Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

May 7, 2006

Trip Report: Third and Last Part: MGM Grand

Posted by detroit1051

The final chapter of this trip report, MGM Grand and food poisoning, follows the jump.

MGM Grand

This was the longest time I�ve ever spent in Las Vegas, and even without food poisoning, 12 days is too long for me. The reason for the lengthy stay was I wanted to attend Wynn�s slot tournament April 20 and also MGM Grand�s slot weekend event, April 27-30.

MGM Grand was a bit of a disappointment starting with check-in. I knew I could register in the VIP/Skyloft Lounge, so in I went at 11 or 11:30 Thursday morning. Unlike Bellagio�s or Wynn�s VIP Lounges, where registration reps check you in at the counter, MGM Grand has a different system. You tell the person at the desk what you�re there for, and then you sit in the lounge until brought to an area in the back where the customer and rep sit on either side of a desk during the registration process. After I was pushed aside by some dope demanding a limo take him to the executive airport in Henderson, it was my turn. When I said I wanted to check in, the front desk person printed my record off the computer and placed it on an ominously high stack of similar papers. When I looked around the lounge area, every seat was taken with people not looking too pleased. Right away, a white haired woman in a tux came up to ask me if I wanted coffee or something else to drink. She had to be in her late 70�s or early 80�s. It seemed like I should have had her take my seat and I should have offered to serve her some tea. After 15 minutes, I asked her how long she estimated the delay to be. I was just asking, but all of a sudden, she grabbed my sheet and escorted me to the inner sanctum for registration. I could feel the daggers in my back from those who were waiting longer than I. I didn�t do the honorable thing and relinquish my place for the others, but I did feel guilty if that counts for anything.

There was one (1) rep checking people in. She said something about not everyone showing up for work. I was assigned a Hollywood Suite on the 12th floor. The Hollywood Suite is only on the first 12 floors, and it is at the end of a long, long hallway. The space is nice because it includes a living area and has a separate bedroom, but it�s a long trek from the elevators. MGM Grand rooms have some of the worst decorating and furniture in Las Vegas. You would never mistake it for a Mirage Resorts or Wynn property. The living room had a blue velvet couch, two strange looking green velvet chairs and a round dining table with four chairs covered in the hides of nauga. The table is very practical, but the chairs aren�t the greatest. There is also a desk which is ideal for PC connection and use. Both the living and sleeping rooms have armoires with TV�s. The bed was covered in a heavy spread, but it was triple-sheeted. The room was quiet, and the walls of windows, being on the corner of the end of the building gave it brightness. There is a similar, but larger suite closer to the elevators, but I was told I didn�t meet the criteria for it. It�s amazing how Casino Marketing has everything down to such an exact science.

The event was not a slot tournament as such, but an opportunity to earn points for drawing tickets. First, the person with the most points from 6 PM Thursday until 9 AM Sunday would win $100,000. I knew this would let me out as well as 99.9% of other entrants. This is really a way for the casino to reward heavy players. When the awards were presented at Sunday�s brunch, the winner of the $100,000 had more than 100 times the number of points that I had. Unbelievable! Then, random drawings were held for FreePlay, and one ticket holder was given the opportunity to play every slot machine, at max coin-in, one spin, in the High Limit Room. Theoretically, if every spin had been the max win, that person would have won more than $12 million. I only entered the event for the comped room and food. Not surprisingly, the guy who won $100,000 also had one of his several thousand plus tickets drawn for some FreePlay. Before the days of Bellagio and Wynn, I used to enter some slot tournaments at MGM Grand. It had well run tournaments, and MGM�s awards banquets or parties still set the standard for excellence, in my opinion. I�ve had a soft spot for MGM since it let me win $18,000 in one tournament about ten years ago.

After my second visit to Red Rock, I decided to see if I could get a reservation there for two nights, Sunday and Monday, April 30 and May 1. I could get the casino rate of $125 for Sunday and $85 for Monday with my play being reviewed for comps at check out. Well, it never happened.

Thursday evening, since I was alone for this part of the trip, I decided to have dinner at Joel Robuchon�s L�Atelier. His formal restaurant, next door, is not one to try alone, and comped or not, a $350 prix fixe dinner turned me off. L�Atelier is more casual but weird. Diners sit at the counter looking at the show kitchen. The �Discovery Menu� which I thought would give me a good introduction to Robuchon, cost $125 for nine small courses. Add a drink and wine, and it was a $200 dinner at a lunch counter! The quality and presentation of the food were both outstanding, but $200??!! It reminded me of when I was a little kid, and my Mom would take my brother and me downtown to the department store. We would have soup and sandwiches at the lunch counter followed by a hot fudge sundae, and it didn�t cost $200, I can guarantee you.

