Beau Rivage is MGM Mirage's flagship property in Biloxi. It sustained significant damage from Hurricane Katrina on August 29th, 2005. MGM re-opened it less than two months ago on the first anniversary of Katrina. Notes and photos of my recent trip to Beau Rivage follow the jump.
The day Beau Rivage re-opened, August 29, AirTran Airways began non-stop flights from Fort Lauderdale to Gulfport/Biloxi. The flights may be subsidized by several casinos because both MGM�s Beau Rivage and Harrah�s Grand Casino offer air/hotel packages at attractive rates. I bought a three night package from Beau Rivage. The flight�s scheduled time is a little less than two hours, but it was only 90 minutes going and returning. The package included bus service from GPT which is about 15 miles from Beau Rivage. While staying at Beau Rivage, I met some friends, and we checked out the other casinos and toured the area from Ocean Springs to Bay St. Louis.
I had not been in the property before, and I was curious whether it would still look like a Steve Wynn hotel/casino after MGM Mirage was required to make major repairs and renovations after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. The Beau looks great. MGM did an excellent job in recreating the nicest property on the Gulf. Although it opened on August 29th, the first anniversary of Katrina, construction has not been totally completed. The three fine dining restaurants, Olives, BR Prime and an Asian restaurant won�t open before December. The Street of Shops is also under construction, but the stores looked like they would be ready by the end of November.
When Beau was built, it was described as a smaller version of Bellagio. That is an apt description. The hotel area has wide walkways, beautiful plants and flowers and is bright because of the large skylights and windows which face the city behind the registration desk. The caf� and part of the buffet dining room are in the atrium area with natural light streaming in.
The standard hotel rooms are medium sized at 400 sq ft and have large baths with both tub and stall shower. The 32� flat screen Philips LCD was excellent. One disappointment was the safe in the closet. It is not large enough for a laptop. I have to assume the small safes are carry-overs from when the hotel was built. The two straight chairs in front of the window were surprisingly comfortable. Furnishings were a step down from Wynn or Bellagio, but certainly acceptable. Beau�s website has a photo of a typical room and a floorplan of a suite. I didn�t see the suites, but in the photos and on the floorplan, they look like smaller versions of a Bellagio Suite:
Beau Rivage Rooms/Suites
One other glitch was the lack of an Ethernet cable in the room. When I called the front desk for one, I was told they didn�t have any more. Not the sign of a 4 or 5 Star hotel.
The buffet was excellent. The quality and variety were equal to Bellagio, and the dining room was open looking, facing the casino floor and the atrium. I didn�t try the Terrace Caf� but, the skylights and plants made it attractive. Three of us ate at the only other restaurant, Memphis Q. It was very disappointing. Prices were high, food was mediocre and service was poor. We all gave it the same poor rating. It was a surprisingly bad experience. We stopped for a drink at the Eight 75 Lounge before dinner. It has a circular bar with tables and lounge chairs on the perimeter. It is open to both the casino floor and the main hallway leading into the casino.
The pool and spa are on the second floor. The pool deck is fairly large, but it has none of the appeal found at Las Vegas pools, just a large concrete deck area with lounge chairs.
The casino is very spacious and certainly doesn�t look like it�s on a barge. High ceilings and open expanses made it very comfortable. There were a fair number of table games, but the Gulf is substantially a drive-to slot market. One can�t judge slot payback by several hours of play, but payback seemed lower than in Las Vegas. I saw very few jackpot lights, even in the high limit slot room. Mississippi requires that all reportable slot jackpots withhold 3% state tax. I saw no 9/6 JoB paytables on video poker. The high limit slot and table rooms are at the far end of the casino and are elevated several feet of the rest of the casino. This makes me believe they are on land, not the barge. Both rooms are as deluxe as any in Vegas.
In many respects, Beau is a very nice locals casino. There were many senior citizens and retirees there who came to use their monthly FreePlay incentive and pick up their free gifts. This month, it was a bathrobe. I was there three weekday nights, so I can�t judge weekend business. However, I�m not sure how profitable Beau Rivage can be as a locals casino hotel. There are good convention/meeting facilities on the second floor. The only group I saw was a municipal employee meeting.
I enjoyed seeing, and staying at, Beau Rivage, but with limited trips available to me, it�s worth the extra cost and time to go to Las Vegas, the real deal.
If anyone is considering a trip to the Beau, I�d suggest waiting until at least the end of the year. Then, all the restaurants and shops will be open, and the staff should have enough experience to be more proficient.
Photos may be found at:
Biloxi & Gulf Coast Photos
Hunter was kind enough to brighten some of my dark photos at:
RateVegas Photo Gallery
Finally, it was very interesting for me to watch the ten minute video of Hurricane Katrina which was shot from the Beau Rivage parking structure. If you haven�t seen it, it shows the tidal surge coming ashore:
Hurricane Katrina video shot from Beau Rivage parking garage