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Led by General Manager Rajesh Jhingon, the 392-room
 Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas Opens

By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

December 4, 2009 --Size isn't everything.

In any other city, a 392-room hotel would constitute a large resort.

Not Las Vegas.

On the Strip, the Mandarin Oriental is billing itself as a true boutique nongaming hotel that just happens to sit at the entrance to the 67-acre CityCenter campus and is surrounded by 3,000- and 4,000-room megaresorts.

But what it lacks in size -- the Mandarin Oriental's hotel rooms would comprise about six floors of its CityCenter neighbor, the 4,004-room, 61-story Aria -- it makes up for in exclusivity.

The Mandarin Oriental brand has built a reputation on providing guests a luxury setting and personalized service. And guests are willing to shell out big money for that extravagance.

The hotel chain normally commands some of the highest nightly rates in the international cities that it operates.

The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, which opens to the public Saturday after several private events Friday, is no exception.

According to the hotel's Web site, Mandarin rooms in January can be booked from $384 a night up to $922 a night. Rooms range in size from 500 square feet, 648 square feet and 850 square feet.

General manager Rajesh Jhingon said the hotel opens with 75 rooms this weekend, all of which have been booked. He hopes to have most of the hotel rooms online by New Year's Eve.

There hasn't been any concern about the nightly rates, given the current economic environment in which Las Vegas hotel room prices have been slashed to historically low levels.

"We're not getting any push-back on the rates," Jhingon said, which are now at $300 a night for the average room. "We're not worried about numbers of rooms right now. We want to make sure to get it right."

A spokeswoman for the hotel said Mandarin Oriental is running an introductory offer of two nights for the price of one.

The 47-story angular glass building, designed by architect Kohn Pedersen Fox, also has 227 luxury condominium units on its upper floors.

There are separate entrances for the residents and hotel guests, but they have priority when it comes to the property's amenities, especially the dining offerings on the resort's 23rd floor Sky Lobby.

But that's not say the property won't welcome locals and guests from neighboring Strip properties.

"We're very honored to be part of the chapter in this city's life," Jhingon said. "We want to be an intimate hotel but also be part of all of what CityCenter offers."

The Mandarin Oriental is the Hong Kong-based international hotel chain's first property in Las Vegas. Other American locations for the company, which has 10 hotels in Asia, include Boston, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Jhingon spent four years as general manager of Mandarin's 527-room hotel in Singapore, overseeing its remodeling and repositioning. He said the Strip property had to be unique to Las Vegas.

The color schemes, fabrics and materials, and various artwork and design elements, fit the Strip.

"We wanted to draw energy and create a sense of place," Jhingon said. "You couldn't transfer this hotel to any other place but Las Vegas."

Much of the design focus centered on the 23rd floor Sky Lobby, which took advantage of the Strip location. Only the Mandarin Orientals in New York (on the 35th floor) and Tokyo (50th floor) have Sky Lobbys.

The floor serves as the check-in area for hotel guests and operates as a separation between the hotel units (floor 22 and below) and the residences (floor 24 and above).

"Look at the views. It was something we needed to utilize," Jhingon said.

The 23rd floor is also home to the hotel's signature restaurant, Twist from award-winning celebrity Chef Pierre Gagnaire. The 74-seat restaurant, open only for dinner, was designed by Adam D. Tihany. He also designed the interiors for the entire hotel. The restaurant features a glass staircase leading up to a suspended wine loft.

Twist is Gagnaire's first restaurant in the United States and features classic French cuisine with a modern spin. Jhingon estimated the average meal will cost about $125 per person.

The Mandarin Bar and the Tea Lounge, which features English-style High Tea every afternoon, are also on the 23rd floor. The Mandarin Web site says the bar will open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the Tea Lounge will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.

"It's a place to come, relax, or read a book. It's going to be private in a way," Jhingon said.

Public space includes a two-level, 27,000-square-foot spa and 12,000 square feet of meeting rooms.

On the third floor is MOzen Bistro, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

At street level off the Strip is Amore Patisserie, a gourmet bakery serving pastries, sandwiches, coffee and teas. The bakery is the only location for the brand outside the Mandarin Oriental's flagship hotel in Hong Kong.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.

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To see more of the Review-Journal or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.lvrj.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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