Vegas visitors, hotel rates, pool parties are up from last year

Vegas visitors, hotel rates, pool parties are up from last year -

Vegas visitors, hotel rates, pool parties are up from last year

By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY

Carmen Electra hosts a bash at Moorea Beach Club at Mandalay Bay Resort.

By Erik Kabik/Retna Digital/

Last year, lots of workers in the Vegas hospitality industry were feeling down on their luck. The city, like many, was reeling due to economic uncertainty, an excess of condos and hotel rooms vs. demand, and a cutback in conventions.

Numbers just released by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show the city is on the rebound. Here are some highlights:
*Through July, Vegas logged about 21.9 million visitors, up 2.3% from the same period last year.
*Room inventory was up 4.9% through July (CityCenter is responsible for much of the increase).
*Though hotel occupancy was down 2.6%, the average room rate rose 2.5% to $95. That's good news for hoteliers, not so good for bargain hunters.
*Gaming revenue on the Strip through July was a whopping 3.26 billion, up 2.2% from the same period last year. The numbers weren't so good in downtown casinos, where the high rollers aren't as plentiful; revenue fell by 8.5% there.
*Conventions and meetings, typically planned far in advance, were down 6.7% through July compared with the same period in 2009.
The visitor uptick is reflective of a nationwide trend. One benchmark: hotel bookings. Smith Travel Research just reported that U.S. hotel occupancy was up 6%-8% in August, vs. last August, according to preliminary numbers.
Now, about the pool parties. More casino resorts are throwing bashes at adults-only pools. This summer, Mandalay Bay's Moorea Beach Club went from topless to splashy party venue with celebs hosting special events and making revelers keep bikini bras on. Over Labor Day, from the Back-Eyed Peas and sex-symbol model Carmen Electra (above) hosted there.