Part II: The Mirage and Green Valley Ranch
On Sunday, November 20th, I moved across the street to The Mirage. Some of these rambling comments will be redundant because Hunter gave us all fair warning recently about the construction at The Mirage and provided detail on other changes.
I had a Winter Offer for three nights in a Penthouse Suite plus meals at the new restaurants. The only catch was that none of the restaurants had opened yet. There was so much construction going on that it detracted from my stay. However, it worked out fine because I wanted to see two friends who checked into Green Valley Ranch Sunday for a video poker tournament, and I was waiting for a friend from Michigan who would accompany me to California.
First, the Penthouse Suite. It was pure Steve Wynn and although it looked a little dated, it certainly had the same design themes as the suites at Bellagio and even Wynn. It was well maintained, and I saw no deterioration from the MGM Mirage team. The photo link in Part I shows the suite. I�m sure Steve designed it in the mid-1980�s for Mirage�s 1989 opening. Although style has changed in the past twenty years, there is no question that Steve Wynn sticks with one formula when it comes to his version of luxury living. There is none of the glitz and over-the-top excessiveness of, for example, Caesars Palace �Rainman� Suite. Wynn makes one feel he or she is living the life of luxury. I was happy to see that MGM Mirage had not changed the character of the suite, but that could be because it didn�t look as if it had been renovated in recent years. It still had Steve�s trademark chest at the foot of the bed from which the TV raised up at the push of the remote control. Talk about 1980�s decadence!
The casino was, as it has always appeared to me, too dark and gloomy. Both Wynn and Bellagio are brighter and more cheerful�important attributes to players who aren�t winning. The new high-limit table area on the back wall is very attractive and inviting. The Chihuly glass sculptures add to the environment, and, in my opinion, it outdoes Bellagio. The recently opened high-limit slot area is another story. It replaced the Baccarat Bar in the center of the casino, and it is as if a large, dark wood box had been dropped onto the casino floor. Two walls are somewhat open to the rest of the casino, but only one has an entrance. It is not an inviting space, but once inside, slot players may feel comfortably secluded, and there is a small lounge with a large flat-screen TV and both hot and cold snacks. The effect would have been much better had this area been built right next to, and in line with, the high-limit table area.
The rest of the casino floor has a confusing lay-out. I appreciate Wynn�s slot floor with perpendicular walkways going front to back and side to side.
Dealers and floor personnel had new, shiny blue shirts and blouses. They looked hot to me�hot as in too warm, not sexy hot.
The casino may look better when the construction is completed. I was told the goal is to have everything open before New Year�s Eve. Right now, Kokomo�s, Fin and Stack are shrouded in black cloth, and it was even difficult to figure out where to enter Onda (which is not changing.) Onda was very good, a comfortable room which brings you back to the old gourmet rooms of long ago Vegas. Hunter gave us a preview of Fin, and from my peering through the curtains, it looks very nice and contemporary. The only part of Kokomo�s I could see also looked as if it will be contemporary. This was the first time I had been to Cravings, the new buffet. I was impressed. The layout, furnishings and food were all first rate. Several friends and I had corned beef sandwiches and soup at Carnegie Deli, near the sports book and California Pizza Kitchen. The sandwiches are ridiculously large, so plan on sharing. The food was quite good.
The glassed-in tiger exhibit area inside the walkway from the Strip was closed. I assume they'll re-open it.
I enjoyed my stay, and I left with the belief that MGM is improving The Mirage, not screwing it up as they did with TI. I probably won�t stay there again, but I�d like to see the finished product next spring. The news about the pool being closed makes me hope they don�t tamper with probably the best pool area in Las Vegas.
A few side notes:
My friends from California and I had dinner at Joes� Stone Crab, next door in the newest expansion of the Forum Shops. Although it is not owned by Joe�s of Miami Beach, it had the old fish house atmosphere, and we all enjoyed it. This one is owned by a chain, �Lettuce Entertain You.� Seafood appeared to be fresh.
For those who never leave the Strip, you�re missing out on a great property, Green Valley Ranch. The hotel rooms are as nice as any on the Strip and the casino is comfortable. The buffet (�The Feast�) is excellent. I thought it was better than the Wynn Buffet on this trip�and, at half the price. Also, GVR opened a new high-end steakhouse last month, �Hank�s.� It is very �New York� looking, and the meals were outstanding. Prices are slightly less than at Prime or SW. GVR isn't only a locals place. I wonder how they�ll top it at the soon to open Red Rock Station.
Next stop, after returning from California, Bellagio