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Inside Signature at the MGM Grand

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  Site Where: 145 East Harmon Avenue [map], Las Vegas, United States, 89109
August 28, 2006 at 10:22 AM | by | Comment (1)

[Ed. Note: Hotel Maven Dzot headed to Sin City to explore one of Vegas's new trends, the boutique hotel within a hotel--in particular, the Signature at MGM Grand. Enjoy]

MGM Grand is the biggest hotel in the world. The MGM/Mirage group owns about half the properties on the Vegas Strip, including Steve Wynn's groundbreaking properties Mirage and Bellagio. They recently purchased the hotels of the Mandalay group, including Mandalay Bay, THEhotel, Luxor, and others. And they have announced Project City Center, which is a plan to recreate a portion of Greenwich Village just behind their New York themed hotel.

I have no doubt that one day Kerkorian will walk into an MGM/Mirage board meeting and say, "You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have a hotel shaped like a shark with frickin' laser beams attached to its head! Would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here!"

Meanwhile, they have just opened -- to surprisingly little fanfare -- a luxury property attached to the MGM Grand, called Signature, apparently because they needed to do something in their spare time.

More of Dzot's thoughts about Signature post-click

It's hard to say where exactly Signature falls positioning-wise. In some ways it is what THEhotel is to Mandalay Bay -- an upscale property that gives you full access to the facilities of its sprawling giant of a parent. But its style and atmosphere is much more in line with the Four Seasons (also associated with the Mandalay complex). It is quiet and traditionally classy versus high-style hip.

The first thing you realize is how insulated you are from the madness of the Strip. Signature has no entrance on Las Vegas Blvd. Your entrance is a street away and it is gated. You need your key to get back through the gate if you leave, or you have to tell the nice security guard that you are checking-in or who you are visiting. That spares the hotel entrance from the madness of trying to keep cab traffic moving out front with killing anyone. It also means there are no cabs queued up, you'll have to call ahead for one.

To get to the Strip from Signature you have to walk through a longish covered walkway which lets you out into the Studio Walk area of the MGM Grand. From there, you can hop the monorail to points north, or you can walk through the MGM casino out to the front entrance of MGM Grand. As expected, you cannot get back through the walkway to Signature without your room key.

Signature has other amenities for anyone looking to escape from the temptations of Sin City. You get a nice quiet lounge with big comfy chairs and no deafening techno or bouncers or women with enormous fake breasts; a 24-hour workout facility, which is as good as any on the Strip short of Canyon Ranch at the Venetian. And you get a private pool for Signature guests only, no screeching MGM multitudes allowed. Plus, you get your own Starbucks.

The standard rooms are suite-sized, with enormous bathrooms, separate whirlpool bath and shower, mini-fridge and microwave, LCD hi-def -- rivaling the best of the Venetian or THEhotel and, quite frankly, rivaling my condo back home.

The best thing about Signature is the newness. Everything from floor to ceiling is still bright and clean and new, not surprising since it just opened May. Even the service still has that new car smell. The staff is chop-chop attentive and eager, having yet to be jaded by the tedium of eight hours behind the front desk or the disheartening encounters with boorish guests.

Any flaws? Well, it's a long walk to get to the Strip. The covered pathway to MGM is long enough to benefit from moving sidewalks and even then you are left at the far end of the MGM Grand proper which is an enormous place in and of itself; better leave about ten minutes to reach the Strip from your room.

They also include a "resort fee" of $15 over and above your room rate that covers use of the gym, a couple of bottles of water per day and wi-fi access. Since the "resort fee" did not appear to be optional, it's interesting that they don't just fold it into the room rate. I have encountered this "resort fee" strategy before (though never in Vegas) and I'm not sure I am all that comfortable with the ethics of it.

It allows the property to effectively advertise a lower rate than you are paying thus making them a bit more favorable when you are comparison shopping. On the other hand, $15 is cheaper than what you would pay at many hotels for a couple of bottles of water, a day pass to the health club, and wi-fi, so it's hard to call it unreasonable. Still, I think the world would be a better place if all mandatory fees were rolled up into a single number.

Resort fee and all, the Sig is a top tier hotel and a great option for grown-ups in Las Vegas. It immediately assumes a place among the best of the best in town.

Image via TammyLoh/Flickr

Related Stories:
· Signature MGM reviews [TripAdvisor]
· MGM's Signature Hotel Taking Names [HotelChatter]

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City Center at MGM Grand

Don't forget that condotel units for the MGM city center will go on sale soon. There's four major hotels going up: Vdara (a condo hotel), Veer (a condominium tower), Mandarin Oriental Hotel (a hotel with residential condominiums on the top floors), and The Harmon (a hotel with residential condominiums on the top floors). Reservations are being taken now, as this looks to be a very popular development.

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