Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada

Oyster Review Summary

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Pros

Cons

Bottom Line

The giant, 3,215-room Mandalay Bay offers more for kids -- wave pool, streaming lazy river pool, shark aquarium -- and plenty for adults -- quality spa, lively bars, premier cuisine -- but the constant crowds, long lines, airport noise, and a slightly cut-off-from-the-Strip location make it a slightly less attractive mid-tier luxury option.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Massive hotel with an 11-acre pool complex and an on-site aquarium that both families and partiers flock to by the thousands.

The Adults Only Pool
The Adults Only Pool

Even when you compare it to the other giant hotels in Vegas, the 3,215-room Mandalay Bay hotel is crowded, especially after you factor in another 1,117 rooms at THEhotel and yet another 400 rooms at Four Seasons (both have shared access to the pools and the casino at Mandalay Bay).

Given the hotel's aquarium, wave pool, and broad assortment of 20+ restaurants, it rates with hotels like the MGM Grand as one of the best upscale family hotels in Vegas.

But along with the children, there's still plenty of beer chugging at the pools and bars like Red Square and House of Blues draw plenty of twentysomethings into the hotel. Conventions are also a big chunk of the hotel's market.

The Mandalay's location on the southern edge of the Strip make it a bit more cut off from the attractions in the center of the Strip, where you can find the Mirage and the Bellagio.

 Location

On the south side of the Strip, so close to the airport you can hear the planes taking off from your room, and a bit cut off from the major Vegas attractions.

The Mandalay Bay hotel complex, which also houses THEhotel and the Four Seasons hotels, is on the southernmost end of a three-and-a-half mile long stretch of hotel-casinos known as the Strip. Outside the complex, there isn't much in the immediate vicinity -- some vacant lots, rundown motels, and strip malls. To get closer to the central Strip attractions, you can take the free, 0.7-mile tram that connects Mandalay to the Luxor and Excalibur, the two closest hotels to the north. It runs Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Most Las Vegas visitors want to explore all of the big properties along the Strip. Cabs are easy to find at virtually any time of day or night. A generally less expensive option is the Deuce, a double-decker bus that runs up and down the strip 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and costs $3 to ride. There's also a monorail system, which stops at MGM Grand, Bally's/Paris, Flamingo/Caesars Palace, Harrah's/Imperial Palace, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Hilton, and the Sahara -- but it's a long walk to the MGM Grand stop from Mandalay Bay. A single-ride ticket is $5; a one-day pass is $13. If you're traveling along the Strip with at least one other person, a cab is often the least expensive option.

Virtually every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip is a 10- to 15-minute cab ride from McCarran International Airport; the ride typically costs about $15.

 Rooms

Rooms are basic, show signs of wear, hear a bit of street and airport noise, and are generally less attractive than most other leading Vegas hotels.

The Deluxe Room
The Deluxe Room

At least on paper, the rooms rival some of the best Vegas hotels. They all have the requisite TV in the bathroom, the floor-to-ceiling windows, the well-stocked minibar, the separate soaking tub and standing shower, the comfortable sofa, marble countertops, the modern technologies -- just enough swank to make your money seem well spent. But the overall look just doesn't stand up to the luxury hotels on the Strip, like the rich flourishes found in the Bellagio rooms or the sleek comforts in the rooms at the Wynn.

  • 42-inch plasma flast-screen
  • Pillow-top mattress
  • Sony alarm clock radio
  • Available Strip, beach, and mountain views available
  • Stocked mini-bar
  • Working desk
  • Wi-Fi
  • Imported stone countertops in bathrooms
  • 15-inch personal TVs in bathrooms
  • Separate soaking tub and shower
  • Higher-level rooms have iPod docking stations, 50- or 65-inch TVs, Bose sound machines, and whirlpool baths

 Features

Aside from the incredible pools (more on these below, in the pool section) Mandalay also has a giant shark aquarium and a mediocre spa and fitness center.

The gym
The gym
  • A 1.6-million-gallon Shark Reef Aquarium with some 2,000 animals on display, including 15 different kinds of sharks
  • Fitness center costs a daily fee (typical at most Vegas resorts) and includes a good selection of cardio equipment with private TV monitors, free weights, exercise balls, and strength training machines
  • Spa Mandalay and Bathhouse Spa in THEhotel tower, which has a sauna, steam room, and a big, less-relaxing looking and more serious-looking, slate-tiled spa tub for a fee.

 Casino

Like everything else at Mandalay, the casino is big, but it doesn't feel as exciting or interesting as the casinos at other luxury hotels, like the Wynn, Bellagio, Venetian, or Caesars Palace.

The casino includes the standard offering of slots, table games, blackjack, poker, race and sports book, along with the high-limit room, but the design and atmosphere is about on par with any other giant hotel in Vegas.

 Pools

An 11-acre pool complex that gets incredibly crowded, but includes a lazy river pool and the Strip's only wave pool.

