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The Mirage, Las Vegas - Hotel Review

The Real Thing: Beyond Illusions of Grandeur

by Alain Gayot

Lavish grounds of The Mirage in Las Vegas, NV
Lavish grounds of The Mirage in Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, a city known for revitalizing and reinventing itself at breakneck speed, one thing remains constant. Without The Mirage, much of that revitalization and reinvention would not have taken place. When it opened in 1989, the first resort in fifteen years to open in Sin City, it was intended to be a reason in and of itself to lure travelers to Las Vegas. Many lavish destination resorts followed, each one doing its best to up the ante, but The Mirage never slipped in status. It continues to be a favorite with in-the-know Vegas visitors.

The hotel was the baby of über casino hotelier Steve Wynn, best known these days for Wynn Las Vegas. (Wynn no longer owns The Mirage.) He had developed casino hotels before, but The Mirage was the first he designed. And what a design he came up with: a Vegas-style tropical Eden, spread over 100-plus acres. Ensuring a memorable first impression — and evocations of the South Seas — are fertile gardens with waterfalls tumbling 50 feet over rock formations and a volcano that actually explodes up to 60 feet into the air each night.

The thriving landscape spills indoors, into an atrium where pools stream through a “forest” of 60-foot palms, waterfalls, banana trees and tropical orchids … all dappled with natural sunlight and cooled by a computerized mist system. Behind the reception desk, a massive saltwater aquarium displays dozens of species from regions as diverse as the Sea of Cortez and the Red Sea, including leopard, white- and blacktip reef sharks. From here, a tropical-themed casino, offering a full selection of gaming options, provides a buffer (albeit a noisy one) between the rest of the hotel and the outside world.

Deluxe King at The Mirage in Las Vegas, NV The dolphin habitat at The Mirage in Las Vegas, NV
Deluxe King
Dolphin Habitat

Within the inner sanctum you’ll discover a pool area with a pair of islands, grottos, meandering interconnected lagoons and over a quarter mile of shoreline. Also hidden back here are the wild kingdoms of Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn. The resort continues to maintain their conservation-minded attractions, including the 2.5 million gallon Dolphin Habitat, an education and research facility that is home to a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins; the White Tiger Habitat, for the preservation and breeding of this rare creature, of which there are only a few dozen left in the world; and the Secret Garden, a shelter for white tigers, white lions, a panther, a leopard and a four-ton Thai ceremonial elephant named Gildah.

Toning down the wet ‘n wild atmosphere are the 2,763 guest rooms and 281 suites. Some rooms have a subtle tropical feel, while others are more reminiscent of New York pieds-à-terre. All are well-equipped, and suites amp it up with imported silks, hand-loomed carpets and Royal Service — limousine airport transport, fresh flowers and more. We recommend you ask for a room with a view upon checking in; there’s no extra charge, and the city lights are striking at night.

Shadow Creek Golf Course at The Mirage in Las Vegas, NV
Shadow Creek Golf Course

You won’t find an array of celebrity chef-driven restaurants here, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of good choices. Dining venues traverse world cuisine. You'll find classic Italian at Onda. In addition, the resort added to its culinary reputation when it decided to redefine the buffet experience with Cravings. Farewell soggy pasta under heat lamps, hello open kitchens and a beautiful design by Adam D. Tihany. Terrazzo floors inlaid with onyx and a ceiling installation imported from France are just the beginning. There are raw bar, fishmonger, rotisserie, Latin kitchen and Italian, carving, noodle and dessert stations. And if you need a drink, you can tipple while listening to jazz, watching sports or lazing by the pool.

Rounding out The Mirage experience are a full spa, 170,000-square-foot convention complex, shopping “street,” privileged access to the Shadow Creek Golf Course and entertainment, including headliner and master impersonator Terry Fator, who performs in his eponymous theater on the grounds. You can also enjoy visiting comics such as Jay Leno, Dana Carvey and Wayne Brady.

When it comes to summing up this groundbreaking resort, the phrase “first come, first served” is apt: The Mirage was the first of its kind in Las Vegas, and it serves as both a piece of hotel history and a reminder of how innovative and truly entertaining the city can be.

The Mirage
3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
800-374-9000, 702-791-7111

Check our Guide to Las Vegas
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Nevada Travel Guide


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