Planning Your Casino Vacation Online
Websites worth visiting before booking your next trip
By J. Phillip Vogel
Arranging a casino-based vacation can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it. If you’re the sort of patron who spends every waking hour strapped to a slot machine or hunkered down at the card tables, designing that “perfect” casino getaway probably isn’t that high up on your priorities list. However, if you’re looking to create an especially memorable vacation, want to try out something new and exciting, or have a non-gambling spouse in tow, you might want to spend some time checking out your options.
Which casinos offer the best suites? How many restaurants are on the property? Is the in-room dining 24/7? Which resorts offer the best spa facilities? For these answers and more, you can either spend hours calling the various resorts with a laundry list of questions, or go online and check out some of the terrific travel sites that cater specifically to casino gamblers. Here are some of my personal favorites.
Quite possibly the most comprehensive round-up of Sin City life, Vegas.com features detailed descriptions of everything there is to do, see, eat, and drink while in Vegas. Hotel and show information, nightlife descriptions, attraction and tour listings, spa reviews, golf tee times, limo and car rental services…this site includes everything gamblers and non-gamblers need to plan the perfect Vegas vacation. The site also features a terrific “Insider’s Guide” section that provides expert tips on everything from planning a “naughty” trip (i.e. when it’s time to throw your buddy’s bachelor party), to where to go to find Elvis, what to do with the grandparents, and unique entertainment for thrill seekers.
Once you’re done looking things over, you can book a room (air and hotel packages are available), purchase tickets to premium shows, buy nightclub passes, schedule a tour (like the helicopter tour around Hoover Dam), and make dinner reservations at gourmet restaurants.
A highly efficient casino directory, Casino City features breakdowns of just about every casino or gaming destination the world over (at last count, over 4,000!). Listings are posted according to regional breakdowns within the global directory section. You can choose your desired country or region and whittle down the options until arriving at the area and resort you’re most interested in (i.e. North America → USA → New Jersey → Caesars). You can then view detailed information about everything the property has to offer, including specific gaming machines (by name and denomination), number and types of table games, restaurants, bars and lounges, and other amenities such as spas, water sports, health club facilities, salons and shopping.
Don’t forget to check out the airlines themselves for some great deals. The vacation website for United Airlines features a “Special Interest” section, with an area devoted to casino travel. Here, you’ll find special deals and discounts for various casino hotspots such as Las Vegas, Reno, and Aruba, along with helpful information such as hotel reviews and descriptions, the best dining, outdoor activities, tours and events, nearby attractions, hotel shopping, tips for travelers with special needs, getting around, and more. The site also features virtual tours and video tours in and around your chosen travel spot.
Gem Casino Travel
Not your standard casino directory site, Gem Casino Travel offers both information and personalized services for elite players looking to plan a special gaming vacation. Although their scope is somewhat limited (focusing on select casinos in the US, Canada, Caribbean, South and Central America), this is a full service liaison between the player and the house. Visitors to the site can read overviews of each property, including information on available games, restaurants, shopping options, bars and lounges, spa services and other amenities. In addition, if you’re a big enough player, they’ll completely arrange your accommodations, travel, and opening lines of credit. All of their active players are eligible for special promotional rates.
For gamblers or casino vacationers looking to stretch their travel dollar, Cheapo Vegas is a prime destination. Once you get past its rather juvenile design (an odd, smiling cartoon child called “Casino Boy”) you’ll find it’s packed with pertinent, cost-cutting information. In the “Cheapo Sleep” section, you’ll find a hotel search, comparison chart, and hotel listings under headings such as “Cheapest,” “Swankiest,” “Best Value” and “Best Swimming.” Meanwhile, “Cheapo Eats” offers insight into the best buffets and cheapest meals, while “Cheapo Games” points out the casinos with the lowest limits and “Cheapo Thrills” offers listings dedicated to low-cost entertainment. High rollers won’t have much interest in these offerings, but this site is a must-visit for bettors on a budget.
Expedia has always been one of my favorite sites to turn to when making travel arrangements, partly because of their package deals for casino destinations. Visitors can check out the site’s “Deals & Destinations” section for the latest scoop on the best rates and promotional packages. While scrolling through the list of offerings, be sure to click on the “more info” link, which offers photos and virtual tours, descriptions of hotels and their amenities, special points of interest, reviews, and traveler ratings based on the casino’s service, condition, cleanliness and comfort.
World Casino Directory
One of the most extensive casino databases, WorldCasinoDirectory.com features detailed listing about casinos in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and even on various cruise ships. Listings include everything you’d ever want to know about a casino—types of games available, number of table games, number of slots, events, current promotions, special deals and packages, dining information…the lists go on and on. There’s also a forum for visitors to post reviews about their own casino experiences, while additional contact information and links to each resort are provided throughout the site.