Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 | 8:01 p.m.
The influence of our neighboring 54,000-square-mile, hot, hot, hot Mojave Desert with 120-degree temperatures in Death Valley permeates much of the new Delano Las Vegas, yet the renovated property is as cool — and hip and South Beach chic — as can be.
From the massive, two-piece, 126,000-pound hewn rock at the entranceway to the shimmering white curtained columns to the aerial-design motif of the Colorado River in the carpets, little remains of its once-upon-a-time boringly named predecessor The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.
You know instantly that you are in a different and blissful world as the fragrant scents of green tea and lemongrass envelop you in peace and tranquility wafting down from the air system.
Although the ribbon-cutting ceremony was two weeks ago, MGM Resorts officially opens its newest property with Thursday’s gala hosted by “Sin City” actress and model Jaime King and fashion designer Charlotte Ronson. We’ll post a report and photo gallery on Friday.
In advance of the opening, I had an opportunity to kick the tires from floor-to-ceiling of the $80 million, transformed, 1,100-room all-suite hotel:
The lobby smacks of the cool-room vibe of South Beach. Check out the dozens of small rocks art piece by Korean artist Jaehyo Lee suspended from the ceiling before you reach the black, marbled check-in desk.
My nearly all-white suite was extraordinarily comfortable despite its sleek, modern boutique size. Fill the Franklin Delano Roosevelt fedora that serves as the ice bucket in each suite’s bar.
There’s been considerable conversation about the oversized bed pillows, but I loved them for their hardness and size. The underwater photography that’s a trademark of Delano hotels made the cool even cooler — one of my best night’s sleep in a long time.
I reverted back to desert stones for my Bathhouse Spa massage where the skilled masseuse used desert sage and lemon blossom oil honoring the Southwest desert environment with warm stones that penetrated my muscles, melting away the stress of producing our Vegas DeLuxe stories, and I felt deep relaxation throughout my entire body.
My guest raved about the cactus and desert lily firming body treatment, which helps detoxify, refine and improve skin tone. Treating yourself to the delights of Bathhouse Spa is a must. Ask about the Red Rock Canyon mud wrap.
I loved, loved, loved the DJ music at Franklin lounge for my nightcap after dinner with celebrity chef Rick Moonen at his Rx Boiler Room in the adjoining Mandalay Bay. I selected that over star chef Alain Ducasse because for now his Mix at Delano hasn’t switched over to the new eatery Rivea — coming springtime — with his chic French-Italian food market cuisine that’s in his Byblos hotel in Saint Tropez and Bvlgari Hotel in London. Rick dazzled as usual with his classic comfort food in a variety of playful creations.
But the night was young, and who can turn down an after-dinner drink? The Franklin was abuzz with power people, gorgeous couples and a perfect balance of girls in thigh-high skirts and towering high heels and handsome hunks all smarty dressed for a change. The pinprick ceiling lights create the illusion of fireflies flying through our desert sky. My Frangelico on crushed ice was as smooth, tasty and cool as the crowd and DJ music — once again with that throbbing, velvety, yet fast Miami beat.
Morning coffee is a frenzied affair at the bustling 3940 Coffee & Tea bar. Why is it that everybody seems to descend bleary-eyed at the same time for his or her jolt of Joe? Things were less hectic at Della’s Kitchen, a “historic farmhouse meets urban kitchen” concept. Nothing like a glass of champagne to start brunch, and here you can choose among three mixers.
The restaurant’s honey and lemon-infused vanilla bean yogurt starter is as smooth as the music from the lobby. The egg white burrito and the ham and Brie onion marmalade and spinach panini are two items you must taste to believe. Della’s Kitchen is alive and bustling with life, a far cry from the previous coffee-bar-styled restaurant more often than not draped in silence.
The near seamless transformation of The Hotel into the Delano is a great accomplishment since the former never really closed. You never wanted to spend time in the old place, but now you want to dance through the lobby and hang out with a drink.
The vibe of South Beach has been successfully transplanted to the desert. It’s a whole new look, sound and feel for Las Vegas: The Delano is unlike any other property on the Strip especially because its nonsmoking and nongaming. Go next door to Mandalay Bay for those vices.
Now if only I could persuade MGM brass to cancel the mandatory and well-signposted $20 overnight valet parking charge for guests. Everything else leaves a perfect taste in your mouth, but that checkout item spoils the entire happy experience.
Maybe they brought that from Miami? If so, it’s the only thing they should have left there.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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