Signs Point to Mandarin Oriental Becoming Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas

There’s been a good deal of secrecy around the future of the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas hotel, but we don’t have patience for secrets, we are a blog.

MGM Resorts recently announced Mandarin Oriental would be sold for $214 million, but few other details were shared.

We have it on good authority Mandarin Oriental’s days are numbered, and Aug. 30, 2018 could be the last day for this luxury hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

Word is Mandarin Oriental will soon become Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, a Hilton Worldwide brand.

Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas

Waldorf Astoria is the flagship brand in Hilton’s portfolio, assuming Wikipedia knows what it’s talking about.

The announcement about the upcoming transition to Waldorf Astoria was made internally at a meeting at the Aria resort.

Also imparted was the fact a $50 million renovation will accompany the change in ownership.

While no official announcement of a buyer has been made, we’ve reported it could be the owner of Hilton Lake Las Vegas, real estate investor “Ronnie” Lam and his Kam Sang Co. Employees attending the Aria ballroom event were informed the buyer is an “Asian investor.”

Lending credence to our Waldorf Astoria news is the fact a domain name was recently registered, WaldorfAstoriaLasVegas.com, which redirects to the main Waldorf Astoria Web site.

Mandarin Oriental has no casino, so it’s difficult for us to care too much about it, but scoop is scoop.

We honestly have no idea why there’s been an attempt to keep the buyer of Mandarin Oriental on the down-low, but in most cases, it means there are loose ends to tie up prior to an official announcement.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag, expect an official announcement about Mandarin Oriental becoming Waldorf Astoria soon.

Update (5/16/18): Our story has been confirmed, as if you had any doubt.

11 thoughts on “Signs Point to Mandarin Oriental Becoming Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas

  1. Stewart Edwards

    Scott

    Love your site and especially your podcasts, the only podcasts that I listen to, have a virtual captain and diet on me. Cheers!

    But you should care about MO, as that brand is arguably the one that would have gotten me to Vegas one day. Non smoking, calm. The specific ambiance of MO. You can gamble anywhere.

    So the loss of me potentially one day visiting Vegas is no big deal, but the MO brand is powerful. Not as powerful as VitalVegas obviously. It would have been where I would have most likely stayed. And I would have gambled, for entertainment value.

    Better start looking at 18 Freemont, new property, lack of ingrained smoke, those mysterious levels 4 and 5, old Vegas, tampons with your Captain in Hogs and Heifers. (Yes I am going through your old podcasts, sad I know).

    Reply
  2. AD

    I love the bar there, I even proposed to my wife there. I hope they dont turn it into a club or something.

    Reply
  3. Parlay

    Never commented on your blog before but enjoy reading it.

    Re: Your question on why this has been kept on the down-low, my thinking (and maybe you could check around to confirm it; I’m just doing some educated out-of-towner speculating) is that the people who own residences at the Mandarin Oriental were furious about this sale. It’s not a lot of people but some of them have a lot of money.

    The MO has 225 residences above the hotel, floors 24-47. I’ve gathered that one of the most valuable things about owning a condo there, other than the prime location (which will become even more prime as Park MGM comes fully online), is owners and their guests not only have their own separate amenities – but they can also use the MO amenities (spa, restaurants, pool, fitness center, you name it).

    They can also use MO room service (really, they just call like a hotel customer and have food/liquor sent right up)/laundry services/housekeeping and have those charges billed to them monthly; they can sign for any charges at pool/spa/MO restaurants and be billed later. The sales pitch for buying a condo there was you get all the perks of being a Mandarin Oriental hotel guest but in your own condo.

    This is a long-winded way to say that the condos, while marketed as/by Mandarin Oriental, are technically owned by another entity and only had permission to use the MO name for as long as MO gave it. There was always a chance that MO could leave, but MO rarely leaves a city once they’re there.

    I know; cry me a river over rich condo owners. But it could very well be the condo owners are why Hilton is making it a Waldorf Astoria – a brand that doesn’t exactly scream Las Vegas, does it? But Waldorf Astoria already has condo residences which offer hotel amenities above their hotels in NY and Beverly Hills. Having it be a Waldorf Astoria – and not a traditional Hilton – may assure the Las Vegas condo owners that they’ll still have a high level of service, since the brand is familiar with also having residences.

    This may also assure prospective buyers – where do you think the rich out-of-town Raider execs/superfans have been buying condos since the move was announced? The Mandarin Oriental. (If you check the MO condos for sale you’ll see the prices have almost doubled since announcement of the Raiders; the MO brand and no casino was a big part of that.) So everyone at Hilton has a vested interest in keeping current and future Mandarin condo customers – who traditionally have spent a lot of money on services/amenities at the MO, because they live right above it – happy.

    That’s my theory. Go confirm it!

    Reply
      1. Parlay

        Thank you, AD. It certainly will be interesting to see what transpires. And I agree that the Mandarin Bar is quite lovely, and I hope you and your wife are able to return to a similar bar there one day at the Waldorf. I believe the MO bar has won a number of awards from travel/food sites.

        I remember reading that at one point the Mandarin management in Las Vegas was considering branding the Mandarin Bar as a branch of the upscale Chicago bar The Aviary (which would keep a similar atmosphere to the current Mandarin Bar with additional drink and food choices). But the Aviary concept ended up in the NYC Mandarin Oriental last year instead (another MO with great city views in some of its restaurants/bars).

        Reply
    1. alex

      Lots of good stuff in there. I do think that condo owners might be upset over the loss of the Mandarin Oriental brand on their building.

      As someone who has worked in and followed the hospitality industry for decades, I can say with confidence that this property never would have become a traditional Hilton (or Marriott, Westin, Sheraton, Hyatt). It was built as a 5-Diamond/5-Star hotel, which means it has very high-end fixtures and amenities. Whatever it was to become, it would have been a brand to the top end of the spectrum of hotel brands.

      Although it’s subjected, I wouldn’t say that Las Vegas is any more or less appropriate for a Mandarin Oriental brand than a Waldorf Astoria. Both brands are positioned to provide high levels of service in the top destinations across the globe.

      Note: I don’t want my post to feel as though I’m attacking your position. I pretty much agree with your analysis. I just slightly disagreed with a couple of your statements about the branding.

      Reply
      1. Parlay

        Alex: Understood. I certainly did not see your comment as attacking but instead very informative; thank you for your experienced POV. Appreciate the background; I did not know that about the quality of the construction of the Mandarin. I suppose my image of the Waldorf Astoria branding is from older days in New York when it was the top level hotel in Manhattan and was considered quite stuffy. You are right; they could come to LV with a clean slate because the brand is unfamiliar to most people.

        I’ll add one thing I thought about since I posted: The Mandarin Oriental hotel proper in Las Vegas has been getting some negative reviews since late last fall on various travel forums. While visitors noted excellent service, in hindsight I should have paid attention to the multiple complaints – both last winter and this spring – about “worn-looking” rooms, or rooms “desperately needing a refresh” or “below Mandarin standards”.

        I wonder if perhaps the decision to put the hotel on the market had been made by last fall, and CityCenter/MGM decided not to put any effort into refurbishing rooms for 2018 because of it.

        Reply

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