Sunday, March 1, 2009

M Resort Opens. Whoopee.

The $1 billion, 400-room M Resort opened a couple of hours ago. It's a joint venture between MGM Mirage and 35-year-old Anthony Marnell III, the son of the Vegas builder responsible for the Rio, the Forum Shops and Wynn Las Vegas. You've probably been hearing about the M Blimp for a while, a novel marketing approach.

RateVegas.Com's Hunter Hillegas and I went as media and Hunter had loads of photos in his Twitter stream. Here's the main lobby area, Hunter in front of the casino and some of the signage in the casino. Apologies that my camera wasn't really behaving all that well:

Mostly, both Hunter and I were distinctly underwhelmed by the opening-night experience as well as the interior design itself, although it is hard to compare to our last outing, Encore.

M just has lots of hard surfaces and modern-art looking objects, very little warmth. There was some sort of fire-and-dance performance out by the pool before the opening that involved choreography and the twirling of a lot of red-and-black checkered umbrellas, but it was kind of hard to see and we had good standing position. Refer back to Hunter's Twitter pix because my cam just did not cooperate for outside pool photos. That's too bad because it's the prettiest part of the joint, but it was just too dark for Ol' Cybershot.

Regarding entertainment, there was a string quartet playing Muzak versions of The Who and Billy Joel in the lobby, which also seemed odd. See?

The downstairs wine bar/cellar was kind of cool but, again, lots of hard surfaces and no relief makes it an intolerable echo chamber:

As a side note, there were several places in the property where cell phone service was unavailable, including this downstairs area and, surprisingly, in the corridors for the conference rooms. Oh, and this was what the ceiling looked like in the cellar area:

Hunter wondered how long this would take to be fixed and whether it could become the M's version of the Palazzo's blue tape. My suspicion is we won't know enough people going through there to even find out.

The M has some interesting touches to it. It sits about 10 miles south of the heart of the Strip along Las Vegas Boulevard, so it's really intended to appeal largely to locals in the southwestern part of the valley where there really are no casinos of significance. To create a new incentive for locals to come in and lose their cash, they've got a full-service pharmacy and they're having "we'll-pay-your-co-pay" promotions.

I guess having casinos as community bowling alleys, pay-check chasing centers and movie theaters isn't enough anymore. Why not have a doctor's office and eyeglass shop, too? As Hunter cracked, which locals casino will be first to market with funerary services? "Madge wouldn't want us to grieve! She'd want us to keep up her life's work and try to hit Megabucks!"

This I liked, the complimentary drink bar in the casino. We discussed this sort of thing just a couple of months ago.

Hunter and I had the run of the property for four hours before the public opening. Well, we had it with about 7,000 other people, which made trying out any of the sit-down restaurants all but impossible, so we ended up at the buffet. The food was good, but the buffet spread itself was strangely and not terribly conveniently arranged. There was one long, large feeding trough that was sort of like walking around the edge of a fashion runway.

It may be difficult to see what the problem is, but there's no way if you're on one side to get to the other side without going all the way around the entire thing. Odd. The selling point for this buffet is to be that they provide free beer and wine. An interesting idea, though I wonder how practical or wise it really is. Do people go to the end of the Earth just for free booze at a buffet?

The desserts were very good, though. This was artistic -- little bite-sized bits of rice krispie treats and chocolate-dipped fruit stuck on skewers like a tree.

I did wonder why they felt the need to warn us that these large cake things were "fragile showpieces," as every one of them said.

Did they think people would stick their fists in them? Or is this a pre-emptive effort to counter the impact of all that free booze?

Also, didn't anyone tell the M folks that Encore has cornered the market on butterflies?

For those of you who find this kind of thing interesting -- and there really are plenty who do, believe it or not -- here's a casino carpet shot:

I do hope this place works and I admire anyone willing to put themselves out there like this, especially in these economic times. It was nice to see crowds of locals outside waiting for the 10 p.m. opening and then to see the long line of cars waiting to get in as we drove off.

It's just that I didn't leave anything way down there at M that I need to go back for. Then again, if they're willing to cover my medication co-pays, you never know, I guess.


Anonymous said...

When you go to a pre-opening and the restaurants are all full, who is paying the invitee or the casino? Just curious.


Anonymous said...

the casino covers all of the costs of food and service at these things, S.

Troy in Las Vegas said...

"...and then to see the long line of cars waiting to get in as we drove off."

Because the parking garage was not available to the general public until 10pm.

Anonymous said...

Lighting fixtures hadn't been installed in parts of the spa (they hadn't yet arrived, I was told), so the hole in the ceiling isn't the only symptom of last-minute haste. Given the amount of time it takes to build one of these places, it never ceases to amaze me how much is either rushed or simply omitted in the waning days before opening.

David McKee

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the honest assesment. Too many media outlets are falling all over themselves fawning over this place.

Sounds nice, but nothing all that special.

Can you confirm that blackjack is only 6:5? I read that somewhere else.

As a tourist, I can't see going all the way out there for lousy gambling, plus $25 resort fees.

Hopefully the M will have the sense to adjust some of those negatives before their debt load overtakes them.

Anonymous said...

This is a very odd review. Lots of talk about carpet patterns and interior design. I thought it was an excellent place, despite the opening night glitches with the crowds. Walking around the buffet was not disconcerting, I liked the layout. The food was very good and Warsteiner on tap was a nice touch. Having a drink with dinner is a good thing.

The decor is modern, but it was a comfortable place to sit and drink a few beers. It wasn't the least bit cold and uninviting. The beer bar near the sports book has an outstanding selection, well above average, and very reasonably priced.

And no mention at all of the incredibly beautiful cocktail waitresses. There's not another place in town that can touch it.

Frankly, I had no idea the carpet was cute, even after walking on it for several hours. To each his own, I suppose. I like the place.

Anonymous said...

Here's my take, as an adjunct to Steve's feelings:



Anon Who Disagrees: Thanks for your take. I really appreciate it. As my grandma used to say, that's why God created 31 flavors of ice cream.