Aerial view of pool complex
Aerial view of pool complex
  • While the rooms, the spa, the casino, the service, and, well, everything else at the Mandalay is pretty average, the enormous pool complex really is incredible. But even with six pools in an 11-acre complex, the place still manages to get crowded. Plan on waking up very early if you want to snag an open lounge chair.
  • The largest pool, and clearly the kid favorite, is the wave pool, which produces waist-high (on an adult) ocean waves every few minutes. The waves aren't especially dangerous (they're just barely large enough for a kid to body surf), but the hotel keeps lifeguards posted and all children much be at least 48 inches tall to go in the pool.
  • For slightly less intense fun, kids -- or adults -- can hop into an inner tube (small or large available for rent) and float down the streaming lazy river pool, which winds around a little hill and through waterfalls. A lazy river pool can also be found at the MGM Grand.
  • The East Lagoon pool is a bit quieter, and includes cabanas for rent, but here, again, the lounge chairs get claimed pretty early. Less popular is the South Lagoon pool, where it'll be easier to find an open chair in the afternoon and there's a poolside bar, but you're also stuck looking at a parking lot.
  • A rowdy pool party (and topless sunbathing) can be found at the Moorea Beach Club pool, which only allows adults ages 21 and up and charges a cover for men to access the pool , but only $10 for women. But the party here doesn't quite have the same appeal as the infamous Rehab party at the Hard Rock casino or the parties at Wet Republic at the MGM Grand -- when I visited, it was mostly just young dudes swigging beers.
  • The enormous Mandalay Bay Beach pool complex closes during the winter months. Moorea Beach Club is open year-round, weather permitting, and is free and open to guests of all ages during the winter months.

 Family

Designed for families -- incredible pools, various dining options, family entertainment, and a giant shark aquarium -- Mandalay Bay is a top family pick.

The pool
The pool

The base-level rooms are big, and include a small sofa (big enough to sleep a toddler), but all the rooms come with a king-size bed, so families will have to request a rollaway mattress or upgrade to a one- or two-bedroom suite. Cribs are also available.

For entertainment, the hotel hosts a number of family-friendly performances, such as Disney's The Lion King musical.

Unlike the Venetian and some of the other high-luxury hotels on the Strip, Mandalay Bay also has some inexpensive dining options for families, including Canter's Delicatessen and Raffles Cafe.

 Food

Between three hotels on the Mandalay complex, there are 23 restaurants of varying price and style.

A Mexican dish at Border Grill
A Mexican dish at Border Grill

The Mandalay complex (which includes THEhotel and the Four Seasons) has 20+ dining options -- more than most hotels on the Strip. For a complete list of restaurants and sample menus, check out the Mandalay Bay website's dining page.

To rival the best Vegas foodie-hotel greats -- the Bellagio, the Wynn, and the Venetian among them -- there is a broad range of fine dining options from acclaimed chefs include the following:

  • Charlie Palmer's Aureole, which serves French fare for dinner only, and Steak, also open for dinner only
  • Lupo from Wolfgang Puck, which serves Italian for dinner only
  • Rick Moonsen's RM Seafood, open for lunch and dinner
  • Michael Mina's STRIPSTEAK, open for dinner only
  • Mexican at Border Grill from Food Network's Too Hot Tamales
  • Burger Bar from Hubert Keller
  • miX by Alain Ducasse, which serves French for dinner only

Additional on-site options include

  • Bayside Buffet, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • La Comida serves Mexican
  • A food court with burgers, deli sandwiches, coffee, Italian, and others
  • The Noodle Shop serves traditional Chinese
  • Sports Book Grill, open for lunch and dinner
  • Ri Ra Irish Pub, with live music
  • Raffles Cafe, open 24 hours
  • Slice of Vegas, a pizza place that serves slices for lunch and dinner

 Drinks

Home to some of the best bars on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Stripsteak's bar
The Stripsteak's bar

Built to capture the spirit of southern blues (well, southern blues plus Buddha statues), the House of Blues Foundation Room is a Vegas favorite -- mostly because the private "tea rooms" feel far more intimate than the mega-clubs and lounges everywhere else. Plus, as the bar is perched on one of the top floors of the hotel, it comes with some amazing views of the Strip. Though the website says this bar is open to "members only," I had no problem getting inside.

Red Square, voted the best bar in America by Playboy magazine, serves caviar and Russian favorites, along with infused vodkas over a bar that's actually made of ice -- a fine way to keep your drink cold.

LIGHT nightclub, which is partially owned by Cirque de Soliel, was a recent addition.

 Bottom Line

The giant, 3,215-room Mandalay Bay offers more for kids -- wave pool, streaming lazy river pool, shark aquarium -- and plenty for adults -- quality spa, lively bars, premier cuisine -- but the constant crowds, long lines, airport noise, and a slightly cut-off-from-the-Strip location make it a slightly less attractive mid-tier luxury option.

Things You Should Know About Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino

Address

  • 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV, US

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Mandalay Bay
  • Mandalay Bay Hotel

Room Types

  • 1500 SV
  • 1500 X2
  • 1500 X3
  • 550 DR
  • 550 DR View
  • 600 SS
  • 750 GR
  • Media Suite
  • Vista Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 3215
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi: Yes
Casino: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: The Strip, Las Vegas
Address: 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV, US
(See Map)
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