$1352. That was the nightly rate for a two-bedroom, 3000 square foot Skyloft at MGM Grand… for a weekend… my birthday weekend. Taxes, fees, everything. You usually can’t score that on weekdays, weekends hover closer to $2500, and even recessionary rates of ten years ago never got this good. And so, some ten months prior to my arrival, I kindly let MGM withdraw the first night’s deposit and locked something in.
But I also knew it wouldn’t be that easy…
Jumping Through Hoops…
This year, my birthday coincided with Life is Beautiful, iHeartRadio, and most-amusingly, millions of dorks promising to raid Area 51. The bump—the practice that the casino ultimately reserves the right to move anyone who hasn’t booked through a host—was a real threat. It happened to me at Bellagio some ten days prior to Mayweather/Pacquiao and per Skylofts own welcome e-mail:
“Due to business demands, management reserves the right to provide guests with confirmed reservations alternative accommodations within MGM Grand’s resort complex, in which event, a rate adjustment will be made, and other amenities will be provided.”
I suppressed my excitement and kept an eye on alternatives expecting to eventually substitute for a suite at a different property; if I’m not in a Skyloft, I’m not exactly keen on MGM. Suites throughout the city were filling up fast but with a couple weeks left and still no word on getting bumped, containing my excitement became more difficult; scoring the loft seemed like a real possibility. I decided to call a casino host to introduce myself knowing that he’d offer some degree of protection over my reservation. He was incredibly nice, cordial, and eager to work with me.
With five days left, I called Skylofts and arranged all the pre-arrival stuff—a request for a foosball table (in lieu of billiards), dining reservations at The Mansion, and if necessary, reservations at Ambra’s speakeasy. Now I was feeling confident and assembled a small group of friends on very short notice. They seemed excited, too.
I could barely focus for the next few days when suddenly, my excitement came to a screeching halt. At 5pm on Wednesday with only 46 hours left until check-in, before any reasonable amount of time to make any meaningful adjustments, my host texted me…
“You’ve been downgraded to a two-bedroom Marquee suite.”
To put things in perspective, when I had booked, the Marquee was running $450 per night. With no butler, no 24-hour concierge, no pull at MGM Resorts, no access to The Mansion, no exclusive elevators, half the square footage, a single story, and fewer beds, the Marquee isn’t even in the same league. And what exactly would be the formally outlined “rate adjustment” when the subpar suite was now running a nightly rate equal to the Skyloft I booked ten months back?
This sucked. I didn’t want some fuckass Marquee suite. Now mere hours before my trip, every Aria Sky Suite, Mirage Villa, and even Wynn and Encore Tower was sold out. I was thinking of cancelling entirely, preparing my case as to why I was entitled to a refund on the first night’s deposit.
I texted my host back asking what the compensation process would be and clarified that I’d rather not stay at MGM if not in a Skyloft; my hope at this point was that something close to an equivalent at a sister property would be unlocked for me. A few minutes later, I was told everything was good and this was simply a miscommunication. Strange.
Not entirely convinced, I called Skylofts directly and was informed that while my reservation was currently intact, skyrocketing demand meant a very likely change as late as the morning of. What might that change entail? They couldn’t tell me and recommended I call them before hitting the road. Yes, in the worst case scenario, accommodations/compensation had to be negotiated in person where I didn’t have a room and they had all the leverage.
I had to manage expectations. I kept my friends out of the loop until Friday morning when shortly after hitting the road, I gave them the entire rundown: “…and so, now they want me to call them to confirm whether I actually scored the room or not.” We collectively agreed not to make the call, that doing so would give them a four hour window to squeeze someone more important in my place. Instead, like most guests do under normal circumstances, we’d call 10 minutes prior to arriving playing ignorant and entitled and informing them to have their bellhops and arrival coordinator ready. As we passed South Point, my heart was racing, my stomach in knots while the phone rang over the bluetooth. The Skyloft concierge answered:
“Mr. E, we’ve been expecting you.”
