Another trip report featuring some high end accommodations, specifically MGM Grand's Skylofts, this time from reader David.
Thanks to David and Mike for passing this along!
Our annual trip to Las Vegas is our chance to get away from the daily drudge of work, life and being parents etc. My personal view is that Vegas is not a place for kids, some may disagree, some more fervently than others, but as a Father of a Five year old boy its my opinion that everybody wins with him off at Grandmas for the week. There is the Odd Child unfriendly comment here, so if you are easily offended, stop now.
Also I will confess right now, neither of us are heavy Gamblers and this trip report doesn’t include that much action (May as well save you the read if that’s your thing!)
Having stayed at all levels of Hotels on the Vegas Strip, from our First time 6 years ago, we tried the Wynn shortly after it opened last year. Despite a few hiccups here and there we fell in love with the place. At the time there seemed to be two distinct camps, you either loved or hated the Wynn. I think things have settled down, but as others have said, it’s the attention to detail at the Wynn that makes the difference, both in hotel design and service. But enough of that, let’s get to the report….
After landing at McCarran, we go collect our rental car. Now my Company has always used National Rental car, so I have Executive Elite Status with them, those of you who travel a lot will know that National merged operations with Alamo a few years back. Not a problem in itself, but Alamo is pretty much the rental company of choice for anyone who books a tour package. Result? It takes us an hour to get to the lot. The rental lot itself, well the National side, has four cars total. We have a Luxury Car reserved and wait a further 15 minutes while they go get one. Note to self? Next time use Hertz!
Drive up to the Wynn to check in, remembering to use the South Valet. I think people forget that the South Valet isn’t just for Tower Suites Guests, which is fine by me! We never have to wait to drop off or pick up. Having never stayed in the Tower Suites side, I wanted to try it, but it was fully booked for the first two nights of our stay, so nothing you can do if it’s not available!
Go to check in, they ask for our name and minor panic, they cannot find us in the system! Long Story short, they misspelled our Last Name, all I have say is remember to take a print out of your confirmation with you, but the lady at check in was super nice, they saw it as their problem that they could not find us in the system, not ours. Tried the $20 trick and got us up to a panoramic room the 58th Floor with a great Strip view and view of all the comings and goings in the Hotel! I Love this you can sit and watch the world go by for hours.
There has been plenty of descriptions on the Wynn Room, so I wont repeat it here, but as always the room is great, Couple of things of note, I am pleased to see they have the A/C working properly now, I know they had problems at opening, Interesting how that you come in with the TV playing music while the “Mood” screen is playing, it maybe me, but I don’t think there is as many towels in the Bathroom, but I am just being picky. A Nice touch which I didn’t remember is the Tray on the Ottoman, so you can rest Drinks/Snacks while you watching TV, it’s the touches like this at Wynn that make the difference.
We get our Luggage sent up, Freshen up and my wife is starving! We have not eaten all day. We have reservations at Daniel Boulud for 8pm, so we go down to Zoozacrackers, split a great Deli Sandwich and People Watch for a bit.
Then its off for our first look round the Casino, my wife plays some slots, I play a little VP, but am not getting a good vibe, I TITO out even, I plan to play some table games later, to go check out action. There is plenty at all levels, several $10 Tables which on a Saturday Evening surprised me for the Wynn. We are here for the week, so it’s just a case of getting a feel for things.
Back up to the room, to relax a little bit and get ready for Dinner. On the way up, a Family gets in, and one of the children feels the need to tell his parents what he is going to be doing in a very loud voice, they get off a few floors later and I say to my wife, “I knew there was a reason we left our Son at Grandmas” The other couples with us Burst out Laughing.
Back down just before 8pm, we have a another great bunch as we have a full elevator that appears to be taking the “local” route, we all start betting which floor will be next to stop on, and telling anyone waiting its $10 to get on, great stuff.
