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The Mature Traveler

Season Change Brings Bargains in Las Vegas

November 02, 1986|HANK KOVELL | Kovell is a veteran journalist in seniors' interests.

Some cities and states recently have been originating special programs to encourage mature travelers to visit, particularly during off seasons and other slow periods.

A good example of the success of such programs is one provided by Palm Springs, which traditionally suffers a slack period during the hot summer months of July and August.

Under the guidance of the Palm Springs Convention and Visitor Bureau, hotels banded together to offer special discounts and other inducements for mature travelers this year, resulting in a modest increase in off-season occupancy for the participating hotels.

The Las Vegas News Bureau thought this plan might be applied for the gaming city's traditionally slow winter months, December and January, and set out to canvass the hotel and motel industry to see what enticements they might offer to mature travelers. The response was not overwhelming.

Responded one hotel manager, "We've already got the finest hotels and motels in the country with the least expensive rates, low-cost dining and first-rate entertainers at bargain prices." His point is well taken.

A Real Bargain

As it has been since its earliest days, Las Vegas is a bargain. Mature travelers from Southern California were among the first to recognize this value and they still constitute a large segment of the Las Vegas clientele.

Hotel rates from $9 a day per person are frequently advertised, as are lavish buffets for $2.95, sometimes less. In some cases, all-inclusive package deals that include air fare, hotel, meals and entertainment are offered for less than the price of an airline ticket bought separately.

Winter in Las Vegas can be chilly, with nighttime temperatures touching the freezing mark on occasion. But the days are crystal clear and it's not unusual to see sunbathers at poolside basking in the afternoon sun. Golf courses and tennis courts are less crowded and show reservations are easier to obtain.

At least one hotel offers a special winter package. The Flamingo Hilton's "Winter Holiday" offers overnight accommodations (one night), a nightclub production show that includes two cocktails, a dinner in either of two fine restaurants and five cocktails in the Flamingo cocktail lounges. The price per person, including tax and tips, is $25. The package is effective from Nov. 23 through Feb. 5, but excludes the New Year's weekend. Extra nights are available. Call toll-free for a brochure, (800) 732-2111.

Nearly all buffets--breakfast, lunch or dinner--are less than $5, ranging from $1.95 to $4.95, although some weekend champagne brunches run a bit more.

Another Inducement

"Fun Books" are another Las Vegas inducement for visitors at no cost. A driver's license or airline ticket is usually all that's needed to get a booklet filled with coupons for free cocktails, free or two-for-one gaming plays, snacks and sandwiches, and other enticements.

To learn where the buffets, fun books, restaurants and shows are, pick up one of the several free Las Vegas entertainment publications at the Las Vegas airport, in street corner boxes, in hotel lobbies and restaurants. These publications are filled with up-to-date information of interest to visitors and many contain coupons for discounts on meals and shows.

There are a great many spare-time activities for seniors in Las Vegas, many at no cost and some with special prices for the older patron. The Liberace Museum is a popular attraction, as is the huge antique automobile exhibit in the Imperial Palace hotel. Ethel M chocolates offers free tours every day, including its botanical cactus garden.

Even in the off-season, though, it is unwise to visit any destination without hotel reservations because conventions may be taking up all the space.

For information about entertainment, write for a free Show Sheet to the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, 2301 E. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, Nev. 89104. For all other Las Vegas details, write to the Las Vegas Visitors Authority, Tourism Department, 3150 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev. 89109-9096.

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