Las Vegas Sun

December 19, 2014

Valley’s newest resort casino open for business

M Resort opens to crowd of cheering employees, visitors

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Richard Brian

Sevyn Mindoro of Las Vegas gets the first roll on one of the craps table during the grand opening of M Resort on Sunday night.

Updated Monday, March 2, 2009 | 2:26 a.m.

M Resort Opens

After a 10-minute fireworks display over the resort's pool, the Las Vegas Valley's newest resort casino opened its doors to a crowd of cheering and curious locals.

M Resort opening celebration

The new M Resort on Sunday evening. Launch slideshow »

M Resort

Table games employees receive training at the M Resort  in Henderson Thursday, February 19, 2009. The new hotel and casino property, under construction at St. Rose Parkway and Las Vegas Boulevard South, is scheduled to open March 1. Launch slideshow »

M Resort

Beyond the Sun

M Resort

  • Casino: More than 1,847 slot machines, 64 table games, a poker room and race and sports book.
  • Number of rooms: 390
  • Entertainment: Live music at the Villaggio Del Sole Pool and Entertainment Plaza
  • Restaurants: Baby Cakes, Marinelli's, Red Cup Cafe, Studio B, Terzetto, Veloce Cibo, Vig Deli, Piazza Grille
  • Nightlife: Five bars and lounges
  • Attractions: 14-screen movie theater
  • Pool: Main pool and VIP pool
  • Spa: Spa Mio, offering 16 treatment rooms, sauna, steam, Jacuzzi wet areas and a full service salon.
  • Shopping center: No
  • Health club: Yes
  • Convention rooms: Yes, more than 160,000 square feet
  • Child-care facilities: No
  • Players club card: Yes
  • Parking garage: Yes
  • Valet: Yes
  • Airport shuttle: Yes, included in resort fee

The M Resort opened with a bang at 10 p.m. Sunday night.

After a 10-minute fireworks display over the resort's pool, the Las Vegas Valley's newest resort casino opened its doors to a crowd of cheering and curious locals. Visitors were welcomed by dealers applauding the opening and ready to deal out the first cards of the night.

In the final minutes before the opening of the M Resort, cars were backed up along St. Rose Parkway and visitors began to crowd around the resort's four entrances. Vehicles filled the M Resort parking lot, surrounding shopping centers and nearby streets.

“I’ve been waiting to see those cars lined up for a long time," chairman and chief executive officer Anthony Marnell III said earlier in the evening.

About 4,000 invited guests finished off their comp-filled night with a fire and water show as the resort opened its doors to the pool. With his wife and Henderson Mayor James Gibson at this side, Marnell cut the ribbon at about 5 p.m. Sunday on his $1 billion property eight miles south of Mandalay Bay.

The ribbon-cutting kicked off a VIP party for guests before the public got its first glimpse of the valley's newest resort casino.

"I want to thank Mayor Gibson and the city of Henderson ... and second, all the men and women who worked day and night to make this resort happen," Marnell said. "It came out more beautiful than I could have ever imagined."

Marnell, who is no stranger to casino openings, said the process went smoothly with few surprises -- except for a last-minute chandelier delivery at 3:30 a.m. Sunday. The last few days were just about the details.

“I feel calm. We were very prepared. This isn’t the first one (casino opening), especially in working with my father -- he’s done this a dozen times,” Marnell said. “We’re going to have our issues but we’re about as calm and prepared as we can be. We were ready a week ago but this was really just about cleaning it up and fixing it up and getting it ready to go.”

Marnell's father, Anthony Marnell II, opened the Rio in 1990 and has built casinos on the Strip, including the Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas. Marnell said his own casino has surpassed his expectations.

“It’s turned out better than I thought it was going to come out. The architecture really came off the way we wanted it to and it’s more open that I thought it was going to be,” Marnell said. “The response from the people that I know who will at least tell me the truth … they’re just stunned. We did as good a job as we could have done.”

Set on 90 acres near Interstate 15 and St. Rose Parkway, M Resort is positioning itself as a locals casino with its placement near master-planned communities Anthem, Seven Hills and Southern Highlands.

"On behalf of the city of Henderson we want to thank and congratulate the Marnell family, and especially Anthony Marnell," Gibson, the Henderson mayor, said Sunday evening. "We are glad to be a part and a partner in this."

The 92,000-square-foot casino floor flooded with guests as quickly as the resort’s doors opened. A line for M’s Players Club card wrapped around the casino, slot machine seats were filled and table games quickly became occupied.

Neil Konigsberg of San Francisco stumbled upon an empty craps table just after 10 p.m. and threw the first role of the die on the table.

“I’ve never gotten to christen a table before but here I am,” he said. “It wasn’t because of superstition or anything. I just happened to be the first.”

Opening day luck wasn’t exactly shining on Konigsberg. His chips quickly dwindled. “I’m not doing so well,” he said.

While her husband tried his luck, Patrice Konigsberg admired the new resort.

“The property is beautiful,” she said. “I love the lighting. It’s just a very upscale, attractive place.”

Though M won’t greet its first public overnight guests until tonight, VIP guests and vendors filled its 390 rooms, including 39 suites.

Designed with a modern and contemporary feel, M’s rooms feature dark wood, chrome fixtures and white linens, and are accented by blue or burgundy throws and pillows. Rooms boast floor to ceiling windows with views of the mountains and the Strip, as well as Bose sound systems, iPod docking stations and 42-inch plasma flat screens.

Beginning at 7 a.m. Monday, the 23,000-square-foot Spa Mio will offer a variety of treatments and services to M guests with saunas, Jacuzzis, 16 massage and facial rooms, and a full-service salon and barbershop complete with built-in ESPN in the mirrors.

The resort has its own pharmacy and gas station, where regulars can use their players club points.

M dining options include Studio B, a show kitchen buffet; a standard casino café, the Red Cup Cafe; Baby Cakes bakery; Piazza Grille, a Mediterranean-style grill; Vig Deli; Marinelli’s Authentic Italian Dishes; Terzetto, a steak and seafood restaurant; sushi and sashimi bar Restaurant Veloce Cibo & Bar Veloce; and Hostile Grape Wine Cellar, where guests can taste more than 120 types of wine.

John and Candice Wohlwend of Anthem said they’ll be back for the dining options and reasonable prices.

“They have some nice concept restaurants,” Candice Wohlwend said. “We’d like to come back to try all of them. We’re excited about the wine bar. It’s a new concept to the area.”

With the poor economy on the minds of many, Wohlwend said the casino opening was a change of pace.

“With the economy so horrible, we’re tired of seeing places so dead that you’re used to seeing busy. It’s nice to see a place so full and people having a good time,” she said.

Trevor Derheim of Southern Highlands said M brings a new scene to his community.

“What’s great about this, coming from Southern Highlands, you have to go down to Eastern Avenue to get to anything.” Derheim said. “For us, it’s a good place to go to grab a drink or something to eat.”

Marnell might have packed his casino on opening night but bringing people back will be his next challenge, one he is very aware of.

“As a new property, we don’t have one customer,” Marnell said. “We have to build that from scratch.”

Marnell said he is relying on a commitment to customer service to keep his rooms filled and casino floor buzzing.

“You earn them one at a time. There’s no other way to do it. It’s one of the things my dad taught me back in the days of the Rio,” Marnell said. “This is a long battle in front of us; it’s a long plan. It will take us a year to build the momentum of this database and get it going and for word of mouth to spread … but we’re prepared for that.

“We’ve got just as good a chance as anyone else.”

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