What happened in Vegas!
Posted: 2011-11-20. Categories: Hospitality Industry, Nevada

As the saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!” But not this time…

I have dreamed of the day I could take a nice long vacation and stay at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. Their commercials make it sound like the perfect resort. To say we were excited about our trip to MineCon (the Minecraft Conference) is an understatement. Our entire family was very excited about spending 4 fun-filled days in Las Vegas.

Our room is described on the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino website as:

The 550 square foot Deluxe Room is the perfect blend of comfort and style. We like to call it simple chic–and with artfully designed furnishings and plush textiles, you’ll love to call it home during your stay.

Perhaps, they really meant shabby-chic? Judging from our room, the hotel is old and long overdue for more than a face-lift.

Room Rates and Condition

Mandalay Bay
Mandalay Bay Casino, Hotel & Resort

The Mandalay Bay rate for this room “starts” at $90 a night and according to the reservation system, the rate for this same room could be as much as $480 per night, which would be comparable to the Hilton Inn but that is where the comparison ends. (Think “very roomy Motel 6.”) We received a discounted rate due to the MineCon negotiated rate.

Sure, the casino is all glitz and glamour: the commercials make it look like heaven on earth but it wasn’t even close. The bed wasn’t even made properly, the sheets and blanket were wadded up on one side. They use all flat sheets, so my side of the bed wasn’t fully covered with the sheet. Consequently, I woke up at least once, with my feet directly on the mattress. Fortunately, the mattress, which we checked for bedbugs, was clean and in perfect shape. We were so tired I was grateful for a good night’s sleep.

The rest of the room was a different story. The toilet paper was so rough we went to the store and bought a package, which was necessary because of the food being served at the Bayside Buffet. An electrical wall-plate was broken, tiles were cracked and broken in the bathroom, the finish was peeling off the dresser – which are all minor things, but they detract from the appeal of the room.

Bathroom Facilities

I found the bathroom set-up to be totally unacceptable. On one side of the hallway outside the bathroom is a very large full-length mirror. Directly opposite the mirror is a large frosted window, which allows you to see fairly clearly into the bathroom, where the shower stall has large clear glass walls and a large glass door. Fortunately, the stall has it’s own door…unless you are claustrophobic because the door will not stay open. The doors between the bathroom and the bedroom are split doors with magnetic fasteners that were difficult to close.

Then I discovered trash under the bed, under the chair and a very expensive padded bra under the footstool, which just might fit me, so I think I’ll wash it and keep it as a souvenir. The desk chair sags in the middle and the springs have seen much better days. It’s not all bad though, we have a wonderful view of the roof.

To make matters worse, this entire floor seems to have some sort of vacuum issue that causes the doors to rattle, groan and howl at irregular intervals, keeping us all awake. I called maintenance no less than 5 times and yet no one has shown up to correct or even acknowledge the problem. We received a message on our phone for someone else, from the front desk clerk, checking to be sure we received our dental kit, which we neither requested nor received.

Mandalay Bay has some interesting policies…

  • When we first arrived we opted for the valet parking, simply because I have issues walking and it appeared that the parking garage was too far for me to walk, which turned out not to be the case. The valet turned off the lights on our Tribeca and we didn’t realize it, so we ended up driving around for an hour, in the dark, without headlights. Surely this was intended to save our battery – but that’s not an issue with the Tribeca.
  • We were told we weren’t allowed to use the luggage cart for liability reasons: the real reason is the hotel doesn’t want the carts in the elevators. We weren’t even allowed to walk up to our room with our luggage, so we were forced to leave our things with a perfect stranger and carry the things that were valuable.
  • We opted to have pizza delivered to our room because the buffets were so terrible. We were required to pay for the pizza by credit card over the phone, then we were informed that the delivery men aren’t allowed inside the hotel. I had to walk all the way down to the valet station outside. Never mind, that the complex is huge and my feet are still killing me.

I find it curious that the hotel allows “working girls” to frequent the hotel – but they refuse to allow a pizza delivery man to enter? Sigh.

