Signature Sophistication

MGM Grand gets bigger, better and bolder

By: Anne Burke

The “hotel within a hotel” is one of the biggest trends to hit the Las Vegas Strip in recent years. As visitors wearied of crowded lobbies and indifferent service, the big resort-casinos spawned boutique offspring, usually located in an adjoining wing or under the same roof.

The latest twist to the concept is The Signature at MGM Grand, a trio of golden-glassed towers, the first of which opened in May. This time, the child has ventured farther from the nest. These luxury suites are located in a private, gated environment north of the MGM Grand’s pool and Convention Center. Though the enclosed walkway that links the world’s largest hotel from its newly hatched offspring takes only a couple minutes to traverse, the two properties seem a world apart.

Where the MGM Grand is round-the-clock, turbo-charged action, the Signature is cool sophistication. Clients won’t hear the ka-chink of a single slot machine. There are no restaurants or nightclubs, only Starbucks coffee shops and a delicatessen. The grounds are lushly landscaped and the atmosphere is one of tranquility and healthy rejuvenation. Except for cocktail lounges in the lobby, the three towers are entirely nonsmoking a revolutionary concept in a town that built its reputation on naughty behavior.

While guests at the MGM Grand may feel like another face in the crowd, the emphasis at The Signature is on personal service. Everyone from housekeeper to engineer undergoes etiquette training. The hoi polloi won’t be milling about in the lobby; a key card is required for access.

The goal, said Frederic Luvisutto, the European-born, multilingual executive director who led us on a hard-hat tour shortly before the opening of Tower One, is to bring Four Seasons-style service, sophistication and serenity to the Strip. It makes sense. For a sailor on shore leave, 24-hour-a-day fun sounds appealing. For most of us, eight hours will do nicely. The rest of the time, we want to kick back and relax.

Each of the three towers comprises 576 suites, a few of which will be set aside

as owner-occupied condos. Each lobby will have a distinctive feel warm, California colors in one; bold, contemporary colors in another; and a spa decor in a third. The suites evoke a warm and homey feel. The appointments and furnishings are tasteful and high end, in an earthy color scheme. Suites run from 550 to 1,500 square feet, with kitchenettes or kitchens equipped with Sub-Zero, Miele and Bosch appliances and Italian cabinets laden with elegant dinnerware for in-suite meals at a real dining table.

Each bedroom features a king-sized bed with 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and a plush down comforter. Smaller suites have sitting areas, larger ones spacious parlors, all with high-definition, flat-screen TVs. Bathrooms are extra roomy and feature a Jacuzzi whirlpool and June Jacobs’ spa products.

The mountain and city views are awe-inspiring. But my favorite room was a junior suite in which a client can lie in bed and watch the take offs and landings from McCarran International Airport. About 60 percent of the rooms have balconies, a rarity in Las Vegas. Each tower has a pool and business center; some have meeting space, executive boardrooms and fitness centers. One tower will have high-end retail.
Luvisutto wants guests to get comfortable but not too comfortable. The idea is that guests will take the walkway to the main property for restaurant dining, shows, nightclubbing, shopping and gambling.

Tower Two is expected to open in December, followed by Tower Three in May 2007. The MGM Mirage’s recently implemented GDS code “MV” has been expanded to include bookings for The Signature and a number of other properties.