If you are a reader of this site you know we love going to Las Vegas for the Big Game every February. This year will be our group's 17th year in Las Vegas for the NFL Championship game. Our group is large, 11 guys, so planning and coordination is very important.
The Switch to Suites
Group inertia is hard to overcome.
After 2010, when we stayed at the beautiful Aria Las Vegas, our group realized that having space for us to gather was becoming more and more important. We needed spots to mix drinks, hang with the boys and recover from the night before. Not just a place to crash for the night. I firmly believe that the adage of "you never spend time in your room in Vegas" is wrong.
The following year we did our research. We started looking at hotels that offered suites that had decent sized living rooms with a kitchen that included a full refrigerator. We identified hotels such as Hilton Grand Vacations Elara (formerly Planet Hollywood Towers), Marriott Grand Chateau, Vdara and MGM Signature. After debate and investigation we decided on Elara for the 2011 trip. That year we got two 2 room suites, a total of 4 rooms. These rooms were very well outfitted; each with a full kitchen and an extra small fridge in one of the two adjoining rooms. With these rooms we had a total of 8 beds. Also included was a full room height projected TV, so cool for the big game.
Next few years we spent at Elara, then one year at MGM Signature. MGM Signature had a similar situation with multiple rooms, kitchen and gathering spaces. We had stayed at MGM Signature for my bachelor party and it worked out well. When we returned to Elara, the following year, we chose the 4 bedroom suite since in previous years our two rooms were spread over multiple floors. The 4 bedroom suite was a revelation. All of us could be in the same space with no coordination with finding the rest of of the group. So much fun.
It has been a great run at Elara but last year we got a bit of a bummer of a room. Typically we received a room that faced the strip that had a section of the "pink" tunnel on in it. We got space and a view. We had to pay their "premier rate" for an upgrade to this room but it was worth it. Last year we had reserved what we thought was the same room. Come the big game weekend we went to check in and our room wasn't ready yet. We finally got into our room around 4pm to find that it pointed away from the strip, and, even though it was 4 bedrooms, it had a much worse floor plan than the strip facing rooms and much less square foot. Additionally there was a bad smell in the room. The final breaking point for us was realizing we were spending too much time in the room. The distance to the strip and real food or entertainment was quiet a walk from Elara.
Something had to change.
The Hunt for a New Home
Luckily when I started doing research for rooms this year the Elara 4 bedroom suite price had jumped up an extra $1500 for the entire weekend. That was our final catalyst for change. I started doing research again. In addition to the list above I found multi-room suites at major hotels such as Mirage, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Aria, Linq, Cromwell and Flamingo. I started making calls.
Unfortunately, I quickly made a realization: none of these rooms were available for superbowl weekend. Finally I got a good representative on the phone at one of the properties and they said that the rooms were removed from listing on that weekend to save for whales coming in for the Big Game.
I became discouraged at this point.
I looked back at our previous list. What if I could be creative? What about a mix of rooms to give us plenty of sleeping space, gathering space, and a good location with easy access to food, drinking, entertainment and gambling. I already liked the location of Vdara: it has a direct hallway to Bellagio, a short walk around a traffic circle to Aria, a walk down stairs from Cosmopolitan and a tram ride away from Monte Carlo (soon to be Park MGM).
Could I make staying at Vdara work?
Now there are a ton of options for rooms at Vdara, from studios to 1 bedroom to 2 bedroom penthouses. I started doing youtube tours of rooms. I was leaning toward multiple 2 story lofts, but after viewing youtube videos of the suites I realized that their living areas were very cramped. So I struck that out. I looked at square footage of the 2 room suites and saw that the hospitality suite had the most square footage. It's a good mix of gathering space and sleeping space. I called Vdara up to figure out the rest of my options. I asked if any of the rooms adjoined each other. They said that the City Corner and Studio Parlor connect. NowI had at least 7 beds with tons of gathering space in a great location.
I made reservations over the phone for one of each of the following: Hospitality Suite, City Corner and Studio parlor. I asked if I could lock in adjoining rooms and the representative said that they would put a note on the reservation but they couldn't guarantee anything since rooms were assigned at check it. To increase our odds of getting the rooms near each other we decided that going in on Thursday would be our best bet. The representative agreed we'd have best luck with this plan.
I think we are all excited about this plan. We have plenty of sleeping and gathering space. We have an obvious room to gather in: the hospitality suite. We are closer to the action and we'll be having experiences at a new, to us, location.