Checking out what’s new in Vegas at MGM Resorts

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Las Vegas is constantly evolving, and no one is more attuned to the necessity of making those changes than MGM Resorts International, the company behind such Vegas properties like Mandalay Bay, Aria and Bellagio. Two weeks ago, Bullz-Eye was invited to check out MGM’s latest hotel, the completely renovated Delano Las Vegas, and sample the accommodations, restaurants and nightlife that visitors can expect during their stay. But because there’s a lot more to what MGM Resorts is doing beyond the launch of the Delano to enhance its guest experience, we were invited back this past weekend to witness first-hand some of the newer additions that have helped transform Las Vegas into a destination that’s more about luxury than gambling.

In fact, MGM has seen a major shift over the last 10 to 15 years in how important things like food, entertainment, pools and nightclubs have become for the typical Vegas visitor, to the point that casino gaming now only makes up about 30% of its business. That’s a pretty remarkable statistic for a city where gambling used to be its bread and butter, but it just goes to show why MGM is striving to stay ahead of the curve in addressing the priorities of its guests, and they’ve done an amazing job so far. This may have been my first visit to Sin City, but after discovering all the cool things it has to offer, it definitely won’t be my last.

Day One

There’s nothing worse than air travel, especially when you’re forced to deal with unwanted layovers and delays, so by the time I finally arrived in Las Vegas and checked into my room at the hip and swanky Delano, the only thing on my mind was face-planting into the comfy hotel bed for a much-needed nap. But the folks at MGM had invited myself and three other travel writers joining me on the trip to an once-in-a-lifetime cognac dinner at Sage inside Aria, and it was an event not to be missed.

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In addition to a specially crafted five-course menu by Chef Shawn McClain, with Drappier champagne pairings chosen by Director of Wine Kim Wood, we sampled five different cognacs brought by special guest Benedict Hardy, the CEO of Hardy Cognac. Though the menu featured plenty of highlights, including a Fois Gras Custard Brulee, Kobe Skirt Steak Diane and Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta, the chance at tasting some high-end cognacs was a real delight, especially the pre-1870s unblended variation confidently called Perfection, a genuine antique that runs $25,000 bottle (or about $800 a glass), of which only 200 or so remain.

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Delano Las Vegas another feather in the cap for MGM Resorts

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As MGM Resorts continue to expand and modernize their portfolio of properties in Las Vegas, the momentum picks up with the recently launched Delano Las Vegas. Bullz-Eye visited the new resort recently and found out exactly what the hype was all about with the Delano opening her doors in Vegas. With its all-suite boutique offering, Delano Las Vegas (which is the same building as the former The Hotel) brings the effortless style and unparalleled service of the original Delano South Beach to the energy and buzz of the Las Vegas Strip.

When you first enter the Delano Las Vegas, you know there is something different about this hotel, from the private and separate entrance from the attached Mandalay Bay resort and Casino, to the natural desert fixtures welcoming you to the true desert resort. This all-suite oasis features rooms with a clean color palette of whites and neutrals, like the 725 square-foot king suite, which incorporates Delano’s iconic window sheers, crisp white linens and oversized tufted headboards, updated with playful gold accents for a bold and modern touch. Each suite features a private bedroom with a king-sized bed, a spacious spa-style bath and separate living room with its own powder room. Clean and neat is measured to the max and we appreciated the understated luxury that was very cool without trying too hard.

We started most days at the 3940 coffee and tea joint on the lobby floor. Inspired by the shaded area of a sun-drenched desert, 3940 is a comfortable retreat featuring mid-century modern furniture, plush sofas and communal seating. The ceiling’s unique lighting features cast a patterned glow to the comfortable surroundings, where we lounged and unwound by the marble fireplace or in the alluring living room. The menu is perfect for a quick bite or refreshing beverage and one can enjoy one of their many artisanal teas, freshly squeezed juices and signature coffees, or perhaps sample one of the signature menu items such as our Breakfast Burrito and Ham & Brie Paninis. The granola with yogurt was superb and was a smart healthy option.

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Los Angeles – The City of Lights

This is a pretty awesome video of Los Angeles in time-lapse mode from angles all over the city. The theme involves light, and the views are breathtaking.

