Inside the secret world of luxury hotels-within-hotels
Even if you've been to Las Vegas dozens of times, you may not know there's a secret, ultraluxe hotel hidden within the MGM Grand.
Called The Mansion at MGM Grand, this hotel-within-a-hotel consists of 29 "Mediterranean-themed residences ranging from 2,400 square feet to 12,000 square feet" all within "an enclave of privacy and pleasure where the sensual riches of Tuscany reach their fullest expression," according to the website.
Translation: There's a little Tuscan village, exclusively for the rich and famous, under a glass dome in the shadow of the famous green resort on the Las Vegas Strip. And guests staying in that VIP village get exclusive perks such as private butlers, limousine transport, highly customized private dining, an exclusive pool and more.
Interested in a stay? "Qualified guests only," the website warns. But what makes someone qualified?
A representative for the hotel remained tight-lipped about who qualifies, but a call to the reservations desk answered a few questions.
You technically don't need to be a high roller or a Grammy winner, as I assumed, to book a stay in one of these villas, but a reservation request has to be approved by management, the phone agent explained to me. That's because those managers give priority (and probably free stays) to the actual high rollers who are dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars in the casino.
But if you're gambling is more modest, or even nonexistent, anyone who can afford the Mansion — I was quoted $6,000 to $7,500 a night for a two-bedroom villa — can put in a request and, assuming they're not all blocked off by the higher powers, there's a fair chance the stay is yours.
One word of advice: Don't try to book a stay here when there's a big event on the books, like a fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Also, don't try to book more than 90 days in advance, as these larger-than-life villas (including the four-bedroom villa with an indoor pool) seem to be mostly set aside in case a true VIP pops into town.
While The Mansion at MGM Grand is certainly one of the most top-tier experiences in Sin City, it's not the only hotel-within-a-hotel in town. In fact, there are quite a few on the Strip.
And now the trend of putting another entirely separate hotel, hidden or not, within another hotel is starting to spread outside the confines of Las Vegas.
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Hotels hiding in plain sight
In its most simple form, a hotel-within-a-hotel is exactly what it sounds like: a separate hotel tucked away inside a bigger or better-known hotel. In theory, there are no set rules and a hotel-within-a-hotel can be whatever a hotelier wants it to be, from a set of luxurious villas with a private reception area to an entirely different brand or chain in the same building.
"A hotel-within-a-hotel is a more elevated experience offering elite interiors, designated check-in areas, exclusive services, dedicated staff and upgraded amenities that are completely different from the host hotel," Benjamin Kott, vice president of hotel operations at Aria and Vdara in Las Vegas, told TPG. Kott added that MGM has hotels like this in its portfolio, including NoMad at Park MGM and Delano at Mandalay Bay.
The NoMad Las Vegas in the Park MGM is a great example of a well-known brand setting up shop within a larger host hotel. The Sydell Group, the force behind brands like Line and Freehand, originally created the much-loved NoMad New York, which closed in 2021. Playing off the success of that hotel, Sydell Group, which owns Park MGM, brought a taste of New York to the Strip in the form of a hotel-within-a-hotel, the NoMad Las Vegas, which has its own porte cochere, or private entrance.
But that's not the only one. The Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas is tucked away in the Mandalay Bay complex and the Nobu Hotel Las Vegas, the very first in the Nobu hotel empire that's sweeping the globe, is found in Caesars Palace.
While each of these hotels is different in what it offers, one of the big perks is that guests in the more exclusive (often more expensive) hotels can still use the amenities of what Kott called the "host" hotel. At the Four Seasons in Las Vegas, for example, guests can swim in the private Four Seasons pool or take advantage of Mandalay Bay's massive pool complex and its real-sand beach.
But there's another type of hotel-within-a-hotel — one that's created by and within the host hotel to offer an elevated, luxurious experience for someone looking for something beyond just a place to sleep at night.
