The ratio is $675 CA per day each; it should be $400 CA per day. 

For example, in 2010, we stayed at The Excalibur Resort & Casino in November, costing us $1100 CA for 7 days, including air fare. Since then however, prices have been climbing considerably.  

In 2014 the Aria Casino & Resort was double, not including meals or entertainment; plus it was only five days. 

Depending on your Canadian lifestyle, you may decide on staying only for three days.

But, once you see the FUN in Vegas, you'll realize staying 4 - 5 days makes sense. Vegas is already Canadians yearly vacation, but for how much longer? 

After discussing these prices to a few of my American friends, they too, find these prices high. 

Unfortunately there are only 50 million people in Canada, with an outstanding 250 million U.S. Citizens in United States of America. Logic dictates, the masses will always get the better price. 

Canadians always get the short end of the stick when it comes to traveling, even in our own country.  

The Vegas tourism Industry is doing everything in their power to encourage visitors to Las Vegas, now it's up to our own Canadian traveling carriers to give us a break in prices.

With respect, Americans and Las Vegas won't suffer if Canadians stop coming to Vegas, but it will be a real shame for us all. 

Photo by Bari Demers - Looking outside of Aria, Las Vegas


In return, Vegas main objective is to make MONEY, lots of it. Operations within just one mega resort costs millions of dollars to run per day.  Without a doubt, their overhead costs are substantial high.  They rely on gambling, food & beverage and entertainment too feed its appetite on a daily basis. 

But, don't worry for Vegas Resorts in general, most are doing well. 

For example - Wynn Resorts, Limited (Nasdaq: WYNN) last week reported financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2014.*

For the quarter ended March 31, 2014, net revenues were $380.9 million, a 1.5% decrease from $386.6 million in the first quarter of 2013.*

Corporations as a whole, have losses in one resort casino to financial gains in another (world-wide) off-setting their overall net revenue. 

Even though each Vegas Resort offers its patrons gambling opportunities, they don't gamble on their business decisions. Like any business, their financial statement must add up or they will be out of business, for sure. 

           Vdara Resort, Las Vegas by Bari Demers - looking from inside of Aria Resort 


In the end, Vegas is a thriving oasis with operational successes and failures, since the very day they broke ground. The old is replaced by the new. 

Will Canadians keep coming to Vegas ? 

Of course they will, but only those who can afford a spending budget of $6000 - $25,000.

Are they going to miss the average middle-class Canadian? 

I'm not sure.  

All I know, it would be a damn shame, if I have to pick another vacation spot closer to home.  For Vegas Lovers, like myself, it would certainly be heart breaking. 

What do you say? 

Come join my VEGAS REVIEWS Facebook Page - sweet and simple - it's my personal blog, all about having FUN in Vegas, with 1000's of photos and articles.  And join us on Twitter too.

We are all Vegas Lovers.

By Bari Demers - freelance screenwriter for BLACK ANGELS, GAIA, MISSING UP NORTH, AGENT SKY and assorted science fiction stories.


    T.I. (Treasure Island Resort & Casino) Las Vegas - by Bari Demers - inside pool courtyard 

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