If you’re looking for something a bit different this holiday season, MGM International’s Gold Strike Casino Resort has put together a package designed to appeal to families. I was recently a guest of the resort, and got to see their property and offerings first-hand.
The hotel lobby is festooned in twinkling finery this month, with a photo station for Santa right outside the casino entrance (St. Nick appears Saturdays & Sundays). Guest rooms sport a contemporary decor with high-quality bed linens that ensure a good night’s rest.
One big entertainment draw is their family-friendly show, Gold Strike’s Country Christmas, playing through December 22nd, at the Millennium Theater (Tuesday-Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday & Sunday, 3 & 7 p.m. Tickets are $9.95 & $14.95 plus tax/service fees. A family four-pack is $25.)
This lively tribute show is a Vegas-style review featuring impersonators of Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Reba McIntire, and Tim McGraw. With the stage bedecked in Christmas trees and dazzle, the performers come out individually to sing the top hits of country music’s finest. Most popular was Kenny Rogers, aka Richard Hamilton, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Rogers, and is very engaging. When he broke into The Gambler, he had the men around me singing along. Visitors also enjoy taking pictures with the stars at the end of the show.
For a real splurge, try dinner at the newly refurbished Chicago Steakhouse (entrees start at $28). A recent facelift has eschewed the dark, clubby interior for a lighter, more polished look, accented with stunning architectural photographs of Chicago. Still firmly in place is the very professional and courteous wait staff, folks who are clearly appreciated by the regulars. The dishes I sampled, salmon and a pepper-encrusted tuna, were well-prepared and flavorful, but the real stand-out was the crab cake, sitting on a leek and shitake salad, drizzled in a delicate citrus-infused glaze that was simply delicious. Kudos to executive chef Chris Zelinski, who honed his skills as a sous chef at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse before teaming up with MGM Resorts International.
In addition to the casino, the resort sports a grotto-like pool area, an exercise room, and spa. The 5-year-old and his dad we saw swimming there were having a blast, while several adults relaxed in the two hot tubs. Given that this is a 1,200-room hotel, the pool is woefully undersized. It’s clear they don’t really expect people to spend much time here, but when courting families, a nice pool (along with other family-oriented amenities), can be a big draw.
Finally, if you take your Country Christmas show stub to the Buffet Americana ($24.95 per person), kids eat free with an adult purchase. The attractive, $8 million buffet restaurant opened in June and emphasizes a host of fresh or freshly prepared food offerings. Tempting treats include crab claws, roast beef, ham (it came highly recommended by one waitress who told me, "It's so good you’ll wanna slap your mama,”) antipasto and fresh salads, and a Mongolian grill, in addition to traditional breakfast items. Champagne is served on the weekends. • Buffet hours: Weekdays from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. & 4-9:30 p.m. Weekends, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. & 4 p.m.-midnight.