February 2015

On the Scene: MGM Resorts Las Vegas

by Lori Tenny

In a place like Vegas, where it’s been proven time and again that the sky’s the limit, visitors can always expect the unexpected. On a recent visit showcasing the latest and greatest of MGM Resorts International’s Las Vegas lineup, that old adage was an understatement. MGM’s Vegas roster has distinctive, increasingly diverse surprises around every turn nowadays, surprises that ignite all the senses, and then some.

Our host hotel, Delano Las Vegas, was an unexpected treat from the moment of arrival. This hip haven, formerly THEHotel at Mandalay Bay, reopened last fall after a bold renovation that has given it an elegantly casual edge, from the decor to the amenities and facilities. With 31 meeting rooms, this 1,117-suite nongaming property is an ideal spot for groups seeking a hideaway without distractions.

The soothing experience begins the moment you walk through the front door, with the calming scent of green tea and lemongrass being pumped into the air. Famous quotes from notable figures inspire guests on mirrors in the hallways and on cards playfully placed on the beds of the guest rooms, all of which boast chic, modern furnishings and decor in light, understated hues, along with eye-catching photographs. Every aspect of the hotel seems to have a story behind it, including giant boulders from the desert placed at the doorway to the property, a long carpet with a design representing the Colorado River running down the lobby entrance; a light fixture above the bar designed to resemble fireflies; and ice buckets in the rooms shaped like the famous top hat worn by the property’s namesake, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The hotel’s miX Lounge on the 64th floor is one of the coolest places in town for group gatherings, with outstanding views and a long outdoor terrace that is a hot spot for cocktail lovers, as well as an adjacent Alain Ducasse restaurant.

Alongside the lobby, we relaxed amid the Mid-Century Mod vibe of Franklin bar, complete with delicious bar fare, an impressive wine list, craft cocktails and fine bourbon, whiskey and rye to please even the most discerning palate—how about a 1969 Macallan single malt for $4,700 a glass?

The food and drink experiences only escalated from there. Our first evening, following a peek at the stunning Seascape Ballroom at Mandalay Bay, boasting a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the Shark Reef Aquarium, we headed to Aureole—famous for the “wine angels” that are propelled up on ropes like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible to fetch bottles. Here, we indulged in a fun, intimate teambuilding experience: Wine v. Beer. The five-course gourmet affair had our group learning about the nuances of wine and beer and judging which went best with each dish, including standouts like Fairytale Pumpkin Soup with Shaved White Truffles and Roasted Oregon Wagyu Strip Loin.

The next day, we checked out Fountains Brunch at Jasmine at the Bellagio, where we were treated to Veuve Clicquot and an endless amount of divine sweet and savory dishes following a tour of the property, a premier place for groups to gather. One highlight of Bellagio’s copious meeting space is a grand outdoor patio with rich marble stairways. Another unique group offering is a Wine and Art Pairing, which allows groups to take in the works at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art while sipping wine that is specifically paired for each featured painting.

Following an organic wine tasting at the patio in front of Vdara Hotel & Spa, another unforgettable feast took place at Aria Resort & Casino’s Sage, a sleek dining choice for group events. A four-course dinner paired with exquisite wines included Chestnut Soup with Burnt Marshmallow and Pork Belly, and Snake River Farms Skirt Steak with Baby Leeks and Salsa Verde.

Aside from the delicious F&B; experiences, we got a taste of the many fabulous entertainment offerings in store for delegates at MGM properties, including Michael Jackson ONE as well as a Blue Man Group performance, which was particularly well suited to groups for its colorful nature and interactive audience participation.

Meanwhile, we were introduced to MGM’s new Stay Well Meetings program, a unique endeavor indeed. Groups taking advantage of the program can look forward to a video introduction by Deepak Chopra, along with facilities and amenities that have been specifically designed to optimize well-being and mental clarity during meetings. Circadian lighting, air purification, aromatherapy, ergonomic furniture, wellness clinics and uber-healthy, creative menu options are among the highlights of the program, in addition to Stay Well Guest Rooms, which feature amenities such as wake-up light therapy and vitamin C-infused showers.

Our trip culminated with one of MGM’s most interesting new programs yet, the final competition of the Meeting Planner Recipe Showdown. Twelve meeting planner finalists from around the country cooked their winning recipes in the MGM Grand kitchen to compete for the ultimate title, as judged by several celebrity chefs. The Recipe Showdown luncheon was the perfect finale to a trip that reflected MGM’s desire to elevate meeting planners and cater to their every need in an ever-changing marketplace.

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