The exciting Mandalay Bay transformation is now underway

There is plenty of buzz in Las Vegas around the transformation taking place at Mandalay Bay. Bullz-Eye had the opportunity to learn about the many facets of this exciting undertaking from Chuck Bowling, President & COO of Mandalay Bay during our Mlife experience in April.

Yes, Mandalay Bay is currently undergoing its first major property-wide transformation since opening in 1999, from the premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE to the debut of the Delano Las Vegas, a new all-suite boutique hotel within the resort. The 120-acre resort is collaborating with brands such as Morgans Hotel Group, Cirque, The Light Group and Four Seasons to create a totally new experience for its guests.

Some of the highlights include:

· Delano Las Vegas – Later this year, Mandalay Bay and Morgans Hotel Group will begin the transformation of THEhotel at Mandalay Bay into Delano Las Vegas, a new all-suite hotel scheduled to open in early 2014 that will embody the soul of Delano South Beach with Vegas flair.

· Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas – Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, located on floors 35-39 of Mandalay Bay, began the year with a complete renovation of all 424 guest rooms and suites inspired in part by the vibrant Art Deco period. This spring, Four Seasons also introduced Press, a new indoor/outdoor lobby bar that creates an energetic social hub that evolves from espressos in the morning to draft beers and wine at night.

· Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil – June 29, the resort will debut Michael Jackson ONE, a permanent Cirque du Soleil production that will bring to life the King of Pop’s music while celebrating his worldwide legacy.

· LIGHT Nightclub – Memorial Day Weekend, Mandalay Bay will unveil LIGHT Nightclub by The Light Group, a venue that combines the imagination and artistry of Cirque du Soleil with a roster of top DJs in the world. Designed to bring a unique, memorable experience each evening, LIGHT will tantalize senses with state-of-the-art production and theatrics.

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Living the M life: The ultimate Las Vegas experience

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Our weekend in Las Vegas living the M life had to come to an end, but the memories will last forever – and so will the photos! When we reported that Bullz-Eye was invited with other digital media members to experience the M life, there were very high expectations as to that was in the works. Well, first and foremost, the folks at MGM delivered on every point with a weekend like no other.

After a smooth flight in from Cleveland, I arrived at the Aria Resort and Casino quickly and was blown away by the sleek design of this gem on the strip. After checking in, I learned first-hand why so many visitors pick Aria as their first choice when visiting Las Vegas. When entering your room, the lighting, the window shade, the music… everything is tailored to your preferences and intuitive to your needs. Set them exactly the way you like and prepare yourself for the night ahead.

I headed down to Javier’s at Aria where we started the weekend and met my fellow influencers with signature margaritas and appetizers at ARIA’s newest restaurant. Javier’s brings a Southern California favorite to the Las Vegas strip and delivers a rich heritage of authentic Mexican cuisine along with hand-shaken margaritas and a high-energy ambiance to Las Vegas. Javier’s was a great place to get this M life party started, and we did just that! It was then off to the Hit Bar at Monte Carlo to channel our inner James Bond (or Bond girl) and learn how to craft world-class cocktails with this M life Moment available to all members. Monte Carlo’s Director of Beverage showed us the fine art and history of mixology and was behind the bar for an hour shaking up some cocktail classics, and we enjoyed them too! Things were just getting started, and when you’re a new M life member like we were, you don’t fully understand the kind of access at MGM Resorts this program offers. But we learned quickly.

We loaded up our group for a stunning tour of MGM Grand’s STAY WELL Rooms & SKYLOFTS. MGM Grand’s new STAY WELL collection features 42 rooms and suites designed for guests looking to take their wellness lifestyle “on the road” when traveling. We were also lucky enough to tour the Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five Diamond SKYLOFTS, a private, two-story sanctuary located on the top two floors of MGM Grand. This was amazing, and I’m sure many good people out there are using their M life points just to stay in this sleek spot in Vegas. I’m now floored by these Skylofts as we headed to dinner at Fiamma Trattoria & Bar at MGM Grand. From Sicily to Milan, Fiamma presents traditional Italian cuisine in sleek and sexy surroundings. We indulged vino from an award-winning wine list showcasing more than 700 selections from all over the world, and fresh, hand-crafted pasta creations from Executive Chef Pierpaolo Pittia. The food was fabulous and my entrée of scallops and prawns risotto was extraordinary. We then started another M life moment by attending “KÀ by Cirque du Soleil.” Taking photos with the cast prior to the show is an Insider (M life) Experience at MGM Grand and adds a first-class touch to your Cirque du Soleil experience. Also with M life, you will get to watch the show from VIP seats at one of Vegas’ favorite theaters. The show rounded out a well planned first day and the crew was able to gamble at the casino in Aria or just rest up for the following day’s M life Moments.

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Ultimate weekend at Aria in Las Vegas

I’ve been going to Las Vegas for over 25 years, so I’ve stayed in every type of casino Sin City has to offer, from the high end resorts to the $25 per night temporary motel rooms behind the old Stardust when they were renovating it years ago. No matter where you’re staying, Vegas has so much to offer that you’ll always have a blast. But my recent weekend in Vegas staying at the amazing Aria Resort & Casino was a very pleasant reminder that a first class weekend in a luxurious hotel makes all the debauchery Vegas has to offer that much more enjoyable. It’s also so much easier to nurse a hangover in a comfortable bed in a beautiful room where you can shut the curtains and get total darkness with the press of a button from your bed!

