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May 25, 2019

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OPINION:

New look makes the most of Mandalay Bay’s great view

Mandalay Bay Renovation

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Mandalay Bay is spending $100 million to renovate its rooms, says Chuck Bowling, president and COO of the resort. The project is about half-finished.

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Mandalay Bay President Chuck Bowling, Monday Jan. 14, 2013.

For several years, the lofty storeroom at Mix restaurant at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay offered a picturesque view of the Strip. Problem was, hardly anyone could take a picture from that 64th-floor perch.

“One of the most frustrating things for me over the past several years was, we had a storage facility sitting on the top of what is now Delano, with floor-to-ceiling glass, a 180-degree view of the Las Vegas Valley and the Strip,” said Mandalay Bay President and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Bowling. “It housed all of the plates and things for Mix, and you had this incredible view that was being wasted.”

Bowling used the room as an event venue only on New Year’s Eve, inviting his executive staff inside to watch the fireworks across the valley.

Last year, when Mix became due for its inevitable overhaul and began rebranding as Alain Ducasse’s Rivea and Skyfall Lounge, it was time to haul away the boxes and create something special.

The new room is the elegantly appointed Rivea+, a private dining room for the resort’s VIP guests. The opening of Rivea and Skyfall this month capped the rebranding of Delano and gave Bowling and his staff a moment to assess Mandalay Bay’s position on the Strip.

“The idea you have, on a 120-acre complex, is I can meet with any guest, any meeting planner, any event planner and ask, ‘What are you trying to accomplish, small or large?’ ” Bowling said. “It is rare in my career that I have not been able to say, ‘Yes, I can,’ to any request. It might cost you something. It might cost you a lot. But I can get it done, whether it’s a circus tomorrow or a private dinner tonight overlooking the Strip, just because of our vast amount of facilities.”

Other updates from Mandalay Bay:

• A 70,000-square-foot ballroom is scheduled to open by the end of January. “We’re converting our second-floor trade show space into a ballroom called the Oceanside Ballroom, and that will complete the entire Mandalay Bay convention renovation and expansion,” Bowling said. Mandalay Bay’s convention center exceeds 1 million square feet and is the fifth-largest convention center in the United States.

• The resort’s full-scale room renovation is nearing the halfway point. “This is a full, $100 million renovation,” Bowling said. “We’re 45 percent complete, and we’ll be done by the end of January. It really sets us up to be a formidable competitor, up and down the Strip.” The resort opened in 1999 and previously upgraded its guest rooms in 2006, just after being acquired by MGM Resorts International.

• Expect a new restaurant next year at the hotel. “The next part of our space renovation will be of the former Shanghai Lily space, which has been dormant for the past few years,” Bowling said of the restaurant that closed in 2011. “That will help us round out Restaurant Row and will be ready by the second quarter of next year. We’re finalizing the contracts and names now.”

• Bowling believes the resort still can find success with the 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque venue. The venue opened as 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison, but she quickly split with operators from Minus 5 Ice amid business and artistic differences. Madison wound up suing the operators in an invasion-of-privacy civil suit. “Even from the days of Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce (which previously occupied the spot at the base of the escalators leading to up to Mandalay Place), we think it’s still something unique,” Bowling said. “I think the concept of 1923 was right on. I think the execution has not been good. We’re in active conversations with the operator of that venue to see how we can resurrect, renovate, do something a little bit differently going forward, because it hasn’t met our expectations.”

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