Exclusive VegasAugust 13, 2009 By: Glenn Haussman Travel Agent
Caesars Palace’s Smug Mutha package gives Bette Midler fans front-row center seats to The Showgirl Must Go On, as well as a backstage meeting with the star
Folks going to Las Vegas aren’t looking for that same old Strip experience anymore. Nope, they’re getting way too savvy for that. Instead, sophisticated travelers are seeking out special access to events and activities not readily available to everyone.
It makes sense, too. People are getting a “been there done that” attitude with their vacation experiences and now, they’re looking to ramp up the excitement quotient. Basically they want to feel like an insider, and what better place to feel like a player than in Vegas? Equally important is when they get back home, they’ll have a treasure trove of great stories to wow their friends and family.
It boils down to this: People want bragging rights, and a wave of companies on and off the Strip are giving that to them. And guests are willing to pay for it, too.
At Planet Hollywood, where the motto is to “deliver red-carpet experiences with you as a star,” James Gancos, senior vice president of hotel and food & beverage, says they’re always looking to serve up “wow” experiences their guests can only find with them.
Because of the casino resort’s affiliation with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which manages the hotel, Planet Hollywood guests have access to some star-studded experiences such as walking down the red carpet during a movie premiere through Starwood’s SPG Moments program. They also get to meet celebrities and hit the after party for movies such as "Rambo" or the recently premiered "The Goods" starring Will Ferrell and Jeremy Piven. Other experiences, which have been made possible in the past, include front-row seats at the Miss USA and Miss America pageants, along with a chance to meet the contestants. The property also offers guests the opportunity to live like a “whale”—gambling parlance for a big bettor. They get to play in tournaments and get wined and dined just like the big shots do.
“Everyone is looking for added value, and what better way to add value than have this celebrity access component,” says Gancos, adding that the resort also offers backstage passes to concerts to hobnob with the biggest rock stars.
Speaking of celebrities, Caesars Palace is giving Bette Midler fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the lady herself while getting pampered. The Smug Mutha package ($1,000 per person) gives fans front-row center seats for Midler’s "The Showgirl Must Go On" and will meet The Divine Miss M backstage after the show. The package also includes a photo op with her, an autographed show program, a VIP escort into the theater and two drink vouchers. For tickets, call 1-877-7BETTEM (723-8836) or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino will host a special event for fans of Phantom— The Las Vegas Spectacular
Fans of "Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular" will go gaga over this: The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino is hosting an exclusive event from September 16-20, which includes behind-the-scenes access, a Masquerade Ball with the cast of Phantom and an opportunity to hear from Phantom’s honorary guest and director, Hal Prince.
With different registration levels available, fans can spend a week or a short weekend; the activities and registration fees have been developed to accommodate any travel schedule or budget. Visit www.phantomvegasoffers.com/fansweek for more information.
Meanwhile, MGM Grand has rolled out a cool new privilege program dubbed Prima, which will make guests feel like high-rolling VIPs. For $500—placed in an account at check-in and used as credit to spend while at the resort—guests get a ton of benefits they won’t get elsewhere. Those include VIP check-in, instant upgrade to a Bungalow or Celebrity Spa Suite, roundtrip limo transfer to another MGM Mirage property, ticket upgrades to KA, VIP access and escorted entry into Studio 54 and Tabu nightclubs, 2-for-1 drinks in select spots, free access to Wet Republic Ultra Pool, 2-for-1 entrees in select restaurants, a complimentary bottle of champagne with two or more people spending a minimum of $89 at Joël Robuchon, no-wait taxi passes and more (booking code PRMO13).
Finally, the N9NE Group (pronounced nine) has an over-the-top membership program available for its venues at the Palms. The $5,000 package (which includes a $500 gift card) has so much in it we can’t even list it all here.
For starters, there’s VIP access (with friends) to ghostbar, Rain Nightclub, Palms Pool, Playboy Club and Moon Nightclub, and Palms Pool & Bungalows, 20 percent discounts on bottle service at ghostbar and Rain, preferred hotel room rates and more.
The highlight, however, is access to special events non-members can only dream about attending. Julie Cane, corporate director of guest services, says it includes Playboy Playmate-hosted holiday parties at Moon Nightclub, private happy-hour events in each of the Palms’ Fantasy Tower Suites, as well as reserved poolside cabanas complete with complimentary food and beverage during the summer.
According to Cane, “The membership program serves as one of the ways N9NE Group continues to differentiate itself by creating highly unique opportunities that are impossible to get anywhere else in the world. It’s a defining factor that keeps us ahead of the competition while giving guests what they truly crave—experiences they can only get with us.” And it’s those unique experiences that bring the crowds to Vegas in the first place.