The Transformation of the Monte Carlo (and Hotel 32)

MGM Resorts International is sponsoring a very big magic show of sorts, over the next two years in Vegas, and you will be able to get a peek behind the curtain. As the last act of redeveloping a central part of the Strip, MGM is transforming the Monte Carlo (along with their VIP-oriented Hotel 32) into two new properties: the Park MGM, and the NoMad Las Vegas.

In addition to redesigning the hotels and restaurants, all public and guest spaces are included in the make-over. Presto, Change-o! Almost like a magic wand will be waved, the existing properties shall continue to operate during construction, which is being conducted in a staged fashion floor-by-floor and venue by venue, to allow for ongoing business.  The tower itself will not change but the podium will, opening up more to the boulevard side. Planning continues now, building will begin in late 2016, and the complex is scheduled for completion in 2018.

Monte Carlo

With an investment of $450 billion, you know nothing minor league is happening here.   But then there has not been anything small about MGM’s entire neighborhood redesign.   It actually all began in 2009 with City Center, which was the largest privately funded construction project in the US. That brand was generally retired last year, with the focus now being on the Aria.

MGM’s expansiveness has continued though, with two new components opening in April this year: The Park, an outdoor dining entertainment district adjacent to the Monte Carlo (ergo, source of its new name), plus joint participation in the new 20,000 seat Virgin Mobile Arena. There is still one more element to come, the 5,300 seat Park Theatre, a $100 million entertainment venue, as reported here last year.  That is due to open before year-end, and has secured Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga as resident entertainers.

MGM is collaborating with the Sydell Group on this rebranding, which is more than a mere refurbishment of the 20-year-old Monte Carlo (opened June 1996).  At the time, it was one of the last ‘themed’ hotels built, named after Monaco’s Place du Casino and reflecting a European flair in the design influences.

The Monte Carlo is actually being split into two separate hotels, appealing to two distinct markets. The new luxury Park MGM will be the larger of the two, with 2700 rooms. It will retain the European flavor of the original Monte Carlo, while simultaneously setting the pace for a new imprint, as the Park MGM brand is setting up for expansion in non-casino gateway locations. The target is a younger, affluent and well-traveled demographic which puts a priority on experiences and innovative design, visiting Vegas for the adult playground it has become rather than a focus on the gambling. The feel will be softer, more romantic than sexy, and more residential, with an emphasis on social interaction, connectivity and culture.

The second hotel will be a sister to the Sydell Group’s high end property in Manhattan, which explains the seemingly odd-sounding name.   Rather than a reference to itinerant wanderers, it is shorthand for their NYC location — NOrth of MADison, a spin on the well-known SoHo designation. They anticipate resonance from that hotel’s reputation, possibly even attracting some of the same clientele.

Somewhat like Hotel 32, it will occupy the three top floors of the tower. However, it will operate individually, as a separate hotel, with a dedicated drop-off, lobby and swimming pool, as well as its own gaming, food and beverage services. Thus it is slightly sidestepping the ‘hotel within a hotel’ format seen in the Nobu at Caesars or the Four Seasons at the Mandalay, etc. NoMad Las Vegas has a luxe boutique format, with 292 guest rooms. Management has indicated it will offer a large portion of suites, and rates will be similar to those at the Cosmopolitan, Wynn and Encore.

We may hear a note of sorrow from anyone used to the on-floor butler and concierge service at Hotel 32 (named for its single top floor location). If that includes you, I encourage you to book one of their 50 rooms / suites/ lofts ASAP, while those accommodations still exist!   Almost a well-kept secret, Hotel 32 offers amenities similar to other ‘hotels within hotels’ at a fraction of the price, without a gambling requirement, and in the past has included free RT airport transfers in a stretch limo. It too is part of the vanishing act, along with the private Lounge 32 and its great views, VIP check-in, dedicated bell staff, semi-private elevators, etc.

On a brighter note, foodies can look forward to several new dining options. Park MGM will host a full-scale Eataly marketplace, with cafes, to-go counters, and full-service restaurants. This first Eataly opened in Italy in 2007, and it now operates in five European cities, four other locations worldwide, plus two in the US, Chicago and Manhattan (where it opened in 2010 and still attracts long line-ups). It was founded by Oscar Farinetti, with management by Mario Batali, Lidia and Joe Bastianich (B&B Hospitality Group).

At NoMad Las Vegas, the NYC NoMad team is looking forward to creating fun and memorable experiences for diners.   With chef Daniel Humm and restauranteur Will Guidara working on it, excitement is sure to be in the air and on the table. They are the forces behind not only the NoMad Restaurant in New York, but Eleven Madison Park which is one of a handful of three Michelin-starred establishments in the USA, and the only American restaurant holding a spot on the 2016 prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (aka the San Pelligrino list, voted on by the Diners Club Academy), ranking third. To be specific, it was deemed it The Best Restaurant in North America for 2016, and it also received the Ferrari Trento Art of Hospitality Award for 2016.