Dinner was Fantastic, We went to Daniel Boulud last time and my wife was really looking forward to going again and having the DB Burger, or as she says “Not just a Burger, its an experience!!”, She has the Melon, I have the Salmon for Appetizer, I try the Pork Chop and of course she has the Burger, for desert the profiteroles, and I have the Chocolate Turtle Coupe. Everything was superb and the service was spot on, not rushed at all, maybe a little too long between appetizer and Entrée, but a wonderful experience to start the trip. The only disappointment was we were in the back room, so we could not see the Waterfall during our meal but that wasn’t the end of the world, although we saw several people who were going to seated here who thought otherwise! If there wasn’t so much choice in Vegas we would definitely dine here more than once during our trip.
Off to the Car, we want to take a drive round and take in the sights, as well as stop at Walgreens to pick up a few essentials, go to Downtown and back up I-15 to drive down the Strip, but of course its 11pm on Saturday so Traffic is horrible, should have guessed that!. Its 11pm, 1am Dallas time, and we have been on the go since 6.30am. Time to call it a night, ready for a full next day. Turn down Service has been and gone, the “mood” screen and music is back on, and they refilled the Toiletries!!, I love the lemon grass stuff and could never get them to leave more the last time we stayed.
I am up bright and early - 7am to be precise! But my wife wants to sleep in so I go for a wander, look at menu at the Country Club Grill, we will be going there for lunch, and I wanted to check out the public areas of the Tower Suites area, see what all the fuss is about! As I said, I wanted to stay on this side of the Wynn, but it was booked out for the first two days, and I am not one to move rooms, especially since we will be moving hotel. The Tower suites side is very nice and very much a “Hotel within a Hotel” everything is convenient and steps away. If you asked me Steve Wynn saw what Mandalay Bay/Four Seasons was and did his take on it. Very well executed but is a standard Tower Suites Room worth an extra $90 a night over the Resort Room bearing in mind the room is the same and you are paying for the pleasure of convenience and not seeing a casino unless you want to? Personally I am not so sure. I think it they threw in complimentary Spa Access or Breakfast at Tableau that would swing it, but the Tower Suite rooms were sold out, so what do I know?
Back up to the room and my wife has now woken up, so we get ready to go back down to wander round the Casino and look at the shops, before we go for lunch.
We have a Reservation for the Country Club Grill and its just as well, this appears to be a secret that has got out, well either that or people were looking at the next best option as the lines for the Buffet and the Terrace Café were crazy!
The view is excellent; you would not believe you were in Vegas, definite Country Club feel to it. They were serving the Brunch Menu, Pretzels to start, I had the Sirloin Burger and Lobster, a different combination, and she had the Chicken Jalapeño Sausage. The food was good, the view was good, but something was missing, I cannot put my finger on it, but there wasn’t something there. Well I was glad we tried, we checked out the waterfall, before going on to check out the Esplanade.
Pure window-shopping, we checked out the New Rolex Store, nothing spectacular in my opinion, well they probably had an example of every Rolex on sale today. My wife was checking out the sale racks at the shoe store, and I came in and said, perhaps a little louder than I intended… “So is it everything on the rack for $10?” Needless to say we left shortly afterwards!
So time to go out and about, we had not been having much luck on the slots in the Wynn, so we thought we would try Bellagio. We get there and the Valet Line is backed up all the way down the hill! We self park and go in and the in the lobby its just chaos! Bellagio just seems so busy these days every time we go.
We did a little better at the slots here, we ended up about $100 or so up playing the new Elvis slots and Video Blackjack, We checked the table action and again was surprised to see a few $5 tables and a lot of $10, but I wasn’t in the mood. Checked out the New Conservatory display, complete with Mini Bellagio (I do like the way they did the Fountain and building in a small LCD) and it was time for Dinner. After two ‘Fine Dining” meals we decided to look for something a little more simple and down to earth, Since the Stardust was closing, we wanted to check it out as a “last chance to see”, so this was a good chance to do two things at once.
Two prime rib dinners at the Island Paradise Café and I settle down to play some Blackjack. Quickly get spanked to the tune of $100 - its not going my way, so I get out while the going is bad. By this time is 8.45pm, we have heard the Stratosphere is having a Firework show at 9pm, so its drive up the Strip, we park at the Worlds Largest Souvenir shop and wait. We couldn’t have chosen better, the view was spot on, the Fireworks was some of the best I had seen for a long while, the Strat really pushed the Boat out. By this time my wife is getting tired, still on Dallas Time and we are here to relax, so its back to the Wynn, so she can wind down.
