With the recent debut of Park MGM and NoMad, a former Las Vegas naysayer becomes a bona fide believer.
From top: The pastel pool area at Park MGM has a sweet retro vibe. Relax on a shaded daybed or spring for a Baja ledge chair to be partially immersed in the water; Park MGM’s poolside cabanas are large enough for 10 and include reserved lounge chairs, a living space and a dedicated server.
Ah, Las Vegas. The twinkly land of glitz, glam and excess has never been my first choice for a getaway. Of the few times I’ve visited, one trip resulted in a hospital stay (dehydration!) and the others were filled with lots of smoke, blinking casino lights and cavernous convention halls. So when the opportunity to visit one of Sin City’s newest destinations—MGM’s Park MGM (702.730.7777) and NoMad Las Vegas (702.730.7000)—popped up, my first instinct was to politely decline.
But upon further inspection, the invite looked pretty great. Some key names stood out, like Roy Choi, NoMad, Eataly, the Houston brothers (Houston Hospitality) and even Lady Gaga, all of whom had projects connected to MGM’s latest resort. Could it be that all of these cool, dynamic people and places—many with a presence in Los Angeles—were planting themselves in Las Vegas? The answer, along with my RSVP, was yes.
NoMad Las Vegas’ classic queen room features two queen beds with custom Bellino linens, a mahogany writing desk, a velvet window seat and original artwork.
After a quick flight from LAX and a speedy 10-minute ride from McCarran International Airport, I arrived at check-in, itinerary in hand. I noticed two things right away. First, the incredible location. Formerly the Monte Carlo, the new hotels are connected to Aria, The Crystals and the Bellagio via tram. And although they’re in one building (NoMad occupies the top four floors of Park MGM), and there are distinctions between the two, like separate entrances, lobbies, pools, restaurants, bars and shops, there’s a cool, collected-over-time vibe that saturates the overall property.
“I think of the two products as cousins,” says Andrew Zobler, founder and CEO of the Sydell Group (NoMad New York and L.A.; The Line L.A. and Austin; Freehand New York, L.A., Miami and Chicago; The Ned in London and more). Zobler collaborated with MGM on the project, with Jacques Garcia tackling NoMad’s design, as he had for the New York outpost, and Martin Brudnizki handling Park MGM. Zobler highlights the extensive art program by Paris- and New York-based Be-poles as a common thread throughout. “The art is different but the it’s the same type of selection and hanging style, with a more residential feel,” Zobler explains of the pieces, which include photos of European casinos from the 1960s, and desert landscapes and streetscapes from old Las Vegas. And while Park MGM has a more modern feel overall with a few vintage and antique touches, NoMad is the inverse, with modern accents in rooms meant to feel older and more established. “There’s that tension between new and old that I always like,” Zobler says.
Eataly’s second West Coat location includes over a dozen eateries and an abundance of authentic Italian products.
Although the hotel is quite large—nearly 3,000 rooms—there’s an intimate feel, partly due to the interiors and art, but the overall design of the property also has something to do with it, as the restaurants, bars and theater all branch off from the central casino. “With everything off of the center casino, it’s easy to navigate,” Zobler says. “A lot of other buildings in Vegas seem amorphous, like you’re wandering through an airport or train station.”
The renovated space contains some notable dining spots, including L.A. chef Roy Choi’s Best Friend, a dynamic restaurant/hip-hop lounge with truly exciting food; the soaring NoMad Restaurant, inspired by a library and filled with many books from David Rockefeller’s collection; Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar, a dark, jazzy space with gorgeous artwork and mouthwatering cuts; Primrose, a garden-inspired all-day cafe that’s best for decadent breakfast and great coffee; La La Noodle and, of course, Eataly, the Italian megamarket that has its own entrance stripside.
The hotel provides numerous dining options, including Best Friend, a hip-hop-infused Korean resto by beloved L.A. chef Roy Choi.
There’s also On the Record, the Houston brothers’ incredible nightclub—it has a secret room where you can order custom cocktails based on your favorite songs—and, last but not least, the 5,000-seat Park Theater. I saw the Lady Gaga Enigma show while there for her residency (thrilling!) and may go back to see Bruno Mars in late April.
Looking back on three amazing days filled with delicious food, truly exciting experiences and unpretentiously luxe design and service, I can confidently say: I’ll be back.
Photography by: pool and cabana photos by michael chin | food photo by audrey ma; room photo by benoit linero