Condo rentals flower in the desert


LAS VEGAS -- As a flurry of building activity transforms great expanses of desert floor into upscale time-share and condo high-rises on the Strip and beyond, Las Vegas seemingly overnight has opened up a whole new category of hospitality offerings.

While the core business for both is based on ownership, some offer rentals, enabling visitors to stay a day or longer in places that cover the spectrum from studios to penthouses to casitas.

All of the following properties offer commissions to travel agents, with most at 10%.

One of the original and still most visible hosts for such multiroom accommodations is the Hilton Grand Vacations Clubs (HGVC), with towers at the Flamingo Las Vegas, Las Vegas Hilton and a Strip location that soon will break ground on its second phase.

At HGVC, guests can repose in a 360-square-foot studio or in villas with square footage ranging from 723 to 1,428.

Also close by the Strip is the Las Vegas version of Fairfield Resorts, the Fairfield Grand Desert on Harmon Avenue East, which is in the process of establishing a rental program specifically for travel agents who book its villas and penthouses.

Farther out, in the south Strip area, is Cancun, a Monarch Grand Vacations Resort that showcases its theme throughout the property, right down to an aquatic feature in the pool that sends a waterfall cascading over a replica of the namesake area's famous pyramids.

Some options exist away from the Strip, as well. Desert Paradise Resort on Decatur Boulevard South is an example, with its one- and two-bedroom suites offering more than 900 and 1,200 square feet, respectively.

Being away from the action by no means equates to "stranded," as this resort is just down the road from a shopping complex with restaurants plus a large fitness center, which in turn is just a long dice roll from the Orleans with its full complement of gaming, restaurants and entertainment.

While the foregoing are all time-share facilities, Las Vegas also offers a condo rental program that is further distinguished by treating guests to a true "getaway." That would be the new buildings in MonteLago Village adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton in Lake Las Vegas, about 20 miles southeast of the Strip.

Visitors find here a mountain-surrounded home away from home in a village of shops and restaurants tucked between a casino and the lake. A second phase of these suites and casitas, stretching up to 2,200 square feet, will be opening soon.

Other first-class condo projects still on the drawing boards that also will have rental programs include Platinum on Flamingo Road East, with a scheduled opening date of December 2005, and the Residences at MGM Grand, a joint project with the condo-savvy Turnberry, slated for mid-2006.

All of these resorts are amenity-intensive, generally outfitted with top-of-the-line fixtures and appliances, washers and dryers, full-featured kitchens, Jacuzzi tubs, rich fabrics, plush furniture and carpeting, walk-in closets, lots of storage and creative lighting, flat-screen TV/cable/DVD, high-speed Internet and private balconies, some even adding fireplaces, daily housekeeping and room service.

The facility as a whole typically offers large pools and whirlpool spas, fitness centers, game rooms, lounge, bar and grill, gift shop, convenience store, concierge services, 24-hour security and easy parking. Some also arrange activities.

Many have special touches, such as the championship golf courses at Lake Las Vegas, the parties at Cancun and the gourmet restaurant that will be part of the Residences at MGM Grand.

Rental prices cover the waterfront, varying according to property, size of the unit, day of the week, time of the year, length of stay and competitive activity. Some check in as low as $60 a night, while others soar toward the $1,000 mark.

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