Back up to the room, but I am still in the mood for some action, so I go back down to play the tables.. I buy in, well it wasn’t pretty, as I was saying to a fellow gambler in the elevator back up, you should stick to your Strategy, my problem was I at a point where I was back up to about $30 down and I should have walked, but No I played on. But hey if you don’t like it don’t join!
It was 1am before I was in bed, we love laying in on vacation, so its 10am before we are up, slowly get ready, today we are going shopping!
We get on the road and drive down to The outlets at Primm, I wanted to go shopping at Tommy Bahama and a few other places, we then went to the Fashion Outlets just by downtown. Nothing too exciting, well I did well shopping and my wife was blown away. Coach were having a clearance and it was chaos, there was a line outside the shop waiting to get in 30-40 long!
Things are busy as people from California are coming in for the 4th, so we grab some In-and-Out and head back to the Wynn, we have a Black Bag that we use to “sneak” the fast food in, so we don’t look too bad walking through the Casino! Leave our Shopping Haul with the Bell Desk to bring up later, and bring our Food up to eat. Sitting by our Window, watching the World go by - what could be better!!
Time to relax after a hard days shopping. A little later on I go to the Fashion Show Mall across the way, check out the Tickets 4 Tonite Booth, they have Mamma Mia on sale for tomorrow no less! At $55 for the $110 seats - we are all set for tomorrow night!
Back up to the room and we get ready to go out for the evening, just down to the Terrace Point Café, nothing too exciting, Fish and Chips for her, NY Strip Steak Sandwich for me and some Apple Pie for Dessert. Then it’s off the floor for some slot fun and games.
But its another ugly night again. We are starting to feel the Wynn slots are tighter than a Tupperware seal. We tried various machines, Video Poker, Video Blackjack things aren’t getting any better for either of us.
Its getting late and once again we give up while the going is bad, so its off to Bed, tomorrow, or maybe I should say later today might be better.
Its after 10.30 before I wake up, I have to drive up to Mandalay Bay to get my Seat Assignments for the show tonight and Tickets 4 Tonite tell me the sooner I get there, the better. We haven’t been to the Mandalay Bay before so I need to get an idea of the layout of things, like figuring out the best place to Park.
Get there, go to the Ticket Desk. Hand over my tickets and wait expecting to get tickets towards the back of the $110 section. The lady says “The best I can get you is Section A Row C, seats 7 & 8, will that be OK? Four Rows from the Front?? are you kidding me?? She didn’t have to ask twice. I get the tickets, thank her profusely, I didn’t even think to tip I was in shock! I call my wife and wind her up. I start in a down voice “Well I got the tickets”, I then tell her where and she screams down the phone, she couldn’t believe it!!
Back to the Wynn, we Shower, get dressed, and go get some lunch, off to the Venetian and the Grand Lux Café, we must have timed it perfectly as we walk in and get seated immediately. Knowing the Portions, we instead go for three appetizers to share between us, Chicken Flautas, Spring Rolls and Chicken Satay. We are eating and suddenly there is a roar from the Bar, it’s the World Cup Semi Finals and Italy have just scored. Suddenly it’s a minute later and the place goes crazy, they have just scored again and are though to the finals, our Waitress says we must be a sports bar now! We order dessert, the Butterscotch Bread Budding, it comes, we are supposed to share but my wife goes crazy, she says it’s the closet thing to heaven she has ever tasted, well who am I to deny!!
A quick trip to the Grand Canal to people watch, there is also a wedding going on in the Main Plaza. Watching the Gondolas go by, well we have been there done that, but we are going to be celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary Next year and we have a wonderful idea! I won’t be sharing it here but we are going to see what we can do to make it happen. Went to look at Delmonico we were thinking about going there. Take a look at the menu, its not blowing me away and for the price it needs to be, we decide to pass for this trip. Interesting to note that down in this area (where to Blue Man Theatre and Restaurants are) is the Model of the Venetian with the Palazzo addition. I know there is the rendering at the Sands website but if its interesting to check out if you want to see what the intended finished product will look like.