Mandalay Bay Casino: Slot Machines

I’m not a professional gambler. I wanted to sit down, relax and play for a while. I spent a little time at the slot machines but I didn’t play long, especially once I noticed a common theme at the Mandalay Bay, which I discovered after playing the slots at the Luxor Casino. Many of the slot machines at the Mandalay Bay Casino have had their options limited. One game that I played was supposed to be a 5 cent machine, but all the smaller denominations were removed, so players were only allowed to play 50 cents, $1.00 or $2.00 per spin.

Those type of machines are intended for hardcore gamblers. If you ask me, the Mandalay Bay is all about squeezing every nickel out of their guests as possible. They do a terrific job at marketing, but fail to deliver. I played with $40.00 and actually broke even playing the slots. I figured that was a sign to stop playing, and I did.


A young lady named Liz on staff with the hotel was nice enough to listen to my long list of complaints and compensated us by offering 2-free spa visits and applied a credit to our room, good for any restaurant in the complex. We were too frustrated to take advantage of her kind offer and left instead. I managed to spend $4.32 on a soda at the Bayside Buffet, which I charged to my room, as instructed.

We returned home only to find that we had been charged for the soda. After yet one more call, the hotel made it right…but it doesn’t entirely wipe this stressful experience from my mind.

Bayside Buffet

I felt the Bayside Buffet was very overpriced. Diners may opt to eat all three meals at the buffet for $44.99, which seems like a reasonable deal, until you discover you can take the tram to the Luxor and the Excalibur in minutes and chose either buffet for any meal of your three meals for just $32 a person.  That’s not even the best part — both of these buffets include a self-serve drink bar, which appeared to have a nice selection of beverages, including hot chocolate. At the Bayside Buffet, they will eventually bring you a drink, but be careful they don’t clear your table before you are finished, which is what happened to me. (More about the Bayside Buffet soon.)

Recommendations for Families

After wandering around, checking things out, of the 3 hotels, I would choose Excalibur over the Luxor or Mandalay Bay — all three hotel/casinos are owned by MGM. I base that on their friendly staff members, my small sampling of the slot machines and the food court. I was pleased with the offerings, which I personally feel are more family-friendly. I checked out the Round Table Buffet, which looked surprisingly good. For some reason they don’t advertise that it’s Round Table on their website — curious. At the food court, you will also find: Auntie Anne’s pretzels, Pizza Hut, Quiznos Subs, Krispy Kreme Doughnut and much more.

I was, however, disappointed to see advertisements at Excalibur (on television infomercials) for pole-dancing, lap dances, stripper lessons, and more; not an idea I would like planted in my pre-teen daughter’s head. Maybe they will read this and lose the dance classes? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Mandalay Bay Not Kid Friendly

I simply can’t understand why the Mandalay Bay was selected for MineCon. This hotel is simply not child friendly. There were over a thousand young children staying at the hotel, eating at the buffet and watching hookers walk the halls. Friday night we opted for dinner in our room, in part to keep my teenage son away from the prostitutes.

Parents should be aware that the hotel promotes guest privacy. So, if your child were to opt to watch an adult movie, the hotel’s policy is to list it only as Pay-per-view or On Demand Movie but your bill won’t indicate what was actually watched. It’s for your privacy, of course.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe young children should be allowed anywhere near the Las Vegas Strip. After driving down the Las Vegas Strip a couple of times, I felt as if I should go home and wash my eyes out with soap. I felt dirty and molested.

Nevada Cell Phone Ban

You have to wonder about a place where talking on cell phones is banned but the streets are literally filled with giant screens displaying scantily clad women, flashing lights and every manner of distraction imaginable. I noticed the truckers were busy chatting it up on their CB radios. I wonder how states can justify placing bans on cell phone usage but it’s okay to drive a house down the road with a CB mic in one hand and a cigarette in the other?

Up next: The Bellagio Buffet review. The Bayside Buffet review.

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