1. Welcome to VegasMessageBoard
    It appears you are visiting our community as a guest.
    In order to view full-size images, participate in discussions, vote in polls, etc, you will need to Log in or Register.

MGM National Harbor (June 29)

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by thecarve, Jun 30, 2018.

  1. thecarve

    thecarve Misanthrope

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,657
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    60

    My Trip Report

    I had a few days with nothing on my plate and I needed to get out of the house. So yesterday, I headed up to MGM National Harbor for a one night stay. Here is a quasi-TR-slash-property review for anyone who’s interested (I’ll break this up into a few posts to make it easier to digest):

    The Hotel/Common Areas

    I have to say I was fairly impressed with this place. Everything seems to have been done well. There are plenty of neat pieces of art and sculptures to discover as well as some cool architectural features. And the lovely conservatory had so much natural light it would have made Steve Wynn more excited than the thought of groping a subordinate.

    I also liked my room much more than I thought I would. I had seen pictures and thought it looked like the typical, sterile MGM design. And at just over 400 sq ft, it is about 40% smaller than the rooms Vegas has spoiled me with lately. But it really does look much better in the flesh. And I think they did a masterful job of using the small space. In fact, this room probably has 50% more storage space than Cosmo’s 1 BR suites. Of course, in addition to clever use of space, they’ve also stolen a bunch of sq ft from the bathroom. It is tiny! For this single guy, that was a complete non-issue. But, I would imagine that couples attempting to get ready at the same time will be tripping over each other.

    00821AA0-42E7-44B0-BFE5-B9EDFAFFAA2F.jpeg FF71C28D-F0A3-4364-B4EC-FBDE37C0B07B.jpeg D765FCBD-CE21-4A57-8CD6-9DD662CE1B10.jpeg C4C9DAA8-8A48-4EB7-99B0-486FF9B1AC2D.jpeg 12B9BE32-7D89-46CB-A463-E98EF4153763.jpeg A71639A2-420B-4AFC-90C8-6D2B1201F6B8.jpeg D43E096A-3E58-41D6-969A-1A0957E9FFE1.jpeg 7EE1EA4E-0B15-44E6-AEEC-1C74BF9EE764.jpeg 807CDECB-EAAB-4C6D-9B47-18511E6570E8.jpeg 7F218CF8-1616-41A0-993D-22721E51A8AE.jpeg C450B7B1-E266-47E8-BD96-4B37653A7BE8.jpeg 9A8F2279-A753-4F8C-A965-A9065C09113E.jpeg 48BBA9B2-3981-4962-911B-E250E1ABF99E.jpeg B9A2AC9C-A503-4277-8AAB-117B81DF118B.jpeg 37D0AD7B-ABB8-4951-BCC7-017E49EF20E1.jpeg 9D8B9DDF-B0D5-40F0-9738-97BF20B9A6EF.jpeg CE51430C-B3A2-4C80-8852-D82BA9EA2805.jpeg 28478CDF-4702-4D7C-80C6-9ACCB319DDB2.jpeg
     
    • Like Like x 5
  2. thecarve

    thecarve Misanthrope

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,657
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    60
    The Casino

    For me the casino was the big let-down. Part of that is the fact that there is a dearth of VP (which accounts for the overwhelming majority of my action.) There were exactly five games on the floor, five in the HL room and another dozen or so between the three bars that had bar tops (one of which had no seats, you had to stand). On a busy Friday night, that means that you’ll almost always be playing right next to someone (who will invariably be a button slapper!) To their credit, though, pay tables were very good. I never saw a $1 or up game that wasn’t 9/6 DDB (8/6 Boner Deluxe.)

    As far as the casino itself: pretty meh. It has all the slots you’ll find in Vegas. But the new ones and ones that always draw me in in Vegas seem to be in short supply. Instead, there seems to be row after row of nondescript (and boring-looking to this guy who seldom plays slots) games.

    They have all the table games most people will need. All the craps tables I saw were $25 and full. But there were $15 BJ (I assume 6:5 but didn’t check) and $10 carney games as far as the eye could see.

    The casino itself really appears to be an afterthought as far as design goes. Nothing interesting. Everything formulaic. And they have absolutely crammed in as many slots as they could. It’s actually difficult getting around. I would love to see the slot-per-sq ft ratio compared to Vegas. It is almost comical. It almost looks like a slot warehouse.

