Tony Bennett, the Grammy-award winning vocalist, may have felt he was in Tuscany as he performed inside the MGM Mansion in February.
One of the most exclusive hotels in the United States, The Mansion was inspired by an 18th-century villa in the Florence countryside and features Italian architectural elements including arched hallways, pillars, stained-glass windows, handcrafted fountains and stenciled ceiling beams.
Bennett performed for about 180 elite clients inside the hotel’s 125 foot-high, glass-domed Atrium, a spacious, climate-controlled square richly landscaped with palm trees, Roman pines and lemon trees that perfume the air.
“It really isn’t a hotel — it’s like a mansion with a really nice homey feel,” said Bob Holmes, a VIP client who has attendeded private concerts at the Mansion with his wife, Lynette. “Money was not a limiting factor in building this place.”
MGM Resorts International opened the four-story Mansion adjacent to the MGM Grand 20 years ago this past May to better compete for VIP business after the launch of Bellagio and The Venetian in October 1998 and May 1999, respectively. The competition for such guests has only increased with the development of Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, Aria and The Cosmopolitan.
“If a particularly lucrative high roller is in, The Mansion can generate hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for the casino. It shows how competitive casinos are for the ultra high-end and just how much power those gamblers have to demand the best accommodations,” said David Schwartz, gaming author and UNLV professor.
The Mansion has hosted a who’s who of sports, Hollywood, business and, of course, gaming over the years. Singers and sports stars performing at MGM Strip venues are frequent guests of the luxury residence. Tiger Woods, Bruno Mars, Cher, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim are among those who have stayed there, according to photos and posts on social media.
‘A well-kept secret’
“One of the things our guests appreciate most is the exclusivity and privacy we uphold,” said Stewart Patchefsky, general manager of The Mansion and SKYLOFTS, when asked about those who frequent the property.
The hotel operated strictly on an invitation-only basis until 2015, when it began to accept select bookings for a fee ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 a night. The villas cannot be booked online.
As befits a place catering to some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, The Mansion is not visible to nor known by most Las Vegas visitors.
“I have been coming here for years and, hell, I had never heard of it. It is a well-kept secret,” said Holmes, who learned about The Mansion three years ago when he was invited to stay by MGM Resorts.
Timeless works of art
From the sky, The Mansion looks like a near-rectangular piece of Italian countryside plopped down on the sprawling MGM Grand property just yards from the noisy Strip. The Mansion is seamlessly connected to the MGM Grand via the high-limits table gaming room.
The property was built over the original MGM Grand swimming pool and cost around $290 million to construct and fill with art — a price tag of nearly $6.3 million per villa. On an inflation-adjusted basis, the investment today would be equivalent to $300 million, or $10 million per villa.
The millions spent on works of art include paintings by Henri Matisse and David Hockney as well as sketches by Picasso. There are more than 800 works of art, according to Patchefsky, making The Mansion a mini-museum.
The eclectic art collection spans time periods, geographies, forms and styles, which helps give the property a timeless feel, he said. Among the more unusual items in the collection is an early 18th-century, hand-painted pedigree of a family from the Netherlands.
The Mansion incorporates a plethora of artwork from Asia, including Tang dynasty statues, to appeal to the many Chinese high rollers who frequent the property.
The Mansion features 30 Mediterranean-themed residences that range in size from 2,400 square feet to 12,000 square feet. The largest villas are nearly six times the size of the average single-family home sold in Las Vegas last year, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.
Each villa is individually decorated, including the floor tiles, though all have the same decoratively carved, solid-wood doors from Italy. The largest villas have their own private pool, gym and dining room with separate butler entrance as well as a library, media room and barber chair for in-room beauty services. The three villas located on the top floor have their own private elevator. All are filled with one-of-a-kind artwork and antique books.
When MGM Resorts described The Mansion project in its 1998 annual report, it said guests “will be treated as royalty — which they often are.”
Royalty often travels with significant staff and security and The Mansion features several rooms — separate from the villas — for the entourage.
No other place like it
The property’s dining room seats 60 and serves up continental and Asian cuisine by renowned chefs from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. But as befits powerful patrons who generally can get whatever they want, when they want it, The Mansion offers 24-hour concierge and butler service. Guests can receive almost any plate or beverage — from Abalone to Chateau Petrus — at any time of day.
“If you have a request, they have people all over it immediately to get it done,” said Holmes.
The property also features a boardroom for meetings, a bar and game room as well as a movie screening room where prescreenings of MGM Studio films used to be shown.
“Out of all the casino resorts in the world, there is no other place like The Mansion in terms of service, not even in Monte Carlo,” said R.J. Cipriani, known as Robin Hood 702, a professional gambler of 40 years who has played at properties around the globe.
The Mansion is serviced by around 97 dedicated staff and 67 support staff, including kitchen personnel.
Nearly 20 percent of the employees have worked at the property since day one and some guests will request a particular employee they have known for years. Employees speak 13 languages and The Mansion is a preferred place to work among MGM Resorts staff, said Sean Christopher, assistant director of food and beverage at the hotel.
‘A whole different world’
For some elite guests, the exclusive service begins long before they set foot on the property.
MGM Resorts transports some of its high rollers to Las Vegas aboard its fleet of Embraer jets painted in the company colors of gold and white. From McCarran Airport they are whisked to the property in a Rolls Royce Phantom, three of which The Mansion showcases.
Upon entering through the 10-foot-high iron gates onto the cobblestone courtyard, guests are often greeted with Champagne and other drinks by the bellboy, concierge and sometimes the manager. They are escorted through 2,000-pound Italian doors containing Austrian crystal glass that are opened remotely by a hydraulic system.
Once inside, they move along the handcrafted marble floors past vases, sculptures and fresh flowers to their villa. The serene environment is broken only by the sound of water splashing in the hand-carved fountain.
“You don’t feel like you are in Vegas, but in Tuscany,” said Lynette Holmes. “You are in a whole different world.
Other hotels within Las Vegas Strip hotels
Nobu inside Caesar’s
Aria Sky Suites inside Aria
Skylofts at MGM Grand
Delano at Mandalay Bay
Nomad inside Park MGM
Waldorf-Astoria at CityCenter
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