I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport in the late afternoon, eschewing my regular visit to the main terminal in favor of trying the JSX semi-private airline’s only route experience from LAX, as an express one-hour flight to Las Vegas made simpler by its streamlined process. Which allows you to access the JSX relationship only 20 minutes before take off.
I was on my way to experience a glimpse into the life of elite prams from MGM Resorts, a side of Las Vegas usually reserved for the rich, famous, and those with far superior skills than I am.
When I arrived in Las Vegas, I was greeted by my driver, who escorted me to the extended limousine that would take me to the Aria Resort and Casino, a luxury every guest who stays in the luxury Sky Suites enjoys. The Sky Suites’ private entrance and reception area provide a rare “boutique” feel to the sprawling casino resorts located on the popular strip.
Walking into the penthouse’s one-bedroom Sky Suite, I was met by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the strip, a view that had already emerged after sunset and what looked like millions of Vegas lights lit up the sky until the next sunrise. Sky Suites are an entertainment dream, with a comfortable living area leading onto a private park and dining room – the perfect place to start each night before moving onto the casino floor and exploring the Strip.
I was surprised to discover that there was a level of luxury beyond what I used to live in, a level reserved for the highest level VIPs in Las Vegas. On the 50th floor of the Aria, MGM has created the most exclusive retreats in the form of 17 Sky Villas, elaborately furnished with a gorgeous, fully-loaded bar and personalized services, whether it’s buying the hottest ticket in town or a table overlooking the Bellagio fountains.
I’ve been invited to indulge in one of MGM’s newest (and biggest) additions, the first ever “cigar cart”, reserved exclusively for those chosen to stay (or lucky enough to secure a reservation) at the Sky Villas. Although MGM may be best known for its huge wine collection, the program that began in October is now one of the preeminent cigar programs in the United States, featuring a humidor holding over 1,200 cigars. Leading the program is MGM’s first cigar sommelier (yes, quite possibly the coolest job title in the world), Ricardo Smeiner, who has managed to source some of the world’s finest and rarest cigars for their collection, as well as create a bespoke selection of three cigars exclusively for the song.
When it comes to dining, MGM seasoned folks are not short of options. With 13 resorts in the Strip alone there is an abundance of restaurants (literally, hundreds) to choose from and I was glad to go with Michael Mina’s signature restaurant in Bellagio. If you decide to indulge in the tasting menu, be sure to make the extra effort and take in the wine too, as you see a caviar-topped appetizer matched with vodka as you wait for a mouth-watering lobster pie from the chef.
MGM Resorts is best known for its comprehensive wine program, which totals over 350,000 bottles of wine and spans its entire Vegas property portfolio. Master bartender Douglas Kim is the man behind it all, leading a team of over 50 liquids. Kim said Travel + Leisure He prides himself on his team – a close-knit group of experts – for their ability to offer “something for everyone”. For those VIP guests in particular, he’s always happy to have any special antique they might order before their trip.
I ended my trip to Las Vegas with a private tour of the growing art collection of MGM Resorts, the vast majority of which are on display for all guests to enjoy throughout the resorts and casinos. Led by highly experienced Executive Director of Arts and Culture, Tarissa Tiberti, MGM Resorts is reshaping its impressive collection of fine art to be more inclusive of artists of color, women, and the LGBTQIA+ community as part of its mission to provide a platform for diverse and underrepresented artists and their communities. This was shown in the most recent exhibition at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts, Caledonia: Concert and Movie Posters from the Ralph DeLuca Collection. The collection includes 44 vintage posters highlighting American music and film icons, with a focus on African American musicians and actors from the 1920s to the 1970s.
After four memorable nights of high luxury it was hard to pack up and get back to normal life, so it’s no wonder to hear that MGM selects the highest level VIPs often joining them for up to a month – I can only dream.