Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hotel review: Monte Carlo Resort in Las Vegas.

Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. Own work.

And now for something completely different. A hotel review. As you may know I was on vacation for most of this week, which explains the lack of posting. I assure you, that after tonight, I will return to more familiar subjects more central to the purposes of this blog. I had some issues with the flight to Las Vegas, but after the initial flight being canceled, I was able to go for three days instead of the original four. I stayed at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino on the strip. 

It's an odd time to write a review for the Monte Carlo because it is right in the middle of a remodeling and rebranding. It will soon be known as the Park MGM and will be a new luxury flagship for the MGM brand, and the centerpiece for the CityCenter area. While researching the hotel I saw several reviews that were all over the map. Some people were ranting and raving about it while others were saying it wasn't worthy of calling it a hotel. 

Generally though, I had fun there and didn't have too many complaints and almost everything you would expect from a Las Vegas Hotel, good and bad. There were some downsides to be sure. The room I stayed in was in need of a remodel. It was clean and spacious enough but there were quite a few minor things wrong. There was a crack in the floor in the bathroom, a scuff on the wall and a few dents and dings. It was a bit beat up, but still not a horror story or anything. I have stayed in much worse places. It gave me the impression of a hotel that's still nice, but in need of some upgrades, which is good because it is getting them. 

I was worried about the construction as some online reviews said that construction noise was a problem. I confirmed this with a few people that complained of the noise. For my part, I made sure that I had a room facing away from the construction, even though that meant I had to get two queen beds instead of one king. I also paid more on booking to ensure that I got a high floor room which also helped reduce the noise. Facing the T-Mobile Arena and The Park caused a bit of noise as well, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. But it did seem that people that didn't do their research ended up with a bad time sleeping

Noise does seem to be a problem for the Monte Carlo though. It may just have been because my room had an adjoining room, but several times I heard my neighbors yelling at each other. Worst of all though is that there is no way to generate "white noise" to drown out outside sounds. Most hotels have either a noisy air conditioner or a fan in the bathroom to do so, but the Monte Carlo had neither. Not a good combination in a rowdy city like Las Vegas. 

Despite all that, I didn't really have any serious complaints. Since I did research, I knew what I was getting into. I knew that there wasn't going to be a pool nearby (though I could have used the pools at the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay), I knew the hotel was a bit beat up and I knew that there was a major renovation project going on. I think most of the people trashing the Monte Carlo are people that either didn't do the least bit of research before booking or were the normal "standard Las Vegas complaints" people. You know, things like resort fees and lack of refrigerators, things that are standard for the Strip but unusual anywhere else. 

A view of the construction as of 5/16/17. Own work.

I think the Monte Carlo was a great place to stay for a first time traveler to Los Vegas like me (not counting the time I went as a kid). It is very centrally located and gives good access to the southern part of the Strip. The Monte Carlo is located between the two MGM free trams that provided access to both the southern hotels of Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay as well as the more center Strip Aria, Mandarin and Bellagio corridor in CityCenter. It was rather difficult to get beyond Bellagio to the northern part of the Strip on foot, but the strip buses, SDX and the Deuce, had a stop nearby. 

I also think, for now, that the Monte Carlo has one of the best combination of value and location for the nearby hotels at my price range. Luxor and Excalibur were cheaper, but both had a worse location and I thought the Excalibur was a little low end for my tastes. MGM and Aria were more expensive and Mandalay Bay is both expensive and away from everything. My only other options at the same price range for my dates that were actually still on the strip were Bally's, New York New York or the Best Western at Casino Royale. Of the three, New York New York was the only one I actually visited. I will say that the New York New York was a cool hotel, so it might have been a good choice as well. 

As for the staff, everyone was friendly and professional. My check in clerk was very helpful in finding me a room that was nice and quiet. The bartenders were nice, the housecleaning staff was fine and the comp drink waitresses were fairly good at getting me drinks. No complaints with the staff at all. 

So would I recommend staying at the Monte Carlo while the construction is going on? It really depends. If you want a pool, go somewhere else, as it's quite a hike to either MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay. I did both and it took me probably 20 or 30 minutes even with the tram to Mandalay Bay. That's a long way to go if you are in swim trunks. I didn't care about a pool at all, so I didn't care, but many people love the pool scene at Vegas. That being said, both MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay have well renowned pool areas, so if you wanted to visit both in the same trip for some reason, you could book the Monte Carlo

I also think the Monte Carlo should be avoided if you are a light sleeper. I didn't have problems relating to the noise, but that was more due to luck than anything else. You can mitigate against the construction noise if you request a quiet room, but the walls are very thin even on the quiet sides. 

Keeping those things in mind though, I think the Monte Carlo is a fine place to stay if it meets your budget. Obviously it doesn't compare to the higher end places like Wynn or the Bellagio, and I am in no way recommending the Monte Carlo over the higher end places if you can afford them, but it's not a rat trap by the hour place either. If you are on the budget, it compares very favorably to the other mid tier places and blows places like Circus Circus out of the water. Plus it's central to the strip in a way places like Palms, Rio or Stratosphere just aren't. 

And after writing all this, I have to point out that this review will be obsolete in less than a year. After all, the renovations are scheduled to be complete in 2018. I am guessing most of the problems with noise and outdatedness will be addressed, though it may come with an increase in price...

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