If you're looking for a cheap room on the Internet, you're not cool enough for Mandalay Bay (unless you look really hard). If you think you're rich, even if you're not, get ready for a great pool and nice rooms (nicer in THEHotel tower). But don't come crying to us if you get called a nerd. Hey, we didn't have anyone to run to either.
Room Quality: The standard rooms are larger than average at 550 s.f. or more, and each one has a fancy bathroom with a big tub (big enough even for our fat asses), separate shower, two sinks and a toilet room with its own door (trust us, this is important if you share a room with us). A quibble is that the super-fancy bathrooms take up a lot of the room, so the actual bedroom area is average in size. Still, the room has seating space for four, two queens or a king, a big ol' flatscreen TV, abstract art on the walls, and plenty of closet space. The colors are tasteful golds, light browns and beige, and the towels are as fluffy as they should be. There are two phones in each room. The windows are floor-to-ceiling, which is great if you face the rest of the Strip. However, since you are at the southern tip, you have a 50% chance of seeing nothing but cars streaming in from California. Overall, a very nice and homey hotel room. If the standard room isn't enough, the new rooms in THE Hotel at Mandalay Bay are even nicer. Larger at a whopping 725 s.f. or more with fancier bathrooms (two of them), separate living room (with wet bar) and bedrooms, fax/printers and all sorts of high-tech gew-gawgery.
Service Quality: Very good. They want people to think that it is a service-oriented hotel, and they really want the rich young Californians to stay here, so they will work fairly hard for you. If you really want to be pampered, book a room at the Four Seasons or THE Hotel. The Four Seasons occupies the uppermost floors of this hotel and offers that high-falutin' Four Seasons service. Wait to check-in can be long during rush-hour, and especially Friday afternoons.
What You Get Bottles of in the Bathroom: You get fancy stuff. Shampoo, conditioner, lotions, shower cap and the king of toiletries--the sewing kit. If you're into free stuff in the bathroom (like we are), then this joint is hard to beat.
Young, rich and moderately obnoxious. This place has that phony "party" vibe that the Hard Rock
practically owns the patent on. If you love Good Charlotte or Vampire Weekend, you're likely to dig this place.
How's the Pool? Ooweee! We have the finest pool in Vegas. They generate waves on the sand beach pool that are big enough to surf. And there are waterfalls and other tropical delights, all shrouded by hundreds of palm trees and overhead misters. There is a large VIP section with a three-story tower adjoining the pool. And ladies and gentlemen, if you like seeing beautiful people in skimpy outfits, this is Xanadu and Shangri La rolled into one. Only one pool stays open in the winter. There is a topless sunbathing area on top of the tower where the ladies can let it all hang out and the guys can pretend not to stare. It is secluded and costs extra (a lot extra for guys), though, so we'll just keep working on our X-ray vision.
Resort Fee: (What is this?)
$24.99 per night. You get wireless internet, fitness center access, daily paper, local and toll-free calls, outgoing faxes, boarding pass printing and two well drinks per stay (not per night).
Table Games: Everything, including Baccarat, which casinos put in to draw the really rich people. They have a ton of live action tables including a full "party pit", so you're likely to find what you want, including if you're seeking a specific cup size. There are no outstanding table games here, since blackjack is standard and craps is 3x4x5x odds.
Bet Minimums: Ten dollars and up for blackjack and roulette, mostly up, and you might find a $10 craps game during the weekdays. Other games start around $10.
Machines: 2,000+ machines from pennies to $100 per spin. As a tourist place, the emphasis is on slot machines, and mostly brand-spanking-new models. So, you won't find a good video poker selection, or full-pay ones. But, what's this? Oh my Lord, do they really have slots based on popular TV shows? Better rush in before the crowds find out!! You will find all the latest slots in a very (perhaps overly) spacious casino.
Cocktails? Very good cocktail service. They know that young people want to drown their worries and gambling losses under rivers of strong drinks and they are more than willing to oblige.
Who Gets Comps? The M Life slot club serves several properties and pays a fair cash rebate on slots, and half as much on video poker. It also rewards you at most MGM properties.