Leaving the Venetian we are off to the ‘Pinball Hall of Fame’ on Tropicana. If you are into Pinball, this place is a “Must do” on your trip. I had only heard of it a few months ago, it has over 200 pinball machines, from the very earliest to the very latest, as well as a few retro arcade games thrown in for good measure. It’s in a Strip Mall and you have to look for it, but it is worth taking the time to visit. The only thing I would recommend is to dress light. The A/C in the place cannot keep up and it’s somewhat warmer than the casinos! But not bad enough to put you off from going. We spend a good 3-4 hours playing everything and anything from the earliest machines and the old “clunk clunk clunk” of the score changing - through to the feature filled ramps etc of the latest and greatest, A wonderful way to spend an afternoon playing the game the way it was meant to be played (i.e. not on your PC) and for just $20 between us, we will be back next time!
Back to the Wynn to get ready for the show, we head back down to the Mandalay Bay for Mamma Mia. Tip for all of you, if you are parking, don’t go to the Valet for the hotel or the one in the Garage, use the “Mandalay Place” Valet. It was deserted when we dropped off and when we picked up. Neither of us had seen Mamma Mia before and I know its not the latest, greatest or hottest show on the Strip (As evidenced by the fact we got half price tickets and had 4th row seats), but if you haven’t seen it, do so! I think even if you aren’t into Abba, you will like it, we really enjoyed the show and will probably go see it again when the tour next comes through our hometown.. I would say the Theatre was about 75-80% full and the whole audience got into it. Well I should say almost, I remember reading that some shows in Vegas have done away with the intermission as people would go gamble and not come back! I wonder if that happened to the people in the four empty seats two rows in front of us!
Right after the show we dash out, thank goodness for the Quiet Valet at Mandalay Place! We have reservations at the Mesa Grill at Cesar’s (One of the few High End Dining Places on the Strip that is open after 10pm Midweek). We were probably the last people to be seated, and in some ways you could tell that the staff were ready to go home, but not noticeably so, I used to work the bar in my Student Days so perhaps I am a little sympathetic. For the record we had BBQ Duck and Blue Corn Pancakes for appetizer, for Entrée I had the Spiced NY Strip with Au Gratin Double Baked Potatoes and she had the Mexican Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Tamale (which was VERY Spicy) and White Chocolate Cake for dessert. Another great meal, but one funny thing, our waiter had to deal with a very demanding Family on another table as well as us, so as I said we did not have his full attention. I left the standard 20% tip and when he looked at the check, we were his new best friends! I think he was trying to make up for it, he told us the best time to come if we wanted to meet Bobby Flay, feel free to ask me for the info if that’s your thing.
Back to the Wynn and some time to play a little more slots before turning in. Either we are having the worst luck on this trip or Wynn have been tightened up to make up for the $150 free play offer, we have been playing a variety, Nickels, Quarters, Dollar, VP, and nothing is going out way, Its time to give it up, tomorrow and another Casino may prove better luck. We Love the Hotel, but the gambling stinks!
Up fairly early as today is moving day. Spend a lazy morning packing up, went to the Wynn Gift Shop to get a few things. We wanted the Keno Holders they use in the Buffet/Cafe for our Desk, but they have stopped selling them. Guess the weight meant they were being used as blunt weapons somewhere. Will just have to steal one next time we are in the Café (Joking!)
Swing by the red card desk, we have enough points for two buffets, we can leave them for next time if we wish, or use them today, need to chat and decide. Finish packing, we always bring way too much! Call the Bell Desk to get our Bags, then check out and go to the front of the Wynn to await our pick up.
A sigh of relief as the Maybach swings in and up the drive. Our Bellman loads the luggage and we are off! A drive down Koval as we play with the features in the car and chat with our driver (would have liked to do the Strip but we didn’t ask, although it probably would have taken appropriate greasing of the palm to make it happen) and into the MGM the Skylofts Bellman gets our luggage and the concierge comes to greet us, the room isn’t quite ready yet, would we like to grab some lunch until it is?
