IMG 9794Two golden giants rise up out of the Nevada desert at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip.  Winding driveways take you past lush greenery with waterfalls and Southeast Asian-style temples complete with carved elephants.  As you walk through the main entrance, slowly turning paddle fans set the mood.  The scent of coconut spice welcomes you.  The expansive marble lobby, with it’s warm lighting and huge tropical aquarium makes you feel like this is a place you can stretch out and get comfortable.  

This is Mandalay Bay.

IMG 9222In 1996, construction began on what was originally introduced as Hawaiian-themed “Project Paradise.  In 1998, it was renamed Mandalay Bay after the second largest city in Burma.  Ironically, there is no actual bay in Mandalay! In March of 1999, Mandalay Bay opened its doors.IMG 9180

Mandalay Bay is actually a complex of hotels:  There’s Mandalay Bay itself, The Delano - a sort of all suite boutique hotel occupying a second tower, and The Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, located on the top five floors of IMG 9221the Mandalay Bay tower.  Within the complex, there are 3 spas, an 11 acre pool area, numerous restaurants, shopping, chic cocktail bars, a huge state of the art dance club and even a tattoo parlor!  You’ll also find the largest unobstructed ballroom in theIMG 9220 country, a 12,000 seat arena hosting big name acts, and 135,000 feet of gaming space in the casino.  You can celebrate the artistry of Michael Jackson, come face to face with live sharks, or with some of your favorite musical acts at the House of Blues nightclub.  

IMG 8759I had stayed at Mandalay Bay one time before and remembered enjoying it very much, but for one thing; the view from my window was nothing but the pool and the mountains to the West.  The hotel is so far from the craziness of the Strip, I hardly felt as though I were in Vegas at all!  This time, I decided to remedy that situation by asking to upgrade to a Strip View room.IMG 9006    

IMG 8743After a quick, efficient check-in (I seem to have a knack for arriving just before the crowd hits), I headed up to my room.  Standard rooms are about 550 square feet and decorated with simple earth tones.  I did indeed have a Strip View, and the only concession I had to make was to take a room with two Queen Size beds rather than one King.  A simple, modern chest of drawers and desk occupied one corner, while on the opposite sideIMG 9010 of the room, two closets with louvered doors provided plenty of storage space.  The bathroom was large and bright, featuring sinks for two, a large soaking tub, a separate glass-enclosed shower, and a private WC.  My view was quite satisfactory; encompassing the IMG 9011hotel’s main drive, the Luxor Sphinx and a bit of the pyramid, the back of the Excalibur castle, Tropicana, the beautiful, green, glowing MGM Grand and the faux skyline of New York New York.  Off in the distance, I could see Planet Hollywood, The Eiffel Tower replica of the Paris Las Vegas, and even a bit of the Aria and Mandarin Oriental hotels at City Center.

IMG 9218Everything at Mandalay Bay feels luxurious - even the buildings’ golden exterior is from real gold leaf used in theIMG 9219 windows!  The total space is truly enormous, and the casino is no exception - expansive, with rich red, gold and burgundy carpeting, gentle, recessed lighting, highlighted by South Asian style lighting fixtures that shimmer as if bejeweled, and of course, plenty of table games and slots.  In the center of the casino, a lively night spot called Eyecandy has glowing booths that can revolve for privacy.  Along the sides, are shops and restaurants, including IMG 9051Starlight Tattoo, House of Blues, Raffles Cafe and Noodle Shop.  Venturing deeper into the space, you’ll findIMG 9027 many of the fine dining establishments - Michael Mina’s StripSteak, Hubert Keller’s Fleur, and Border Grill, owned by Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, among others.  In the opposite corner, the entrance to the Mandalay Place shopping area, the Michael Jackson ONE Theater, featuring Cirque du Soleil’s tribute to the King of Pop, and the entrance to The Delano.IMG 8772

IMG 8766I should mention that Mandalay Bay has two of the best places from which to view the lights of the Las Vegas Strip - one is the House Of Blues Foundation Room, at the top of the main tower, and my personal favorite: a phenomenal cocktail lounge atop The Delano called Skyfall.  Stop in for a drink.  I promise you won’t regret it.IMG 8998

IMG 8920Back down on the ground, there’s more for your relaxation and entertainment - the pool area, features a 1.6 million gallon wave pool that can create swells up to 6 feet high, a lazy river for family entertainment, a stage for beachside concerts, and even a topless beach for European-style sunbathing.  There’s Shark Reef, an extensive aquarium containing over 2,000 animals, LIGHT Nightclub, a state of the art dance club created in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, and even a 12,000 seat concert arena!  There are also three spas; Spa Mandalay being my favorite on the Strip - great staff, great facilities and the best treatments I’ve had in Vegas!

Mandalay Bay is within walking distance of the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and is connected to its two neighbors to the North - Luxor and Excalibur - by indoor walkways or by a free monorail, so if you crave a little distance from the craziness of Vegas, but are ready at a moment’s notice, to jump into the scene, then Mandalay Bay is perfect for you.