home Getaways The secret side of Las Vegas

The secret side of Las Vegas

You no longer need to lay down $100,000-per-hand bets to stay in luxurious spaces once reserved for high rollers. MGM Resorts International, which owns the MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, Mirage, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and Aria, among its several Las Vegas holdings, now offers a number of hotels-within-hotels that will whisk you above and away from the hustling crowds and into sheer tranquility and elegance.

It only makes sense that Las Vegas hotels would up the ante on accommodations; over the past two decades, Vegas has risen above its reputation for just gaming. Today, Las Vegas is where you’ll find  top-flight entertainment, shopping and art, spa indulgences and the finest restaurants and celebrity chefs in the nation, among them Thomas Keller, Julian Serrano, Gordon Ramsey, Michael Mina and Mario Batali. They were all in attendance at the 2014 Vegas Uncork’d, a four-day food festival presented in May by Bon Appétit magazine, which I attended. While in Vegas, I checked out three of the new elegant enclaves:

A private, gated entrance leads to a secluded wing of The Mirage where The Villas await. But it’s the secluded backyard patio areas that I found most appealing. Each private oasis includes a heated private pool, putting green, barbecue, soothing fountain, mist system, high-definition LED TV, table, chairs, chaise lounges and umbrellas. It’s not surprising that The Villas are sometimes rented for corporate entertaining or small wedding receptions (one villa featured a charming vertical wall garden that can be planted with special messages).

Inside, opulent textures and rich décor are found throughout the extremely spacious suites that resemble elegant homes. All feature living and dining room areas with gas fireplace, plasma and LCD high-definition TVs and wet bar, guest bedroom and bath, and master bedroom and bath with dual vanities and whirlpool tubs.

Intimate and personal round-the-clock service abounds here. Suites can be customized with vanity amenities and a well-stocked fridge, to reflect guests’ personal tastes. For guests traveling with children, a red Radio Flyer wagon filled with stuffed animals will await little ones the moment they walk through the front door. Silk sheets and spa robes can be custom monogrammed. Luxury touches are too plentiful to mention, but consider that iMac computers are standard and baths include amenities by Molten Brown and Clarisonic Facial Cleansing system.

Rates start at $2,250 for a 6,955-square-foot (indoor and outdoor space) two-bedroom suite; $2,500 for a 8,554-square-foot (indoor and outdoor space) three-bedroom suite.

At the Skylofts at the MGM Grand, you’ll enter via a separate Skyloft lobby entrance. You’ll then be escorted to a private elevator that will lift you to the top floor of the hotel. Think “Zen,” with cool blues and a signature drink awaiting your arrival. A concierge will lead you to your private loft — all two-story accommodations. The lofts range from 1,400-square-foot units, with dining room/living on the first level and bedrooms and spa bath on the second, up to three bedrooms and 6,000 square feet. Baths feature television screen insets in vanity mirrors and also inside the deep soaking tubs (there are also walk-in showers). Let the Dream/Spa butler help you choose just the right pillow from their “menu” of 15 options for fillings and firmness, guaranteed to drift you off to la-la land. Your butler will draw you the perfect bath, complete with calming music, mood lighting and tea. He’ll even add a little “color therapy” to the water, a perfect accompaniment to the Bvlgari bath amenities and Champagne bubbles water massage.

Staying at a “high roller” hotel comes with lots of built-in benefits. Don’t be surprised when your Skyloft concierge can reserve a spot at top Vegas restaurants at precisely the time you request. Prefer to eat in? Your concierge can get “take out”  from restaurants that normally wouldn’t consider such a request. And your butler will set everything up for you.

October rates begin at $750 a night for a one-bedroom loft (midweek) and can go up to $2,000+ on Fridays and Saturdays. Prices will vary (meaning they are negotiable) based on length of stay. This holds true for other high-end properties as well.

Hotel 32 is so named because it occupies the 32nd floor of the Monte Carlo Resort. First, you’ll enjoy the quiet that surrounds you as soon as you step inside Hotel 32’s glassed-in lobby-within-a-lobby. A Personal Suite Assistant will escort you to the 32nd floor and attend to your every beck and call. At the private Lounge32, you can enjoy complimentary evening cocktails and canapés and a full morning breakfast. Rooms range from 400-square-foot studios to a 2,000-square-foot penthouse. Hotel 32 offers a lower price point than Skyloft or The Villas — studios start at $174 (midweek) in October — but you’ll feel nonetheless lifted by your experience here.

If you don’t opt for one of these special settings, my next best advice for enjoying Las Vegas is to pick one resort and stay put! You’ll lose the hassle of driving from one casino self-parking garage to the next (or taking cabs in bumper-to-bumper evening traffic).

Most MGM Resorts feature multiple restaurants with celebrity chefs, fine cuisine and ambience that make for memorable meals. If there’s a name entertainer or show you want to see, stay at the resort that hosts that show. My choice would be Bellagio where I’d head to Cirque du Soleil’s “O.”

October room rates start at $199 midweek; $319 for Friday or Saturday. Thus, a Friday/Saturday/Sunday night stay would hover about $270 a night including tax.

At Bellagio, I’d dine on exquisite French cuisine at Le Cirque, head to Michael Mina’s for seafood (although I loved his pig roast at the Vegas Uncork’d event!) and Picasso (so named, because the restaurant features original Picasso paintings); Julian Serrano’s dishes are works of art in their own right and I’d dine on the patio and watch those dancing fountains.

If you go…

Skylofts at MGM Grand

skyloftsatmgmgrand.com or (877) 646-5638

The Villas at The Mirage

mirage.com/thevillas or (800) 637-0295

Hotel 32 at the Monte Carlo Resort

hotel32lasvegas.com or (702) 730-7777


bellagio.com or (888) 987-6667

Bellagio’s Le Cirque dining room offers French cuisine.
Bellagio’s Le Cirque dining room offers French cuisine.
Accommodations at Hotel 32 at the Monte Carlo includes a Personal Suite Assistant to attend to your needs.
Accommodations at Hotel 32 at the Monte Carlo includes a Personal Suite Assistant to attend to your needs.
All Skylofts at the MGM Grand are two-story accommodations with one to three bedrooms.
All Skylofts at the MGM Grand are two-story accommodations with one to three bedrooms.
The Villas at The Mirage include a formal living/dining area (left) a private backyard with pool and putting green (above) and a  spacious master bedroom (top).
The Villas at The Mirage include a formal living/dining area (left) a private backyard with pool and putting green (above) and a spacious master bedroom (top).

CLM Starfish

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