A Way To Book Las Vegas Strip Hotels Without Resort Fees (And Lower Rates, Too)

One of the most annoying features of hotels is the resort fee, a mandatory charge that’s not included in the room rate in order to deceive customers – to make a hotel look less expensive than it is. The practice spread beyond resorts to city hotels, and became known as a ‘destination charge.’ Even with many of the supposed-inclusions the resort fees pay for suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, the charges persist.

Las Vegas is a city where resort fees play a hugely distortionary role. Hotels cut prices to rock bottom levels to fill rooms, but resort fees act as a price floor. A $35 resort fee may be half the room rate on off peak nights at a lower-tier strip hotel. Research shows these fees reduce visits to Las Vegas from Southern California.

But there’s a way to book several Las Vegas strip properties without resort fees, and at a discount to published pricing on hotel websites. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports on Strip hotels bookable on Airbnb.

A room at Elara booked for Monday through Airbnb is $79 with no resort fees. A nearly identical room booked for Monday through the hotel is $159.80, not including resort fees.

Condo or timeshare owners inside resort properties on and around the Strip are renting out their places on short-term rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Their guests get many of the same amenities of a hotel stay in the resort corridor while avoiding some oft-maligned fees.

Many properties have condos, and those private owners rent out their properties. At MGM’s Signature “[m]ore than 1,600 units at The Signature are privately owned out of 1,728.” At Vdara there are 148 out of 1,495 units available this way. There are over 200 timeshare units at Westgate, where renting out units is against the rules but “the Owner does have the ability to send family and friends as ‘Guests’ in the Owner’s place.”

Stays booked through Airbmb are often cheaper than booking direct, but not as cheap as they might appear just comparing room rates and excluding resort fees because Airbnb imposes its own fees plus cleaning fees.

The Vdara listing advertises an all-inclusive price of $50 for a Tuesday stay, but upon a room availability check, the Airbnb listing tacks on $87 in cleaning and service fees for a $137 stay. A similar room for the same night booked through Vdara would cost $187.08, including a $120 room rate, a resort fee and taxes.

A Palms Place ad for a penthouse condo with a kitchenette, a balcony and a view of the Strip advertises a $99 room rate with no resort fees for a late-December stay. Booking a similar room on the same date through the hotel website costs $219 per night with a $42.22 resort fee. Yet, the Airbnb ad also charges a $90 cleaning fee and a $27 service fee. Including taxes, the Airbnb room costs $241 and the hotel room costs $292.52.

Hotels are counting on government regulation to protect them from Airbnb, according to the President of the Nevada Resort Association, “Overall, strong enforcement measures are critical to effective regulations as is an equitable playing field that regulates and taxes these properties similarly to other highly regulated public accommodation facilities.” But they’d be better off with honest pricing and beating Airbnb.

Airbnb is increasingly becoming a real competitor to hotels. The pandemic has accelerated that. Seamless contactless check-in improves the experience, and better cleaning standards do as well.

However there are still several drawbacks to Airbnb.

  • Fees. Taxes and fees can easily add 50% to a booking above advertised prices. Hotels should give up resort fees and go on a public (and political) crusade for all-in pricing, because they are already closer to transparent pricing than Airbnb is. They’d be forcing a shift in Airbnb’s business model.

  • Lack of consistency. Photos don’t always do a property justice and neither do descriptions, given the heterogeneity of properties guests have to do more research on an Airbnb booking than a hotel booking, or just roll the dice. There’s variation in hotels (Cf. U.S. domestic Sheratons, legacy AmeriSuites vs. new-build Hyatt Place) but even more so across individual properties.

  • Lack of guaranteed reservations. When an Airbnb host cancels at the last minute, the guest is largely out of luck. Hotels walk guests too but there are more enforceable procedures at the corporate level for taking care of walked customers.

  • Airbnb still lacks a loyalty program. Hotels should be doubling down on theirs, not cutting. Marriott shouldn’t be devaluing Bonvoy, Hyatt should reverse course on its decision to move to peak and off-peak redemption pricing. And hotels should focus on its best customers delivering a product that’s differentiated from Airbnb, for instance when Hyatt dropped Gold Passport and moved to World of Hyatt they eliminated the food and beverage choice check-in amenity for top elites, and guaranteed turndown service. Those are two features Airbnb cannot match.

