There ARE luxury hotels in Las Vegas that are non-gaming. Think of Four Seasons Las Vegas, though that is sandwiched, as it were, by Mandalay Bay (which wraps around Four Seasons as a massive C-shape taking a bite). Think of Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas and Vdara Las Vegas, but stay at either place and you are within minutes of the tables at Aria Hotel and Casino. Think too of the glorious and exclusive The Mansion at MGM Grand, but the name gives the game away here, says the gal. Cross a quiet road beyond The Mansion‘s significant wrought iron gates and you are in MGM Grand, with all the win-quick, or lose-quicker, opportunities that you can imagine.
I went to have lunch with Ana Marie Mormando, who this time last year was running the mammoth Bellagio and overseeing the amazing organisation, and catering, that was Virtuoso Travel Week 2014. She did such a splendid job, without ever losing her cool. In February this year she moved across The Strip to become GM of the 30-unit The Mansion – you cannot call them rooms or suites as the floor sizes vary from 3,500 to 13,000 sq ft. Here she heads a team of 250. Really, for a mere 30 front door keys? Well, the number does not include main laundry but it does encompass enormous numbers of staff to look after the place. Central point is a 125-ft high climate-controlled glass atrium, a massive conservatory.
The Mansion is exquisite, beloved of the few people who can pay to stay here. Of the 30 units, only 20%, which is six, are sold, so to speak. The others are reserved by the MGM for its highest-rolling casino guests, who in return for the big bucks they drop are entertained lavishly here. They might, for instance, be allocated Villa 7, which has a genuine Matisse in the guest washroom. All around the hotel, designed by Trisha Wilson‘s Wilson Associates, there are about 800 art pieces, including originals by, in alphabetical order, Giacometti, Hockney, Léger, LeWitt, De Niro Sr, Oldenburg, Stella and Zajac, plus photographs from Diana Vreeland’s collection (see more in the stunning Viva il Sogno, Lorraine Spurge, photographs Tim Street-Porter).
This luxury hotel does allow a few special events – Ted Teng entertained some of the Leading Hotels of the World hoteliers here during Virtuoso Travel Week 2015. I wonder if they enjoyed their meal as much as I did? Ana Marie Mormando has two executive chefs, one Chinese and one international, offering both cuisines 24/7. Our suave Portuguese waiter, Antonio Nuñes, in a tie that exactly complemented the lilac of the table linens, served first a roasted beetroot salad, and then free-range Jidori chicken. Ha, good for my culinary knowledge. Jidori is to poultry what Hyögo Prefecture’s Tajima Wagyu is to beef, top of the range. Jidori, who feed on apples, clover and tomatoes, started when Hinaidori was crossed with Rhode Island Red to create Akita Hinai-Jidori, in Hinai town in Akita Prefecture. Trust the Japanese to create perfection. After such protein erudition, I had, alas, to go back to work.