  

Heading to Las Vegas to cover Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tourament

We’ll use any excuse to hit Las Vegas, but covering the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational (MJCI) definitely qualifies as a trip we’re excited about. This 11th annual charity golf tournament will feature stars like NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers along with Ken Griffey, Jr., Wayne Gretzky, Roger Clemens, Brian Baumgartner, Brett Hull, Maury Povich and Chris Chelios. I’ll be reporting through the weekend here on the blog and you can also follow us on Twitter for photos and updates. I’ll also be staying at the incredible Aria Resort & Casino so this is shaping up to be a great weekend!

It’s also for a number of great causes, as this is a charity golf tournament. Proceeds from the charitable tournament will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, UC San Diego Nevada Cancer Institute, James R. Jordan Foundation, Opportunity Village and Cats Care, the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats’ charity arm. Since its inception in 2001, MJCI has raised more than $6 million for charity.

The tournament is being held at the incredible Shadow Creek golf course, which is opening to the public for only the second time with this tournament. I’m looking forward to getting some great photos.

Tickets may be purchased at any MGM Resorts International box office outlet or online through the links above:

Daily General Admission Pass $30/Thursday-Sunday
Weekly General Admission Pass $100/Thursday-Sunday
Daily VIP Pass $150/Thursday-Sunday
Weekly VIP Pass $500/Thursday-Sunday

VIP spectators will enjoy access to an unparalleled view of the course from the M life VIP tent, an openair venue featuring a “VIP Party Deck” overlooking the par-5, 18th hole, catering and a full-service bar. Discounted tickets are available for military service members with valid identification, and Senior Citizens 65 years of age or older with valid ID; both groups will receive 25 percent off a daily or weekly general admission ticket. Additionally, the tournament has created a special “Bring the Kids for Free” general admission ticket offer, which provides access to Shadow Creek for youth 16 years of age and younger when accompanied by a general admission ticketed adult (up to two children per paid adult).

With the golf tournament with MJ and then the Final Four semi-finals on Saturday night, this should shape us as quite a weekend. I also get to enjoy all the amenities at the Aria and will also see the Cirque du Soleil Viva ELVIS show which should be incredible. I saw the Love show featuring music from The Beatles last year so I’m definitely looking forward to this Elvis show!

  

2012 Tokyo Marathon Live Blog

As if running a marathon isn’t stressful enough, I’m traveling more than 7,000 miles this week to run another 26.2. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about participating in the 2012 Tokyo Marathon this weekend (the race begins Sunday morning in Tokyo, Saturday evening in the States), but I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t insanely excited. I’ve never been to Japan so the trip alone will be a thrill, but running a marathon on foreign soil will only add to what is sure to be a memorable experience.

In my Tokyo Marathon Preview, I outlined the basic schedule for this race weekend, with a full slate of events as a member of the press tour culminating Sunday morning at 9:10 local time with the start of the race. As that starting line approaches, I feel fortunate to be worn out but generally healthy after 12 straight months of marathon training and countless Sunday long runs. However, while I have my health heading into the sixth annual Tokyo Marathon, I also have some concerns.

© TOKYO MARATHON

For starters, I’ve never been much of an Asian food fan, which poses a potential problem when trying to fuel my body in the days leading up to the race. That’s not to say I won’t try different foods while I’m in Tokyo – when in Rome, right? – but as picky as I tend to be with my meals leading into a big race, I’ll be on the lookout for chicken and noodles more often than not. I’m also packing a few food comforts from home in case I have more trouble than anticipated with the local fare.

I’m also curious to see how my body reacts to the 14-hour time change. If my trip to South Africa a couple years ago was any indication, I should adjust relatively well once I’m in Tokyo and be grab a couple good nights of sleep heading into Sunday morning. If not, well, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first sleep-depraved person to run a marathon.

My goal is simple: Enjoy the moment. As I mentioned previously, I’m planning on snapping a few pictures during the race, and rest assured I’ll be taking in as much of the city as I can during my free before and after Sunday’s festivities. I’m still in the process of figuring out what my body needs to compete at a high level during a marathon, and I’m hoping my new in-race nutrition plan (thanks to my triathlete buddy for the advice) will help me shave some time off my Arizona Marathon PR of 3:44:10 from last month, but I won’t be too concerned with my watch, not when I’ll be adjusting to a multitude of unique circumstances. I just want to finish, and have a blast doing it.

Be sure to check in throughout the weekend as I update this live blog with some details from my Tokyo visit, and then come back on Friday 3/2 to read my complete recap with some photos from the trip! In the meantime, I figured I’d share the view from my hotel room in downtown Tokyo. Time to get some sleep!

  

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