Mandalay has a huge array of services that can help keep everything in one place for a destination Las Vegas wedding, including a wide variety of hotel rooms, convention hall with ball rooms, catering, chapels, several popular outside chapel options, massive pool area with multiple pools, a real beach, a wave pool, and adult (European style, aka topless) pool, lazy river, a casino area overlooking the main pool and beach, a full regular casino, huge number of restaurants, shopping mall, several venues on the top floors if view is important, valet and limo service, free parking garage and in-room internet. They will also charge you for nearly everything you might want to do so plan wisely if you are on a budget.
It is also directly attached to Delano (formerly THEHotel) if you want a more contemporary, upscale all-suite hotel as well as The Four Seasons if you prefer a non-gaming environment; i.e. Four Seasons has its own check-in and elevators that don't require you going through the casino or hearing the casino, but you can still access and all of Mandalay's amenities if desired.
A few notes about Mandalay, that I'll touch more on in my opinion piece below:
They have a resort fee; meaning whatever rate you booked at on line or by phone, is going to get jacked up by another $22+ per day when you check in to cover things like internet and a newspaper.
In line with the above, Internet is 'free' since it's covered by the extra fee you have to pay.
Pool info: The pool is free for guests, however they do search bags when you go to the pool and beverages other than bottled water are not allowed to be brought in; i.e. no booze from elsewhere and they'll charge you $10+ for a drink on the beach property. There are also no coolers allowed. There are lockers which they currently (Summer 2012) charge $10 to use, plus a $10 deposit you get back when you turn in your key. The lazy river does not include an inner tube, making it useless, unless you purchase one from them for $20; and I mean purchase, it's yours from that point on and you leave with it. You are allowed to bring your own, so if you plan to go on the lazy river, go to Walmart and buy a tube for $4 and bring it with you. People not staying there have to pay to get in; so if you have friends with you that are staying elsewhere, you may want to send someone back out with your room key to get your friends in.
Mandalay sells buffet day passes; they are not a good idea unless you plan to be at the property the entire day and are happy eating at predefined times. The reason is that the passes are not actually 'all day' food, they're breakfast + lunch + dinner passes and you can only use them three times, during the specific hours Mandalay defines as being breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you miss one, you cannot re-use it the next day or for an extra meal for someone else at a different seating.
Mandalay, as part of MGM and their 'MLife' players program, is not so great on comps, especially for craps players because they do not count your odds bet as part of your average bet. If you're a heavy gambler and expect to get comps, you may need to factor that in.
Vista Suite Info:
If you are going to have more than 30 people in there, you WILL need tables and chairs added. You of course probably don't want to involve Mandalay as they'll try to force you to use the hospitality suite and their catering. There are several third party vendors who can deliver and set up tables and chairs for you, such as RSVP.
Generally, you don't want to plan on more than 50 but some people have stuffed a few more in: CLICK
Pics of VIsta with tables brought in and uplighting: CLICK
Mandalay security causing problems for in-suite reception - CLICK
Tips related to Vista suite receptions - CLICK and CLICK
Mandalay giving away booked Vista suites (not entirely unheard of, read below in this article for more info) - CLICK
People who have used this vendor (sorted by date) and link to the review:
There's really only two things that piss me off about Mandalay; the resort fee and paying for internet access (covered by the resort fee). The resort fee basically allows them to advertise one price that seems more competitive, then when you check in they hit you with an extra $25/night or whatever it currently is, for mostly services you'd have no intention of ever using, and NOT including some that you might want to use, such as the fitness center. This is common to all MGM resorts, while NONE of the Total Rewards (aka Caesars) resorts have the resort fee. Something to keep in mind. An additional source of anger is the fact that the fee keeps going up. I looked through my Mandalay emails both from when I've stayed there, and advertisements I've received, and the resort fee from late 2010 to early 2012 has been raised at least twice, from $18 or so WITH tax, to $22 WITH tax in 2011 to $25 BEFORE tax in 2012; it's gone up by more than 30% in 18 months. They just keep jacking it up while 'lowering' room prices.