Bullz-Eye was invited by Aria to cover the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational that was being held at Shadow Creek. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity to cover MJ and his celebrity pals while experiencing a weekend at Aria with everything it had to offer. I was lucky to have a fun and beautiful companion with me so everything was teed up for a great weekend.

The first thing I noticed about Aria was the amazing architecture and design. Everything about this place has been meticulously designed with a modern and original look. Of course Vegas has always featured upscale resorts and hotels, but they always had that gaudy Vegas feel. Instead of going with a themed hotel, the style of Aria is much more like a trendy, luxury hotel. The amount and different types of glass used at Aria is just stunning. The Jean Philippe Pâtisserie is just one of many things that stand out, with the artistically packages chocolates and gourmet pastries in an ultra modern corner of the casino. If you’re with a date the visual stimulation alone will set the mood for a memorable trip.

Like many of the large resorts in Vegas, Aria has practically everything you could need from an entertainment point of view. The pool is amazing and the attached shopping mall offers the best shopping in Vegas. The spa also offers a perfect getaway for couples, with the “Ganbanyoku” heated-stone bed and “Shio” salt room, outdoor therapy pool, Las Vegas’ only co-ed balcony with a stunning view of our beautiful pools. Your wife or girlfriend will love it!

The casino is also laid out nicely and I like the vibe on the casino floor. The beautiful venue definitely attracts the beautiful crowd! Having a nightclub like Haze at Aria also helps as gorgeous women in tight skirts and heels invade the casino around the midnight hour. Of course we also ventured out and indulged in the debauchery that Sin City has to offer, from a strip club to a cheesy after-hours lounge for late night food and more alcohol. But we always came back to this fantastic casino and resort where we could party some more or relax in the luxury rooms.

With all the amenities at the Aria, the restaurants stood out as some of the most impressive spots. We had the opportunity to try out many of them throughout the weekend as we indulged in a wide variety of incredible dishes. We started out the first night at Sirio Ristorante for some Tuscan-style Italian food created by chef Sirio Maccioni. We were tempted to go with one of the incredible veal or beef dishes on the menu, but we knew we had a big weekend ahead and we didn’t want to start off with serious food coma. So we ordered some delicious appetizers of jumbo prawns and seasonal oysters along with seafood entrees, including a pan-fried breaded Maine lobster that was incredible. If you’re a wine lover you’ll appreciate the selection of Italian vintages.

Sirio gave us the perfect start to the weekend and we were ready for our first night of heavy drinking. By lunch the next day we were ready for our first recovery meal, and lunch at Lemongrass was the perfect remedy. This modern Thai restaurant was incredibly comfortable and offered a variety of dishes. After some great appetizers including delicious pot stickers, we stuck with our seafood strategy and order several lobster dishes, including a special prepared by the chef. I can never get enough lobster so I was more than happy with this light lunch, and the specialty cocktails helped get us back in fighting form.

On Saturday night, after shooting machine guns (more on that in a later post) and getting a much-needed nap, we had dinner at American Fish by Micheal Mina as we geared up for Viva ELVIS and another night on the town. Our seafood diet was treating us well, and now wasn’t the time to change things given the name of the restaurant. We started out with succulent Tuna Tartare and I went with the Daily Shellfish entrée. Throw in some fun sides like Truffled Mac & Cheese and specialty cocktails and the entire meal was perfect.

We were full and buzzed and ready for our Elvis experience. Cirque du Soleil has had a string of hits in Vegas, and Viva ELVIS is their latest show. If you’re into Elvis’s music then I highly recommend it, as they covered his entire career from his early years, to his military service, to the movie years to the later years with the jumpsuits and the lamb chop sideburns. The show was visually impressive as we’ve come to expect from Cirque du Soleil with incredible acrobatics, and it’s in its final season so Elvis fans should be planning their trip! After the show we stopped for a cocktail and 80s music at The GOLD Lounge as we geared up for another late night. The lounge features a concept and décor that pays homage to the celebrated life of Elvis Presley. You can’t miss it with all the gold monkey imagery (Elvis was a fan) and it’s just another of the visually stunning venues in the Aria.

By our last night in Vegas we were completely spent, but we rallied to make it to dinner at Sage, which was one of our favorite places from the weekend. I knew I was probably going to pass out soon after dinner, so I went with the Snake River Farms New York Strip as switched from seafood. We also ordered the Wagyu Beef Tartare as one of our appetizers, which may have been my favorite dish of the trip! You’ll love the New American menu of Chef Shawn McClain’s first Las Vegas restaurant, which spotlights seasonal ingredients from neighboring California, just-picked produce, artisanal meats and sustainable seafood. The décor in Sage is also stunning and it’s located near the entrance of the resort.

You should check out the Aria whether you want a high-end place to party with your friends or a weekend that your wife or girlfriend will never forget. Located in the heart of the Strip, everything you could want is either in the resort or close by. You’ll definitely be able to party in style!

  

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!

  

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