Resort Fees Revealed

Resort Fee Checker is a new online tool that allows travelers to check the resort fee at over 2,000 U.S. hotels.

Resort fees are those annoying, expensive charges that hotels tack on for routine services that should be included in the room rate.

Resort fees are most frequently imposed in these popular destinations:  OrlandoLas VegasMiami,  AnaheimOahuPhoenixPalm SpringsMaui, and San Diego.

The fees can range from a few dollars up to $35 per night.

There fees cover a variety of amenities which vary from property to properly.  These amenities that are commonly free at other hotels, may include:

  • Pool
  • Fitness center
  • Business center
  • Internet access
  • Newspaper
  • Faxes
  • In-room coffee
  • Parking

Resort Fees:  Know Before You Go

Add-on charges such as resort and parking fees are especially annoying for users of Priceline and Hotwire, because the fees are may not revealed until deep into the booking process.

Resort Fee Checker was developed by the folks who run the HotelDealsRevealed website, where consumers can report the specifics of their Priceline wins.

Don’t be caught unaware!  If you are planning a resort trip, do your research in advance.

This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks if you choose to use them!

Discounts for Visa Cardholders on Travel, Restaurants, and LEGOLAND

20 Percent Off at Legoland
20 Percent Off at Legoland

Visa is kicking it up a notch by offering cardholders nearly a hundred discount offers on everything from LEGOLAND®, to shopping at Chicos, to dining at Pizza Hut.

Some of the discounts that caught my eye:

  • $5 off any purchase of $20 or more at Planet Hollywood
  • 20 percent off Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotels in the U.K. (including the Mayfair in London)
  • $10 off any two entrees at Buca di Beppo
  • $5 off a $50 purchase at Target
  • 20 percent off tickets to single day tickets to LEGOLAND® California and Florida
  • 20 percent off tickets to LEGOLAND® Discovery Centers in Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Kansas City, Atlanta, Westchester, NY and Toronto, Canada.
  • 20 percent off the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

The offers all require you to pay with a Visa credit card to receive the discount, and there may be promo codes or coupons to apply to your purchase.  You can use any of dozens of Visa credit cards, including my personal favorite, the Chase Freedom Credit Card.

Be sure to read the fine print for the details on these offers, and check around to see if there are any better deals out there!

Click here to compare current rewards credit card offers.

The Most Family Fun You Can Have in Vegas for Under Ten Bucks

Pinball Hall of Fame in Las VegasI
Wall to Wall Pinball Machines at the
Pinball Hall of Fame, Las Vegas

The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas houses the world’s largest pinball collection, with over 200 vintage games available for play.  

The games are from the 1950s to the 1990s, and have been meticously restored and maintained by pinball maven Tim Arnold.  

We met with Arnold when we were in Vegas in 2012, and he graciously  explained everything that goes into running such an enormous operation.

The Pinball Hall of Fame

There’s no admission charge, and all the older pinballs are set to 25 cents per play, with newer 1990s models set to 50 cents per play.

You and your family can have a lot of fun here for a roll of quarters!

The museum is a nonprofit, and all proceeds go to local charities, such as the Salvation Army.

Arnold says:

I like the Salvation Army a lot because they’re kinda like us. They’re downtown on the cheap side, and they put all their emphasis on the areas that need emphasis, and not a lot on hierarchy and organization.

The Pinball Hall of Fame is located about 2.4 miles east of the strip at:  1610 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV.  The museum is open every day from 11 am to 11 pm, except Friday and Saturday, when it stays open until midnight.

Fantasia at the Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas
Fantasia at the Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas
Photo by Joel Shprentz

The Neon Museum Family Activities

Another Las Vegas Institution well worth a visit is the Neon Museum and its boneyard of discarded signs from casinos from days gone by.

Our family greatly enjoyed our visit to the boneyard.

If you are looking for some family friendly activities in Las Vegas, the Neon Museum has expanded its educational programming to include a series of events for kids and families. 

Here are a couple of noteworthy events for kids coming up:

  • Saturday, April 19, 10 a.m. to noon – Orienteering in the Boneyard.  Families will use compasses to participate in a maze-version scavenger hunt in the famous Neon Boneyard.  Appropriate for people of all ages
  • Saturday, May 24, 2 to 4 p.m. – Drawing History in 3D.  Children will learn how to draw their own 3D/anaglyph sign based on historic signs in the Neon Museum’s collection and make their own 3D-viewing glasses.  Recommended for kindergartners through sixth graders.

Family drop-in events are free and open to the public.  All children must be accompanied by an adult. Register by sending an email to

Sign Design: Past, Present and Future

On Tuesday, April 22, the Neon Museum will host its next PRISM Times of the Signs event, a panel discussion:  “Sign Design: Past, Present and Future.”

