Rooms on the Las Vegas Strip listed on Airbnb and free of charge

A room at Elara booked for Monday through Airbnb costs $ 79 with no resort fees. An almost identical room booked for Monday through the hotel costs $ 159.80, excluding resort fees.

Condo or timeshare owners inside resort properties on and around the Strip rent out their spots on short-term rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Their guests enjoy many of the same amenities as staying at a hotel down the resort hallway while avoiding some of the often-maligned charges.

It’s technically okay, despite Clark County’s difficult relationship with short-term rental providers. Some resorts are more supportive of the practice than others, although the Strip has historically viewed colocation platforms as a rival.

“It’s one thing, and it’s been a thing for a number of years,” said Ted Newkirk, founder of the gambling and tourism advisory website Access Vegas.

Rules, rules, rules

Clark County ordinances prohibit short-term rentals in residential areas.

But private owners inside a Strip property can legally rent their units, as long as they hold a business license to operate the short-term rental, according to county spokesperson Erik Pappa. The county enforces the ordinance through complaints.

Each property on the Strip also has its own rules for short-term rentals.

MGM Resorts International allows its owners of condos at The Signature at MGM Grand and Vdara to rent their places through a corporate program or independently, the company said in a statement. The company added that independent tenants must maintain a Clark County business license and pay applicable taxes.

More than 1,600 units at The Signature are privately owned out of 1,728, while only 148 units out of 1,495 in Vdara are privately owned, the company said.

Westgate, although just east of the Strip, falls under the same set of county requirements that would allow short-term rentals. The property comprises “just over 200” timeshare units, said Gordon Prouty, vice president of public and community relations.

Yet Westgate does not offer a program that allows owners to lease their timeshare units to third parties, and to do otherwise would violate ownership policies, he said.

“However, the owner has the option of sending family and friends as ‘guests’ in place of the owner,” Prouty wrote in an email.

This did not prevent someone from listing on Airbnb a boutique hotel room allegedly hosted by the “Westgate Las Vegas Resort”. The ad highlighted a 400-square-foot room with a 60-inch TV, blackout curtains, a safe, and a mini-fridge.

“As intimate as it gets, next to the Las Vegas Convention Center and just one block from the Strip,” the list boasts. “Vegas-y in a good way, with a Benihana restaurant and the world’s largest racing and sports book, plus an on-site monorail stop.”

The list remained in place on Friday. Her host did not return a request for comment.

Other short-term rental listings advertised stays at the Jockey Club timeshare resort and the Palms Place condo hotel. Representatives for each did not return requests for comment, nor did hosts listed for several short-term rentals at resorts on and around the Strip.

Airbnb declined to comment. Vrbo did not return requests for comment.

So what’s the difference?

Guests will enjoy many of the same amenities of a hotel stay as a short-term rental stay.

“This is my personal condo that I live in when I’m in Vegas, but it feels like I’m in a hotel room,” one Airbnb ad for one man’s Vdara suite read. 540 square feet, with a small kitchen, king-size bed, and living room. The list mentions several services available to guests, such as swimming pools, concierge, spas, and fitness centers, although the COVID-19 pandemic may affect availability.

But the phrase most likely to grab people’s attention: no resort fees.

Stays booked through Airbnb are often cheaper than those booked through the hotel itself, although the savings may be offset by other fees.

The Vdara listing advertises an all-inclusive price of $ 50 for a Tuesday stay, but when checking room availability, the Airbnb listing adds $ 87 in cleaning and service fees for a $ 137 stay. A similar room for the same night booked through Vdara would cost $ 187.08, including a $ 120 rate, service charge, and taxes.

A Palms Place ad for a penthouse condo with a kitchenette, balcony, and a view of the Strip advertises a $ 99 no-resort room rate for a stay in late December. Booking a similar room on the same date on the hotel’s website costs $ 219 per night with a service charge of $ 42.22. Still, the Airbnb listing also charges a cleaning fee of $ 90 and a service fee of $ 27. Including tax, the Airbnb room costs $ 241 and the hotel room costs $ 292.52.

“I wouldn’t want to give up an inch”

It is possible to own a room inside a hotel thanks to a fleeting trend in the 2000s.

Many listings on the Strip or adjacent to the Strip are relics of a bygone era: condos or timeshares in properties built during a mid to late-year condominium boom, like Trump Tower, Elara, and the CityCenter campus. .

The Great Recession spelled the end of the boom and prompted some properties like The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, previously planned as a condominium, to turn to hotel operations, according to UNLV hospitality professor Mehmet Erdem. Back then, he said, short-term rental providers did not pose the same competitive threat to beach resorts as they do today.

“In an ideal world, they obviously wouldn’t want to give Airbnb an inch,” Erdem said.

A report by Telsey Group Advisory found that resorts on the Strip could have lost up to $ 150 million in revenue in 2018 as more visitors to Las Vegas book accommodations through Airbnb.

The chairman of a state resort advocacy group said the group is “monitoring the problem” of short-term rentals.

“Overall, strong enforcement is essential for effective regulation, as are a level playing field that regulates and taxes these properties in the same way as other highly regulated public accommodation establishments,” he said. said Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association.

Still, it’s not clear why a business like MGM would allow a resident to essentially run their own hospitality business. A company representative referred the questions to the associated homeowners associations. Messages left at Resident Service desks at Palms Place, The Signature and Vdara were not returned.

Newkirk said a typical short-term rental customer is unlikely to throw money at slots or “go and rack up a $ 300 Wolfgang Puck contract.” However, he said, some luxury resorts may accept short-term tenants inside their buildings because they’re willing to pay for an upscale hotel in the first place.

“I can’t think that’s something they’re very happy with,” Newkirk said of the resorts, “if for nothing else it’s competition, and now you’ve got competition in. your own building. “

In some ways, it might make sense for a hotel operator to quasi-collaborate with a competitor to make more money where it can, Erdem said.

The MGM allowing private rental within their properties can still generate income through food, drink, shopping, gambling or other means, Erdem said.

And, the ads on short-term rental platforms could also be free advertising.

MGM is a well-known brand, Erdem said, but it doesn’t have the advertising reach of its rooms the way a domestic brand like Airbnb does.

“In a way,” he said, “Airbnb is doing the job of selling the room for them.”

Condos and timeshares are only a fraction of the tens of thousands of rooms on the Strip, Erdem said. Fewer still are the private landlords who rent out their premises.

Short-term rentals weren’t a big enough threat to “knock down hotels” before the pandemic, and the same is likely true for a post-pandemic economy, Newkirk said.

“Yet,” he said, “nobody likes competition.”

Contact Mike Shoro at [email protected] or 702-387-5290. To follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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