Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Ok, our coverage of Uncork'd 2010 is kicking off with an intro post from @atdleft.

Despite being a local, he's hanging out on The Strip this weekend to soak up all the foodie goodness.

Keep reading after the jump for more... plus lots more to come. Enjoy!

Also, don't forget I'm live at 7pm today to award the iPad.

Updated with some additional observations from the Uncork'd media photo shoot.

So I have arrived at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. In fact, I am now writing from "THE wifi" at "THE desk" at "THE Living Room" at "THE Suite"... And I'm listening to "THE Beyonce" as I write from "THE Macbook" on "THE desk". Am I sounding annoying yet?

I digress.

Anyway, I'm now here and I'm getting ready for my first Vegas Uncork'd event of the weekend: dinner at Bradley Ogden, WITH Bradley Ogden! Yes, I know, this is exciting and I'm so excited that Hunter was gracious enough to let me be a guest contributor this weekend so I care share this and other adventures with you at Las Vegas' biggest and most fabulous culinary action-packed weekend, with celebrity chefs from all around the world descending upon our humble 'burg to give us a taste of what they're all about.

However since I know you're also interested in hotel and casino design, I'll also be providing some of my observations of the Strip casinos I go in and out of. So let's start with my home base for this weekend: Mandalay Bay.

Honestly, "THE Suite" is quite sweet. Sure, there aren't the types of fun electronic gadgets you'll now find at any room at Aria, Encore, or Palazzo. But as a "boutique hotel", it works nicely with three flat panel TVs, a fully loaded wet bar, floor-to-ceiling windows, plush carpeting, chic furniture, and plenty of room to roam. And for a hotel that opened in 2003, my suite at THEhotel has minimal damage.

The decor is very hip. The color palette is mainly earth tones. The furniture really looks like the kinds of items I'll find at my yuppie friends' pads in Manhattan and West Hollywood. If you want to take a look at where I'm staying, check out my homemade "sweet suite tour" video (which I'll also upload to YouTube later), as well as my Twitpic.

And the actual Mandalay casino? It's still looking good for someone in Vegas going on eleven. I only found minimal chips in the marble. The water features were all working properly. And THEhotel lobby still looks as stunning in its uber-chic minimalist postmodern way (although that could just be the dim lighting!). For some reason, it seems like MGM Mirage is taking better care of Mandalay Bay than Bellagio. Weird, right?

I'll write more today as I explore, and expect a full review tomorrow morning of all the action at Bradley Ogden's Vegas Uncork'd event. I'll also be listening to other "eyes and ears on the ground" to let you know about the other events tonight. And as always, please feel free to follow me @atdleft on Twitter all weekend as I explore more at Mandalay Bay, take a glimpse at the other Strip casinos, review more restaurants, and follow all the Vegas Uncork'd madness for you.

Oh, and again I should thank Hunter for letting me guest post this weekend. I promise to do my best to keep all of you in the TWTH/RateVegas community up-to-date on everything Uncork'd. And until later, I bid you good times and good eating. Bon appetit!


Vegas Uncork'd: From Mandalay Pool to Chef Photo Op... WHAT??!!

No really, you wouldn't believe what just happened. After I submitted my first entry to Hunter, I decided to do some real(ly fun!) "investigative journalism" and head over to Mandalay Bay's famed beach. Now remember that this is my first time staying at the Mandalay complex, so I hadn't seen the pools before.


Now there may be hipper pool scenes here in Vegas and there may be sleeker and sexier pool areas... But I don't think I've ever seen a pool area as fun and enjoyable overall as Mandalay's. The wave pool is quite BIG, and quite nice. The lazy river is also something else, and I'm determined to take some time tomorrow to rent an intertube so I can really ride it the way it was meant to be experienced.

Another interesting thing I was noticing was the vibe and the design of Mandalay's beach. When it first opened, Mandalay was supposedly meant to evoke some exotic South Seas locale. But other than a few Southeast Asian style reliefs sprinkled here and there, the design of the beach area (or should I say 2007 redesign?) gave me more of the feeling that I was back home in "The OC". No really, the beach today looks much more "California Modern" than "Ancient Burmese Treasure", and the crowds and the overall size of the complex also gave much more of a "summer day in Surf City" vibe than "hideaway in Fiji".

And honestly, I have no problem with it. Perhaps some might decry the infestation of "Modern Generic Moderne" into just about every MGM Mirage casino these days, but I can actually see how the "Californication" of Mandalay Bay works. It markets itself these days as "Untamed Luxury", and its lineup of hotel offerings, restaurants, clubs, and other entertainment options pretty much does this trick.

So once I was done at the pool, I headed back up to my THEhotel suite to prepare for the big night tonight and...


Much to my surprise, I didn't even have to go to the Vegas Uncork'd opening press event... It actually came to me!

No really, I was walking into THEhotel's lobby and immediately came upon Guy Savoy. And Cat Cora. And Joel Robuchon. And Carlos Guia. My goodness, what did I walk into?!

Sadly, I couldn't take too many good photos due to the poor lighting and massive crowds. However, I did snap a good shot at Guy Savoy and a couple other salvageable pics that you can find at my Twitpic.

So after about 150 seconds of just being "starstruck", I figured out that the chefs were all here for a special media event at Mix. So what did I do? Oh, I just looked like a fool in my still-somewhat-wet "pool couture" and snapped some pics. Just for you. Since Hunter and I love you so much. :-p

As always, stay tuned @atdleft on Twitter for the latest Uncork'd news. I'll soon be on my way to the Bradley Ogden dinner, and I'll spill all the beans to you when I check in tomorrow morning. So until then, eat well and enjoy!


Read archived comments (2 so far)
May 6, 2010 2:52 PM Posted by parchedearth

Looking forward to your reports. The food is always great at uncorked, but in past years some events were so crowded that it detracted from the culinary experience.

I agree with your views on MB and THEhotel really holding up well. I wonder if that was somehow designed into the public spaces or because the property gets less foot traffic being at the end of the strip.

May 7, 2010 9:17 AM Posted by atdleft


Thanks! I'm actually finishing up my Bradley Ogden review NOW. While we got a good crowd at the restaurant last night, the service was stellar and the food was great (even if a couple wine pairings were a little controversial, but I'll get to that later).

So yes, THEhotel and Mandalay overall have aged quite gracefully... And it seems they lucked out in getting MGM Mirage to give them some "face lifts" and "botox injections" here and there before they cut off further renovations (when CityCenter was on the skids in 2008 and they were running out of cash on hand).

And regarding the foot traffic, it's actually been quite BUSY here so far. Maybe in the recent past foot traffic was sliding (which would explain Mandalay's weak Q1 numbers), business has been picking up ever since I "toured" here last month.