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Best of Gary Trask
But thanks to a trip to Las Vegas last week, I managed to knock off one of my 2010 "To-Do" items when I spent two nights at the M Resort. Back in January, the Casino City editorial team -- consisting of Vin Narayanan, Dan Igo and myself -- compiled our list of Must Visit Casinos in 2010. Earlier this month, Vin took care of one of the casinos on the list and last week he presented his Top-10 things to experience at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.
Now, after a stay at the M last week, I am happy to present my lists of reasons why you should do the same. But before we get to the list, here is a little background on the M Resort.
The address says Las Vegas Boulevard, but the resort is actually in Henderson, about 10 miles south of Mandalay Bay. The M just celebrated its one-year anniversary after opening in March of 2009. The property spans more than 90 acres (that's bigger than CityCenter) and sits between the master-planned communities of Anthem, Seven Hills and Southern Highlands. The architecture is both modern and familiar to Las Vegas regulars since it was built by Anthony Marnell, III, the son of casino building pioneer Tony Marnell, who is responsible for the Mirage, Caesars Palace and Wynn Las Vegas.
While staying some 10 miles away from the Strip may not be for everyone, the M provides plenty of reasons to at least take a break from the non-stop action of the Strip during your next visit to Sin City and carve out some time to kick back and enjoy the state-of-the-art amenities that are offered here. Take it from someone who spent two days at the M immediately following five nights on the Strip -- it was a welcome change of pace.
10. The view
During the day, the mountains serve as a dramatic drop back to the Strip, but at night is when you really feel as though you could reach out and touch the top of Mandalay Bay. You can clearly see the red and purple lights of the Rio on the left, the bright green illumination of the MGM Grand in the middle and the red tip of the Stratosphere off to the far right. And the view can be seen not just from your room, but from nearly the entire property -- including the pool, the main lobby and the many outdoor eating areas -- thanks to the fact that the resort is situated 400 feet higher in elevation than the Strip casinos.
You may not be on center Strip, but you can still enjoy the sights as you sip your favorite cocktail.
9. The Hostile Grape
Once inside there are more than 160 wines by the glass to choose from and they are accessible via an automated tasting bar. There are also some pretty cool weekly promotions at the restaurant nearly every night. We were sorry to miss last Saturday's "As Single As I Wanna Be Little Black Dress Night" when ladies who wore their "sexiest little black dress" received a complimentary bottle of wine. Now that's pure genius.
8. 32 Degree Draft Bar
My recommendations? Glad you asked. Go with the Deschutes Mirror Pond, which is brewed in Oregon and has a delicious burnt orange taste. My second favorite was the Primo Lager, a blend of 95% malt and 5% Hawaiian cane. The smell alone will make you wanting for more.
7. The naturally-lit casino
But the thing we liked most about the casino is the fact that the M Resort does not use any reflective glass, but instead features skylights above the casino. That means there is actually natural light shining onto the floor during the day, something that is rare, but becoming more popular among new casinos.
6. The rooms
There are 351 guest rooms overall and 39 suites that range from 1,400 to 2,400 square feet. The spa-like bathrooms have marble vanity double sinks, televisions and a separate bathtub and shower. The living area has a Bose Wave sound system (with a remote control), an iPod docking station and a 42-inch HD LCD flat television.
If you're staying at the M for business like I was (please, no sarcastic comments) the working station has a spacious desk and is equipped with easily accessible outlets and high-speed Internet.
And for those of you concerned with conserving energy, you'll love the automatic lighting controls that force you to insert your key into a slot just inside your door in order to turn on the electricity.
5. The Race & Sports Book
First off, the amount and quality of televisions in the sportsbook are impressive. There are 123 TVs in total -- including two 103-inch big screens. The seating is made up of 100 private betting corals fully equipped with an individual TV and betting station. So if you're heading to the book with a big group, plan on sitting at the aforementioned 32 Degree Draft Bar or dumping some serious money into a betting account so you can get into the 23-seat, private VIP area.
The sportsbook is operated in partnership with Cantor Gaming, which means along with the Venetian and Palazzo it is one of three books in Las Vegas to offer "in-running" betting. The M also features mobile gaming on a palm-sized device called eDeck. Once activated the device can be used to make sportsbook wagers and play casino-style games like slots, blackjack, roulette and baccarat while sitting in the sportsbook, poker room, 32 Degree Draft Bar and the centrally located M Bar. If you're going to try your luck at either of these features, be sure to use the coupon that you will receive at check-in that will get you a free bonus wager worth $20.
And if you get hungry after placing your wagers on March Madness this week, the appropriately named Vig Deli -- which is adjacent to the sportsbook -- has a some great menu items that are more than affordable.
4. Outside dining
Of course, the best place to take advantage of the "el fresco" dining is on the 16th floor at Veloce Cibo. If you've ever visited the Voodoo Lounge at the Rio in Las Vegas, this is very similar, except the view of the Strip is from a totally different perspective. Sushi is the appetizer of choice at Veloce Cibo, but the menu is eclectic. And once the sun goes down a DJ arrives to spin tunes, turning the place into a terrific nightlife hotspot.
3. The free shuttle
The oversized M shuttle – which comes with a friendly driver and a cooler full of waters – leaves the resort every two hours, beginning at 9 a.m. on Sundays and Monday through Friday and at 10 a.m. on Saturdays. After a short 14-minute ride, you will arrive at Fashion Show Mall on the Strip, just across the street from the Wynn and Venetian. But make sure you catch one of the returning shuttles back to the resort. The last one leaves at 9:45 p.m., except on Saturdays when it is 10:45 p.m. Don't miss it or you'll be spending nearly $40 on a cab ride back to the M.
The complimentary shuttle service is also provided for trips to the airport, which is also just 14 minutes away. The first airport shuttle leaves the M at 9 a.m. each day, so plan your flight times accordingly and avoid the unnecessary cab fare.
2. The pool and spa
The main pool area features two 5,460 square-foot, heated pools with a pair of large Jacuzzis surrounded by fire torches. The area is also equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system and 400 lounge chairs, all within view of the Las Vegas skyline. Some of the additional amenities include cucumber ice towels, water bottles and fresh fruit. The Piazza Grille is also next to the pool and offers panini sandwiches, salads and grilled entrees. If you're looking for a more private pool experience, VIP cabanas with ceiling fans, personal sun decks, LCD TVs and an iHome docking station are also available for rent.
As for the Spa Mio, there are 16 treatment rooms available in the 23,000 square-foot space as well as a salon and fitness room. Guests can use the fitness room and locker rooms for $15 a day and take advantage of the private locker rooms, robes, sandals, steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi.
1. The service
It seems that the entire staff at the M has jumped on board with making the resort's service the very best it can be. Everywhere I turned I was greeted with a smile, which had me smiling myself as I checked out.
Sure, I love the Strip, but the state-of-the-art resort life at the M is something I will definitely look to take advantage of again the next time I visit Las Vegas.