"As the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas sees a variety of visitors from all over the globe who travel to the city with specific tastes and interests," said Kott. "We’re seeing now, more than ever, that our guests want an elevated stay and experiences that showcase more customer service and amenities and hotels-within-hotels offer all that and more."
At his hotel, Aria, there are actually two hotel-within-a-hotel experiences: Aria Sky Suites and Sky Villas, both of which just went through head-to-toe remodels. At Sky Suites, there are 400 suites with one to multiple bedrooms that can be booked directly online by anyone willing to shell out upward of $1,100 per night.
The Sky Villas are akin to The Mansion at MGM Grand, requiring management approval to release one of the resort's top-tier rooms that would otherwise be given to a high roller. Calling to see what kind of price we might be looking at for one of the Sky Villas, a phone representative said he recently saw managers approve a three-bedroom suite for $20,000 a night and smaller rooms (they start at 2,000 square feet, so not that small) for between $10,000 and $12,000 a night.
But hey, that's the price of exclusivity.
"Aria Sky Suites and Sky Villas at Aria are definitely separate experiences from Aria itself in that they both offer complimentary luxury transportation to and from the airport," Kott explained. "They also have their own separate entrance and designated check-in area, a separate pool area and a 24-hour concierge that gives Sky Suites and Sky Villa guests effortless access to some of the city’s best offerings."
And if you're curious if these hotels-within-hotels are competing against their host hotels, the answer is a simple no, according to Kott. "It’s a different kind of clientele so it doesn’t compete."
Beyond Las Vegas
Though Las Vegas may hold the crown for most hotel-within-a-hotel experiences, it's not the only place you can find the concept.
One place to look for it is Miami, where there are a number of properties offering a secret (or not-so-secret) hotel within another.
At the storied Eden Roc Miami Beach, which opened in 1955 to the sounds of a live Harry Belafonte performance, would-be guests can book a stay at Nobu Hotel Miami Beach, which has a pool for guests 21 and older and a private beach area.
Marriott got in on the action by opening The Hotel Beaux Arts, part of the Autograph Collection, on the top floors of the JW Marriott Marquis Miami. There, guests might not have the same exclusive perks as in Vegas, but guests can have a more boutique stay in the room while enjoying shared amenities between the two like the Enliven Spa, a 19th-floor pool, virtual bowling and even basketball courts.
Up in Palm Beach, Florida, guests can always expect a luxurious stay at The Breakers, a palatial oceanfront property that dates back to the late 1800s. But for a much more exclusive stay, check into The Flagler Club, a boutique-like hotel on the top floors of the resort that comes with Telsa chauffeur service, a private lounge and rooftop terrace, a dedicated team to help with any needs and more — all for about $1,000 more per night than a standard Breakers room.
On the other side of the country, in California, San Diego's Hotel del Coronado just unveiled an entirely new hotel-within-a-hotel experience, alongside its other hotel offerings, billed as "neighborhoods." The newest hotel, The Shore House, comprises 75 one-, two- and three-bedroom residential-style accommodations right off the beach of the Pacific Ocean.
Though the resort itself is a sprawling complex with accommodation types for every type of traveler, The Shore House is an elevated, luxury experience that feels more like a vacation rental with a dedicated resort entrance, a zero-edge oceanfront pool with private cabanas, a poolside bar and access to the resort's other amenities, plus a VIP concierge exclusive to Shore House guests. Rates at The Shore House start at $1,299 a night.
Hotels-within-hotels aren't a new concept, but it's also a growing trend I hope we see more of in the future, especially at big resorts like you'll find in Las Vegas and other popular vacation destinations.
While club-level rooms at a lot of hotels do offer special perks like a lounge and a happy hour, having an entirely different hotel-within-a-hotel creates a truly distinct experience that can totally elevate a trip (and its price tag).
So, the next time you're looking for a place to stay, be sure to do a little digging. Who knows, there might just be a secret hotel — or Tuscan village — hiding in the shadows.