The Mirage: Preeminent Mega-Resort Redefined

When The Mirage opened in 1989 it did nothing less than totally transform the idea of what Las Vegas could be. In fact, in many ways SinCity is viewed as having two distinct eras: Before Mirage and After Mirage.

Erupting volcano at The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip

Built at a cost of $630 million—chump change in the scheme of current Vegas economics, but by far the most expensive project at the time—The Mirage was the original mega-resort.

It was something entirely new. In fact, the concept of the resort was quite risky, and developer Steve Wynn was largely viewed by his peers as making a massive mistake. The property was so large and so audacious that it needed to pull in more than $1 million a day just to break even.

Of course you know the rest of the story: The Mirage was an unmitigated success, kicking off an incredible building boom that hasn't stopped. Las Vegas is now home to countless mega-resorts, but without The Mirage, who knows what Las Vegas would be like today?

Love, Cirque du Soleil's Beatles show

And since nothing is sacrosanct in this town, even the one that started it all has to keep up with the times.

Several years ago this property was starting to lose its luster as other bigger, newer resorts started to encroach on its fabled territory. Now The Mirage has been almost entirely reconceived and is once again one of the most modern and exciting resorts on The Strip.

The Mirage is known for its towering volcano hovering over a lagoon that greets guests by spewing smoke and fire into the air hourly from 6 p.m. to midnight. But once inside, it's a tropical getaway. There's a 20,000-gallon artificial coral reef aquarium stocked with tropical fish behind the registration guest and a lobby atrium with tropical flowers, palm trees and waterfalls serving as the entranceway to the main part of the resort.

Of course The Mirage has plenty more to offer than the 100,000-square-foot casino. Here are the highlights.

Pool at The Mirage

Stunning Beatles Spectacle

Probably the most exciting addition was the debut of Love, a new production from Cirque du Soleil. An homage to The Beatles, the show was created in conjunction with Apple Corps Ltd.

Utilizing a newly arranged medley of their extensive song catalog, the music serves as a dramatic soundscape for the multi-sensory production. Focused more on dance than the acrobatics that made other Cirque shows famous, this high-energy performance is an exploration of the Fab Four's career. This show is pure spectacle that keeps the audience fully engaged. Incredible special effects, 100-foot-high digital images, in-seat speakers, psychedelic costuming and amazing athleticism combine to create a show like no other. Tickets start at $69, but the best seats go for as much as $135.

After the show, suggest a visit to The Beatles Revolution Lounge. Based on the band's aesthetic from the Sgt. Pepper era, the area has 30,000 dichroic light-reflecting crystals on the ceiling and has the world's coolest tabletops. They are interactive, meaning you can create artwork and then project it onto a diamond-shaped column in the center of the ultra-lounge for all to see. Booking Information

Another entertainment option here is Danny Gans. He's an all-around performer whose show is filled with singing, impressions and comedy. Tickets are $100, drinks additional. Reservations are available at 800-963-9634.

Rest and Relax

The Mirage's tropical-themed pool area includes two pools with waterfalls, an outdoor café and private cabanas featuring Bose Wave Radios, phones, safes and teak lounge chairs. Cabanas are open from March through Thanksgiving and cost $250 Monday-Thursday and $300 Friday-Sunday and holidays.

For the more adventurous there is Bare, an adult European-style outdoor pool club and lounge. Slick and seductive, this highly stylized exotic escape features DJs spinning hot cuts on the weekend, creative cocktails and an environment that encourages meeting and mingling.

At Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat there are five rare animal breeds, including the white lions of Timbavati and Siegfried & Roy's royal white tigers of Nevada. The Dolphin Habitat features a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Delectable Dining

With its debut last fall, Japonais has set a new standard for progressive Japanese cuisine. Originally from Chicago, this new addition at The Mirage is a masterful blend of French technique fused with clean and simple Japanese ingredients. Japonais' extensive menu features terrific cuts of sushi—the creamy toro melts away.

Recommend the spicy mono, a tangy octopus roll topped with spicy tuna tartare and sweet unagi sauce; the tuna tuna salmon, delicate salmon tartare graced with sliced tuna, avocado sauce and wasabi tobiko sauce; or the crispy shrimp and salmon, a crunchy panko shrimp roll topped with marinated salmon sashimi and wasabi tobiko sauce.

There is an extensive sake menu, too, which is worth multiple samplings. It's a good thing Japonais has a lounge as well. Call 702-792-7979 for reservations.

Stack Restaurant & Bar is firmly rooted in American tastes and cooking techniques. While the food is top quality, the chefs don't take the menu too seriously, adding cheeky touches throughout. Take the adult tater tots for example, which inject bacon and brie into this childhood classic. Crunchy tuna tacos with a mango-wasabi mojo use a wonton wrap for the shell, creating the perfect balance of texture and flavor. The steaks, such as the 24-ounce cowboy ribeye, are as sumptuous as they are filling. Make sure to suggest tasting a signature cocktail as well. They've been handcrafted by renowned mixologists. Visit www.stacklasvegas.com or call 702-792-7800.

Other restaurants include Fin, a high-end Chinese restaurant serving authentic Chinese dishes in a contemporary setting; Kokomo's, which concentrates on steaks and seafood; and the Samba Brazilian Steakhouse, offering endless amounts of skewered meats served tableside.

Onda Ristorante's forte is classic regional dishes of Italy, and it also serves American cuisine, while its Wine Lounge hosts a wine tasting every Friday.

If your clients are seeking a good place for a drink and the lounges seem to be too crowded, suggest visiting the high-roller lounge. The bar is open to the public and it's usually more sparsely populated.

Renovations Next Year

Up next for The Mirage will be a renovation of all 3,044 rooms, including all 281 suites during the first few months of 2008. Rates for deluxe guest rooms range from $109 to $699 and suites are $275 to $5,000. The spa is also set to be reinvented starting this summer and will be closed until sometime late in the year.

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