With high-profile bars, entertainment and eateries as well as shopping, sharks and golden sand, the massive Mandalay Bay tips the scales of fun to the south end of the Strip.
Vast layout, beachy and sharky, one-stop has-it-all (including massive convention facilities)
This pool area will impress even the snobbiest of beach freaks. Called Mandalay Beach, it spans a whopping 11.5 acres. In addition to three large pools, a lazy river and 2,700 tons of white sand, there's a 1.6-million-gallon wave pool where the surf's always up. During the summer months, you can hear some of your favorite musicians perform out here at night as part of the Beach Concert series. And as if that's not enough, Mandalay Bay has two dayclubs strictly for adults -- Moorea Beach Club, where tops are optional (so men, behave yourselves), and Daylight, where you can party with 4,999 of your friends.
And for diehard shark fans (who doesn't love Shark Week on Discovery Channel?), there's Shark Reef Aquarium. As its name suggests, this isn't your typical aquarium. It's filled with 15 different species of sharks and other marine predators. Imagine "Sharknado," except in here the sharks are swimming safely inside their tanks instead of flying through the air and raining down around you.
Mandalay Bay is one of the best resorts in town for partying because it's got so many nightlife venues: Light Nightclub, Foundation Room, Eyecandy Sound Lounge, 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque, Red Square, Rí Rá, Minus 5 and more. If one isn't to your liking, just take a stroll and try something new. You could literally do a bar crawl within the property.
Remember that awesome pool we told you about above, well, it closes during winter (usually from November to February).
Being a mid-range, upmarket hotel, you'll pay more for rooms here...but don't expect luxury amenities. The standard deluxe rooms are spacious at about 550 square feet and come with a 42-inch flat-screen TV as well as a 15-inch one in the bathroom. But there's no refrigerator (just a minibar with sensors that charge you if you move anything). However, the hotel is undergoing a major room revamp (slated for completion in 2016), so a lot of the rooms have a modern, tropical vibe complete with Keurig coffee makers. Also keep in mind if you book a non-smoking room and light up in here, you'll be charged a $300 cleaning fee at checkout. Your best bet is to smoke downstairs in the casino or neighboring bars.
The cardio room at Mandalay Bay is small for such a huge resort but you'll get a lot of exercise just from walking around. Try this route: Go from The Shoppes at Mandalay Place to the Shark Reef (trust us, by the time you get there you'll want to dive in with the fishes cool off).
Location-wise, Mandalay Bay sits on the southernmost end of the Strip (it's not in the heart of the action). Many visitors like the remote location, but if you need to get to showrooms and restaurants at other hotels, make sure you leave well in advance. If you don't have a car, there are Deuce/SDX bus stops in front of the resort. Use those to get anywhere you want to go. There's also a free tram -- as well as a fully enclosed (and air conditioned) walkway -- between Luxor and Excalibur.
OK, we know you'll do it anyway. There's a sculpture of giant boobs at shoulder-level on the wall outside Aureole restaurant. We've seen every type of pose with them imaginable. So go ahead -- snap a pic and check this off your list of wacky Vegas Instagram photos.
Hey, if you're heading to Mandalay Bay to see "Michael Jackson ONE," avoid walking through the entire resort by using the valet for Delano Las Vegas. Although the back valet for Mandalay Bay sits only about 25 yards away, the Delano connects right through to the theater so it's a shorter walk.
We never thought we'd need to suggest that a hotel open another Starbucks, but the two at Mandalay Bay are too few given the resort's square footage. Since the Starbucks near the convention area has unbelievably long lines when there's an event, we suggest going to the one in The Shoppes at Mandalay Place.
Whenever you get overloaded by the constant craziness of Mandalay Bay, just take an elevator (or stairs) down to the Four Seasons for high tea at Veranda or pop next door to Delano for either a coffee at 3940 Coffee + Tea or a cocktail at Franklin.