Changing spaces in Vegas

MGM Grand standard king room

MGM Grand’s guestrooms get upgraded

By Renée LiButti

When the MGM Grand began to renovate its rooms in October 2011, it wasn’t because they lacked amenities. The resort’s rooms already bore an Old Hollywood feel that mixed classic grandeur with modern luxuries.

“Iconic Hollywood” was how Shaun Perumal, a member of the sales department at MGM Resorts International, described them while showing a floor of older rooms as a means for comparison prior to unveiling a recently refurbished floor.

So before all that classic charm could become passé, the hotel embarked on a complete overhaul. Dubbed “The Grand Renovation,” it involves updating more than 4,200 rooms and suites for an estimated $160 million in the brief timeline of a year.

“The MGM Grand is home to everything big that plays in Vegas,” said Perumal. “And we want our rooms to reflect the casino floor – to complement it and capture that feeling.”

The hallways at the MGM Grand have also undergone a facelift to add fresh carpeting and ultramodern accents.

The hallways at the MGM Grand have undergone a facelift to add fresh carpeting and ultramodern accents.

The makeover even extends beyond the rooms to encompass the hallways, which have been opened up and stretch as far as the eye can see. Now mirrors, multi-hued carpeting and accents of polished metal can be found along them – hence guests enjoy an energized feeling just by stepping off the elevators.

Then, it’s time to cross the threshold of these posh pads. The MGM Grand’s revamped rooms and suites boast an interior showcasing the finest in furnishings and décor. The aesthetic melds simplicity and elegance with distinctive design touches in terms of lighting, texture and color. It definitely drives the resort’s guest experience to the next level.

“Everything is new,” said Perumal, taking the time to find just the right words. “Updated, warm, contemporary – this is A-list and Hollywood chic.”

The renovations also feature cutting-edge technology. Guaranteed to be a favorite with guests are the remote-controlled sheer and blackout shades, as opposed to traditional drapes. Perumal demonstrated how easy they are to use – and they certainly make the most of the hotel’s scenic views of Las Vegas and the Strip through the enormous windows.

MGM Grand lobby display

The MGM Grand has built a model of the redesigned standard king room in its expansive lobby.

Other high-tech offerings include flat-screen TVs with a media hub to plug in a variety of devices as well as in-room high-definition movies and the availability of upgraded internet bandwidth. According to Perumal, the MGM Grand is looking forward to providing guests with an even larger array of luxury options (like a new generously stocked minibar) and to incorporating more sustainable elements into the rooms.

For example, thermostats have been improved so that it’s easier to manage the temperature. Lamps utilize energy-efficient light bulbs. Water will be conserved through stylish faucets and shower fixtures. And the bath amenities are 100 percent biodegradable.

The MGM Grand is so proud of their all-new accommodations, they are displaying a full-scale mockup of the standard king layout on a platform in the center of the lobby. Visitors can see the unique ambiance for themselves. Plus, they can check out some of the finer points of the remodeled interiors, including:

• Comfortable, yet functional furnishings – from the graceful desk to ergonomic chairs.
• Dynamic artwork. Think bold, vibrant and very modern.
• Top-quality materials – like wool carpeting, zebrawood veneer and leather.
• A palette of cool colors. Shades run the gamut from fuchsia and cherry to icy blue, amber and taupe.

Remodeling so many rooms is a huge endeavor. And it’s only one facet of the changes currently sweeping the MGM Grand. Several projects have already been completed, such as enhancing the lobby with 48 gigantic HD video screens, redesigning the high-limit slots area and upgrading the Studio Ballroom and other meeting facilities. Many more are in the thick of development.

The MGM Grand's high-limit slots area boasts an elegant atmosphere with hand-carved elements and painted artwork.

The MGM Grand's high-limit slots area boasts an elegant atmosphere with hand-carved elements and painted artwork.

“We’re experimenting with different carpets in the casino – this is just a test,” said Perumal, after pointing out a trial patch on the casino floor. Most visitors would have to do a double-take to spot the subtle cosmetic difference.

Of course, the resort has always gone a little gaga over its restaurant collection. Their list of brilliant chefs reads like a who’s who of the culinary world – from Tom Colicchio, Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse to Michael Mina and Joël Robuchon, who has been recognized by “Forbes Travel Guide” as one of the finest in the world.

“You can’t go anywhere else and find this many restaurants of this caliber,” said Perumal, while strolling along Studio Walk, one of the MGM Grand’s retail and dining hubs.

More restaurants are scheduled to make a debut – including the Sugar Factory, a dessert lover’s dream come true. Funnyman Brad Garrett will be opening a new comedy club in March near the Star Lane Shops. And while the beloved Studio 54 nightclub is in its waning days, scheduled to close Feb. 4, the space is making way for another evolution of partying on the Strip.

“Our new rooms elevate MGM Grand’s incredible collection of offerings,” wrote Scott Sibella, president and COO, on “This is one of many exciting announcements on the horizon, all of which will solidify MGM Grand’s position not only as an entertainment destination, but as a premier hospitality experience.”

So while some may be sad to see the classic rooms and hallmarks of the hotel’s history fade away, the new arrivals are sure to win a place in your heart. And, it would seem, leaving these impressively remodeled rooms to partake in the MGM Grand’s endless leisure options is going to be a lot more challenging.

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I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.