There was a collective sigh of relief and many unsafe high fives at 80 miles per hour as those words radiated through the car.
We were met at the SKYlobby/Topgolf lounge by two valet attendants, a bellhop, and pre-arrival coordinator. This is also where Topgolf patrons wait for a shuttle. There’s really nothing fancy or exclusive about this spot; it just facilitates arrivals/departures and makes you look like you’ve got a huge dick when you’re greeted by an entourage among the proletariat who stay in fuckass Marquee suites. Valet parking with Skylofts is complimentary—probably a non-factor when a couple nights and a nice dinner will likely score you Mlife Gold status anyway. We were then walked to the VIP lounge stocked with waters, sodas, juices, and coffee. They don’t advertise it, but they’ve got beer and wine as well for those shameless enough (like me) to ask. Our pre-arrival coordinator handed us a business card with a phone number to text anything we need (more on that later) before giving us an estimate on when our room would be ready.
We grabbed some lunch and cocktails and walked back to the VIP lounge to check the status of our room. At that point, it was ready and a concierge came down to greet us. The lounge has a back door to the fancy elevators and we made our way up.
It’s another world up here.
The din of MGM is silenced. Take a few steps out of the elevator foyer and everyone is standing at attention, arms to the side, “Welcome to Skylofts, Mr. E.” The coordination is spectacular. During the day, the top (29th) floor has the zen of a posh spa with light music playing throughout the hallways. In the evenings, the music turns more upbeat (but never loud) with a bar set up specializing in cocktails made with Louis XIII, each about half the cost of my nightly rate.
Hallways are stark with muted patterns on upholstered walls. Lighting highlights the minimalism.
Our concierge walks us to Loft 87 where two butlers are standing by the door to greet us. They pour four glasses of their welcome beverage—a delicious blend of orange and cantaloupe juice with vanilla extract. Once check-in formalities are completed in-loft, you have the option of getting a short tour of all the features.
A staircase greets you upon entry. I took great joy in the “holy shit” moment my friends had when they walked in and realized it had two stories.
The entry door has a camera system in lieu of a peephole. To its right (not pictured) is a coat closet.
Just to the right of the staircase is the guest bathroom. All bath products are Bvlgari. I don’t like them quite as much as the Molton Brown stuff at The Villas at The Mirage, but I guess I liked them enough to take them home with me.
As we leave the entry area and make a left, we find the dining room. Excuse the mess; we had already gotten the party started.
Fiji waters are not complimentary in the suite but are for the asking in the SKYlounge. Mlife-branded bottles came from VIP. Extremely cheap Jonathan Drake vodka came from Total Wine. The door at the end is an entrance for butlers to keep service as transparent as possible. You can order room service from any dining establishment on property and it’ll be brought to you with the restaurant’s own plating, silverware, linens and all.
A birthday cake was provided without mention. We devoured this thing before bed.
A sunken living room is adjacent to dining. The old checkered cream and white carpet from Tony Chi’s original design has been replaced with a more outrageous pattern. It looks better in person.
Various snacks are provided at turndown. I can assure you that these Rice Krispies treats are better than the ones your kids make.
A large hallway with work desk connects to another living room. I’m convinced that the smaller the cup of coffee, the fancier the coffeemaker. The Jura coffee machine apparently costs several thousand dollars and produced a few drops every morning. All windowsills are upholstered. I greatly enjoyed perching against the glass with a thimble’s worth of espresso.
The hallway also features a breakfast nook under spectacular ceilings.
Another living room caps the end of the hallway. Crestron remote systems control everything in the room including lighting, drapes, climate, and service requests. You can even select from several genre-specific music channels to play throughout the suite on the excellent Bang and Olufsen speakers.
While fairly intuitive, there’s a bit too much reliance on the remote system and it’s cumbersome to figure out when drunk/tired/sleepy. Then again, you’ve got a butler to figure it out for you.
