Mandalay Bay has anchored its end of Las Vegas Boulevard since 1999 and has managed to stay fresh and relevant by undergoing a series of facelifts the past few years. First it revamped the casino floor to make it less campy and more modern. Then it added a new nightclub, as well as a couple of new restaurants and upgrades to existing ones, followed by the addition of a resident Cirque du Soleil show. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a resort this large that’s as upscale and exciting, with as many amenities.

The original Mandalay Bay Tower boasts 3,211 rooms, which, thanks to the building being so tall, offer great views of the Valley. (Request one of the 550 “DR View Rooms” to ensure you’ve got the lights of the Strip outside your window, not the highway). Resort Kings are decked out in white and cobalt, while Resort Queens stay warm with combinations of either rich ruby and latte shades or lavender and mocha. Cushy seats right against the window are a nice touch. Bathrooms are large, with shower and tub separated by lots of cold marble, but that’s a first world problem.

The adjoining Delano imparts the South Beach spirit, though it includes nods to Las Vegas’ natural landscape. In the neutral-colored foyer between valet and the lobby is an impressive, 126,000-pound, 150 million-year-old, split metaquartzite boulder hauled in from the surrounding Nevada desert. Pass between the smoothed halves to enter the lobby, where you’ll encounter a number of smaller rocks before registration. A piece by Korean artist Jaehyo Lee features hundreds of them strung along pieces of wire stretched from the tall ceiling to the ground. A recent installation showcased works derived completely from wood and other natural materials from the Mojave, including a sculpted bench composed of concrete and desert sandstone.

All of the hotel’s 1,117 suites offer lots of white and neutral tones with touches of gold. Ultra-plush beds with white tufted headboards can be difficult to part with in the morning, while gigantic bathrooms feature black marble around the separate tub and glass-enclosed shower. And there are cute touches, like postcards left on the bed with cheeky sayings like “My life has a superb cast, I just can’t figure out the plot.”

A little less secluded than the Four Seasons, there’s still a sense of exclusivity at Delano, with its own beach club, reserved for guests, right off Mandalay Beach. The Delano is non-gaming, but it’s just a quick walk down the hallway to the Mandalay Bay’s loud, 135,000-square-foot casino, one of the largest on the Strip.
As a whole, Mandalay Bay hosts some of the finest restaurants on the Strip, including StripSteak, RM Seafood, Rx Boiler Room from celebrity chef Rick Moonen, plus Aureole, Border Grill, and more. Beer aficionados take note: the resort’s beverage director is the first female cicerone (the beer equivalent of a sommelier) in the country, and she has made sure that craft beers are featured prominently on many menus.

The resort has managed to maintain a good balance of grown-up and family fun by including in its arsenal a massive arena for live performances; Shark Reef aquarium ; and Mandalay Beach, an impressive pool complex that features a wave pool, lazy river, and bona fide sand on a beach that sometimes hosts live concerts. Light nightclub has its own pool component, Daylight, set to an electronic music soundtrack.

Mandalay Place, the retail-lined walkway that connects Mandalay Bay and neighbor Luxor is a convenient way to traverse the two indoors (and to shop).