Aureole: Get ready to enjoy the food, which is expensive and served in a bright, austere decor. The 70 foot tall wine rack is neat to look at. There is also a menu of "small dishes" to go with the full meals. This place is sort of below the casino floor and attractive if you ever wanted to live inside Macintosh computer.
Bay Side Buffet:
It's a good buffet but it's also pricey. This is better than the average buffet. It's a little smaller than Paris
, but it's also much less crowded and lines are shorter. The desserts are on par with the top notch stuff, (except for the heavenly delights at Bellagio
). The Bay Side Buffet has a spectacular view of the pool.
Border Grill: Yum-yum. It's Mexican food that's authentic, fresh and delicious. Servings are generous and you get to look out on the swimming pool and all the pretty people while you eat. Also, a taqueria off its side has good, quick dishes for a little more than fast food prices.
The Cafe: Sorry, we're not even going to tell you what this place serves. You'll have to guess. But we'll give you a few hints: it's open breakfast, lunch and dinner, it has a lingering smell of bacon and they serve a ton of coffee. Did you guess what it is? One more hint, this one serves THE Hotel tower, while Raffles serves the hoi polloi.
China Grill: The New york transplant is here as one of the many restaurants. It's Chinese food (and some Japanese) with a twist, mostly American, which means more meats in the mix.
Fleur: Hubert Keller's former French cuisine join Fleur de Lys has had its named cut down and the menu changed to be a tapas restaurant. The food is supposed to be somewhat interactive, or at least active, with food like smoked ribs under a dome and fancy cocktails that will be as much fun to look at as eat.
House of Blues: Some authentic soul food and sides. It's good southern food. Besides the N'awlins style grub, they have wood-fired pizzas and hamburgers. Prices are moderate. Sunday mornings, they have a fantastic "gospel brunch" which is a pretty good spread of southern foods and a swinging gospel choir singing songs to soothe you into being a glutton. Plan ahead for the gospel brunch because it's been known to sell out.
Lupo: This is good Italian. The portions are fairly small. So, maybe go eat the big buffet to warm up, then come over here and eat another whole meal, and savor it.
Mix: Located at the top of the THE Hotel's tower means you get some amazing views from up here. We guess the very good modern continental cuisine that features meats and seafood with stuff like seagrass, coconut and curry is just a bonus.
Noodle Shop: Moderately-priced noodle bowls and dishes.
Raffles: This is a darn good coffee shop. If you want a nice restaurant for breakfast up until the afternoon, this is a good choice. Figure on $20 or more for breakfast and coffee. (Not open 24 hours)
Red Square: Oh, boy, here's your chance to live like a Czar, only you don't get to watch the peons struggle in the streets. And, they won't overthrow you. Caviar and vodka are two main attractions, with the vodka bar being the highlight. They also have stroganoff, and then plain old steaks and seafood.
Red, White and Blue: A massive bistro. Traditional American entrees are usually about $20 for burgers and the like. Lighter meals at the Cafe are priced slightly lower. The bakery part of this randomly offers Krispy Kreme donuts among the choices.
RM Seafood: The menu is diverse, a little weird and very interesting, with dishes you won't find elsewhere, but are likely to please you if you like seafood and new things. It is casual and affordable downstairs. The fancy part upstairs has fixed price menus over $100 per head.
Shanghai Lilly: Raise your hand if you want expensive Chinese-American food. Okay, now put your hand down because we were just kidding. We can't see you. Instead, save your energy for a trek to Shanghai Lilly's fancy little joint.
Stripsteak: This is a high end steakhouse with a celebrity chef (Michael Mina). They have kobe steak and a few Asian things in the mix. In general, it's a good steak house. The bar on the floor opens the room, but also adds noise.
There is a Starbucks, and, oh lookie there! Another Starbucks. In the food court, there are generic BBQ, pasta, Chinese, burgers and dogs. One of the bars also sells sushi. It's called Mizuya. Elsewhere is Yogurt In and Crepes. In the sports book is a grill serving quick food like burgers and sandwiches.
Beach Concerts: When the weather is nice, they have occasional live concerts out by the pool. The acts are usually decent, trending toward hip hop and modern rock type stuff.
