Note: there are rumors that this hotel will get a major renovation and even a change of name in 2016.
Since it opened in 1996, the Monte Carlo has taken a relatively low profile on The Strip. Well, except for that part where the place caught fire in early 2008 and was closed for three weeks. That wasn't exactly low-profile.
But all of that is over now, nobody got hurt, the damage was mostly cosmetic, and the hotel is open for business again. And so after some drama, it goes back to being mostly low-profile again, although with a few changes, something a little more worth paying attention to.
It's pretty hard to imagine a 3,000-room, $350 million building being low profile but when you compare it to the architectural and sensorial overloads that sit all around it, the Monte Carlo fades into the background a bit. They can try to market it all they want as the "Gateway to CityCenter, but in comparison to those towering, modern buildings, the Monte looks puny and boring. Done up in the traditional all-white marble and gold accents of its namesake the place practically screams refinement and good taste but again, this is a city where even the local McDonald's has white marble and gold accents so the end result might not be as eye-catching as its wilder neighbors.
The front of the hotel is getting a big facelift throughout 2013 and 2014 with a new outdoor, Strip-side dining, retail, and park area between it and neighboring New York-New York that will include, among other things, a Hershey's Chocolate World and a 20,000 seat arena behind the two hotels. You can read more about that here.
But overlooking the Monte Carlo would be a mistake. This is a hotel that offers very nice accommodations, a ton of entertainment and dining options, and a big casino at rates that often beat similar hotels of the same caliber nearby.
Out front you'll find lots of statuary (some of it PG-13 rated by the way), columns, and fountains leading to the main casino, a football field of a room packed with slots of all types and denominations and table games of all stripes and colors. The casino itself was redone in 2009, which didn't do much for making the space any more intimate but it did improve the visuals. Warm earth tones and a general lessening of the hubbub make it a more upscale experience than it used to be. A poker room, a keno lounge, a race and sports book, and a high-limit gaming area complete the package.
As usual the restaurants and attractions surround the main casino and include a buffet, a 24-hour café, a steakhouse, a bistro, and a few of my favorites including Diablo's Cantina, Dragon Noodle, and a branch of the very fine French eatery Andre's (the only branch now that the Downtown original has closed). There's also a food court with lots of the usual food court suspects.
If you're in a shopping mood there are a few boutique stores along the Street of Dreams promenade but if you're after a spree you'll have to go elsewhere because the choices are limited. There is a Harley Davidson store and a few other souvenir type shops.
At the end of the shopping promenade you'll find a walkway that will take you to Aria and a monorail that will take you to the Crystals shopping mall at CityCenter and to Bellagio.
At the back of the property is the main desk, although there is a back entrance to the place so you don't need to hike all the way from The Strip to get there. This is also one of the only hotels of this size where you don't have to go through the casino to get to the elevators. That gets major bonus points for those times when you are carrying bags or headed to the pool in your bathing suit.
Speaking of which, the pool and recreation area is worth noting. It includes a swimming pool, giant wave pool, sandy beach, a lazy river ride, and more - lots of frolicking options here.
The standard accommodations as they stand are pleasant but not all that memorable. Done in muted gold and tan accents, they include one king or two queen beds, a writing desk, a couple of chairs, televisions with pay-per-view movies, irons and boards, high speed Internet (for a fee), and data ports on the phones. The furnishings are well tended but not exactly new so expect a little wear and tear here and there.
The bathrooms are a bit on the small side but that's really only if you've gotten used to some of the newer places that threw a few extra square feet in that direction. They're typically marbled and tiled and include a hair dryer among the amenities.
Hotel 32 is the name given to the top floor of the property that operates as a separate but integrated hotel. The 50 rooms include standard studios and larger suites but all are designed with an ultra-luxury touch that differentiates them from the rest of the rooms in the Monte Carlo.
In addition to unique furniture and decor, the rooms are done with high-tech convenience in mind from the flat screen televisions to the remote operated lights, drapes, and climate control. Bathrooms have hydrotherapy tubs and rainfall showers.
The rooms are certainly nicer than the rest of the accommodations at Monte Carlo with built in desks, crisp white linens, and plenty of amenities to keep you satisfied, but they aren't any bigger so compared to some of the newer, larger rooms on The Strip they feel a bit cramped.
But it isn't just the furniture that is different at Hotel 32. Guests get a complimentary limo ride from the airport and are greeted by a "suite assistant" who is there to help them with their every whim. No need for something as pedestrian as standing in line to check in - instead guests get private in-room check in services. In addition, a club-level style lounge offers guests beverages and snacks.
As you would imagine, it isn't cheap to stay in one of these rooms. Standard studios start at around $250 per night, about 4 times higher than the rate for their regular rooms on other floors. But considering that a similar rate will get you just a standard room at some of the luxury hotels in town without the limo, assistant, and club level amenities it comes off sounding like a pretty good deal.
Prices on the non-32 rooms can be a lure here. You can often get a midweek room here for less than $100 per night with weekends usually in the mid-to-upper $100 range. As usual, special events and conventions will drive those prices sky high but on the flipside, they often advertise specials that can go as low as $49 per night (although note that is before the mandatory $33.60 per night resort fee). If you can get it that cheap you should leap at it and even if you can't the Monte Carlo is a hotel that shouldn't be overlooked anymore.