    Of course, the worst part of the casino is having to pay for drinks. :grrr: I know that MGM has nothing to do with that. But it’s annoying nonetheless. I knew ahead of time so I grabbed something from the liquor cabinet and picked up a few mixers on the way out of town. But, if you’re a drunk + degen gambler like me, you can’t just be heading up to the room every time you’re ready for a drink!

    When I did have to pay:

    $8 for a well vodka
    $12 for a Sapphire and tonic
    $20 is the minimum for a cocktail in the high limit room ($12 for beer), so find out what the best booze/beer you can get for that $20/$12 before you order!

    As far as my gambling...it appears that my crazy run of good luck over the past few years has come to an end. Or hopefully it’s just taking a break! I lost 100% of my bankroll on a less than normal amount of action. Only two quads and one handy. :(
    D2716736-6A0D-45B8-A5E1-3C10951130A5.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
  3. ardee

    ardee VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2007
    Messages:
    6,677
    Location:
    SoCal
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    102
    Ta taTa... not a drunk. An alcohol enthusiast. :cool: Takes one to know one. :D

    Your luck is just taking a break @thecarve and waiting for a Vegas revival.
    Thousandaires rule!:headbang:
     
    • Love Love x 3
    • Like Like x 2
  4. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    14,483
    Location:
    Missouri
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    Nice report! Any idea what beer was in the $12 range? Gulp!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. hail2skins

    hail2skins High-Roller

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    Messages:
    638
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    30
    Was at MGMNH watching a friend play craps on the main floor and I think he was paying $6 for Bud Light out there. Then he went to the HL room to play blackjack and ordered a Bud Light in there and, as Carve said.....$12. My buddy lost his mind...…..they wound up writing him a comp for a certain amount of drinks.
     
    • Wow! Wow! x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. thecarve

    thecarve Misanthrope

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,657
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    60
    Restaurants

    I like how they’ve organized the resort. All but a few restaurants, plus all the retail shops (Sarah Jessica Parker, Breitling, Stitched and others) were in one section of the property called “The District”. So if you’re hungry but aren’t sure what you want, just take a stroll through this area and you’ll find something.

    Folks who enjoy grabbing a quick bite will be in hog heaven at MGM NH. The food court is about as extensive as I’ve seen. There’s a Shake Shack, Starbucks, a pizza place, crab cakes place, sushi place, fried chicken place, taco place, deli, wine bar, ice cream shop and I might be forgetting something. I can’t vouch for the quality. But there are certainly a boatload of options.

    The sit down options include a couple of fine dining spots, Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse and Fish by José Andrés. There is also Ginger, the ubiquitous pan-Asian joint that appears to straddle the fine/casual space and Tap sports bar. Apart from the places in “The District”, there is a coffee shop and Bellagio Patisserie - modeled after the JP places at Aria/Bellagio - near the hotel lobby.

    Shortly after I arrived, I grabbed lunch at Tap. I only managed to get a pic of the Devil’s Backbone Striped Bass. I also had some buffalo wings and crab balls. The wings were excellent. Very traditional and quite spicy. The crab, though, was weak. And the service was non-existent.
    98AD4854-7DE5-4611-BC93-A059A291C507.jpeg
    Dinner was at Voltaggio Brothers:
    FD93D0D1-C8A0-4463-8780-2905C7C4DACC.jpeg
    1FCE94E9-95C9-4076-BEDF-103FE4410096.jpeg
    41CE79C8-D6C3-420F-AFE2-F6C3806C3763.jpeg
    10A3BAF9-3321-4643-A204-3BB8503B6E69.jpeg
    21DEDEBD-A736-4973-B58E-7286AF4C63C3.jpeg
    2AE430BA-1CF9-4845-8DE9-BE4EA1461DFB.jpeg

    The oysters were incredible (as was the mignonette). The Caesar was okay. But I didn’t really like the addition of kale (texture) and the Parmesan fritters were clever, but just too much. The Ribeye was good, but far from great. The gratin potatoes were out of this world, though. So rich and cheesy!

    The cocktail, an Aviation with the crème de violette served as a sorbet, was very tasty and a lot of fun. The bartender, Duane, provided good service and banter. And I had a blast with my cute and flirty bar-mates.

