April 15, 2010 -- Forget three square meals a day. In Las Vegas, where everything is bigger and some might say better, you can now get seven.
Imagine starting your day with unlimited omelets, baked ham, sausage and waffles and then moving on to pizza and rotisserie chicken for lunch, maybe some sushi or prime rib for an afternoon snack and then Alaskan crab legs, Kung Pao chicken, turkey and lamb for dinner. Finish the day off with a midnight ice cream sundae, slice of cheesecake and some apple pie... or just more pizza.
Thanks to a new Vegas special you can eat all those dishes and so much more in just one day, on one tab.
Meet the "Buffet of Buffets." Casino giant Harrah's just introduced the deal where for $29.99 anybody can have unlimited access seven of its Las Vegas buffets in a 24-hour period.
Guests can have breakfast at Caesars Palace, brunch at the Flamingo, an early lunch at the Imperial Palace, a late lunch at Paris Las Vegas and then dinner at Planet Hollywood or the Rio or both.
You get the point. Strap on a wristband and gorge yourself silly for 24 hours.
The promotion started Monday morning and so far the response has exceeded casino executives' expectations, according Michael Weaver, vice president of marketing for Harrah's Entertainment.
Harrah's estimated that 200 people a day would take the company up on the offer. By noon of the first day, 715 people had already purchased the 24-hour pass.
"The response is significantly higher than we through it would be, blindingly higher than we thought it would be," Weaver said. "It was a little like drinking water out of a fire hose."
Las Vegas Buffets Offer Too Much Food?
That such a deal has materialized in Vegas, known for its offers of excess in virtually every human vice, is not surprising. But in a country already overflowing with overweight people, some health experts suggest the invitation to gorge might not be a wise idea.
"The only thing missing is, like they had in ancient Rome, a vomitorium," said Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "This is basically a challenge to eat until you are nauseous."
Ayoob said the overeating could limit participation in other vacation pastimes.
"You can go to buffets seven times in a day, but it clearly doesn't leave time for a romantic vacation," Ayoob added. "Basically you are choosing food over sex."
He said that for anybody trying to manage weight or health, this is just a bad idea.
"What happens in Vegas is going to stay with you a lot longer," Ayoob said.
The only way to manage buffets, he said, is to either avoid them or go in with an idea of what you're going to eat ahead of time. Also consider focusing on the expensive items you might not normally try, such as fresh berries for dessert. And remember: you have eaten before and you will eat again, so it's OK to pass on some things.
"Basically all hell breaks loose in the buffet line. People are not accustomed to having so many choices of everything they like to eat," Ayoob said.
Weaver acknowledged the Buffet of Buffets this is not exactly the healthiest promotion, but said the offer is in keeping with the city's allure.
"I don't think in Las Vegas we have ever considered ourselves the sort of city that helps Americans to be better human beings," Weaver said. "We are, however, a city that's committed to helping people have fun. For the 72 hours that they're here, they can enjoy things that they do get to enjoy the other 362 days a year."
Is Harrah's Casino Buffet Deal a Bargain?
The all-day-buffet pass is not a new idea. The Excalibur already has a $29 deal offering guests the opportunity to eat all they want, all day long at the buffet. But the Harrah's deal is the first to combine so many buffet options.
The deal could be a good value for some tourists, even if they're not planning to eat at all seven casinos. For instance, dinner alone at Le Village Buffet at the Paris costs $24.99. An extra $5 adds breakfast, lunch or just a snack. (The only Harrah's-owned buffet not included is the Village Seafood Buffet at the Rio, which costs $38.)
Weaver said the company expects guests to visit about three buffets. He said it's really something to brag about when you get home, a good vacation story.
Most Las Vegas visitors visit five to seven casinos. This promotion helps Harrah's make those casinos its own instead of the those owned by its competition. The company is even offering the 24-hour pass as part of a hotel package.
For Ayoob, this is just too much.
"Sin city doesn't always refer to illegal behavior," he said. "It can also refer to sinful eating habits."