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Bellagio room rates out-pacing Aria

26 Jan 2010

By Howard Stutz

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- In its first month of operation, room rates for Aria have been priced below those offered at Bellagio, which contradicts the original plans of MGM Mirage to make the CityCenter centerpiece its premium resort.

Susquehanna Financial Group gaming analyst Robert LaFleur, however, found a silver lining for MGM Mirage. The casino operator gets all of the proceeds from Bellagio.

"It has been a little over a month since Aria opened, and it appears Bellagio still has the upper hand in premium pricing in the MGM Mirage portfolio," LaFleur said in a report to investors. "While, this may not be good for CityCenter, it is a better development for MGM Mirage, given its 100 percent ownership of Bellagio versus its 50 percent stake in Aria and CityCenter."

A subsidiary of Dubai World owns the other half of CityCenter.

Still, the room rates at Aria are not what MGM Mirage had envisioned.

LaFleur has been tracking hotel rates across MGM Mirage's 10 Strip properties. The company originally intended to price Aria at a premium to Bellagio by the middle of the first quarter (January through March).

However, Bellagio is now priced at a 7 percent to 10 percent premium to Aria on weekdays in February and March. Meanwhile, Bellagio's February average weekend asking rate is 41 percent above Aria's and the March weekend premium is 4 percent higher.

Much of the rate increase at Bellagio centers on Chinese New Year, which begins Feb. 14.

LaFleur found the average February weekend quote at Bellagio is $337, $98 above Aria, and $108 more than the non-gaming Vdara Hotel, which is located between Bellagio and Aria.

The average February weekday quote at Bellagio is $167, $18 above Aria, and $15 above Vdara.

"Bellagio continued to show positive trends … which could be indicative of customers preferring a more established brand." LaFleur said. "MGM Mirage has reported solid occupancy levels at CityCenter, however it appears that more aggressive pricing has been necessary to achieve those occupancies."

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