Ten big changes at MGM Grand in 2012

An extraordinary entertainment destination that looms large on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, MGM Grand has spent 2012 immersed in what’s been dubbed the “Grand Renovation.” With $160 million allocated just for the room and suite component of the resort’s refurbishment, things have certainly been getting grander there! Now, upon the dawning of 2013, here’s a look at what’s come and gone at MGM Grand this past year.

MGM Grand in Las Vegas

During 2012, MGM Grand has been engaged in the "Grand Renovation." (Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International)

1.) The closing of Studio 54 (Feb. 4, 2012). This nightclub that harkened back to the disco extravagance of the ’70s and ’80s dominated the nightlife scene in Vegas for 14 years. Hakkasan has taken over its space. Currently under construction, it is destined to revolutionize clubbing in Sin City all over again. Estimated to cost about $70 million, this upscale restaurant and lavish nightclub will span 75,000 square feet over five levels and offer an array of indoor and outdoor experiences. Already well-known in London, Dubai and New York City, Hakkasan in Las Vegas is scheduled to debut in spring 2013.

2.) The opening of Sugar Factory (March 2, 2012). Audrina Patridge of MTV’s “The Hills” fame was on hand to usher in this tempting 2,700-square-foot retail store. It’s stocked with nostalgic candy, seasonal treats, super-sized sweets, whimsical gifts and logo apparel. Sugar Factory is known for its celebrity-endorsed Couture Pops. These rhinestone-studded and charm-bearing sticks have interchangeable lollipop heads, which have been designed by stars ranging from singers Britney Spears and Nicole Scherzinger to reality TV personality Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.

Blizz Frozen Yogurt & Desserts at MGM Grand

Everything is yummy at Blizz Frozen Yogurt & Desserts, which opened this year at MGM Grand. (Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International)

3.) The opening of Blizz Frozen Yogurt & Desserts (March 24, 2012). Another star-studded launch at MGM Grand, this one brought out Adrienne Maloof of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” fame to celebrate. She and her former husband, Dr. Paul Nassif, are partners in the franchise, which was created and is operated by Tony and Emily Ravelo. The self-serve frozen yogurt is mouth-watering – with a rich, creamy taste that is never grainy or icy. Twelve flavors are available with all of your favorite toppings. As the name Blizz Frozen Yogurt & Desserts suggests, more than yogurt is on tap here. There’s a pastry case with decadent creations like molten lava cakes and raspberry truffles as well as The Bar, which offers a unique line of yogurt-based daiquiris and other cocktails. Guests can also order sweet and savory crêpes, Belgian waffles and smoothies.

4.) The opening of Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club (March 29, 2012). Brad Garrett, beloved for his role as curmudgeonly, second-favorite son on the “Everyone Loves Raymond” TV series, has long been revered on the stand-up comedy scene. Over April Fools’ weekend, he introduced  Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club in an area called “The Underground” at MGM Grand. Not only does he perform engagements there, but you’ll also see some of his famous funny friends along with an array of veteran and up-and-coming comics nightly.

5.) The closing of Michael Mina’s Seablue (Aug. 6, 2012). Don’t despair, Eater.com (Vegas edition)  reports that celebrity chef Michael Mina hasn’t gone anywhere. According to Eater, Mina is devising a new look and menu for the space likely to be unveiled in early 2013.  Until then, you can continue to enjoy Mina’s food at his  Nobhill Tavern, a sophisticated restaurant at MGM Grand acclaimed for its modern American cuisine.

The Grand King room at MGM Grand

This recently remodeled standard guest room at MGM Grand is called the "Resort King." (Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International)

6.) The completion of the $160 million room and suite remodeling project (Sept. 27, 2012). This massive undertaking began in October 2011. It involved renovating 3,570 rooms and 642 suites that now showcase the finest in furnishings and décor with distinctive touches in terms of lighting, texture and color. In addition, the renovations feature cutting-edge technology ranging from remote-controlled shades and flat-screen TVs with media hubs to upgraded internet bandwidth. With an eye to being environmentally conscious, the new accommodations have improved thermostats, LED lighting and faucets that conserve water. As part of the remodeling process, the resort also introduced a new suite type: the two-story Skyline Terrace Suites. Spacious and kitted out with every luxury you can imagine, they boast expansive outdoor terraces with panoramic views of the Strip.

7.) The refreshing of the casino floor (late September 2012). Upgrades to MGM Grand’s sprawling casino floor began early in the year. Stylish new carpeting has been installed. Slot and video poker machines were rearranged to create wider walkways for guests. Plus, new signage in beige (instead of green) with large black text has been added to help with navigation of the property’s recently designated “neighborhoods.” For example, The Underground refers to the shops, eateries and Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club found in passageway from the parking garage leading to the front desk, while The District describes the collection of stores, restaurants and bars passed en route to the pool.

Project Pie at MGM Grand

The casual eatery Project Pie now serves its famous custom pizzas at MGM Grand. (Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International)

8.) The opening of Project Pie (Oct. 16, 2012). This unique 1,800-square-foot pizza joint is situated in The Underground. Project Pie is the brainchild of James Markham, who also created the MOD Pizza chain in Seattle and Pieology in Fullerton, Calif. Here you can order one of nine signature formulations or concoct your own pie from 24 fresh toppings. The pizzas are cooked quickly – in only three minutes! – in an 800-degree oven. The menu also offers salads and desserts, including hand-made milkshakes.

9.) The introduction of the Stay Well room type (late October 2012). Hoping to tap into the growing market of wellness-oriented travelers, MGM Grand launched the Stay Well collection. These 42 rooms and suites, similar in size and look to other accommodations at the resort, are loaded with amenities that promote better health – for both your body and mind. For instance, the air purification system is built to meet HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) standards. An energizing light system in the bathroom helps your wake/sleep cycle, while soft LED lighting throughout the room creates an ambiance aligned to your body’s circadian rhythms. The alarm clock gently coaxes you to rise by gradually increasing light levels and playing peaceful sounds. For the skin, there are features like hypoallergenic linens, soaps and body washes, along with an activated carbon water filter in the sink and a vitamin C infuser in the shower. You can also start the day off with freshly squeezed vegetable juice or other items found on a special in-room menu designed by nutritionists from the Cleveland Clinic. And there’s a dedicated Stay Well room channel that broadcasts an introductory message from Deepak Chopra, the famed mind and body healer.

10.) The debut of Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp (late October 2012). Designed to let people of all music abilities experience the dream of being a rock star, Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp opened in Las Vegas. A variety of packages are available. You can hone your skills by jamming with musicians who’ve recorded with renowned bands at the company’s state-of-the-art, 12-studio facility situated just west of the Strip. Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp also gives fans the chance to perform with their rock idols onstage at the MGM Grand. Stars who have appeared at these limited, specially scheduled sessions have included Roger Daltrey of The Who, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Paul Stanley of KISS, Slash of Guns N’ Roses, Scott Ian of Anthrax and Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe. The lineup for early 2013 features Dave Navarro, Alice Cooper and Sammy Hagar.


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. 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+.