I like to think I inspired the selection of coffee table books.
Up the stairs of this sunken living room one will find the media room.
The Bang and Olufsen CD player is obviously outdated but is still a neat conversation piece.
Moving out of the media room and now having almost completed a full circle of the first floor, we come across the game room with foosball, television, and bluetooth media player.
Holy shit was this fun. We got drunk, blasted our favorite songs, and played a two-on-two seven game series with bets on the line. Now, you can argue that I’m lame and wasting time playing foosball in Vegas, but some of you play the Wynn Slots app while in Vegas.
Heading up the stairs, one is greeted by a large mural in a hallway connecting the bedrooms. The glass overlooking the living areas is super cool.
This little guy appears throughout the suite. I almost didn’t post this because I felt the presence of his penis was inappropriate.
On one side of the hallway is a bedroom with two queen beds.
It features a small corridor capped by a vanity and not one, but two walk-in closets. The Skyloft robes are supremely sumptuous.
At the opposite end of the closets is the bathroom featuring dual sinks, towel warmer, infinity tub with chromatherapy, and water closet.
The shower has a bench, four horizontal heads, douche, and a rain head.
At the opposite end of this bedroom is the heavenly master suite. The ceiling fans are a response to complaints of the second floor getting unbearably warm and are a later addition to the Skylofts; they’re controlled by a separate remote. If you’re vigilant about closing the drapes when not in the room, second floor temps outside of July and August shouldn’t be a problem.
A single walk-in closet provides ample space. A large safe is hidden in the cabinets and includes a felt-lined jewelry box embossed with Skylofts logo.
The bathroom on this side is nearly identical to the one in the opposite bedroom. Among its notable differences are more space and a bidet in its water closet. My in-mirror TV wasn’t working.
But this bathroom’s biggest difference—and one of the suite’s greatest features—is the “Immersion Chamber.” It has four horizontal heads, douche, two rain heads on separate temperature controls, and most importantly, steam. Get it to about 100 degrees and blast the cold water. You will jizz several times.
(Small digression: you may have noticed the lack of iron/ironing board. What are you, some fuckass in a Marquee suite?! Butlers are supposed to take care of anything laundry-related, but here’s a pro tip: after you shower/jizz, keep the steam running, decide on the shirt you’re going to wear for the evening, put it on a hanger and just take it back in the shower with you for a minute. Do not pull on the garment. You’re welcome.)
While the rooms are extraordinary, Skyloft’s service and amenities set them apart. There is, of course, the advertised stuff—“dream” butlers to prepare the bed, “bath” butlers to draw a bath, a fleet of Mulsannes, Ghosts, Escalades, and stretch limousines for guests in two-bedroom (or larger) units—but it’s the little touches that create an experience greater than the sum of their parts.
Every staff member seemed to always greet me by name, even those that I hadn’t formally met. Every butler or concierge in passing seemed to always ask if there was anything I needed. Reply with something like, “No thank you, just grabbing a drink downstairs,” and to them that’s clue enough to send over housekeeping and tidy the room up. They anticipate everything and seem to always know which loft you’re in.
One fairly new service that I didn’t expect to use but wound up taking full advantage of was the ability to text requests. This is a real game changer and the best part is, they don’t judge you for being drunk.
We decided to pregame at the speakeasy inside Ambra before going to Cosmo when one friend had the brilliant idea to further pregame by shotgunning Coors Lights in the loft.
We headed up to the loft and found five Coors Light bottles on ice. But you know what? I forgive them because I was expecting them to reply with, “Coors Light? What are you, some fuckass in a Marquee suite?!”
Other notable displays of superior service include coming back in the wee hours of the morning with a stain on my pants. The concierge team had a Tide pen ready. We made reservations at Craftsteak a couple hours prior and requested a booth. The restaurant was packed when we arrived but I’m convinced the table we were given was the very best in house. Hakkasan was packed with lines and cover for Lil Jon doing a lil DJ set. Lines and cover didn’t apply to us.
