As most readers know, I was at the M Resort opening party last night... not as an invited guest but as a media person - I basically forced myself on the PR folks and they were gracious enough to give me the green light.
After spending three or so hours there on Sunday night and then another hour again today, I wish I could say it was awesome and that I was blown away. Generally speaking, I wasn't. There are some cool touches like the wine cellar, the pool deck and the pharmacy but other than that, I could have been inside Aliante Station (which also cost $400 million less to build) or GVR and not known the difference.
I don't mean to say there's anything 'wrong' with the place but by that same token, I did not see anything that would make it a recommended must-stop. In the boom times of years past, this would be another strong locals contender, easily in the same bracket as Green Valley Ranch or maybe even Red Rock but those times are long gone. It's certainly a lot nicer than South Point so the folks that live in the area should be pleased, though I think the only people living in the immediate neighborhood are lizards and coyotes - there is nothing but empty desert across the street.
I timed the trip from MGM Grand to the M - 22 minutes by car in moderate traffic on Las Vegas Blvd. It would no doubt be faster on the 15 but the point is that it is quite a ways from the resort corridor of The Strip. If they are trying to poach anyone from that zone, I wish them luck.
In the run-up to the opening, owner Anthony Marnell III has been making a big deal about recognizing the new economic reality. His implication is that the days of expensive hotel rooms and high end meals are waning. My inspection of his restaurant menus didn't give me much faith this philosophy has been implemented - $42 steaks with $7 baked potatoes sounds more like Bellagio prices than Value Central.
When I came back today, Marnell himself was walking the floor, fixing problems and attending to customers - that's great. With Strip casinos being run by large corporations and even the bigger locals operators filled with bureaucracy, it's refreshing to see an owner/operator involved at that level. The Las Vegas Strip is such big business that nothing happens that isn't PR approved and focus group tested - that means little to no innovation and lots of 'me too' copying (see nightclubs, ultra lounges, gourmet burger places, etc...) A directly involved manager like Marnell has an opportunity to innovate and I hope he does. Putting the pharmacy in the casino is a promising first step and his background in technology, a sector known for innovation, gives me hope we'll see them trying new and interesting things out there. The family did that at The Rio and I hope that trend continues at 'M'.
I ended up doing the rounds with Steve Friess and I'm glad I did because it made the entire thing far more fun. His write-up is here and I recommend checking it out if you're curious about the resort. Steve's a much better writer than I am (duh).
So - should you check out the 'M'? If you're in the neighborhood, sure. I think of Red Rock Resort as enough of a spectacle to be worth visiting from other parts of the Valley. Not sure if I would put 'M' in that category, at least not yet. The VP pay tables didn't look all that hot (lots of 8/5). Some of the restaurants looked interesting and the wine cellar joint is pretty cool.
Some new photos:
Update: David McKee has chipped in with more thoughts including from others that were there last night. Seems like opinions are all over the place for 'M'.