An elder statesman among the Strip's megaresorts, the 3,044-room Mirage relies less on thematics and a booze-fueled party scene for its appeal -- opting instead to emphasize comfortable, well-designed rooms, an enormous pool, diverse dining options, and attentive service. Attractions, from a giant volcano to Cirque du Soleil's "Love" to a wildlife sanctuary, are aimed at a multigenerational clientele.
With an on-site dolphin habitat, an incredible pool, the corny but spectacular volcano show, and multigenerational clientele, fun at the Mirage comes as close to wholesome and all-ages as it gets on the Las Vegas Strip.
One of the first megaresorts to hit the Strip, the Mirage opened in 1989, the first project for now-famed casino developer Steve Wynn. Somewhat of an elder statesman of the Strip, the 3,044-room Mirage goes relatively light on the glitz and is among the more family-friendly destinations in Las Vegas.
Compared with places like Planet Hollywood and Hooters, where the entertainment tends toward the raunchy, the shows at the Mirage are downright wholesome. Recent performances include puppeteer Terry Fator, standup by comedians Jay Leno and Ray Romano, and Cirque du Soleil's Beatles-inspired "Love." The trademark attraction, meanwhile, is the kid-friendly man-made volcano at the entrance. Siegfried & Roy'sSecret Garden & Dolphin Habitat is also popular with families.
Not that the resort doesn't offer any adult-oriented amusements. Bare, a grownups-only poolside lounge featuring bikini-clad service and "European-style" (i.e. topless) sunbathing, is tucked away from the main pool area.
The service exceeds expectations, given how big the place is. And the rooms, outfitted with 42-inch flat-screen TVs and iPod docks, combine '70s Vegas kitsch and modern amenities. The smallish bathrooms with ordinary fixtures are the only shortcoming -- that and the fact that my room smelled strongly of ammonia when I first arrived.
All in all, a great high-end choice for families -- though even they should compare prices at the similarly family-friendly Venetian, which has larger, more luxurious rooms.
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/The LINQ, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Westgate, and the SLS Las Vegas. 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.
Underneath some kitschy -- even weird -- decor is a comfortable, well-appointed room that, thanks to clever design, feels even more spacious than it is. After undergoing a $90 million renovation in August 2008, the rooms at the Mirage combine modern amenities like iPod docks and 42" LCD TVs with a fun retro look apparently inspired by the psychedelic 1970s: The carpeting resembles the outer surface of a tennis-ball; paintings on the walls look like Spirograph drawings.
At 400 square feet, the Deluxe rooms are about average for midlevel Vegas hotels -- and maybe even a little small compared to other properties in this price range -- but they pack in plenty of thoughtful touches that enhance comfort and maximize the space. I appreciated the long counteralong the wall facing the bed and the vanity bureau by the bathroom, for example. Electrical outlets, USB, and Ethernet ports, as well as A.V. inputs, bolster the utility of the work area.
The bathrooms, meanwhile, are smallish at 45 square feet, but perfectly functional. The standard-issue fixtures are in good condition, and the shower has plenty of pressure. The Aqua Lime products from Gilchrist & Soames were adequate if not top-tier.
For about $20 extra, guests can upgrade to the Tower Deluxe rooms on the 24th or 25th floors, which include Jacuzzi tubs and separate walk-in showers. Suites range from the 812-square-foot Mirage suite with two bathrooms and a Jacuzzi, to the 1,700-square-foot one- or two-bedroom Hospitality suites.
A well-designed but otherwise unremarkable spa, similarly solid fitness center, and a fairly typical Vegas business center that has extensive services but charges hefty fees.
The spa, with its modern mood lighting, is on par with Strip resorts, a cut above the dated blue-and-white-tile facilities at Bally's or the Flamingo, but below the elaborate relaxation dens at the Bellagio and the Four Seasons. Outfitted with the standard hot tub, sauna, steam room, and lounge, the spa looks pretty enough but doesn't particularly stand out among those found at Vegas resorts. The facilities are free for guests who book a treatment, but there is a charge otherwise. The spa offers a standard array of massages, body treatments, and facials; a 50-minute Swedish massage costs about average Vegas prices.
With plenty of room to stretch or do crunches in addition to plenty of treadmills, exercise bikes, and elliptical machines, as well as a very extensive set of free weights and Pilates balls, the fitness center rates slightly above those at other Strip resorts. Cardio machines sport personal flat-screen TVs, and free fruit, newspapers, and bottled water are also available. The space was also spotlessly clean and inviting. Guests who pay the daily admission to use the fitness center also get access to the spa facilities.
