Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
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 at Mandalay Bay).
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, as found at the Mirage or the Bellagio. But a major renovation throughout 2013 and 2014 might give the hotel the distinct personality that it needs, with a updates to the casino, restaurants, lobby lounge, and even THEhotel, which become a hip Delano brand addition.
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, /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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Between three hotels on the Mandalay complex, there are 23 restaurants of varying price and style.
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:
Additional on-site options include
Home to some of the best bars on the Las Vegas Strip.
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 owen by Cirque de Soliel, will open in Spring 2013.
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.