Eyecandy Sound Lounge: Essentially, this is a bar with a heck of a lot of TV screens. What distinguishes it that, if you get a booth, you can dictate what is displayed in your booth and on projection screens. And you can text message to others in the joint. Oh, and they have a high-tech disco floor.
House of Blues: This is a nice mid-sized club for live music. Ticket prices are high, but the entertainment is top name national rock and blues acts for the young alternative rock crowd. Expect names like Sheryl Crow and Social Distortion.
The Lion King: Based on the Disney movie, this version of the Broadway smash hit musical is quite similar to its source. The big selling point is the exotic costumes, dance productions and music. It's a big hit, and this is faithful to the version that got all the rave reviews.
Lounges: Three indoor and one outdoor lounge offer slightly-better-than-average acts. These try to draw the young kids, so if someone is singing Sinatra in one of them, he's probably just trying to be ironic. If they're singing classic rock, they aren't; but they are lame.
Mandalay Bay Events Center:
Top name boxing and superstar rock shows will happen in this 12,000 seat arena. Las Vegas now has five arenas this size, including Planet Hollywood
, MGM Grand
, The Orleans
and the Thomas and Mack Center, and we have no idea how they will fill all of them. We guess it's none of our business, is it? Recent acts are like Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin and other tepid arena acts.
Minus Five: A chain bar with locations a few places around the world. The gimmick here is extreme energy-wasting in the form of a bar made entirely of ice and kept at 27 degrees. The bar, the seats, the walls. Everything. And then they serve ice cold vodka. I'm sure that'll be quite a treat for the folks vacationing from North Dakota. To get in, you must pay for a drink and ice gear rental.
MIX: Another ultra lounge, this one at the top of "THEHotel" tower. They say ultra because its biggest attraction is that it's hard to get into. Sort of like an oil crisis, a manufactured shortage to make you want it more. Its got hip seating, DJs, a dance floor and spectacular views of the city.
Shark's Reef: It's a display of all sorts of man-eaters, like sharks of all sorts, alive and in a big tank. There's even some crocodiles. Prices are under $20 for adults and it's about a half-hour's worth of marine animal gazing. Be sure to stop by for the three p.m. feeding, when they toss cheaters and deadbeats into the water.
Number of TVs: Sixteen medium screens plus one mondo-giant one made up of four screen are split between sports and races. The layout here is great for watching sports.
Number of Seats: The lounge has about 100 seats at tables. There are another 120 seats for the race bettor, each with a small TV.
How Many Betting Windows? About 16, with electronic signboards.
Free Drinks? For race bettors.
Snack Bar? Sportsbook Grill.
Minimum Wager: $10 sports, $2 race.
Other Notes: The room is not bad at all. The screens are good, and the surroundings are fine.
Number of Tables: Ten.
Comfort of Chairs: Average seats, so if you have an above average fanny be prepared.
Closed Room or Open to Casino? Open to the sports book. It has its share of noise, especially during big sporting events.
Game Spreads and Limits: Plenty of Hold-em $2-$4, $3-$6. The $4-$8 and $6-$12 have a half-kill. And, of course, no-limit games with at least $100 buy-in. They deal $4-$8 Crazy Pineapple but it's very rare. We wish they dealt it more. Pineapple, like ex-girlfriends, is best crazy.
Beginner Games or Classes? Free lessons during the afternoon Monday through Thursday.
How Crowded is the Room? The room is often crowded, so expect a wait most times, even weekdays.
Comps? Free drinks while playing. They'll give you a $5 coupon for grub after 4 or 5 hours and even let you eat at the table, as long as you promise not to get the cards all greasy.
How Good Are the Players? Below average. You might get lucky and sit at a table with one of the many loudmouthed 20-somethings in this casino. Do us a favor, clean the kid's pockets.
What Else Do I Need to Know? If the smell of coconut suntan oil makes you vomit, don't play poker here. Also, this place apparently has the longest poker tables known to man. And, according to a host, the red beechwood inlay on the edge of each table is "to keep your chips in good karma." Uh, sure.