The business center has private mini-offices and 24-hour Internet kiosks. Nice touches, but, as is usual for Vegas, use of the extensive services costs extra, and sometimes a lot extra -- $2 to print a boarding pass, $7 to send a one-page fax, and 25 cents for a photocopy. The hotel also has more than 170,000 square feet of meeting space.
As with all MGM resorts, guests have access to the private Shadow Creek Golf Course, about a 20-minute drive from the Strip. The greens are only open to resort guests, and MGM offers a personal limo from the Strip and caddie service.
Two pools, including a sprawling, free-form main pool surrounded by lush plant life, cabanas, a bar, and a cafe.
The pool at the Mirage befits the hotel's stature as an upper-tier Vegas mega-resort, which is to say that it's gigantic, with beautiful greenery, luxury cabanas, a nearby bar, and a cafe. The pool itself is so large that just one of the five sections has three lane markers denoting a fully functional lap-swim area.
There's also a separate circular pool tucked away farther from the pool's main entrance.
Drink service is available to guests lounging in the many deck chairs.
Like many other Strip resorts, the Mirage also offers an adults-only pool called Bare where women are allowed to go topless. These two "party" pools offer drink service from buxom, bikini-clad servers. Live DJs play the latest in pop and hip-hop. It's a fun place to sit down and take in the beautiful sights, but there isn't much room to walk around, and a seat can cost a pretty penny: $20 admission for men, $10 for women, and as much as a $50 drink minimum to sit in a daybed. Cabana rentals require between $500 and $1,500 food-and-beverage minimums, depending on the day of the week. Guests can check with the hotel for pricing.
At least one pool is kept open and heated year-round, but cabanas and private lounges are unavailable during the winter months.
A mammoth 100,000-square-foot gaming area with the standard slots and table games, as well as a high-limit lounge, poker room, and sports book.
A colossal gaming space surrounded by the casino's restaurants, bars, and the Cirque du Soleil "Love" theater, the Mirage's casino brings a touch of class with modern light fixtures, a 90-foot-tall garden atrium, and blown glass sculptures. Beyond the typical slots and table games, the Mirage's casino provides a high-limit lounge for big spenders, a 25-table poker room with four different games and "sit-and-go" tournaments, and a 10,000-square-foot sports book with 150 individual viewing screens.
"Love," a Beatles-inspired Cirque du Soleil show that's run since 2006, draws a crowd. Puppeteer Terry Fator and famous comics round out the offerings.
"Love," an extravagant circus performance that draws inspiration from the catalog of the Beatles, has been highly successful since its 2006 debut; the soundtrack won two Grammy awards in 2008.
Ventriloquist and impressionist Terry Fator, who won the second season of TV's amateur-hour show America's Got Talent, occupies the Terry Fator Theatre, where standup comedians Jay Leno, Ray Romano, and Lewis Black also make appearances.
With its nightly volcano eruptions, a dolphin habitat, and relatively wholesome shows, the Mirage is among the more family-friendly Vegas resorts.
Note that "unusually family-friendly for Las Vegas" mostly means "there aren't video monitors advertising nudie shows in the lobby." Still, although it lacks the medieval shows and SpongeBob SquarePants appeal of the Disney-fied Excalibur, the Mirage does a good job of providing a fair serving of kid-friendly attractions.
The hotel's signature volcano erupts nightly, starting at 8 p.m. and continuing every hour until midnight. People of all ages stop on the sidewalk to photograph and videotape the spectacle. Meanwhile, the Siegfried & Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat contains lions and other big cats, as well as dolphins. Kids 3 and under get in free. The pool is fairly kid-friendly and hosts a great number of families with young children, although there are no ultra shallow ledges for toddlers.
With a California Pizza Kitchen (which has a kids' menu) and additional simple fare at Carnegie Delicatessen, Paradise Cafe, children have plenty to choose from. Plus, at the Cravings buffet, kids 5 to 10 eat at a discount.
Meanwhile, most of the adult-themed entertainment -- at the Bare pool lounge -- is hidden away from the main action.
There's a charge for each additional person beyond the first two in a room. Once that's paid, cribs and rollaway beds are free.
Options vary widely, from decent values at Cravings Buffet and BLT Burger to fine dining at adventurously decorated steakhouse Stack or classic Italian lounge Onda.
With a dozen full restaurants -- both casual and fine-dining -- the Mirage provides a variety of culinary experiences. Room service is available 24-hours, and there is also an on-site Starbucks. For everything else, the hotel doesn't skimp on options.