Our friends at travelalerts.ca sent out a note the other day that outlined $29 hotel rooms in Las Vegas. I also spotted a story from USA Today's Kitty Bean Yancey (isn't that a GREAT byline?) saying there are great deals from now to Dec. 24; I guess cuz folks are saving their sinful behaviour until after Santa visits.
Anyway, The Las Vegas Advisor is said to have found 43 Las Vegas casino hotels with rooms for less than $40, compared to 38 last December. Among the properties available were Harrah's, Bally's and Excalibur.
They also found 27 properties for less than $30, two more than last year. Among those are Circus Circus, the Tropicana and Sahara.
Even more amazing, they mentioned seven casinos with rates less than $20; among them the Golden Gate and Hooters, reputed to be Tiger Woods' fave hangout. The Hard Rock was down to $47, Paris was $55 and New York-New York available for as little as $48. All prices are subject to change, so they may not be available right now. Still, there appear to be no end to the bargains.
The Star's Richard Ouzounian, our resident theatre expert and the author of our monthly "Six Meals In" feature in Star Travel, is on his way there today for the big opening of the much ballyhooed, $8.5 billion City Center project, said to be the largest privately financed development in American history and that's saying a lot. There are new hotels (see photo of the Aria at right), shops and glitzy restaurants, as well as a couple casinos, and they'll be pulling out all kinds of stops to make it a splashy entry.
Richard will be filing to the star.com/travel, so check our web site and my blog tomorrow (Wednesday) for his thoughts. And again on Thursday. And check our print version on Saturday for another report as we keep you up to date on one of the most popular destinations for GTA travelers.
Folks in Caribbean tourism know how important public perception is, and they're showing understandable concern about recent crime reports.
A dozen Carnival passengers were robbed at gunpoint near Nassau's Queen's Staircase in October. Last month, two groups of passengers from Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line ships were on ship-sponsored tours when they were robbed by men carrying shotguns.
The Nassau Guardian says armed robberies in the Bahamas are up 17 per cent from 2008. It's serious enough that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is pledging a new year's press conference to introduce new anti-crime legislation.
"The current crime wave is totally unacceptable and must be brought under control," he said. "I think that you will see an accelerated set of policing - prevention - taking place very soon and we will seek to make our streets safer and our homes safer," the newspaper reported today.
The Bahamas are not the only place where there are concerns, of course. The New York Times reported the other day that a retired British couple was seriously wounded in a machete attack in Tobago in August and that a pregnant American tourist was abducted and killed during a morning jog in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, in February.
A colleague at the Star correctly points out there's plenty of crime in Toronto and U.S. cities. But do foreign governments warn people about coming to North America? I don't know. I do know that crime happens all over the world. But when you're as dependent on tourism as the folks are in the Caribbean, any crime takes on an even greater importance.
On a related note, the U.S. State Department has lifted its travel alert for Honduras, saying improved security means Americans aren't under immediate threat. The alert was issued following a June 28 coup.
Tourism is said to have dropped 85 per cent on the island of Roatan after the coup, even though it's far from the capital of Tegucigalpa. There's great diving in Roatan, as well as a new, world-class golf course development under construction.
BRITISH AIRWAYS UPDATE
As passengers continue to lash out over a potential Christmas walkout by British Airways cabin crew, the airline is beginning last-ditch legal action to avert a holiday horror show.
Associated Press reports that BA has applied to the High Court for an injunction to prevent the planned 12-day walkout, which is due to start Dec. 22.
"An emergency hearing was schedule for Wednesday," AP said, "But that still left passengers in limbo, contemplating soaring prices for alternative flights - or train journeys."
Virgin Atlantic says it will bring in bigger planes on key routes out of London, including flights to New Yor and Delhi. BMI ran newspaper advertisements saying that "BA is grounded, but you needn't be."
A London accountant hoping to fly from Heathrow to Vancouver on Christmas Day for a vacation with his wife said he's looking at prices of around $3,500 Canadian.
"The likely revenue gift to its competitors couldn’t come at a worse time for BA, which has been one of the airlines worst hit by the global recession because of its heavy running costs and reliance on increasingly unpopular premium fares," AP said.
THIS AND THAT; News from Chicago, New Delhi and Victoria
The Blackstone Hotel in Chicago is celebrating its 100th birthday with $100 rates from Jan. 1 to April 10, 2010. Guests also can get a champagne cocktail, a Singapore Sling and other drinks for just a buck. Wow, that's even cheaper than the Air Canada Centre...The New Leela Palace is set to open in early fall in New Delhi. The Leela Palace Kempinski New Delhi is a five-star spot with 260 rooms and suites, five restaurants, two bars, an ESPA spa and a rooftop swimming pool...Did you know there wasn't a carousel anywhere on Vancouver Island until recently, when they unveiled one at Butchart Gardens in Victoria? Either did I, but they say the Rose Carousel is all decked out for Christmas and has handcarved likenesses of bears, ostriches, zebras and horses.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY
It's time to start thinking of your winter/spring break. Here are a couple solid options, brought to you by the folks at travelalerts.ca: