I spent the weekend in Las Vegas at The Mirage. This was my first time as a guest there since Wynn Las Vegas opened this past April. I am happy to report that despite the fact that I'll probably stay at Wynn whenever I can, The Mirage will fill in when Steveland is full or overpriced. The stated purpose of this trip was for a friend's birthday but fortunately for me, I had some time to catch up on all of the changes since my last trip six weeks ago.
My main focus was to see how The Mirage looked and felt after having a facelift. I also made it over to WLV to see Corsa after its re-design.
The photos from this trip are detailed here in this entry. To read the rest of this post, click the link and keep reading.
I did my best to see all the new stuff at The Mirage, a property that until this last year hadn't changed all that much since it opened. Here's a run down of some of the things I noticed:
Jet - We the original plan was to visit Jet but despite pre-arranging that visit, the lines were long and the doorman was less than accommodating. The entry way to Jet is located at the North entrance in a space previously occupied by a gift shop. The Shadow Creek store across the way is gone, replaced with a Coffee Bean that has a new outside patio. On Friday and Saturday nights, the main lobby is partially filled with folks waiting to get into Jet.
STACK - A sister restaurant to FIX at Bellagio, STACK sits in the space formerly occupied by Moongate. The decor is very similar to FIX, with dark 'stacked' wood on the walls. We ate here on Friday night and had a great time. Our party of six was seated at 10pm without much of a wait, despite the fact the restaurant was hopping. It's bigger than it looks, going pretty far back into that space. I ordered the seabass as an entree and the spicy Japanese crab appetizer. Both were fantastic. The in-house breads are also to die for. Two in our party ordered filets and claimed they were a little over-cooked despite the quality of the beef being very high. Anyway, STACK is a winner at The Mirage in my opinion, and a major contributor to 'the new look of The Mirage', which I'll talk about a little later.
Kokomo's - A classic fixture of The Mirage, the restaurant got a major facelift in late 2005 with a complete re-design. Other than common GPS coordinates, this restaurant basically has nothing in common with its predecessor. That might be a bit of an exaggeration but much here has changed. The menu is basically the same, with some slight alterations. The room is much more open to the atrium walkway that most guests take from the lobby to the casino but completely closed on the casino side, where the old entrance was located. The new entrance is right off the lobby and features a 24 hour bar/lounge at the entrance. I was a little worried about these particular changes but after spending some time there, I think this will work out for the best. While I agree with others that the dining room itself might have ended up a bit sparse in the new arrangement, the bar addition is great and really adds some life to an area that was just a conduit to other areas in the past. I haven't yet been back to the restaurant for a meal - maybe next time. Still, I think this was another plus on the change scale.
Fin - Replacing Renoir at The Mirage is Fin, serving Chinese cuisine. Another restaurant that I haven't actually tried yet, I can say that the design is very pleasant from the outside. A combination of wood, glass and Chinese fabrics makes for a nice looking room. One note - this room never looked full, even Friday and Saturday night.
Carpet/Signage - For the casino geeks, the main casino floor carpet and signage have been almost totally replaced. The carpet reminds me of a more generic Wynn carpet (protozoa carpet?), less flashy but similar. The new signage looks more like what Bellagio tried with the Spa Tower than what TI ended up with, thank goodness. I doesn't totally match the vibe but it's nowhere near as bad as it could have been.
High Limit Tables - The new high limit room continues to be a great design feature. For those looking for the best cocktails on property, walk in and saddle up to the bar. They look a little surprised to have people come in and actually pay for drinks (one bartender didn't seem to know how to do anything but comp drinks) but mixers are fresh fruit juices, like Bellagio and Wynn - something no other Mirage bar features. Don't tell your friends - I like it quiet in there...
Paint - The ceiling in the casino has been repainted from off-white to... another shade of off-white! It barely looks different but it was done in December.
Baccarat Bar - As stated before, the center casino's Baccarat Bar is completely gone, replaced with slots. The area is still slated to become a lounge before the end of 2006 but right now, no sign of any work being done.
What Else? Japonais, another new restaurant, is still scheduled to go in by Summer, in the space currently occupied by Ava and what used to be Moongate. Currently no work being done on Ava but the Moongate space is closed off. It will be a bit sad to lose yet another lounge in a good location - Ava has consistently been a good place to relax for a few minutes with the waterfalls surrounding you. The 'Bermuda' retail store located at the pool entrance is currently being torn out, though I haven't been able to confirm what will replace it yet. Of course, the new Cirque/Beatles show opens this Summer and the signature volcano will be revamped by the end of the year as well.
