Las Vegas Hotel Upgrade

MGM rebrands an aging resort

BY DON NICHOLS — Spring 2019

arolo wine. Tagliata di Manzo. Carne Crudo. Bombolone con Gelato. It’s late December and opening day at the newest Eataly outpost in the U.S., an Italian culinary bonanza located directly on the Las Vegas Strip. With several hundred other invited guests and VIPs, I’m feasting on an assortment of refreshing sips and tasty small bites as I wander through this 40,000-square-foot Italian food emporium’s maze of aisles lined with restaurants, takeaway counters, bars, a chef’s table for cooking classes, and retail markets.

Bright, airy, and pleasing to the eye with its modern design and nod to Italian flair, this new Eataly shouts upscale. Fittingly so, given that it also serves as the main entrance to the new Park MGM, a massive transformation project that culminated with Eataly’s opening and, a day later, the debut of Lady Gaga’s residency at the Park Theater over the New Year’s weekend.

Three years ago, MGM Resorts International set in motion the transformation of its aging Monte Carlo hotel into a higher-brow property with multiple high-end amenities and the new name. It has been rolling out the $550 million remake in phases, starting with the theater in December 2016, and the other reveals coming over the past nine months. With most traces of the Monte Carlo now gone, here’s a rundown of the upgrades at the much shinier, more luxe Park MGM.

Not one, but two hotels. In partnership with the New York-based Sydell Group, MGM opened the 2,700-room Park MGM hotel last May, followed in October by the 293-room NoMad, the brand launched by Sydell with properties in New York and LA. With decidedly different designs, the two appeal to different markets. Despite its large size, the Park MGM has the feel of a boutique hotel with industrial-chic rooms giving it a fun vibe that appeals to a younger audience. Rooms at the NoMad, located on the tower’s top four floors, sport a more sophisticated residential look with a distinctive New York vibe that attracts more couples and business travelers. Its inviting rooms feature custom furnishings, oak hardwood floors, original artwork, and Bellino linens. Many have pedestal bathtubs and colorful paravent screens, common in the brand’s hotels.

Multiple dining outlets from out-of-town heavy hitters. Besides Eataly, Park MGM boasts a Vegas outpost of Chicago’s popular Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar. If you’ve got a man-size appetite, go big and order the 22-ounce bone-in, dry-aged rib-eye. Juicy and delicious.

Chef Roy Choi. PHOTO BY TRAVIS JENSEN.

At Best Friend, a Korean barbecue concept, noted LA chef Roy Choi takes diners on a culinary tour of LA’s Koreatown in a darkly lit, casual dining room with pulsating music from live DJs many nights. Friendly servers will help you make the best picks from the extensive, multipage menu that features favorites such as Banchan Kimchi, BBQ Shrimp, and Uni Dynamite Rice.

The stunningly beautiful NoMad Restaurant, created and managed by Chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the dynamic duo behind New York’s highly rated, three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park restaurant, might take your breath away at first sight. With 23-foot-tall bookcases packed with books lining the walls, it’s modeled after the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading in Rio de Janeiro. The menu differs from the New York NoMad’s restaurant, with more emphasis on classic entrees, such as Lobster Thermidor, and bigger portions. For a more casual dining experience, the cozy NoMad Bar just across the hall serves small plates for sharing in an equally inviting setting.

Casinos, of course. Some design elements from the Monte Carlo gaming floor, such as refurbished chandeliers, remain in the main casino, which entices those feeling lucky with 900-plus games. Play baccarat and roulette at NoMad’s own small high-limit gaming room, accessible from the hotel’s ground-floor lobby and the main casino. A Tiffany-glass ceiling from the Monte Carlo remains intact and catches the eye.

Pools, pools, pools. The Park MGM’s three pools channel the South of France, with cabanas, lounge areas, multiple bars, and lively music. Not to be outdone, the NoMad will unveil a pool area this spring that it describes as a gardenlike oasis inspired by Morocco’s Majorelle Garden.

Serene retreat. Since the Spa & Salon at Park MGM’s September opening, guests have been happily disconnecting in its tranquility. The spa’s signature facial utilizes the latest plant cell research to firm and hydrate the skin.

A-list entertainment. Many musical megastars have given high-energy performances for fans at the 5,200-seat Park Theater — Cher, Bruno Mars, Ricky Martin, Stevie Wonder, and now Lady Gaga, who will command the stage this year with multiple shows through November. Aerosmith also headlines in 2019, and Cher returns as well.

Details: From $99 at Park MGM (888-529-4828; parkmgm.com). From $199 at NoMad (833-706-6623; nomadlasvegas.com).

Other Vegas Resorts With New High-Profile Restaurant Imports

Cipriani Las Vegas. PHOTO BY BENOIT LINERO.

THE WYNN

CIPRIANI LAS VEGAS: The popular Italian brand made its West Coast debut at the Wynn Plaza Shops in November in a handsome dining room with the look of a yacht. Polished walnut walls, sleek caramel-colored leather chairs, stylish blue-velvet banquettes, terrazzo floors, and oversize black-and-white photos of supermodels create quite the ambience. For lunch and dinner, waiters with names such as Antonio, Salvadore, and Vincenzo serve all the Italian faves, from pasta to Veal Milanese.

Must order: Baked White Tagliolini With Praga Ham 

Details: 702-770-7390; cipriani.com


Mott 32

THE PALAZZO AT THE VENETIAN RESORT

MOTT 32: This much-lauded Hong Kong jewel opened stateside in December on the Palazzo’s casino floor. Its five eye-catching dining rooms sport different looks — from a sensual room with a red arched ceiling, red booths, and white-feather-boa chandeliers to an elegant main room with marble and brass tables, black leather banquettes, and gold wallpaper. As striking as the dinner-only restaurant looks, you’ll leave talking about the exceptional contemporary Chinese cuisine, which draws from Beijing, Cantonese, and Sichuan cultures.

Must order: Apple Wood Roasted Peking Duck

Details: 702-607-3232; venetian.com/restaurants/mott-32


Sadelle’s. PHOTO BY BENOIT LINERO.

BELLAGIO

SADELLE’S: This New York hot spot also expanded to Vegas in December, in the former Café Bellagio space overlooking the hotel’s conservatory. The restaurant has a more elegant, but still comfortable and casual, look with teal-colored walls and ceiling and distinctly modern chairs and banquettes upholstered in fun patterns, such as a leopardlike print. It serves American classics redefined at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Must order: Spicy Fried Chicken With Acacia Honey and Coleslaw

Details: 702-693-8401; bellagio.com

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