MGM Grand Las Vegas: Where It All Started For Me

I’ve always had an affinity for Las Vegas.  I remember my best friend and I heading to Vegas shortly after graduating college back in the mid-90s along with a couple friends.  We flew into Vegas, rented a sky blue Cadillac (nope, can’t make this stuff up), and left town.  That’s right, as much as I couldn’t wait to visit Las Vegas, we were headed out.  To the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Denver and back to Las Vegas.  So, I’d have to wait a few days to get to experience my first trip to Las Vegas.

Fast forward a week or so and we pulled into the MGM Grand parking lot.  We got checked in and it turned out our assigned rooms hadn’t been cleaned yet.  We found that out the hard way heading upstairs and, ahem, seeing things I probably never want to see in a hotel room again.  The lady at the front desk who assisted us when we came downstairs was nice enough to give us a suite.  A big suite.  I had no idea such rooms existed back then, let alone that they were the norm for Vegas.  Who could believe such a thing?

We gambled a bit here and there, wandered around Las Vegas and had an all-around great time.  Heck, we got to watch Grant Hill play blackjack.  I fell in love with poker shortly thereafter and had many a return trip to Vegas.

Fast forward almost 20 years (gulp!) and I was heading back to the MGM Grand for a super-cool party to kick off the partnership between Hyatt Gold Passport and MGM’s M Life program.  As part of the party, MGM had given each attendee M Life Noir status, which is their top elite status level, one that requires spending a lot of dough at their casinos.  I don’t spend that much at casinos anymore, so this is probably the one shot I have to be M Life Noir status.  I figured I would have some fun with it, so I’m planning to stay at all 12 MGM properties that participate in the Hyatt partnership and report back to everyone how each was (and have fun doing it!).

My trip started with being picked up at the airport by a limo.  For those that haven’t been to Las Vegas McCarran airport, the taxi cab line can be a bit daunting at times.  They never connected the monorail to the airport, so your options are a bit limited.  I was happy to know I had a dedicated, no-wait ride.  Upon arrival someone met me in baggage claim and escorted me downstairs to a waiting limo.  MGM Grand is one of the closest casinos to the airport, so we’d be less than 10 minutes in the car, maybe 5 if we made all the lights. I joked with my driver that we might need snacks and a bathroom break during the ride, and we were on our way.

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I was greeted by a VIP host, Joe, upon arrival.  He walked me past the lobby to a completely nondescript (okay, as nondescript as can be in Vegas) past the front desk.

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The VIP lounge is combined with the VIP check-in area at this property.  I found a very comfortable lounge that had coffee, beer, wine, soft drinks, bottled water, etc.  I was told that there were light breakfast items there in the morning.  Since I was departing at 5am to head to the airport, I wouldn’t get to experience that this trip.  But, I was invited to sit down at a desk for a personalized check-in experience.

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There were a number of people milling around although nobody was checking in at that moment.  For those that like to try the old $20 bill across the counter to the check-in agent for a better room, that seems a bit difficult to do in this type of environment.  Check-in was quick, efficient and friendly.  No less than 3 employees offered me something to drink in the few minutes I was sitting there.  The service was top-notch.  There’s even a door in the back of the room to a set of private elevators.  Not too shabby.

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I was in a standard room though it had been newly renovated.  The first thing I noticed was the size of the room.  The MGM Grand was built back in the early 90s.  Since then, Vegas has specialized in much bigger rooms.  Even though the room was small (about the size of a normal hotel room nowadays) it was nicely appointed.

There was a desk and some soft seating as well as a dresser of sorts that the flat screen TV was on.  IMG_4581

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I spent some time that afternoon working at the desk and found the chair to be comfortable for a few hours of work.  The bed was just fine for a one-night stay.  The bathroom was newly renovated as well and a bit larger than a normal hotel bathroom, though small by Vegas standards.  There was a large soaking tub and shower as well as a marble vanity with plenty of space on it.

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I had no issues at all with the room.  I think they were renovated nicely and are probably a good value for the rate the MGM normally gets.

This property is a Category 5 for Hyatt Gold Passport redemptions, which means 18,000 points per night.  I don’t necessarily consider that a great value since there are a couple of Manhattan properties that are category 5s and they normally go for $300+ a night.  I don’t imagine there are many nights the MGM Grand goes for that.  The other properties in the Category 5 band for MMG are the Signature and MGM Grand, Vdara and Mirage.  Out of those 4 I’d probably lean Vdara for 18,000 points but I also think you’d do better with a Category 4 or 6 property for the value.  I’ll be reviewing a Category 6 property very soon (THEHotel at Mandalay Bay).

When I returned from the Hyatt/M Life party, I was greeted by a nice treat to finish off the day.  Stay tuned for more MGM property reviews.

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7 Comments

    1. Andi, hope it’s a fun trip! We enjoyed a good meal at Hakkasan while we were at MGM. Let me know if you need other restaurant recommendations.

  1. MGM always has $50 – $70 pricing when I visit in off season. I always wanted to stay there, but found better value at other properties ie Bally’s and Flamingo at $25 – $35 rates and no resort fee (no charged). I’m disappointed to read that the MGM rooms are ‘normal’ sized.

    I’m wondering if they’ll take care of people with status? Maybe someone can report back.

    1. Dan, that’s my recollection on MGM rates as well. I have a review of THEHotel coming up that addresses the upgrade issue a bit.

  2. Bally’s and Flamingo are central strip, where the MGM is southern strip. My wife is joining me this year and I’m more likely to stay somewhere other than those properties. They’re not dumpy, but I know she’d prefer something more upscale such as Aria, Cosmo, or Wynn.
    I look forward to your review of THEHotel.

    1. Dan, since rates in Vegas have been low for so long, I’ve always found it worth the extra money to stay somewhere other than Bally’s, Flamingo, etc. Of the 3 you mention above, Cosmo is my favorite, though I’m unlikely to go back since I can get Hyatt love elsewhere. 🙂

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