Overall I believe the changes to The Mirage, unlike TI, are on the balance very positive. The new restaurants all look like they will contribute quite a bit to the 'new' Mirage. One of the most amazing things I noticed was the shift in the customer base, something I alluded to in the previous post. There are so many more people my age (mid 20s) on property, it was staggering. We're not just talking about folks in line for Jet, which is pretty far from the floor itself. I'm talking about all over - eating at STACK (fairly young crowd and very full), playing all the tables, etc... I talked to a few employees about this and they confirmed it and shared my surprise. It's one thing for a property to re-position over time but this happened so fast I'm surprised. This was their stated goal and it seems to be working quite well. We'll see how the strategy works and impacts earnings.
Wynn Las Vegas
Not too much to add to Wynn coverage - most everything has been covered exhaustively. In the photo thread you can see the updated Corsa Cucina, which is looking much better, more intimate and a bit more formal than the Ferrari Cafe look that it shed. Also, photos of the B Bar's transformation into a high limit pit.
Some other small changes like new carpet in a few locations, variations on the standard Wynn-red and a few new carpet designs. Some overhead signs have been added in a few places, clearly in response to guest confusion. I did see one sign that still mentioned 'La Bete', but I'm sure that won't last too long. Overall, the property is looking fantastic and they are slowly taking care of everything on their post-opening checklists.
Lure - Wynn's ultra-lounge, I visited in April and again on this trip. For a Friday night, it was completely dead and despite slight dress code deviations in our party, we got in and skirted the cover as well. The outside fire pit was raging and I think this room looks fantastic but from the rumblings I hear, being empty on prime weekend evenings has been happening more than they would like. A Wynn operational trademark is changing course when things aren't working out - if Lure continues to under-attract I wouldn't expect it to continue in its current form forever.
Tryst - In stark contrast to Lure, Tryst was very busy on Saturday night. The transformation from La Bete means new colors, a new layout and apparently, renewed buzz. The cool looking 'beast' statue that used to be in the lagoon is gone, which is a shame but if the balance is that the club thrives, I can live with it. I don't really consider myself a big time nightclub guy but I have been to the major places in town and I can say that Tryst is one of my faves - the outdoor environment is unmatched with the waterfalls and lagoon. Tryst is something that seems to be working quite well for the hotel.
It seems that each time I go to Mandalay Bay I ask myself why I bothered. This was another one of those times. One of the guys in our party had a bunch of MB checks to cash in, so we decided to head over and have drinks at MIX, on the roof of THEHotel.
Despite being there before they opened, a quick holding open of the door behind an employee enabled us to head up to the lounge. The bartenders looked at us a little funny for being there early but they served us drinks and didn't mind as we took some photos. The view at MIX is probably the best in the city (Foundation Room is a similar view), I think much better than the Stratosphere. We had a good time hanging out for about 90 minutes and watching lights come on over the Strip.
We left the lounge and headed to Mandalay's casino for a few minutes of play before dinner. A friend sits down at a nearly empty blackjack table and starts to play. I'm not playing but I sit at another empty seat to watch for a few minutes. At this point there are still 3 empty seats at the table and no one else in the area remotely interested in playing. The dealer, a shrewish woman, asked if I was planning to play and I said 'no'. She then motioned with her closed fist and extended thumb that I should 'take a hike' and get up from the table. I fully understand giving seats to players but this table was half full and there was no one that wanted to play. The casino was fairly dead at that time. I protested but she confirmed that indeed she wanted me out of the seat with a low grumble reminiscent of a cave dweller. I've sat down in empty seats all over town... In casinos a hell of a lot nicer than Mandalay Bay for that matter. A good example of customer service gone completely wrong and in reverse. They were doing all they could to push us out of there and it worked. This dealer looked like she would rather be dead than at work and that emanated in everything she did. This isn't the first experience like this I've had at MB.
Mandalay Bay continues to suffer from major customer service issues. I don't recommend hanging out there unless you have to.
So, that's the low down on the trip. If you have any questions, leave 'em in the comments and I'll respond. I'm bullish on the changes at The Mirage and I'm looking forward to what's coming next.