    And here’s some ideas for @Multifarious5 in her quest for new old-school drinks
    33D90C5C-DACE-4416-B4C2-4A042A62CA3B.jpeg

    I also grabbed a tiramisu from Bellagio Patisserie as a midnight snack - fantastic! (Of course, I forgot to bring utensils up to my room, so I’m sure I looked like my 11 month old niece after a meal when I was finished with it!) I also grabbed an almond croissant and canelé for breakfast. The croissant was pretty good but the canelé was just awful.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
    • Like Like x 5
    • Love Love x 1
  7. thecarve

    thecarve Misanthrope

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,657
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    60
    Not sure. I ordered a vodka cranberry (knowing I was going to be paying, I figured I’d order the well.) The bartender told me I might as well name my booze because it was a $20 minimum and beers were $12 minimum.

    They also had a sign that said “HL lounge for Platinum and Noir only after 6 pm”. :rolleyes:
     
    • Wow! Wow! x 2
  8. amk121

    amk121 VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2012
    Messages:
    1,461
    Location:
    east coast
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    22
    Great report. i still haven’t visited there but I had wondered if the voltaggios brothers restaurant was worth going to so I enjoyed reading about your take on it..
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. thecarve

    thecarve Misanthrope

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,657
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    60
    I guess I’d probably give it a solid B, or thereabouts. It was a very good meal with very good service. And the place is really cool looking (IMO) - each room is designed like a different room in a home, complete with old family photos of the brothers and their family throughout. But it didn’t blow me away like some of my favorites in Vegas (Carnevino, SW, CUT) do. And the prices were pretty much identical.

    So I can certainly recommend it. But, I can’t pound the table while doing so. (Sorry, I know that’s kind of a cop out.)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. SuperCoop

    SuperCoop Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2017
    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    9
    I think you rated Voltaggio Brothers steakhouse fairly as I’ve had very similar meals and agree that a few menu items are phenomenal and most others are very good. Solid B+ meals.

    A few suggestions next time you visit—
    Get their sundae. It is amazing and like most of their desserts not traditionally prepared. I don’t mean like weird science molecular gastronomy. Just a nice, often deconstructed approach.

    To the right of check-in there is a platinum/guest lounge with free drinks available a few hours of the day...I think 5-7pm or there about. Typical selection of Bud, Coors, Heineken etc. When you are paying $6 on the floor or $10 at Tap or $12 (WTF) in HL it’s a nice perk.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  11. Multifarious5

    Multifarious5 VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Messages:
    2,122
    Location:
    west coast
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    14
    I am LOVING the trip report @thecarve , beautifully-written, as always.

    Also, the food porn is amazing, you know how to dine!

    So sorry on the "pay for drinks" on the floor. That kills me too. I know it's just regional laws, but spending copious amounts on playing just SHOULD merit free drinks, laws be da**ed.

    Also, a huge thanks on the "timeline cocktails' list"! That made my WHOLE week that you remembered my libations' quest.. and took the time to take a picture for me.

    Have an amazing trip, and I'm loving the report!!!!
     
    Fingers crossed ..just need the time off work approved!
    • Like Like x 2
    • Love Love x 1
  12. thecarve

    thecarve Misanthrope

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Messages:
    5,657
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    60
    Random Thoughts

    In addition to free booze, Md. forbids smoking. And while I’m not terribly crazy about such laws, I did enjoy the fresh air. And smokers won’t be super put off as there are numerous (outdoor) smoking areas all over the property. I know that isn’t the same as being able to puff away at the tables or your favorite machine (I was a smoker until 4.5 years ago, I get it), but it is definitely a much better situation for smokers than most non-smoking casinos I’ve been in.

    I really liked the scent they pump into the joint. It reminded me of Aria with a little bit of Encore. They did lay it on pretty strong. But I thought it was pleasant.

    Overall, I thought the service was good. Perhaps a notch or so below Vegas standards. But probably a step or two up from Atlantic City, IMO, and much better than I had expected.

    I paid $409 for the night. Plus a $25 resort fee and something like 18% in taxes. (Self parking was free.) I’m not going to argue that Vegas hasn’t gotten much more expensive in the past few years. But, well…just trying to add some perspective.

    That's about all I've got, but I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone has. Thanks for reading!

    ETA: Water pressure was abysmal! I shave my head, so it wasn’t a huge deal for me (though rinsing off my toothbrush was a bit of an ordeal.) But, I would advise the ladies, and dudes with long hair, to allow a few extra minutes for your routine if you have a reservation to make!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Chuck2009x

    Chuck2009x VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
    Messages:
    7,151
    Location:
    Boston
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    I wonder how they are doing overall. I think it's a decent indicator of how Encore Boston will do.