Friday evening, I decided to have an early dinner at the bar in Craftsteak. I had wine, a grilled shrimp appetizer, a ten ounce filet and saut�ed spinach. That was it. The shrimp and filet were excellent, but the spinach had a strange, bitter taste. I didn�t think much about it, but I didn�t finish the spinach. I went to my room at 11 PM, after a few hours in the casino and went to bed. At midnight, all Hell broke loose. I won�t go into a graphic description, but I was hit by the worst diarrhea of my life which lasted unabated until Sunday noon, slowed down somewhat but wasn�t over until Monday midnight, exactly three days after it started. Vomiting followed on Saturday morning but stopped after three hours. I spent the entire day Saturday in my room. I ordered cereal from Room Service but couldn�t eat it. Saturday night, I did walk to the Stage Deli near the Sports Book and had a bowl of chicken soup. What a nightmare. Hunter and I had played telephone tag and had planned to meet at Red Rock. I knew I couldn�t go, so I cancelled my reservation and left a message for Hunter. I was scheduled to check out Sunday, and I didn�t want to stay at MGM Grand any longer, so I made a reservation at a Hampton Inn in Henderson where I stayed from noon Sunday until Tuesday when I went to the airport. By Monday, I knew I was going to live, so I did drive over to Bellagio for a walk through. I enjoyed seeing the huge banyan tree in the Conservatory exhibit. The tree was from Palm Beach, Florida. It had been diseased and was going to be destroyed. Bellagio bought it, trucked it to Las Vegas and reassembled it. It will also be the centerpiece of the summer and fall exhibits.

My fine dining over the weekend included a bowl of soup at Marie Callender�s, some microwave rice and another bowl of soup at Bellagio on Monday.

Tuesday morning, when I was sure I could fly without having to lock myself in the plane�s lavatory, I called the Clark County Health Department and made a report. I was transferred to Epidemiology and given to a person in �food-borne illnesses�. She was very knowledgeable, and must have had a questionnaire in her computer, because she took a through report and asked many questions. I was impressed. She said they will follow through with an inspection at MGM. I then called MGM Grand and asked to make a report. I was transferred to Security. When I said I wanted to make a food poisoning report, the person seemed defensive and asked whether I had taken medical tests which confirmed it was food poisoning. When I said, No, he said they would take a �Guest Comment� report and had me talk with a security officer. He also was thorough and asked if I could write my report and fax it to him. I told him I would when I got home. After he received it, he called me back, gave me a report number and said I could call MGM�s Risk Management in a week to learn the results of the investigation. I will do that this week. 40 million people visit Las Vegas each year. Most do not get sick and go home with great memories. I certainly don't want to disparage MGM Grand, but it does seem, logically, to be the source of my illness.

I researched food poisoning on the internet the second day. Most sites confirmed that my symptoms and their time frame were consistent with food poisoning. The sites also said if things didn�t improve after three days to seek medical attention. I was better, but very tired after three days. I�ve had minor intestinal bugs before, but the suddenness and severity of this threw me for a loop. I wouldn�t wish it on my worst enemy.

Now, I have an excuse to go back to Las Vegas. I still need to try Red Rock.

Even without being sick, this was too long a trip. Three or four days are enough for me.


Read archived comments (6 so far)
May 7, 2006 9:17 PM Posted by Mike E

Thanks again for the report. I agree, VIP registration at MGM seemed like a joke. While check-in for me was done in-suite, we walked through the VIP area several times to avoid MGM's crowds and head straight to the porte-cochere. It seemed rather bare with just desks and chairs and the employees working weren't the happiest looking, either.

Please let us know the outcome of your complaints to MGM.

May 8, 2006 1:05 AM Posted by mike_ch

I've had bad casino food before (thanks Texas Station!) but nothing that horrible. Wow. It also sounds like this "tournament" was a collection of by-no-means-low players watching the elites win stuff, how thrilling.

$5 and up, eh? This explains why people here are winning thousands and getting free rooms while I'm winning a hundred and occasionally the oft-desired free lunch. ;) Maybe I should change my slots strategy to "go big or go home" but living here means I'm just in the casinos too often to try that without losing my house for a line pass and three course meal.

I can't really say whether Red Rock warrants a trip on it's own. It can't figure out if it wants to be a strip resort or a local's resort, but one look at it's location (almost literally at the edge of civilization) ought to provide the answer. Tonight I noticed people from other Stations all over the property (one guy in a Sunset uniform told me that Red Rock was shorthanded 75 people in his one department alone) and more trash than my past three visits.

On the other hand, the buffet is actually a good buffet (not Bellagio-style superb, but great meat'n'potatoes with continental fare.)

On a slightly-OT Red Rock note, tonight I tried Salt Lick BBQ. It definitely does not try to be fine dining like some of the other marquee restaurants, but is worth doing instead of the Grand Cafe (which is the same menu and food as the Cafes at the other Stations in a nicer room) just for being so different. Nothing that will make any other casino take notice, but just nice to have.

May 8, 2006 6:34 AM Posted by detroit1051

I added a few photos of my room at MGM Grand to my photo album. You'll never mistake MGM Grand for Wynn.

May 8, 2006 5:21 PM Posted by Adam F

Good to hear that you are feeling better... I've never had a real attraction to MGM Grand, i mean to me its just another average hotel.

However, hopefully someone can explain to me whats the deal with the Bellagio Buffet. I mean to me its just ok(maybe i've been to many times already :P). The food is good, but I find that the Buffet at Wynn is much better, except for the small selection of desserts. Anyway can't wait untill late June and early July when i'll be at Wynn...

October 22, 2006 7:04 PM Posted by Sharon

I just returned from Vegas after a week long stay (week of October 16, 2006) and stayed at the MGM. I, along with my father, had a severe case of food poisoning. I would HIGHLY recommend that you don't eat the food in MGM! What filthy kitchens and or/workers they must have there! Disgusting!

October 24, 2006 6:38 PM Posted by detroit1051

Sharon, did you file a report with MGM Grand? What was their response? Which restaurant?