Las Vegas is no longer about busloads of retirees playing the nickel slots. Last year, Sin City hosted more than 20,000 meetings, welcoming nearly 6 million business travelers. From a city that changes more in a month than most cities change in a year, here's a quick heads up:
- The splashiest hotel newcomer on the Strip is the Wynn Las Vegas, which opened in spring. The almost $3 billion, 2,700-room resort has raised the bar on the luxury end of the market. Standard rooms start at about $200 to $450 per night; suites fetch up to $900 per night. But while the big glam resorts get all the press, most visitors bed down for an average of just $90 per night, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
- If you're headed to a convention, consider the brand- new Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Fall rates start at about $195. If you're willing to sleep off the Strip, many namebrand hotels and motels have outposts on the outskirts of the action, with nightly rates well under $100. Also, with more than 23,000 hotel rooms becoming available in the next five years, you can generally count on last-minute deals during slower, hot summer months or for midweek stays.
- Las Vegas is much bigger than it looks, which means walking distances can be longer than expected. Luckily, you can cool your heels on its new monorail, which connects many larger resorts on the Strip with the city's new convention center for a $3 fare. Unfortunately, the monorail doesn't make the airport run; cab fares from the airport to hotels cost $10 to $20, and there's an airport shuttle to the Strip or downtown for less than $10.
- It's difficult to wade through the massive amount of online come-ons about Las Vegas, so here are three top sites for planning your trip: www.lasvegasadvisor.com(great advice), www.visitlasvegas.com(official site) and www.vegas.com(for last-minute deals).
Chris McGinnis is author of The Unofficial Business Travelers' Pocket Guide.