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Traveling to Britain? Free Lonely Planet Travel Guides

Ye Olde Britain
Free from iTunes

Lonely Planet Travel Guides are among the best, so whenever there’s an offer for a free download, I try to take advantage.  The Apple iTunes bookstore is offering free downloads of a number of Lonely Planet guidebooks, including several specialty guides to travel in Britain.

The best free guides include:

  • Recession-Busting Britain — Best Free Experiences
  • Culture Vulture Britain — Best Cultural Experiences
  • Tasty Britain — Best Eating Experiences
  • Ye Olde Britain — Best Historical Experiences
  • Mini Britain Britain– Best Experiences for Kids

    Mini Britain
    Free on iTunes

These guidebooks to England, Scotland and Wales are full length 100+ page books, though there is a fair amount of overlap between them.  A number of the other books are merely teasers for the full-priced version of the guidebook.  Hat tip to Miles From Blighty.

The USA Best Trips free book includes excerpts on road trips to three regions — the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 101 Oregon Coast, and Coastal New England.

One other full-featured free book worth mentioning is Discover the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.

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Penn & Teller 2-For-1 Ticket Deal

Everything in Vegas has a promo code or can be comped so I was surprised how hard it was to find discount tickets for the  Penn & Teller show when we were in Las Vegas last summer.   Eventually, I tracked down a discount code on Travelzoo, but it was not as good the 2-for-1 deal as that Southwest Airlines is offering its passengers.Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 6.38.32 PMPenn & Teller are illusionists extraordinaire — and their show combines humor, magic, and libertarian political philosophy.  Their shtick is to demonstrate how magic tricks are done.  Penn does all the talking and Teller is mostly mute.  

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We Have a Winner

Southwest Airlines Drink CouponsI am pleased to announce the winner of the contest for two Southwest Airlines drink coupons:

Congratulations Sean!

His entry was:

I knew I was in Vegas  when . . .  after a night of drinking we couldn’t figure out what that bright light was and then someone explained to us it was the sunrise. — True Story.

The winner was selected by the Random Number Generator.

Random Number GeneratorThanks to all the participants!

Sean, please email your snail mail address to so I can send you the coupons.

“I Knew We Were in Vegas When . . .

Las Vegas International Airport
Slot Machines at McCarran International Airport
Joel Shprentz Photo

Are you flying Southwest Airlines anytime soon?  

I’d like to buy you a drink!

Please add your comments below for a chance to win two Southwest Airlines drink coupons!  

The coupons are good for beer, wine, spirits, or VitaminWater!

To enter the contest, just comment below with your response:

Bally Hotel in Las Vegas
The View from Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Casino
Joel Shprentz Photo

I knew we were in Vegas when . . .

we stepped off the plane and the slot machines were right there.

I knew we were in Vegas when . . .

we landed at 6 p.m. and it was 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

I knew we were in Vegas when . . .

 we looked out the hotel window and saw a showgirl.

I knew we were in Vegas when . . .

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Las Vegas Neon Boneyard — Photo Essay of Times Gone By

The Neon Boneyard
The Neon Boneyard
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Without a doubt, the highlight of our visit to Las Vegas last year was the guided tour of the Neon Museum’s Boneyard.

The tour is actually a superb introduction to the very colorful history of Las Vegas.

The museum houses discarded neon and incandescent signs from Vegas’ glory days.

The museum’s limited funds allow for the restoration of only a few signs each year.

The restored signs are displayed in the downtown Las Vegas block known as the “Fremont Experience.”

The rest of the collection — a hodgepodge of more than 150 historic signs — is on display at a two acre lot known as “The Boneyard.”

Stardust Sign
Volunteer Docent Welcomes Visitors
Photo by Joel Shprentz

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Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon Closed For Renovations

The Flamingo towers over Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon
The Flamingo towers over Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon
Joel Shprentz Photo

Looks like the owners of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon in Las Vegas had bigger fish to fry.  Today, they pulled up their gangplank for a complete renovation of the property.

Bill’s, named for casino magnate Bill Harrah, sits smack in the center of the Strip, with great views of the Bellagio fountains.  There is no better location in Las Vegas.

This was our favorite place to stay in Vegas — what with their Victorian stained glass windows in the showers and genuine hospitality.  

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Hotwire’s Survey of February Price Drops: Hotels, Cars, and Airfare

If you are trolling for travel savings this month, have a look at this analysis from The analysis shows the destinations that have the largest price drops compared to February of last year in three categories:  hotels, car rentals, and airfares.  The so-called “Hotwire Travel Savings Indicator” reports results during the second week of each month.

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