This is our first time in the MGM in almost 5 years, we head over to the Studio Café and are quickly seated. I order Breakfast, my wife orders Fajitas. Long story short its 30 minutes and all we have is our drinks still. We ask for the check for our drinks, its not like we asked for something difficult, the Manager comes over and apologizes, they will take care of it if they can just give us a moment to bring it out. The Food quickly arrives, but its just warm, obviously it has been sitting there waiting to be brought to the table for a while.
We finish and are just taking a tour of the casino when my cellphone goes, our loft is ready, if we would like to come to the VIP Check in they will bring us up. Through the Door and our concierge is there to greet us. Up to the Top Floor and our Butler is waiting by the door. Check in Formalities are completed in the room and we get the tour, I strongly recommend you do this, even if the Guy in you thinks you can figure out how to use everything!
The Loft itself is just amazing! It truly is like an apartment, downstairs into the Marble Entryway through the Double Doors and there is a “Half Bathroom” with toilet and sink, before you step down into the Lounge where you see the full 24 foot windows. A little disappointing in that I had requested a Northwest Strip view when I made the reservation, we got a Southeast view of Hooters and the Airport, but you cannot have everything I suppose. Lounge has Sofa, Chairs and a B&O Plasma, as well as a CD/DVD. There is a Remote here where you can control the TV/CD/DVD, Climate, Lights, Drapes and in loft Music.
In the corner is the small office with the All-in-One Scanner/Printer/Fax as well as personalized stationary and Business Cards. Then there is the Dining Area with the table for Six (which has fresh Berries, refilled as and when), as well as the wet bar and Fridge with soft drinks, including my requests from yesterday’s phone call (they asked what I wanted, I said but some Diet Coke with Lime and a mixture of Snapples).. There is also the $1000 Jura Coffee machine with a Range of Coffees available and a Sony Plasma if looking at the one in the Living Room Feels like a Stretch.
Up the stairs on the way you see into the Shower/Steam Room, That might be something to bear in mind if you are thinking of sharing this room with people you don’t know intimately or if you have some Modesty, well I guess either that or shower with a Swimsuit on. I know Glass Bathrooms are the thing these days, but I don’t know, they could have made it frosted glass.
Into The Bedroom - has another Sony Plasma and B&O CD/DVD set up, along with Surround Speakers, with a Glass Window “wall” looking out onto the living area and your view. There is another Universal remote for the upstairs.
The Bathroom had the full on walk in Steam shower with Six Shower heads, the Infinity Tub with another Plasma TV and the TV in the mirror and the full on walk in closet. This is one hotel room you can never complain about not having somewhere to put your clothes!
Our plan for the last part of our trip was to do little more than relax and hang out in our room and that is pretty much what we did in the afternoon taking full advantage of everything the Skylofts has to offer. Not only does the TV have all the Cable channels on Cox Digital, it also had all the “On Demand” movies for cable and in-house, again at no-charge (or part of the room rate depending on how you view it).
My Rental Car is still at the Wynn (Come on!! its not everyday you get the chance to ride in a Maybach!) and we have our Comp Buffets, so we get a cab back to the Wynn to retrieve that and take advantage of the Comp, before they raise the points limits again and take them away! As we are on our way out from the Skylofts, I ask the concierge for fun, “Can you get us a cab?” expecting to be told to head on down to the Cab Line. “Let me get someone to take you down sir”, Staying in the Skylofts is in effect a “Line Pass” for the cab line as the concierge gets someone to escort us down and get the doorman to get the very next cab for us. As we pull away my wife says “You are in trouble – I don’t want to stay anywhere else in Vegas now!”
Up to the Wynn, get a “Line Pass” for the Buffet, thank goodness as it was busy, and make the most of it! The Wynns Buffet is great but I think I am starting to get over the whole Buffet thing. One thing I do notice is the number of people who just pile up the Crab Legs determined to get maximum value for their dollar - a shame as there is so many other delicious items that you would just miss out on.
Drive the rental car back to the MGM and back up to room to just put our feet up, there is handmade truffle chocolates left for us, the perfect accompaniment to a coffee from the Jura as we watch another Movie before bed.