Other than that, Mandalay has treated me well when I've visited, both as a guest and as a gambler (comps are fairly good but not as good as Total Rewards), and it is where my wife and I chose to get married. We have stayed in THEHotel and Mandalay rooms, we had our wedding and reception in Mix Restaurant at the top of the THEHotel tower on the 64th floor and it was incredible; every aspect was perfect, the restaurant really knows how to throw a party and keep to a schedule.
They are an extremely popular location for destination weddings for many reasons:
The wide variety of room (and price) options, with basic rooms all the way up to 3500 square foot penthouses. Then you have the Mandalay Place which is the mall that provides an air-conditioned passage between Mandalay and Luxor for those who want to take advantage of Luxor's even less expensive rooms. Connected to Luxor is Excalibur which drops the price even more. You can get between them all in less than 15 minutes so it's very convenient.
Several chapel options, both indoor and outdoor. The indoor options, last I heard, max out at about 100 people, or really about 90 if you want to have a pianist or other instrument playing since that person needs room. Their chapels are very contemporary in look, some love it, some hate it.
The outdoor wedding ceremony options are numerous, with the popular ones being Valley of the Falls (waterfall), Shark Reef (in an underwater glass tunnel beneath the shark exhibit), Tropical Sunset (on the beach), etc.
The Vista Suite is probably the most popular room in Vegas for in-suite receptions; i.e. when you hold your wedding reception in your hotel room. The Vista can overlook the strip or mountains, it's on a high floor so the view is great and there's plenty of room. The typical recommendation from people who have done it is to max out at about 50 guests.
You can book a room block for free. Room blocks will not be the best price, but they will let you hold rooms until 30 days before your wedding date, so people who wait too long and rooms are sold out, or go up in price, still have an option. See the room block article in the Planning Tips area for more on this.
You will rarely ever get the best price on the Mandalay website; you'll want to search high and low for coupon codes that will get you discounts off the normal website rate. A good website for these codes is http://www.smartervegas.com You should also post in TK's Vegas area asking for current coupon codes. As an example, when I got married in June 2011, the code PSC30 took 30% off the website booking price, so it resulted in quite the discount.
If you're planning to have an in-suite wedding, you do not have to use Mandalay catering. The rules say you do, but you can get away with not doing it that way; people drag booze, coolers, dead bodies and nearly anything else you can imagine through the lobby of every hotel in Vegas and no one pays attention, so a vendor sneaking some food in will not be noticed. There are some good catering options for doing this in the Catering category.
If you need a REALLY large room, there is a room called the L-suite in THEHotel that is not listed on their website. It is basically an H suite that has an office added on, and the main room is longer as a result; it's probably good for a few hundred more square feet.
If you want to do a reception in a Mandalay restaurant, I would recommend contacting the restaurant manager directly first instead of going through your wedding coordinator (if using their chapel), or going through group dining. The reason being that the restaurant manager is going to be doing most of the work anyway, and I've personally experienced, and others have found, that if you start with the restaurant manager, they'll put you in touch with the group dining person they work best with, AND they will typically only involve that person with the bare minimum. Doing the opposite gets you a coordinator who may not be up to date on what the restaurant offers or is doing, etc. We were dealing exclusively with the restaurant and only arranged payment through group dining, then three months before wedding day when we had already planned the entire event, a new group dining person got involved and told me they were contacting me to get started on the planning. Umm, four or five months earlier would have been the time to do that, and that's exactly what we did with the restaurant directly, so we were already done and waiting at that point.
(Courtesy of AnaC09) - If you'd like the Vista Suite minibar emptied before you have a party in it, Mandalay typically won't do it. Why not? Because they want people to drink up all the booze for $8+ a drink. Here's the tip; tell them you need it emptied for medical reasons, then they'll do it.