The ability of hotels to compete against Airbnb remains in their hands, they can succeed if they don’t work at cross-purposes from their own interests. Reward customer loyalty, deliver a consistent and high touch product, and ensure guests get the guarantees and experiences that Airbnb can’t provide. Airbnb’s likely success, though, will come because hotels are unable to see what’s in their own interests.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I would like to book a room at ballys in las Vegas for to days i live out here but the resort fees are to much

  2. This is a prime example of unregulated Capitalism. All charges, taxes and any sort of fee should be listed up front. Car rental companies used to be guilty of this all the time but now the charges are listed up front.
    I once booked a car rental in Cozumel for (what I thought) was a great deal at $20 per day until I learned that the rental company (a local firm) demanded that you buy their add-on insurance at an additional $50 per day. Luckily, a little research gave me the correct daily rate, so I canceled.
    When I have booked hotels in Europe, I have never been cheated this way.

  3. @Wiley Dog says: “This is a prime example of unregulated Capitalism.”


    First of all, if you find an unregulated capitalist economy in the world today, I’m anxious to hear about it.

    The U.S. economy is a mixed economy with approximately 60% of economic activity being conducted in the private sector, and 40% being conducted by various governments. And the 60% is heavily regulated by the government. Hotels in the U.S. are subject to thousands of pages of regulations including duties to provide service, liability to guests, advertising, building codes, fire codes, the Americans with Disabilities act. Just because the law requires hotels to disclose resort fees before you actually book, but not while you comparison shop online, that does not mean we live in a world full of “prime examples of unregulated capitalism.”

    And if you think cheating, lack of transparency and slime-ball tactics generally are the exclusive province of government-regulated industries like hotels rather than the government itself, I’ll be happy to list a few examples of practices of the NYC subway or the EZ Pass system that would be illegal if conducted by any non-governmental actor.

    Oh, and I have been ripped off by hotels in Europe, much more brazenly than U.S. hotels.

  4. I agree hotels should eliminate resort fees and be fully transparent of total costs. I refuse to book stays at hotels with these obnoxious resort fees!

  5. I lived in Vegas for three years. I
    liked the fact that you always had
    something to do. Then I moved to
    the Phoenix suburbs. I refuse to
    visit Vegas now because of resort
    or parking fees. All because of
    greedy Corp sobs. I am glad they’re
    suffering because of Covid fright. I’ll
    stay in Arizona with sporadic trips
    to San Diego. Feel sorry for workers

  6. Or you can just maintain Diamond status w Caesars like I do by running $150,000 – $250,000 a year through them (net around even plus or minus 5K). No resort fees, free rooms (I stay 30-40 nights a year even on 2020 and 2021) plus other benefits.

    Not that hard just takes a set to gamble at mid stakes

  7. The first listing I saw for a room the the MGM Signature said: “A cleaning fee of $45 will be charged by the hotel upon your check out.”

  8. I think resort fees should be posted upfront when I do search and price compatison.
    Personal oppinion and if a reguation is needed so be it!

  9. GREED is what is costing all of these corporations. NO I don’t not want my tax dollars to continue to bail them out. They get our money and still cheat and rob us this is ridiculous. But will they learn the lessons absolutely not.

  10. I visit Vegas rather regularly. I belong to all the casino slot clubs. I receive free rooms all the time. Even if there is $45/night resort fee, I am still ahead. I stay at the Mirage ($39 resort fee/night) for 4 nights, the fees are about $165. Where else can I stay, on the Strip, for $39 plus taxes? I also get upgraded all the time. While still just paying the resort fee. Now, the Wynn is not as free wheeling as the other casinos. So, I use the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, when I want to stay at the Wynn. It comes out to about $125/night at the Wynn. But there is a big difference between the Wynn and the Mirage. There is always another way to stay for less in Vegas.

  11. Or maybe stop booking vacations right now and putting the lives of workers being forced to work in jeopardy just because you feel cooped up or believe the pandemic is just a conspiracy. Its selfish. If you book a room right now you are part of the problem.

  12. Anybody thats needs to book rooms with Caesars property like Paris Ballys Caesars palace planet hollywood harrahs or etc and Dont want to pay Resort Fees email me @ Abundancelove698@gmail..
    I can get you straight…..

  13. Gary.

    Don’t you think that resort fees will be reduced or go away as Vegas lures back people. The airlines have done this with lower cash fares and reduced award redemptions.

  14. Who is dumber, hotel management or airline management? Who has handled the pandemic disaster more effectively? Discuss.

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