The only request I made that was met with an iota of hesitancy was a dining reservation at Diaoyutai, otherwise simply known as the Dining Room at The Mansion. We were able to score a 1pm lunch reservation after they confirmed that they had availability. This is one of the ultimate Skyloft privileges…
Dining at The Mansion…
Skylofts will call down to ensure that you can pass the guard at the entrance. In most circumstances, your butler escorts you in, but if you know how to get there, you can simply walk up to the guard and tell them you have a reservation. That said, don’t deny the butler escort like we did.
We walked to the back of the high limit room, down the long hallway and passed private gaming rooms towards a guard. I informed him of our reservation and he let us pass. As you walk towards the massive fountain, the dining room is past an elevator servicing just one villa, The Mansion Spa, and a bathroom (a friend pooped in there just because he could).
Here’s where things got weird. There wasn’t a host stand but plenty of open tables. Who do I speak with about getting seated? Surely if we sort of make our presence known in the general area, someone will assist us, right? Nope. Oh well, picture time.
Now fifteen minutes after our reservation, we had yet to be helped. Odd because, you know, this is The Mansion.
I sort of took a few steps into the dining room where I was able to ask a server if we could sit. He double-checked my reservation through Skylofts and gestured towards the “outdoor” patio (the majority of The Mansion’s public space is under a temperature controlled atrium).
When we were seated, I noticed something funny. Other guests just sort of sauntered in, lingered, ordered a small dish, left to play a few hands, came back and ordered something else, and this continued among a few tables. I don’t think I ever saw a check come out. That’s when it hit me: this place is just an amenity for the ultra rich who are used to a team of staff surrounding them. If you’re staying at The Mansion, you don’t check in with anyone; you just take any seat you’d like at any moment and order whatever you want.
So yeah, I’m only a Skyloft guest and the butler escort I denied was supposed to do the entitled dirty work for me. This also explains why “reservations” for a predominantly empty restaurant are so limited; heavens forbid a Mansion guest not be able to walk up to any table at any moment.
Anyway, we were finally seated. Here’s some shots of the atmosphere at the table. Identities withheld out of respect to Mansion guests.
This is going to be an awful food review. As many of you know, I fucking hate food reviews. In fact, I’m going to start poop reviews instead, except I forgot to take poop photos after this meal so here’s a picture of condiments and a giant French press all to myself.
My friend (the one that took a Mansion dump) ordered the “Burger Noir.” It’s got truffle slices and foie gras topped with gold leaf. He does not regret paying $75 for it.
The check was honestly kinda’ reasonable. You’ll notice the range of food ordered; although we were handed a lunch menu, you can pretty much order whatever you want. Bottled Fiji is by default. I suppose you can ask for ice water but then you’d look like some fuckass in a Marquee suite.
I felt spoiled rotten, but despite the often formal and sometimes embarrassing service, the Skyloft staff is never aloof and always engaging. Unlike, say, my experience at The Villas at The Mirage, where the service was spectacular but engagement reserved (because essentially everyone is high profile and important there), Skylofts understands that common folks occasionally splurge, too. I hugged it out with a couple concierges before departure. I loved that.
Yes, there has been recent criticism of Skylofts tightening certain freebies. Back when I stayed a few times some twelve years ago, everything non-alcoholic in the suite was complimentary. But in the grand scheme of fees since, that’s a negligible criticism. Besides, all that stuff is still available for the taking in the VIP lounge. The only amenity I missed from past stays was the custom stationary—envelopes, writing pads, and such that would’ve read “Mr. Mike E, in residence from September 20, 2019 – September 22, 2019.” I would’ve used those to write an apology letter to the fuckass in the Marquee suite downstairs.
If you’re considering Skylofts, DO IT… but maybe on a weekday when you’re practically guaranteed the room. If you’ve got $50,000 just sitting in the cage, then do it any day of the week.
Fortunately for me, next year’s birthday falls on a Monday.