If you want to book rooms on behalf of someone else, AND you are wanting to use a coupon code towards that reservation, you can't. Serious. My wife and I paid for the rooms for our wedding party and to do it by phone meant I could not use the 'web-only' 30% off coupon I had found. So, the way to get around this, if you're 100% sure everyone is going (since it's not refundable), and if you're okay with telling a few lies, is as follows:
Book the room for your first guest online using their name and address, your email address and your credit card number. Put in the coupon code to get the discount. Check out. Even though the address does not match the billing address of your card, the website won't care.
You'll get a confirmation page and email with the booking code. Keep in mind that the website will only collect a deposit and lock in your discounted rate; the remainder will still be owed.
Call Mandalay reservations and tell them you are Mr or Mrs so and so using your guest's name and state that you have a bunch of expenses coming up the month of your booking date and would like to pay the entire cost of the room and the resort free up front so that there will be nothing owed at check-in. They'll go ahead and confirm the remaining balance and let you put that on the same credit card. Again, even though the billing address won't match, their computer system does not seem to care.
You can go to their site to 'check status' using the room confirmation code to confirm the balance has been paid and is zero. Then just tell your guest to check in like normal using that confirmation code and their ID. The hotel will ask them for a credit card for damages at the time of check-in, but nothing will be charged to it, provided they don't trash their room or charge things to it, in which case that goes on their card, not yours.
Repeat the process for the rest of the guests. It's a real pain, we had to do this for eight reservations for the members of our wedding party, but not much else you can do if you want to get a discount AND pay for your guests.
It is at the far end of the strip near the airport, so if you want to venture further than Luxor or Excalibur, you're going to need transportation such as the public bus (known as the Deuce) which is quite economical to ride the entire strip all day, or cabs.
Not all rooms face the strip, and you may not be able to request one that does. The ones that do not may not have views worth viewing; i.e. the top of the parking garage and the THEHotel building.
The cheapest rooms (DR550) often have an adjoining door that can let more sound through than desirable; in either direction. I do not know if there are versions of this room that do not have the door, but it's worth asking if you're going to book into one.
For those who gamble heavily at craps, the MGM resorts do not count your odds bet towards your average bet, while other resorts do; this could make a big difference in your comps. Overall though, Mandalay earns what I'd call 'reasonable' respect for their comps, and they're consistent.
Things to watch out for:
There are three large suites at Mandalay often used for in-suite wedding receptions; Vista, Media and Hospitality. There are positives and negatives to each:
The Hospitality Suite does not have a sleeping area, therefore it's for partying only and you'll need a second room for sleeping. For those planning to bring in an outside vendor for catering, bartending and/or alcohol, there have been instances where this has proven to be an issue since Mandalay does not permit outside vendors; they want you to use their services, and when you book the hospitality, they know you're probably going to need catering since it's not like you're going to sit around in a 2200 square foot room with no bedroom without eating something. Best case is you would probably be able to use Mandalay for food and then have your own liquor and bartenders come in after they deliver the food, but do you really want to deal with that on wedding day to save a few dollars? Probably not; just have them handle it all.
The Vista suite may have an adjoining room with a connector door. I have not gotten confirmation if all of them do or just some. If you have the adjoining room, AND Mandalay rents that room to someone else the same night you have your reception in the suite, you run the risk of noise complaints and having your party shut down. This does not happen often, but, there have been multiple instances of this actually occurring, so it is a very real concern; the last thing you want to have happen on wedding day is security asking all your guests to leave, so you may want to do one of two things; see if there is a Vista you can get that does not have an adjoining room (and let me know if they tell you they all have those so I can update this article), or, rent the adjoining room too. I realize that's asking you to take what is already an expensive room per night and add even more expense to it, but maybe you can put your parents, inlaws or a wedding party guest in there to cover the cost.
The Media Suite does not have a strip view, however, one thing it does have is no adjoining room, and additional sound proofing since it does have a small theater/entertainment area. The Media Suite is not the best option for a reception though due to the floor plan and seating so you should probably not plan to have larger than a 35 person reception in that suite.