Summer 2019 has brought two pieces of negative news from the MGM/MLife properties in Las Vegas – reduced discounts on room rates for MLife elite members, and increased resort fees at MGM’s highest-end Vegas properties, the Aria, Bellagio and Vdara. We wanted to make sure Middle Age Miles readers knew of these changes and provide some strategy tips in response.
Let’s take a look at each of these negative changes:
1. Reduced Discounts on Room Rates for MLife Elite Members
Until recently, one of the great benefits of elite status with the MLife loyalty program at MGM was the discounts on room rates. As Gold members, we often saw discounts of 20% or even 25% on rates. These member rates weren’t always the best overall deals available at MGM properties – sometimes the credits associated with special promotions or the Chase Luxury Hotels & Resorts Collection (LHRC) resulted in better deals all-in – but the elite member rates usually provided the lowest available base rates, and sometimes the best overall option.
Unfortunately, as of July 15, MGM “standardized” the MLife member rate discount to 10% for all members, regardless of status level. Here’s what MGM had to say in its online notification of this change:
We have confirmed through room searches with MGM/MLife properties that we’re only seeing a 10% discount now, even though we have Gold status.
Observations and Strategies
For us personally, this change hurts. We’re on the cusp of attaining Platinum MLife status for the first time ever, and we were looking forward to the even greater discounts that have typically been granted to Platinum members. Now, it’s only 10% for everyone.
Also, let’s be clear – we’re not seeing decreases in the base room rates that would offset this reduction in the MLife elite member discount.
We noted above that sometimes special promotions resulted in better overall deals anyway. How about those? Initial indications don’t look good. MGM’s most recent promotion, “Hot Summer Rates,” shows discounts of only 5% and does not include any food & beverage credits or other benefits. Here’s an example, using a 3-night weekend stay at Bellagio in October ($833.15 / $877.00 = 0.95 ==> 5% discount):
Hopefully this isn’t the “new normal” for promotional rates at MGM and we’ll see more promotions soon with greater discounts and/or significant food & beverage credits.
Our next observation is that this change makes booking via the Chase LHRC program even more valuable, at least in a relative sense. In short, Chase LHRC bookings provide for free breakfast, a F&B credit that’s $100/stay at the higher-end MGM properties in Las Vegas, and subject-to-availability room upgrades and late check-out. When compared to a MLife elite member discount of 20-25%, it was often a close call between using the member rate and booking through Chase LHRC to get the benefits. (Note that Chase LHRC generally uses the undiscounted rates.) Now, when the discount is only 10%, it’s almost always going to be a better overall deal to book through Chase LHRC. The value of the LHRC benefits is probably going to swamp the minor savings from a 10% discount.
If you hold a Chase-issued credit card, there’s a good chance you’re eligible to use Chase LHRC. A lot of people can use this program but don’t realize it. To learn more about using Chase LHRC in connection with Vegas stays, please see our 2 detailed articles:
- Middle Age Miles: How to Use the Chase Luxury Hotels & Resorts Program to Score Great Deals in Vegas (and earn points & status too!) (January 16, 2019)
- Middle Age Miles: More Info on How to Use the Chase Luxury Hotels & Resorts Program to Score Great Deals in Vegas – Data Points & Observations from Another Stay at Aria (a MGM/MLife Hotel) (March 8, 2019)
2. Increased Resort Fees at Bellagio, Aria & Vdara
As of August 1, 2019, resort fees at 3 high-end MGM Vegas properties increased by $6, from $39 to $45. When sales tax of 13.38% is applied to the resort fee, it becomes $51.02 all-in. Ouch.
MGM’s justification for the increase in resort fees is that other upscale Vegas hotels – Palazzo, Venetian, Wynn/Encore and Waldorf Astoria – already charge $45, so this just puts the MGM properties on par with these others. You can read a bit more about MGM’s announcement in this article from the Los Angeles Times (MGM seems not to have issued a formal press release on this increase).
If you made a room booking before August 1, you’ll be grandfathered in to the previous $39 resort fee ($44.22 including tax).
Observations and Strategies
This blows. Resort fees in general are ridiculous and deceptive. Increasing resort fees without increasing the benefits provided is egregious.
To avoid resort fees in Vegas, at least if you have elite status with some hotel chain, follow the instructions in our article linked below to match your status to Wyndham Rewards Diamond, then to Caesars Rewards Diamond. Resort fees are waived for Caesars Diamond members when they stay at properties in the Caesars family of hotels (Caesars Palace, Nobu, The Cromwell, Planet Hollywood, Paris, Flamingo, The Linq, Bally’s, Harrah’s, Rio).
Here’s how you can status-match your way to Caesars Diamond:
- Middle Age Miles: How to Easily Status Match to Caesars Rewards Diamond Status – New Opportunity (February 2, 2019)
Status-match to Caesars Diamond, stay at Caesars properties in Vegas, avoid resort fees altogether. That’s what MGM should be matching in the competitive landscape to put heads in beds in Vegas.
What do you think about these negative MGM changes? Do they impact you? Do you have other helpful strategy ideas? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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