The only dependable constant in Las Vegas is change, and it seemingly occurs almost daily here. Even the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t stop - or slow down - MGM Resorts’ relentless stream of hospitality product launches, updates and enhancements. The last couple of years have been full speed ahead for MGM’s Vegas portfolio, as the following highlight reel aptly illustrates.
Spa Tower Renovation at Bellagio
With nonstop competition at all levels of the Las Vegas hospitality sector, the properties that operate in the top-end, luxury niche feel the most pressure - both from their peers as well as those pushing up from just beneath them. Thus, accommodations must be refreshed every few years, and the current, $110 million renovation project in Bellagio’s Spa Tower is testament to that ethos. Featuring decor and furnishings in soft colors inspired by Northern Italy, the new room product is attractive and functional, checking off all the boxes set by luxe accommodation expectations: twin-sink, marble bathroom with oversized shower; fine linens; quality toiletries; plush bedding and comfortable, spacious sitting areas; soft uplighting; custom TV armoires; and just enough technology. The first renewed rooms will be ready this month, with project completion scheduled for October.
ARIA SkySuites and SKYVILLAS Renovation
Climbing up the luxury ladder even further into hotel-within-a-hotel products , ARIA has already refreshed all 400+ Sky Suites and a few of the property’s seven SKYVILLAS. Both AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide 5-Star Award products include airport transfers, a private pool, a personal concierge, private entrance and turn-down amenities. Accommodations in the renewed Sky Suites now feature desert-inspired color schemes and whimsical art, while the SKYVILLAS each sport their own new palette, personality and layout.
MGM Grand Studio Tower Refresh
The long-neglected Studio Tower (formerly known as the West Wing, and in a prior life, the Marina Hotel), has effectively been the poor stepchild of the otherwise-handsome MGM Grand accommodations family. Those 700 rooms have now received a complete makeover to bring them into the modern age, although the Studio Tower still remains an inconvenient distance from the main hotel and should be considered only as an entry-level room product.
New York-New York Room Remodel
With the completion this summer of a $63-million remodel of 1,830 rooms and 155 suites, the aesthetic of New York-New York’s accommodations now reflects what MGM calls “design details that harken to New York City, with exposed faux brick walls and accent colors such as Big Apple Red and Taxicab Yellow.” Units are also receiving USB charging outlets, additional shelving and enlarged closet space.
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Presents “In Bloom”
Contrary to popular belief, culture does flourish in Las Vegas, and sometimes it’s found just below your room - in this case, at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. Originally conceived by Steve Wynn when he opened the casino-resort in 1998, the space exhibits contemporary art in rotating exhibitions. The current exhibit, “In Bloom,” running through Sept. 10, features painting and photography primarily from the 20th-century American Southwest, in addition to an out-of-context-but-stunning sculpture by Salvador Dali. Admission price is $20; $17 for Nevada residents and military.
Credit: MGM Resorts
RETRO by Voltaggio at Mandalay Bay. Once famously traversed by previous tenant Aureole’s wine angels, the dramatic wine tower has now been reimagined as a nostalgic museum exhibit, stocked with retro toys and period technology (think: Slinky, kaleidoscopes, Stingray bicycles, LPs, corded phones, record players, etc.). RETRO, the one-year, pop-up restaurant concept from Bryan and Michael Voltaggio (of TV’s Top Chef fame), features plenty of ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s kitsch set amid comfort food classics from the chefs’ childhood, where dishes like Chicken Pot Pie, Pot Roast and Mac ‘n Cheese get updated, whimsical treatments.
Cathédrale at ARIA. New restaurant openings inside Las Vegas’ casino-resorts are a frequent occurrence, but rarely do they achieve out-of-the-box, immediate success like Cathédrale, the French-Mediterranean outlet that opened recently at ARIA in a partnership between Tao Group and MGM Resorts. In fact, Cathédrale is the total package with great cuisine and top-notch professional service in a drop-dead gorgeous space. Guests walking through the venue’s dramatic, blue-velour-swathed entryway proceed into a beautifully-lit bar area, with the adjacent dining room and its theatrical, beaded-chain canopy ceiling providing the perfect visual complement to the artfully-plated and delicious dishes served therein.
Credit: Chris Wessling
Proper Eats Elevates Food Hall Concept at Aria
Now that upscale food halls have become Vegas’ hottest new culinary trend, Proper Eats at ARIA takes on the city’s customary one-upmanship challenge by combining casual gourmet concepts from around the world with a stunningly modern setting that radiates upscale, cocktail lounge vibes. Here, London’s Seoul Bird tempts with their signature fried chicken sandwiches, while L.A.-based Wexler’s Deli dishes out homemade pastrami. In the a.m., breakfast-centric Egghead offers a modern spin on classic sandos, and Shalom Y’all dives into Mediterranean Shawarma and kebabs. An eclectic cocktail program offers the right accompaniment to these dishes and others, which range in price from $7 - $18.
Credit: Cirque du Soleil
Mad Apple Thrills at New York-New York
Now playing for just over a year (replacing the former Zumanity) at New York-New York Hotel & Casino, Cirque du Soleil’s Mad Apple does justice to its namesake city - and host hotel - by treating guests to an amped-up, high-octane version of New York City's wildest night out. While Cirque’s signature acrobats make impressive appearances, Mad Apple is more about NYC’s music, nightlife and raw energy, which are all on display in rapid-fire, beautifully choreographed sequences. Hilarious host Harrison Greenbaum keeps this adult-oriented production humming while delivering an expletive-laden, stream-of-consciousness routine that would make your mother blush.