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M RESORT

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South of The Strip

12300 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Henderson, NV 89044

877-673-7678

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390 Rooms

$99 and up double

$150-250 per night

$19.99 plus tax per night

78

AT A GLANCE

Highs

Design, cost.

Lows

Location, resort fee.

Location: 2

10 miles from The Strip.

Price: 8

Not as cheap as some local hotels but still a bargain.

Value: 10

You get a lot for your money.

Rooms: 9

Beautiful and comfortable.

Casino: 9

Friendly and complete.

Amenities: 10

Rooms have everything you need.

Facilities: 10

Lots to offer on site.

Service: 9

Very good.

Fun: 7

I had a great time here.

Bonus: 7

A job well done.

Total: 78

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FULL REVIEW

Although originally built and operated by The Marnell family - the design and construction firm responsible for building some of the city's most revered and successful resorts including Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas - the M Resort was purchased in 2010 by Penn National Gaming. So far they've been keeping things status quo, which is good because the M Resort is a highly appealing package that is worth your attention if you're done with The Strip (as many people are).

The hotel is situated in the foothills of the mountains that ring the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley, about 10 miles due south of Mandalay Bay. Folks who drive in from Los Angeles won't be able to miss it - it's the first building of any consequence along interstate 15 as you are arriving in the city. And you won't be able to miss The Strip in the distance. Perched on a rise, it offers some remarkable views of the entire region.

The design of the hotel takes full advantage of these views with liberal use of windows and terraces throughout the public areas that bring the outside in. That theme is continued with the overall décor, which uses a variety of natural material to create a constant parade of textures and contours, all much more pleasing to the eye than your typical flat wall and smooth ceiling. Rich woods, heavy stonework, blown glass, luxurious fabrics, crystal, water features, and more are highlighted giving the place a warmth that is missing from a lot of hotels. Note the mother of pearl accents - it's on the support columns and ceiling. Very nice touch.

The lobby and adjacent bar (featuring a piano player on many nights) is flooded with light from both sides and above, with the elevators to the 400 hotel rooms nearby. No, you don't have to walk through the casino to get to your room if you don't want to. Isn't that nice?

Speaking of nice, let's talk about those rooms for a moment. At 550-square-feet they are among the largest standard accommodations in Las Vegas, done in the same kind of earthy décor scheme that infuses the rest of the hotel. Dark wood, leather, and marble are mostly deep browns and creamy off-whites but there are splashes of color that pop throughout. They feature very comfortable beds and chairs, a built-in desk, a big flat-screen TV, electronically controlled shades, a mini-bar, safe, iron and board, high-speed Internet (wired and wireless), and much more. One interesting feature is the energy savings scheme that requires you to deposit your key in a slot by the door when you come in to make the lights work. Take your key with you as you leave and your room powers down, saving your settings for when you return.

The bathrooms are large with another TV built into the mirror, a make-up mirror and vanity stool, plush robes, a separate shower and tub, hairdryer, and some very upscale amenities. That tub is a deep affair with windows that face out to the room and beyond it the views to the outside. Put in your bath salts and soak with a nice panorama of Sin City in the background... and perhaps your husband snoring on the bed in the foreground. Whatever.

There is one odd quirk with those bathrooms. Although they don't feature any more glass or marble than any other Vegas bathroom, they echo unlike any other I've been in. This becomes a problem when the people in the room above you scrape the vanity stool on the floor, move the luggage rack, set up the ironing board, or, I don't know, breathe heavily. The reverberations filtered through to my room and were loud enough to wake me up.

Downstairs the casino offers about 90,000 square-feet of all the gambling you could possibly want. There are thousands of slots in all denominations (although pennies, nickels, and quarters dominate the space), lots of video poker, all of the usual table games (many with lower limits than you'll find on The Strip - yes, Virginia, $5 blackjack tables do exist!), a high-tech race and sports book, and more. One note about that sports book: they are one of the few in Las Vegas currently offering in-running betting, which means that you can not only bet before whatever game you're waging on but during it as well.

There are several restaurants, almost all of which feature some sort of exterior view and/or terrace. They have the usual steakhosue and Italian type joints but of note is the enjoyable Studio B Buffet.

On the lower level you'll find a fully stocked spa and salon, a larger than average workout facility with all of the latest equipment, and the pool deck. There is one main pool ringed with chairs and cabanas (some have their own hot tubs) and a separate adults only pool, although unlike similar facilities on The Strip it is not "European" (read: topless).

One unique feature is a resort-owned gas station and convenience store next door. And yes, you can use the points you earn on your players' club card to cover your car washes, and slim jims. It's a strange world, isn't it?

With the exception of an unnecessarily hostile check-in agent at the front desk, the staff throughout the facility was exceptionally friendly. Dealers, pit bosses, cocktail waitresses, restaurant workers, chamber maids, and even the normally stone-faced security guards all had a smile and a friendly chat to offer. We'll just presume the front-desk agent was having a bad day or that she didn't like my shirt or I reminded her of some guy that teased her in junior high and let it go at that.

With the dramatic lowering of prices throughout Las Vegas, this place becomes a little less of a bargain that it may have been if the entire economy hadn't collapsed. You can get a room for as little $95 during the week and $125 on the weekends although they are usually much higher. Strip view rooms are going to cost you an additional $20 or so but are worth it. There's also a "resort fee" of $20 per night that includes unlimited use of the gym, wireless Internet, transportation to and from The Strip and airport, and more. What's that? You're a lazy bastard with no computer and your own car? Too bad, that'll be $20 per night please.

The location is a bit of a bummer for most Vegas visitors obviously. If there's no traffic it's a relatively quick 15-minute drive down the interstate from The Strip but considering the fact that there is almost always traffic, getting from your room to that show, restaurant, or nightclub you want to visit will take 30-45 minutes easy.

I am impressed by M Resort. It brings a welcome bit of warmth and style to the increasingly bland Las Vegas scene.

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