Delano: The Evolution (or Execution) of a Perfectly Fine Property
Ah, THEhotel. They were the only property in the city that boasted "all suites" and weren't lying about it. They had doorbells on every door and light-up do-not-disturb signs. They were the first to abandon the enormous armoire and introduce flat-panel televisions. Even the bathroom had an LCD hanging in it. The spa escaped the Roman bath aesthetic for something a little more Zen and contemporary. MIX restaurant featured a chandelier that's still a sight to behold even if you've become jaded by Cosmo's multi-leveled light fixture. And that lounge, its glass elevator running up the side of the building, and that view - a decade since and I'm still impressed by it.
All this opened in December 2003 save the top-floor components that came a year later. With the exception of a somewhat mediocre cafe and an enormous check-in line almost all hours of the day, THEhotel was a fine property that was far, far ahead of its time. The rooms had never been renovated, but with strong midweek deals, their enormous size, and fantastic north-facing views, most guests were quick to forgive. Still, we wondered how awesome the property would be with a light refresh.
And then BAM! It's turning into a Delano! This isn't a wallpaper and furniture kind of renovation. We're talking jackhammers and plaster. What?! As if THEhotel's public spaces needed any altering at all. As if THEhotel wasn't a nearly turn-key property to begin with. As if we needed more South Beach in Vegas.
Slightly conflicted, I decided to spend the last day of my last trip poking around the nooks and crannies of THEDelano as they prepare to open as… err… just Delano.
The entryway. THEhotel's was very minimal, but this one features two enormous boulders. Upon arrival, confuse and bewilder your bellhop by walking around these boulders rather than in between. The rocks also make great hiding spots when playing hide and seek with your hooker. Tell me I'm not the only one who does this.
The walkway heading towards the main lobby and check-in. The carpet has some kind of pattern that reminds me of cowhides. I like it a lot. The surrounding stone is actually made to look like hardwood. And your escort will never find you hiding in those draped columns!
3940 Coffee and Tea (named after Delano's street address - these guys are soooo hip!) is behind the construction curtains. It appears to be very metallic looking. I think I'd rather they never finish it and just leave the coolest "Pardon Our Dust" sign there instead.
Looking back towards the entryway and a sneak peek at what used to be THElounge, now Franklin. It was completely dark and empty at the time - a good spot to hide if you're short on paying your companion for the evening.
And the front desk. Minimal to the max with an Ikea-esque light fixture on steroids. For some reason, the wavy wood pattern on the columns reminds me of 1970s-era Encino homes. In other words, the set of a classic porno. The ladies were asking if a Mr. E was staying at the hotel. Fortunately, the good folks at Delano are all too happy to code you as a non-registered guest.
The hallway that leads to and from Mandalay Bay. I'm happy to see that despite some major changes, the backlit onyx remains. Gone is the black and beige, scuff-ridden marble, which after a several-day stay trekking to and from Mandalay, wasn't exactly a pleasure to walk on. The new space is bright and far more airy than in THEhotel form. Its openness leaves you vulnerable. Avoid at all costs.
And finally, the future Della's Kitchen without tables in place. I'm fairly certain the booths remain from THEold THEcafe - nothing some new vinyl reupholstering can't spruce up. Also, the wall that lines the restaurant is totally from a stage in Mortal Kombat. With a little luck and cat-like reflexes, you may find yourself fortunate enough to dine here alone the next morning.
I made my way up to MIX before the crowds and hookers rolled in. I saddled up to the bar to make conversation with the bartender and learned what I could. According to him, the lounge and restaurant will both receive a thorough makeover next year with Alain Ducasse's eatery taking on an Italian concept. The spa will also be receiving a full renovation. This, I must stress, was from the bartender, so WHAM BAM VT EXCLUSIVE! No, just kidding. These plans change all the time, but if they don't, you heard it here first.
So with enough construction done to get a good idea of what to expect, the question remains: is this an upgrade? Maybe ever so slightly. I like it a lot. But I also liked THEhotel a lot. It's more of a lateral move, certainly far more open feeling, and perhaps a tiny bit more in line with the aesthetic of Mandalay Bay. I'd love to give them a stay once they complete all their renovations and my debts to "Savannah" are forgiven.
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