The hotel-within-a-hotel concept hasn’t exactly changed the game on the Las Vegas Strip. Refashioning and rebranding blocks of hotel rooms—maybe adding new amenities and venues along the way—allows a resort to refresh its look and offer guests something new and exciting.
In the case of SkyLofts at MGM Grand, it might be perceived as an upgrade or VIP experience, a way for you to escape the clamor of Vegas without straying too far. In the case of the Nobu tower at Caesars Palace, it’s a chance for a hotel to collaborate with another highly recognizable brand. But none of these projects has started a Strip revolution, or even developed a strong identity differentiating it from the parent resort.
It’s hard to say if Delano Las Vegas will have that sort of impact when it arrives this fall, but the identity is certainly there.
Matthew Chilton is general manager of Delano, which replaces THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, the 1,100-room nongaming hotel tower added to the south Strip resort in 2003. Chilton knows the property as well as anyone, having opened Mandalay in 1999 as a hotel manager and then supervised the debut of THEhotel.
“I think THEhotel had certain elements, as you walk the corridor [from Mandalay], you notice those things and feel that something is different. This transformation into Delano will make it feel even more intimate, and give it an energy I don’t think THEhotel ever had,” Chilton says. “From its inception, THEhotel never really got its own voice. I can’t really tell you why.”
It helps that Delano is a well-established brand in the Morgans Hotel Group portfolio, with a flagship in Miami’s South Beach. It’s a growing brand, too, with new hotels planned in exotic spots including Cartagena, Colombia, and Çesme, Turkey. The Delano vibe is bright and beachy, and MGM Resorts is counting on those sentiments to attract international vacationers from Brazil and other South American countries.
Our Delano will be different from Miami’s, but more importantly, dramatically different from THEhotel. The entrance will still be the ground-level parking garage porte cochère behind Mandalay Bay, but the new arrival experience will take you through a divided boulder, then an oversized wooden doorway before revealing a 150-foot-long lobby gallery. “It feels calmer, not like walking into Mandalay Bay,” Chilton says. “There’s a feeling of decompression when you walk through that area, and those design elements are second to none in town.”
A new lobby bar, coffee and tea bar, and restaurants will be added—the café will become a breakfast and lunch joint with a “farmhouse meets urban kitchen” motif, and chef Alain Ducasse will convert the 64th-floor fine dining room Mix into his Rivea concept, a more contemporary French-Italian restaurant that already exists in Saint-Tropez.
THEhotel already had impressive, humongous (725 square feet) standard rooms. The new designs are minimalist, fresh and clean. Rooms are being remodeled a few floors at a time, so although the hotel won’t officially become Delano until September, guests have a chance to try out the new look before then and Chilton has the chance to take feedback from guests who get the preview experience.
The rooms I toured were pristine, pure Welcome-to-Your-Vacation pleasure done in white with slashes of deep blue and soft gray. The Delano bed is an inviting one, crisp white linens and oversized tufted headboards. Flatscreens measure 46 inches, bathrooms are spacious and modern, and the desk has an outlet for every possible personal electronic device.
Delano will have its own private pool as part of the expansive Mandalay Bay Beach complex, and the only thing that isn’t changing at the hotel is the Bathhouse spa.
Mandalay Bay pioneered the boutique hotel experience on the Strip, not only with THEhotel but with its connectivity to the Four Seasons.
“The lifestyle boutique experience, with SLS, Nobu and Cromwell, is certainly the new trend, not blowing up and building to create something new but creating unique experiences in existing spaces,” Chilton says. “I think that’s what customers are wanting.”