Following up on the bachelor party at the Mandalay Bay Media Suite, I was in a quandary. Flying home was pricey, and using miles to cover the flight wasn’t going to be particularly easy. Waiting just one more day, flying out late Monday night instead of late Sunday, would save a huge amount of money. I’m rarely one to turn down an extra night in Las Vegas, so this seemed like a good plan. However, holding on to the cavernous Media Suite, when the rest of the party had already departed, didn’t make much sense, so I set out in search of a better option.
In the process, I discovered the single best value in Las Vegas for those on a short stay.
American Express Platinum customers have access to a program called Fine Hotels & Resorts, which offers a series of benefits at hundreds of properties around the world. Benefits include…
- Free Wi-Fi (taking the form of a $5 credit at the Delano to offset a portion of the resort fee)
- Daily $30 breakfast credit per person, maximum double occupancy, redeemable for restaurant or in-suite dining
- Complimentary upgrade based upon availability
- Early 12:00PM check-in
- Guaranteed 4:00PM late check-out
All of these benefits are standard to all Fine Hotels & Resorts properties. In addition, many offer an additional benefit exclusive to the property. Often, this takes the form of an additional credit, which may be applied for use towards the spa, general resort expenses, dining, or other such extras. Delano offers a $100 resort credit per room, per stay, redeemable at a variety of venues at both Delano and the adjacent Mandalay Bay resort.
In the case of Delano, this credit can be applied to over 30 food and beverage locations, as well as the Bathhouse Spa, toward spa services.
Given that I’d be staying for only one night, this was a fantastic value, with an advertised room rate of just $109.65, and a total room expense of $156.41 with all taxes and fees.
Putting FHR to the Test
This was my first stay through the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, so I was curious to see how things would go. Given that I had to check out of the Media Suite at Mandalay Bay by 11AM, I took my time saying goodbyes to departing friends and making my way to Delano. As a connecting building, it’s not necessary to step into the scorching heat of Las Vegas to transfer from Mandalay Bay to Delano, though it’s probably a 5-10 minute walk between the two, going past a variety of gaming and dining options along the way.
I was deeply impressed by the lobby area of Delano, which defined understated luxury with rich wood paneling, mid-century style furnishings, an impressive hotel bar (appropriately called Franklin’s) and a mammoth, 700 million year old quartz stone, split in two, weighing 126,000 combined pounds, and standing at 10 feet tall.
Approaching the counter at noon, I was able to easily check right in, given check-in for most guests wouldn’t begin until 3PM and most guests from the night prior had already checked out.
At check-in, I was presented with a letter confirming the Amex FHR benefits promised online, and the hostess was immediately aware of the program, alleviating concerns it might be something staff don’t know about or understand right away. I was also told that my standard king room had been double-upgraded to a king suite with a better view. Further, the hostess went out of her way to help me resolve a small issue with my booking: I had stated that just one adult would be staying in the room. Entering the booking with two adults unlocked the possibility to double-dip on the breakfast credit, earning $60 of free food per day instead of just $30. She also let me know that the credit was still eligible for that day, given that Della’s Kitchen was still open, even though they were serving lunch. What I had figured to be a nice breakfast had now turned into several extremely nice meals, instead!
I went upstairs to offload my luggage, and was very impressed by the spacious suite. A large couch, TV with a full array of HD channels, and modern desk were accompanied by a full wetbar, including a Keurig for making a variety of coffees and teas.
The view from the living room offered a peek at the Mandalay’s pool and beach area, though you can see that it is a fair distance away from the Delano tower.
The adjacent bedroom was also splendid, if simply furnished, with a view of the Mandalay Bay tower next door and the Strip in the distance.
The bathrooms were the room’s best feature. An extra half-bath was present at the front of the room, an almost excessive feature given the suite’s overall size, while the full bath included separate large tub and shower areas and a closed-off water closet.
Pleased with the room, I headed back downstairs to see if the breakfast credit could really be applied at Della’s for lunch. This southern-themed restaurant offered a variety of comfort foods, and with a $60 budget for the day, I was prepared to try quite a few of them. I ordered a delicious lemonade, served in a mason jar. Pretzel bites with beer cheese, a sandwich with thick-cut fries, and a cup of chicken soup. The soup and the pretzel bites were highlights, along with the small cornbread offered to every table.
That night, in order to help use my $100 resort credit, I made my way to StripSteak at Mandalay Bay. While not my favorite steakhouse on the Strip, I love that StripSteak offers a free appetizer of three kinds of french fries, accompanied by three different dips. The lemon aioli is particularly exceptional, and the steak – topped with a black truffle butter and sea salt – certainly hit the spot.
The next day, I enjoyed a feast of a breakfast at Della’s, including chicken and waffles, a mimosa flight, freshly brewed iced tea, and a delicious array of fresh fruit.
With some dining credit left to spare, I headed to Mizuya Sushi for lunch, back at Mandalay Bay, where I enjoyed a pleasant but not particularly memorable spread of sashimi.
Given the 4PM guaranteed late checkout, I was in no rush early in the day and enjoyed more time by Mandalay Bay’s pool, and was able to get several hours of work done after lunch before checking out. Enjoying a full 28 hours’ worth of stay, as opposed to the normal 20 hours a 3PM check-in and 11AM check-out offers, makes a huge difference in enjoyment of the stay.
A Very Elite Stay
Perhaps best of all, reservations booked through Fine Hotels and Resorts do count toward elite stay and night requirements with Hyatt, meaning I earned not only Mlife and Hyatt Gold Passport points for the stay, but also a critical notch toward maintaining my Diamond status for 2017.
I’d recommend staying at the Delano to any American Express Platinum cardholder. While other hotels, including Wynn and Mandarin Oriental, also participate in the program, and are more centrally located on the Strip, the Delano feels like a breath of fresh air within a breath of fresh air, not only tucked away from the noise of the Strip, but then further cocooned within its own special environment separate from Mandalay Bay. Importantly, Delano also tends to be far less expensive than other Fine Hotels & Resorts options. It’s extremely easy to recoup the entire cost of a one-night stay on the value of the included benefits, alone. Delano offers extraordinary value for one-night stays, and I have already planned a return to the property this September to again earn a Hyatt stay credit while enjoying a truly incomparable array of benefits.