Once again we lie in, slowly get up and get ready, we don’t want to do much, so its some more clothes shopping (my wife wants to go to a few places) and after a fast lunch we do some souvenir shopping for Families and our respective departments at work and swing by the M&M Store to pick up a few things for our son.
I don’t know if it’s the heat or what but all of a sudden I feel incredibly tired, so I head back to the room for a lie down while my wife plays the slots for a bit. I wake up with a Start, its like I have been asleep for hours! But its only 7pm, (Fortunately). I still feel like death warmed over, jump into the Steam Shower and everything on full blast, hot Steam and shower at 70 degrees, I feel like a new person! That Shower is the best!
We decide to eat in the room tonight, the Concierge brings us Menus from various places and we plump for Craftsteak, The Corn Soup and Red Peppers to start, for Entrée we each have the Rib Eye Each, with Gratin Potatoes and Onion Rings, I was a little apprehensive as I had heard mixed things about Craftsteak, but it was spot on! And with drinks on hand in the room and Butler service - life was feeling very good!!
At the end we were absolutely stuffed, no room for dessert! Let things go down and then the usual evening truffles came, this time they were like lollipops! and with coffee it was the perfect end to the evening.
But we decided it was time perhaps for a little more slot play, so we went down for a few hours. Things we definitely a little looser at the MGM than they were at the Wynn, but instead of being down we were probably about even for the night.
Not much to report - we were up late (Again) with a 12.45pm flight, I did have thoughts of taking the car back and then taking the Maybach to the airport, but time was relatively short, so we just got packed and got ready to leave. Thank goodness the Skylofts were full for that evening or I think my wife would have wanted to extend our stay! Check out – Nothing on the Bill beyond the Room Rate, Last Nights Dinner and a Business Services charge for something work related; the Movies, the clothes pressing, the in-room Coffee and Soft Drinks were inclusive of the Room Rate, although of course I tipped well.
We drag ourselves kicking and screaming out of the room, the concierge called down to valet for our car, so its waiting for us as we arrive at the Port Cochere, again ahead of the maddening crowd also waiting for their cars. Finally its off the airport, another great trip and time to start planning for the next one!
The Wynn has gotten better since our last stay, I think they had recognized the areas where they are lacking and moved to improve. As a Hotel/Resort I love it. As a Casino, I think I will be checking out elsewhere in the future, at least for slots anyway. If you are a fan of “Bargain Vegas” I would be the first to agree its not for you. If you love the Venetian/Bellagio/THE Hotel, then I would keep staying there. I Love the Wynn, but I can see why others like different places on the Strip, after all isn’t variety the Spice of Life?
They may not be the biggest suites in terms of actual square footage, although 1500 Square feet was more that enough for us!, but for the total package of Room, Amenities and Service, the Skylofts IMHO is #1 and not just in terms of Las Vegas, its right up there with some of the finest hotels in the world. If being on top of the MGM Grand is putting you off (and it concerned me when I first looked at staying there), don’t let it, it truly is a “Hotel within a Hotel” in every sense of the word. What it does share with the MGM, you get the VIP treatment. One thing I might ask is if I could take care of all the tips at the end of my stay, Cruise ship style, but that’s me being very picky.
If you want the high roller experience, but don’t have the play, are thinking about doing the Skylofts and, dare I say it, can afford it, then don’t think anymore, DO IT! Rates do go down as low as $590-600 for the 1 bedroom midweek. My Biggest regret is that I didn’t book for 3-4 nights instead of 2 and we are trying to work out when we can come back, even if it means I have my Son in Tow and we plan a trip around him - that’s how highly I rate it, that’s how badly I want to go back!
Before this trip I used to think a Rental Car was a must for my entire trip, now with the way Traffic is, plus I am getting more selective in where I go, I am thinking just a few days so I can do the things that would not be doable – or very expensive! – if I had to take a cab,
Yes Vegas is for Gambling – but you can have a great time and not be a high roller, in our case some great dining out and some great shopping and some plain old relaxing! There were several things both us planned on doing that will just have to wait for the next trip!
If you made it this far on my TR – Congratulations!!! – any feedback (Beyond at over 5500 words its too ****** Long) or questions are more than welcome.