Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Las Vegas for the first time. As someone who has never been there before, I had no idea what to expect. I was happy to discover that there is so much to see, do, taste, and experience that I couldn’t possibly fit it all into one trip. From the moment I arrived I was swept up in the excitement in what is considered the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World.’ Here are some of the highlights from my trip.
By Jenna Leis
Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand
For the entirety of the three-day, two-night stay I was booked into the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. This place is huge and it was easy to get lost while wandering around the property. There are so many restaurants, bars, theaters, and activities inside that you could spend your entire trip never leaving the resort.
My room was one of the MGM Grand’s Stay Well rooms. These Stay rooms include special amenities not featured in any of the other rooms. One of the nicest perks was a private check-in space at the Stay Well Lounge. I walked right past the long lines at the regular reception and into the private lounge off to the side. The staff was friendly and welcoming as they gave me a run down of all the special features my room had. This included an air-purification system, vitamin C-infused shower head, aromatherapy diffusers, filtered sink faucets, and Stay Well shower infuser. The room also had its
own Stay Well healthy menu options for room service, though personally I still ordered a stack of pancakes for breakfast.
Dinner at Morimoto
After freshening up in my Stay Well room I headed downstairs for dinner at Morimoto, the elegant Japanese restaurant designed by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. My taste buds were blown away with every new dish they brought out. From the Toro Tartare and Braised Black Cod, to the Duck Confit Fried Rice. Even dessert was a special treat. The Fiery Chocolate Tart comes out as a solid piece of chocolate which they then lit on fire as we watched it melt before our eyes and dug into the rich mix of dark chocolate sorbet, marshmallow and salty caramel ganache.
The Hunger Games: The Exhibition
Featured on the MGM Grand property is The Hunger Games: The Exhibition. Based on the blockbuster film franchise of the same name, the exhibition took us through the journey of the main character, Katniss Everdeen. It follows her story from a humble beginning in District 12, through the games in the Capitol, and finally her emergence as the Mockingjay for the rebellion. It felt like we were truly in the story in the interactive exhibit. It featured genuine props and artistic set recreations from all the films such as the Hall of Justice, President Snow’s Office, the Tribute Train, and District 13. There was also an interactive archery experience that gave us the chance to train for the rebellion on a 60-foot-wide interactive touch screen. The screen itself holds the Guinness World Record for the largest touchscreen display. By the end of it, we felt we were truly members of the rebellion fighting alongside Katniss and her friends.
KÁ by Cirque du Soleil
To end our first night in Vegas, we saw KÁ by Cirque du Soleil. It is performed in one of MGM Grand’s many theaters on the property and only one of the countless Cirque du Soleil shows featured in Las Vegas. KÁ was absolutely stunning. It tells the story of a pair of twins as they take a perilous journey to fulfill their shared destiny through impossible acrobatics, martial arts and stunning pyrotechnics. There doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the theater with action taking place all around you and a stage that rotates 360 degrees. It had my heart racing as I watched the actors perform. In my opinion, it might just be the best Cirque du Soleil on the Strip.
MGM Grand Spa and Fitness Center
The second day of my trip started at the MGM Grand Spa and Fitness Center. I was scheduled for a 50-minute custom pressure massage, but arrived a little early to take advantage of the amenities that the center had to offer. Upon arrival, I was given a tour of the facility that included a whirlpool, sauna, steam room and a relaxation lounge. After spending some time in the whirlpool, I was called back to begin my massage. It was a truly revitalizing and relaxing experience. The therapist took the time to focus on specific areas I requested. Following that I spent some time in the dry sauna. What’s great about the center is that even after my appointment, I was still given access to the facility for the rest of the day.
Marvel’s Avengers Station
Later in the day we took a trip over to Treasure Island where we visited the Marvel’s Avengers Station. At this interactive exhibit we were shown what it takes to become an Avengers agent. It featured a number of interactive displays, sets and authentic pieces from a wide range of Marvel films, including Captain America’s uniform and shield, Bruce Banner’s laboratory, Hawkeye and Black Widow uniforms and weapons, and a collection of Iron Man suits. The exhibit is ever growing, with plans to add new props and displays from some of the most recent Marvel movies. After the exhibit we felt were ready to take on Thanos and his army alongside the Avengers.
Juniper Cocktail Lounge
After our Avengers Adventure we made our way over to the Park MGM property where I had the pleasure of participating in a private cocktail tasting at Juniper Cocktail Lounge. Home to the largest collection of gin in Las Vegas, the lounge features a number of cocktails you can’t find anywhere else. These included “A Little Birdie” served in a bird shaped glass; “No Judging” with freshly charred chartreuse in a glass straw; and my personal favorite the “Carnival,” which was served over freshly made cotton candy. The lounge itself is located right in the center of the casino and has a warm and inviting atmosphere during the day and an energizing experience once the DJ is brought in at night.
Tour of NoMad Las Vegas
Following the cocktail lounge we took a tour of the NoMad Las Vegas hotel, which is on the Park MGM property. What’s nice about the NoMad accommodations is the separate, more intimate lobby, which takes you away from the lights and sounds of the rest of the casino. The space provides a luxury experience and amenities including a private pool deck for NoMad guests and a high-limit, NoMad-themed gaming area. Our tour took us through the elegant NoMad Bar and NoMad Restaurant where guests can have luxurious dining experience. Each room also feature hardwood floors, and suites include a separate sitting area to give you a more homey feeling during your stay.
Dinner at Best Friend
Dinner on our second night was at chef Roy Choi’s Best Friend, a stylish glimpse of LA’s Korea Town brought to Vegas. Upon stepping into the restaurant you are greeted with what looks to be a neighborhood liquor store selling all kinds of neon-colored merchandise that’s actually for sale. In the back you step through two sets of bright-red vinyl curtains into a space with a hip-hop vibe. All the servers are wearing bright green and red tracksuits and the menu is inside a bright-yellow school binder with pictures of Roy Choi from his high school days scattered throughout. They even serve drinks in plastic red Solo® cups. Dinner itself was magnificent, as we tasted almost everything the menu had to offer. Starting with Kimchi Fried Rice and finishing off with an ice cream sundae served in a little bathtub, everything was mouth-watering.
Virtual Reality Powered by Zero Latency
On the last morning of the trip we were invited to step into a whole new digital world at Virtual Reality Powered by Zero Latency, inside the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. You and up to eight other players are completely immersed in a digital world and must navigate your way through dangers that appear along the way. There are four different games, each taking about 30-minutes to complete. We participated in Singularity, where we had to battle rogue robots and killer drones while investigating a secret military research space station. We had to work as a team to make it through narrow corridors and zero gravity situations. The other games include Zombie Survival, Engineerium, and Outbreak Origins. It also recently added Sol Raiders, which allows players to go up against their friends and family in a competitive environment. The technology is incredible, I felt like I was really inside the simulation. Even tough, sometimes, I did get a little frightened by the killer robots, I still made it out with the most points in our game.
MGM Grand Pool Complex
For the perfect way to end the trip, I spent my last few hours in Vegas by the pool. The MGM Grand has a huge pool complex, which features four swimming pools, three whirlpools, a waterfall, and its famous Lazy River. It includes five bars and a restaurant within the complex to make sure you’re cool and hydrated during your stay. I chose to hydrate myself with a frozen, pink lemonade cocktail. There’s also plenty of lounge chairs and cabanas with staff serving poolside. Guests of the hotel have free access to the complex, while others are welcome for a $25 fee.