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Air-Land Packages Keep Las Vegas in the Price Range of the Low Rollers Too

March 11, 2001|ARTHUR FROMMER

Last year, Las Vegas again was the No. 1 tourist destination in the U.S., trumping Orlando, Fla., and New York, which tied for second. But unlike the Big Apple, where room shortages have sent the cost of a visit spiraling, overnight rates in Vegas have stayed reasonable for all but the most deluxe hotels. It even could be argued that Las Vegas has a glut of hotel capacity, resulting in an almost constant availability of bargains-except during major conventions.

Rates are particularly low for travelers buying air-and-land packages from an airline wanting to fill its seats to Las Vegas. Lately, three airlines have been players in this game.

First up is Vegas-based National Airlines, with a dizzying array of arrangements using hotels in many price categories. (National has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, so you might not want to book too far ahead.)

National's Web site, http://www, offers "specials" each week, but you can do even better, in my experience, by surfing through all its offerings for hotels not listed as specials.

A recent National special at Circus Circus featured rates about $50 higher than one could get from National at several other perfectly fine properties. Thus a round-trip flight and a two-night midweek stay at the Four Queens Hotel was bookable on the Web site for $105 from Los Angeles (per person, double occupancy). For the Lady Luck Hotel and the Palace Station Hotel, prices ran just $6 more across the board. The higher-quality, high-rise Stratosphere cost $20 more than the Four Queens package.

The Web site is offering deals through the summer. For more information, call National Airlines Vacations, (888) 527-8687.

Prices at America West Vacations' Web site (http://www.americawest can run even better for people who don't need the services of the airline's reservation agents.

For flights from Los Angeles, we recently found two-night air-hotel deals at the Palace Station Hotel for $69 on some midweek dates. Fitzgerald's Casino Holiday Inn packages started at $79, going up on some dates to $90, from Los Angeles.

The Web site recently featured three-night weekend getaways in March for as low as $213. As sometimes happens with Southwest Airlines Vacations, the low rates promoted in its newspaper ads don't always come up when you go to its Internet site, (They didn't for me, at least.) Nonetheless, the prices I recently got were competitive with what America West and National were posting for the same packages. For example: From Los Angeles, a two-nighter at the Westward Ho Casino and Hotel started at $139, including round-trip air. The price was $119 for the same package in Southwest's newspaper advertisements that week. .

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