Hotel design is about a sense of arrival. Within seconds, guests pick up on a distinct vibe, and in many ways it determines their feelings about the property throughout their stay—often, before they even hit the front desk.
The entrance to Las Vegas’ new Delano (pronounced de-lu-no, after the former president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt) is the epitome of cool. Arriving guests pass through the middle of two clay-colored boulders the size of small cars (it’s actually one rock, which was cut in half), in awe of how whoever it was managed to actually get this 12,600-pound behemoth into the lobby. Then there’s the long see-and-be-seen entry hallway with subtle lighting, pillars draped in white rippled fabric reminiscent of the desert sands, and a stunning installation of 500 dangling stones by Korean artist Jaehyo Lee suspended from the ceiling at the far end. The entry carpet, in hues of brown and copper, was designed to mirror the view of the Colorado River from high above as it winds through the desert.
In other words, if an incentive planner is seeking that fabulous first impression for attendees, Delano delivers.
Though this non-gaming all-suite Morgans property,an $80 million revamp of the building formerly known as THEHotel, sits right next to the bustling Mandalay Bay Resort, there’s not even the slightest sense of being in Vegas. The 1,117 spacious suites (averaging 725 square feet) offer subtle but elegant touches such as spa-style bathrooms with generously sized soaking tubs, the softest hotel robes ever known to man (hotel critics are all abuzz about them) and oversized Malin + Goetz bathroom amenities. All-white furnishings are countered by brilliant, sensual underwater photographs, similar to those hanging in its South Beach sister property. To keep with the FDR theme, the ice buckets in the rooms are shaped just like his famous fedora.
Stylish Group Experiences
We were able to experience just a sampling of what this new hotel can do for groups, starting with a beer vs. wine tasting in a private room (seat 12?) at Mandalay Bay’s Aureole. Our hosts for the evening: Harley Carberry, director of wine, and certified Cicerone Sarah Johnson. Johnson, who honed her craft while attending college in the microbrewery capital of Portland, is only one of seven master Cicerones in the world. Her knowledge of beers and pairing them with foods is unparalleled. Guests sampled carefully chosen versions of each beverage during five courses, and this writer and wine lover was surprised to have preferred the beer as a pairing in all but one. The evening’s highlight for the group and seasonally right on: fairytale pumpkin soup with shaved white truffles, roasted walnuts and prosciutto parma tortellini, paired with a Julien Pilon “Lone” Condreau from the Rhone region of France and an Orval, a brew from Florenville, Belgium.
Opportunities for relaxation abound at Delano, whether in the Bathhouse Spa, with 12 treatment rooms for its brand of “globally inspired” massages, wraps and facials, or cocktails and dinner at Alain Ducasse’s miX. Pure white and enveloped in a curved wall of dangling Murano glass globes lit from above, the restaurant is a stunning creation, one of the prettiest we have seen in the city. It can accommodate 400 guests for a reception, and its position on the 64th floor offers some of the most stunning views of the city, literally towering over the Luxor pyramid. Just as everything in the former THEHotel continues to change, this restaurant will be transformed in June 2015 into a Mediterranean restaurant called Rivea.
Just off the lobby, the sophisticated Franklin lounge (again, as in the former president) has created a new social hub for guests, something noticeably absent in THEHotel. Its stunning feature is a twinkling chandelier that stretches the length of the bar and lights up at sunset, just like the evening stars over the desert. Its cocktail-centric drink menu includes several rare spirits and wines offered there only, thanks to the efforts of Carberry. For example, there’s a custom-blended Mt. Gay Barrel Rum, brought in all the way from Barbados. Try the Mr. Hyde, a combination of Oxley Gin, St. Germain, passion fruit, pineapple, lemon juice and kaffir leaves, named after Hyde Park, the site of FDR’s estate. Corporate clients sometimes buy out the lounge for a couple of hours to create a private gathering space for up to 200 guests before they heads out for the evening.
A private beach club opening in 2015 promises to be an oasis in the heart of The Strip and will offer guests an option beyond the party-like atmosphere of the Mandalay Bay pool.
Just steps from Delano, Mandalay Bay offers numerous venues for group events, including the Shark Reef Aquarium, where every seat in the private dining area is within view of no less than 30 of these predators. Some companies holding incentive trips have even placed their CEOs in the tank as part of the deal when salespeople hit their quotas. Or, a simple welcome sign with the corporate logo held by a friendly diver could suffice. The private function room holds 125 for a reception, or the entire facility can be bought out for up to 1,500 guests.
Meeting space at Delano includes 31 rooms, the largest of which is 1,257 square feet. Look for two new Delanos in the next couple of years: in Cartagena, Columbia, in 2016 and Cesme, Turkey, in 2017.
One Final Fact
Still wondering about the tie-in between Delano and FDR? It’s actually a fairly loose connection, according to MGM Resorts spokesperson Sandy Zanella. The Delano Hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach was built in 1947 by Rob and Rose Schwartz and at one point used for military housing. Though it was rumored that the former president, who enjoyed vacationing in Miami Beach, had stayed there, it was more likely his relatives who had. Nonetheless, the legend lives on.