It's difficult to overstate the importance The Mirage had in the history of Las Vegas. Before it opened in 1989, the city had descended into a sea of tackiness, known mostly as a place where faded entertainers sought a final stand before obscurity, which in and of itself became an analogy for Vegas as a whole.
But then The Mirage came along and changed everything. At that time it was the most expensive hotel ever built (more than $600 million) and packed with the kind of room and onsite amenities that had never been seen in Vegas, all upscale, all entertainment, and all with a special touch of personal service that would be difficult at a 300 room hotel much less a 3,000 room behemoth. In one fell swoop it made Las Vegas cool again and without it most of modern Las Vegas would not exist as it is today.
Since then, however, others have taken the successful formula of The Mirage and knocked it up a few thousand notches, which left it as a second tier property. Then the owners came along and threw a couple hundred million dollars at the joint to try to boost its profile once again by completely redoing almost every square inch of the joint from an overhaul of the casino to new restaurants, clubs, and shows, and an extreme makeover of the rooms.
The things that once impressed still do, from the faux volcano out front to the dolphins out back with stops at the indoor rain forest, the gorgeous pool area, and the giant aquarium behind the check in desk along the way. The white tiger exhibit is gone as is the overall Polynesian theme the place launched with, replaced by an upscale burger joint and an upscale, dark, and moody club-like feel respectively.
Regarding the latter, I'm not wild about the new look of the casino - the black and dark wood design scheme make it feel more enclosed and claustrophobic than it did when everything was floral light and bright. Plus, the spacing between machines and tables is not the best in some areas so your personal space is often invaded without your invitation.
But it's impossible to deny that the place has an energy that was lacking before, especially now that many of the restaurants and lounges that ring the edges of the casino are open to the gaming floor, allowing the music and crowds that pack those places to spill into the public areas. The downside of that "youthful energy" comes around three in the morning when the inebriated patrons of the clubs bring their party to the casino where less drunk people are trying to quietly concentrate on their three-card poker hand.
In terms of gambling options there are plenty here. There's a nice variety of slots in all denominations from newer video machines to traditional reels, some video poker, and all of the table games you've come to expect. There's a comfortable high-limit lounge in the center and a big race and sports book for those with a taste for the horses and footballers.
Speaking of restaurants and lounges, there are plenty of them to enjoy here from a terrific buffet to some upscale dining choices. There's a high-end and very popular nightclub 1 OAK and several casino lounges including one with a Beatles theme to go along with the Beatles themed Cirque du Soleil production in one of the two showrooms. Check out the related reviews below for more.
The rooms are a definite hit. The décor is retro-sixties modern, mostly white and browns but with splashes of vibrant color (orange! red!) thrown in here and there that really stand out. A full wall of built-in cabinets hold up the flat-panel television and encase a mini-bar. Frosted glass counters swoop down to form a nice writing desk that has a convenient set of A/V plugs for your portable DVD player or computer. Beds are divinely comfortable.
The only thing they really couldn't do anything about was the size of the bathroom, which is microscopic compared to the more modern airplane hangar sized loos at hotels like The Venetian and Wynn Las Vegas. You have to sort of climb around the toilet to turn on the shower and close the bathroom door to get in and out of the tub. They are perfectly functional but I've gotten spoiled, it's that simple.
All of the in-room amenities are here including an iron and board, high-speed Internet access (included in the resort fee), very fine bath amenities, hair dryer, pay-per-view movies, 24 hour room service, and much, much more.
Sure there are some quibbles. I intensely dislike the cross-casino hike to the elevators. I know that's the way it was done when they built this place but I've gotten used to the nicer resorts where you don't have to walk through the gaming space to get to your room, something that is not easy when you are carrying heavy bags and fighting major crowds.
Service has suffered a bit since the early days as well. It's not bad, per se, but where I used to feel special staying at The Mirage, now just feel like one of the crowd.
Prices have become a bit more tolerable. This used to be the priciest hotel in town and while others have eclipsed it, it's still not cheap to stay here. You may find slow period weekday rates as low as $69 a night (definitely a bargain) but you'll usually be paying in the $100-$150 range Sunday through Thursday and $150-$200 on weekends. They also have one of those ridiculous resort fees ($39.68 per night) that bumps up the cost even more. If price is your major concern, you can find perfectly acceptable accommodations elsewhere for a lot less money.
And don't forget about the fees for parking that were instituted in 2016. It costs $10 per day for self parking and $18 per day for valet for hotel guests and non-guests alike. The only way to get out of it is if you have a players' club card at the Pearl or above level, which gets you free self-parking and the Gold or above level, which gets you free valet.
In a city that changes dramatically, almost on a daily basis, it's hard to stay relevant. The Mirage has grown and adapted to the times but there's only so much "catch up" you can play. It's still a terrific hotel, one of my favorites, but not my absolute favorite anymore.