THEhotel targets the upscale business traveler By Amy Baratta / May 28, 2004 Share 1 -- LAS VEGAS -- Had it not been for the fact that the oversized windows in my suite gave me a beautiful view of the mountains and a tiny slice of the Strip, I never would have known I was in Las Vegas. Then again, that's exactly how I felt from the minute I set foot in the stylish, 60,000-square-foot lobby of THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.The soaring ceilings and polished interior done in a palette of black, brown and cream had the feel of an urban boutique property along the lines of a W hotel.Apparently, I am not alone in my moment of deja vu."A lot of people who come and stay at THEhotel say that it reminds them of a W or a Mandarin Oriental hotel," said a spokesman for the property.The comparisons confirm what THEhotel set out to be when it opened last December: an upscale, themeless property built for the discerning business traveler.So, unlike so many themed properties in Las Vegas, there are no gimmicks here -- unless elegance can be counted as the one thread of commonality. "Last January, Mandalay Bay opened the fifth-largest convention center in North America," the spokesman said. "Despite having lots of rooms around here [at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino], we needed more. And while our rooms in Mandalay Bay are very nice, very elegant, we thought, since we were building, why not take the next step?"That next step turned out to be a 43-floor, stand-alone hotel tower offering 1,118 suites, a 14,000-square-foot spa and exercise facility and 5,000 square feet of conference and function space.The lobby -- whose layout features a promenade and a rotunda -- is something to see, although at first I had trouble finding my way to the registration desk and elevators because of dim lighting coupled with a dark-colored floor and walls.Despite being busy both when I checked in and checked out, the registration area, comprising nine regular check-in desks, a separate VIP check-in area, two restaurant- and show- reservation desks and a bell desk, was efficient, and no wait was required for either transaction.Nearby was "the lounge," a bar, lounge and billiards area, which, although I passed it several times during my two-day stay at the property, never was empty; "the coffee bar," a hugely popular place in the morning with its hot and cold beverages and delectable-looking bakery fare; and "the store," a sundries shop where merchandise runs the gamut from bottled water to Tommy Bahamas men's wear.Just down the grand promenade, a large walkway that connects the lobby to Mandalay Bay via its casino -- at a spot between the Mandalay Bay Theatre and the race and sports book -- "the cafe" is the place to grab breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between.The 150-seat casual eatery is open around the clock, but "it's not fair to call it a coffee shop," the spokesman said. "It's really the equivalent to a fine-dining establishment."But as grand as THEhotel's first floor was, it was my suite on the 30th floor that was most impressive.Billed as the largest standard hotel room in the city, my 725-square-foot standard deluxe room seemed at once enormous -- with its separate living and sleeping areas -- and cozy, which I attributed to its classic decor and warm tones of brown, bone and beige.The living room area featured a good-size half-bath, a wet bar, a minibar, a club chair, a sofa with three splashy orange throw pillows, a coffee table and a 42-inch plasma television.The room also contained a desk equipped with a high-speed Internet connection, an ergonomically correct desk chair and a fax/printer/copier machine -- in other words, just about everything a business traveler would need to keep in touch with the office or make last-minute changes on a document or presentation.Once I saw this set-up, I understood why "the business center," located just off the registration area on the first floor, was what it was: a spartan cubicle containing two desk chairs and two flat-screen computers."At the front desk, there are limited business services," the property spokesman said. "But [for those in need of something more than what the suite set-up offers], we do have a full-blown business center out in the convention center."As functional as the suite's living area was, the bedroom was designed as the place to relax.My king-size bed with its pillow-top mattress was wrapped in sumptuous sheets and topped with a down comforter and pillows.Meanwhile, over in the combination armoire/entertainment center, a plush bathrobe and slippers invited me to relax in front of the 32-inch plasma TV.Even in the bathroom, accented with marble, granite and chrome, there's a wall-mounted 13-inch plasma TV as well as a vanity with double sinks, a separate, glass-enclosed shower and a sunken tub.All in all, not bad for a starting price of $189 per night.Other accommodations include penthouses, which are located on the uppermost three floors of the tower, and what are known as view suites.These rooms -- there are just four on each floor -- are similar to a standard deluxe suite except that they are slightly larger and have one bedroom wall that is made completely of glass."They offer stunning views of the Strip and are slightly higher in price," the spokesman said.Business suites, located on floors three through six, have the same layout and design as standard deluxe accommodations, but they are situated across the hall from the property's conference and function space, offering business travelers the convenience of being near their meeting location.To contact reporter Amy Baratta, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .• • •Room Key: THEhotel at Mandalay Bay Address: 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. So., Las Vegas, Nev. 89119Phone: (702) 632-7777, main switchboardWeb:www.mandalaybay.comReservations: (877) 632-7000Location: On the south end of the Strip adjacent to the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino; a 10-minute ride from McCarran Airport.Facilities: 1,118 suites, lobby bar and billiards lounge, sundries shop, coffee bar, 24-hour cafe, spa and exercise facility, small conference and meetings rooms, 220-seat rooftop restaurant and 200-seat lounge set to open this summer.Noteworthy: Suite layout with separate living and bedroom/bathroom areas -- and a half-bath in the living area -- allows business travelers to entertain or work in-room without sacrificing privacy.Not worthy: For all the recessed lighting and table lamps located in the suite, lighting was a bit dim, especially in the living/working area.Mural, prints, photography line lobby wallsLAS VEGAS -- Move over, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas.In what may be THEhotel at Mandalay Bay's best-kept secret, visitors can enjoy top-notch artwork, which is sprinkled here and there throughout the lobby area.Chosen by Michele Quinn, who is also the director of the Godt-Cleary Gallery in Mandalay Place, the collection includes "Night Before Last III," a mural by Arturo Herrera that adorns the wall behind the reception desk."Camouflage (portfolio of 8)," a group of screenprints by Andy Warhol, is located in the east entry lobby, while above by the housephone in the elevator lobby, Jasper Johns' "Land's End" can be found.Also located in the east entry are groupings of photographer Valeri Belin's work, including three large prints and two small prints from "Untitled (Moroccan Bride Series)" as well as four large prints from "Untitled (Mirror Series)."In the main entry, Richard Serra's "Carnegie" and "Venice Notebook" can be found, and in the lobby bar as well as by the concierge desk, visitors can observe Robert Rauschenberg's "Soviet American Array VI."Also located near the VIP check-in area is Donald Judd's "Untitled (Black Horizontal)." -- A.B.The MixLAS VEGAS -- The biggest buzz about THEhotel at Mandalay Bay is the much-anticipated opening of Mix in Las Vegas.Alain Ducasse's 220-seat restaurant and 200-seat lounge will be located on the property's 43rd floor, just a glass-backed elevator ride from the lobby.Few details have been released about the Patrick Jovin-designed eatery, but its menu reportedly will include three categories: Americana (think macaroni and cheese but with a definite twist), some favorites from Monte Carlo and Paris, and, of course, some new creations. -- A.B.