MGM Resorts Continues to Expand Beyond The Strip
[PHOTOCAPTION] PHOTO: Rendering of the MGM resort set to open in Springfield, Mass. in 2018. [/PHOTOCAPTION]
Las Vegas was built on a base of perpetually shifting sands. Visions of resorts took shape under a sea of desert stars, with each spending time in the spotlight before being supplanted by the next best thing.
For MGM Resorts International, however, visions are the very thing that turned this company from a single movie-themed property on the Las Vegas Strip into one of the world’s largest resort and casino companies. Those visions are still planting ever-larger footprints on the landscapes of hospitality and tourism, often cropping up in some unexpected places.
Just as MGM Resorts debuted its $350 million, 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip through a joint venture with AEG, it is now getting ready for its next big opening – but this one will be far from Sin City.
MGM Goes to Washington
The 24-story MGM National Harbor sits on the banks of the Potomac, just minutes from the nation’s power center in Washington, D.C. – and thousands of miles from anything that even hints of Las Vegas.
When it opens later this year, it will have 308 rooms and suites and an array of eye-popping art amid gleaming white spaces that look more like the surrounding marble monuments than venues for gaming, entertainment and haute cuisine dining. And it will have something else: MGM branding, with its promise to deliver top-shelf experiences.
“In an overall perspective, MGM always wants to be best-in-class in the marketplace,” says Anton Nikodemus, chief operating officer for MGM Resorts International’s regional operations. “Within each market we try to design a property so that it has a tremendous impact in the community and takes advantage of what market presence we can provide.”
The $1.3 billion resort, which is set in National Harbor, Md., just across the river from Old Town Alexandria, Va., will have two presidential suites in its portfolio of accommodations; a dozen restaurants, some of which are affiliated with such top chefs as José Andrés, Marcus Samuelsson, and Bryan and Michael Voltaggio; a 3,000-seat showroom theater; 27,000 square feet of meeting space; a 125,000-square-foot casino; and a stunning botanical conservatory, which is even larger than the one at Bellagio.
Designs on New England
In a similar but wildly divergent concept taking form in Springfield, Mass., MGM is taking a historic district on the banks of the Connecticut River and creating a $950-million casino resort venue that is expected to help revitalize the city.
Working with local history experts, MGM will be integrating its 14-acre development into the downtown design with repurposed but preserved historic buildings – including the Union House, a stylish four-story hotel that hosted such luminaries as President James Polk and his secretary of state, James Buchanan, who became president in 1857.
MGM Springfield is only now moving through the design stage, and is projected to be completed in 2018. And when it opens it will serve as a beacon for residents of Boston, Hartford and Albany.
Plans call for 250 guestrooms and 20 VIP suites, a bowling arena, a state-of-the-art cinema complex, an ice skating rink, and a retail and restaurant layout with entrances and patios on Main Street.
“We are very much into the community in Springfield and blending with that historical spirit,” says Nikodemus. “Springfield had a devastating tornado in 2011 and we have been able to contribute to the rebuild of the center downtown portion of the town and are starting to see businesses and residents coming back.”
Back on the Strip
Although 2015 was a record year for visitors – Las Vegas welcomed some 42.3 million tourists – gaming revenues remained flat.
At the same time, non-gaming revenues continue to surge, buoyed by convention attendance, which rose by more than 13 percent last year with more than 21,000 conventions and business meetings hosting some 6 million convention attendees.
The Park and Toshiba Plaza that lead to the new Arena on the Strip will soon see new action as Monte Carlo Resort begins a rebrand campaign and opens a new 5,300-seat concert arena this summer.
MGM Resorts recently completed a 350,000-square-foot expansion to the Mandalay Bay convention complex and expects to add 200,000 square feet to Aria’s convention center by 2018. According to a company spokesman, as much as 70 percent of revenues for MGM Resorts now comes from entertainment, retail, food and beverage and other non-gaming elements.
THE AGENT EQUATION
Today, MGM Resorts International owns 35,310 hotel rooms on the Las addition Vegas Strip, with 18 casino resorts. In addition to the new properties soon to debut & in the U.S, MGM will unveil the long-anticipated $3 billion MGM Cotai in Macao next year.
“From a retail booking experience, our expansion projects provide tremendous opportunities for agents to book a variety of properties under our branding,” says Anton Nikodemus, chief operating officer for MGM Resorts’ international regional operations. “As these may be in drive markets, it provides an opportunity for more people to become customers and, as they are exposed to the brand, to gain a certain loyalty and want a new kind of entertainment and hospitality experience.”
More by Lark Ellen Gould
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A version of this article appears in print in the July 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.
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