We just got back from a great weekend getaway to Las Vegas. Just a three hour flight from Minneapolis, its the perfect excuse to get out of town, eat some great food and relax! But Vegas can be expensive, so we wanted to put our points and miles to good use. Read on to learn how we saved on the flights, spa, hotel, and food!
Flights to Vegas can vary depending on price and origin. I’ve seen sub-$100 fares from the West Coast, but we tend to not be as lucky here in the Midwest. As a result, I jumped on a recent Delta SkyMiles award sale that offered round trip flights for 21,000 miles per person.
On average, I see flights to Vegas for around $300 per person at reasonable times (Friday evening departure, Sunday afternoon return). That price would probably go higher if you wanted a non-basic economy ticket, etc.
Hotels in Vegas can often be had for relatively cheap rates, especially at those owned by the casinos. That being said, Monica and I aren’t big gamblers, and we were looking for something a little more removed from the noise (and smoke) of the casinos. The Waldorf Astoria (a Hilton property) was a perfect hotel for this.
While I haven’t talked about it at length on this blog, one of my favorite credit cards is the Hilton Aspire card. A major benefit of this card is a free night certificate that is earned every year you have the card. This can be used at any Hilton worldwide that has standard award inventory (i.e. not premium rooms/suites).
The Waldorf Astoria had availability for our dates, and with room rates for hovering around $400/night, being able to use the free night award was lucrative. For the other night, we used 80,000 Hilton points. That’s definitely a hefty amount of points, but again considering the cash rate it didn’t seem too bad. Using certificates/points also helped us avoid the $45 per night award fee! We also actually lowered the points used by getting a rebate on points – check out how we did that here.
Savings: About $800
Monica and I love being pampered. There’s no better way to do that than with a good massage and spa session! The Waldorf Astoria happens to have an excellent spa, having previously been a Mandarin Oriental hotel which is also known for its spa services.
Like most things in Vegas, spa treatments are not cheap. Our two one hour massages came to a total of $430 with gratuity, but they were so so so worth it! But of course, we had a way to save money…
The Amex Hilton Aspire card comes with a $250 annual resort credit that can be used for charges at most Hilton Resorts (not hotels). The Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas just happens to be on that list, so this credit applied and dropped our out of pocket cost for the massage to $180.
In addition, an Amex Offer that was on my account provided for another $70 of savings when you spend $350 at Waldorf Astoria properties. There’s still some question over if this will trigger (I received an email that it did), but if it does, the massage drops to just $110 for two people!
Food and Drink
Vegas has a really good food scene, with tons of options to choose from. The theme though: they aren’t cheap. We had two ways we planned to save money on food at drink. But much like my two nights playing blackjack, one was successful and one was not.
First the success. As a Diamond member of Hilton’s loyalty program (attained via the Hilton Aspire card), I was given a $50 per day property credit at the Waldorf Astoria. We were able to use this for both nights of our stay for breakfast on Saturday morning and drinks at the pool that same afternoon. This brought what would have been a $110 food and drink tab down to just $10. Result!
Next the failure. Caesar’s Casinos offers a loyalty program with multiple levels. If you attain the diamond level in the program, you can receive a $100 ‘celebration dinner’ which is essentially a credit that can be used at one of the many hotels in the various Caesar’s properties. Normally you have to gamble a lot to get this status, but thanks to a generous and clever double status match (outlined excellently by Nick at Thrifty Traveler) you can attain it with ease for one year.
To make a long story short, I followed the first step of the process but completely forgot to do the second step. When we went to the Caesar’s Rewards desk my error became apparent and we were ineligible for the dinner credit. We had planned to get dinner at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and use the credit, but were unable to do so. Learn from my mistake, and make sure you completely both steps if you go for the Caesar’s match!
Adding it Up
Despite one small mistake (as well as losing some money at blackjack!) we feel like we came out ahead and had a great time in Las Vegas!
Adding up our savings, we saved $1,820 on our two night trip. That seems like a pretty sweet deal to me!