    Mass. allows comped drinks but no smoking in the casino.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  14. LB9

    LB9 PH Blackjack Degen

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2013
    Messages:
    860
    Location:
    DC
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    8
    I agree with your sentiments about MGM national harbor. I've been a few times now over the past few years and, while its 15 minutes from my house, I would rather drive 3 plus hours to AC of fly 4.5 to Vegas. It is absolutely crammed inside there, and even after being open a short while now, is always nearly impossible to get around. I don't play slots but I normally walk through that area to swipe my MLIFE card or whatever and it's awful to get back to the main floor as the slot machines rows are literally back to back.

    Hope you had a decent time, thanks for the TR!
     
    Vegas Dec 7-10
    • Like Like x 1
  15. hail2skins

    hail2skins High-Roller

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    Messages:
    638
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    30
    Carve, thanks for the writeup. I think I may have given the first ever review of the casino here, going there at 4 am its opening night. I can't agree more that the casino floor is much too busy over there. I think they are planning on moving the poker room upstairs sometime later this year...….not sure whether slots or tables would occupy the downstairs poker space. They are obviously printing money from the casino, as revenues year over year have seen double-digit gains so far.

    Never have stayed there, but a friend has, and the rooms/suites seem fairly nice, as described in your pictures.

    You're right about the food court. Pizza place is pretty decent, and Shake Shack is, well, what is it. I know "The District" doesn't have nearly the number of shops/restaurants as some of the major Vegas places, but could MGM have afforded to jazz up the corridor a bit? Maybe asking for the elaborate flooring and wall features of the promenades at Wynncore and the Wynn-built Bellagio would've been asking a bit much, but the District hallway has the ambience of a hospital ward. For the billion they spent on the place, I guess I expected a bit more.

    The outdoor space where the fountain area resides is nice, giving people a place to walk around and take in the views of National Harbor, Alexandria, and the Potomac. I guess a six-year-old was critically injured from an electric shock from one of the rails near the fountains this week......hope she is recovering.

    Thanks again!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. jacmrose

    jacmrose Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    12
    FYI they are in the process of expanding upstairs, and they are moving the poker room plus all the video poker upstairs. There is definitely a lack of VP on the floor now because they are in the process of moving it all upstairs. Normally they have a whole bank of VP in the back corner near the Poker room, but they have replaced it all with slots.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2015
    Messages:
    6,401
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    10
    Great report, @thecarve!
    Thank you! :D

    RICHARD
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. hammie

    hammie VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2006
    Messages:
    4,068
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    5
    Thanks @thecarve for the write up, I love a good mignonette with oysters, champagne vinegar, shallots and cilantro is my fave.

    We stopped last May on our way to South Carolina, the place is georgeous and I like the terrace area adjacent to Tap, fantastic views. I thought the slot aisles were too narrow and since the seats were not fixed, I can only imagine how difficult it would be to walk up the rows when packed with folks. We received some discounted room offers at another property which included shuttle service to the casino.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Dean Martin

    Dean Martin VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2003
    Messages:
    4,349
    Location:
    VA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    40
    Great report Carve! Anybody know if the new/upstairs VP section is done and "stocked" with machines? Any info on BP and DDB pay tables? Looks like this storm may change our Vegas plans.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. diplomatic

    diplomatic Tourist

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2017
    Messages:
    94
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    2
    I was there last weekend and can confirm that the upstairs area is open with a new, large poker room. They’ve also moved all of the video poker machines up there as well. Pay tables looked about the same as reported above. It’s odd, because it makes you feel very much out of the action if you’re a VP player. I don’t know why they’d want to segregate VP so much. And forget about drink service up there) although, as noted above, you’d have to pay half your bankroll for drinks anyway).

    There’s also a snack bar upstairs, a microscopic “VP bar” with about 6 bar top machines, and some regular slots as well.

    The most interesting addition, for me anyway, is the race and sports book. Obviously, it’s not open for business until MD laws change, but they’re clearly ready for it. The book itself is a wall of tvs with maybe 20-30 desks with individual screens. I also don’t see any betting windows, which suggests to me that it’ll all be online. But we’ll see.

    As for the rest of the casino, I mostly agree with the above. As a craps player, I absolutely hate this casino (packed tables, never less than $25 limits, annoying players), but it’s big and clean and nice enough. I’ve also found the dealers to be competent, though they have to put up with a lot of shit from the clientele which can make them less friendly than one might hope for. Overall it makes me appreciate Vegas more than ever, both for the value and the overall experience.
     
    10 Days in Paradise
    • Like Like x 1