MGM Resorts launches hotel loyalty program for Las Vegas hotels

Las Vegas lovers: get ready to earn back what you lost at the tables.

MGM Resorts just announced it will launch a hotel loyalty program that includes room upgrades, casino credits, and dining and shopping rewards.

Called M Life, the program will launch Tuesday and, according to Travel Weekly, will expand into a full loyalty program later this year recognizing guest spending on hotel stays, shopping, dining and gambling.

The introduction of the loyalty program competes with MGM’s rivals on the Las Vegas Strip, many of whom offer loyalty programs and players clubs, thanks to association with larger brands. The Cosmopolitan resort (part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection) and the Venetian and Palazzo (both part of the InterContinental Hotels Group system) currently allow customers to earn loyalty points and redeem rewards at various hotels and retailers. However, MGM Resorts’ program goes beyond traditional hotel loyalty program, by introducing gaming and the casino into the mix.
The program will have four tiers (Sapphire, Pearl, Gold and Platinum) and allow “players” to gamble their way to hotel benefits including free rooms and upgrades, pre-sale tickets to concerts and shows and VIP services. The Express Comps feature will enable guests to use their card anytime to instantly redeem rewards.

According to Travel Weekly, “For instance, if a guest is playing at a slot machine and gets hungry or wants to buy a show ticket, they can instantly redeem rewards at participating venues, said MGM Resorts. Express Comps appear as dollars, making redemption transparent and simple.”

The M Life program will cover Las Vegas hotels Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Excalibur, Luxor, Monte Carlo and New York-New York.

Luxury hotel to open near Tower of London

London is certainly the talk of the industry. With the 2012 Olympic Games approaching and the wedding of the century around the corner, London hotels will be one of the most sought after commodity.

News from Luxury Society is that a new luxury hotel near the Tower of London is being planned, certain to add some competition to the luxury hotel market for the big events. The hotel is said to be ready in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and managed by Franklyn Hotels & Resorts, which already operates luxury London hotels The Cadogan and Durley House.

The hotel, which currently is unnamed, will occupy a 1922 building that played host to the inaugural meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1946.

We want to know: Would you choose to stay at a hotel simply for its historical significance?

Forbes Travel Guide announces annual four- and five-star hotel, spa, restaurant winners

The star-rating for hotels, spas, and restaurants is similar to the Academy Awards for Hollywood. If Oscar is the type prize, a five-star rating for a hotel can be called “Oscar.” Luxury properties waited with bated breath for today’s announcement from Forbes Travel Guide: the list of Four-Star and Five-Star award winners for the 2011 Forbes Travel Guide.

The list, unveiled today, announced two hotels, two restaurants, and two spas winning a coveted fifth star. The list has defined the industry’s highest standards of excellence in hospitality for more than 50 years.

The five-star winner restaurants are both in New York City (Daniel and Eleven Madison Park); the two new five-star hotels include Island Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong, and Falling Rock at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, in Farmington, Pennsylvania; and the two new five-star spas are The Spa at The Grand Del Mar, in San Diego, and The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, in Las Vegas.

Forbes Travel Guide’s ratings are based on objective evaluations of more than 500 attributes. This year’s additions bring the total number of Forbes Five-Star hotels to 54. Among the 54 Five-Star hotels, six are in New York City, the most of any city in the U.S. There are five Five-Star hotels in Hong Kong, and two in Macau, where ratings were established for the first time in 2009. Forbes Travel Guide expects to further expand its rating system to include properties in additional international destinations in 2011.

The complete list of Forbes Travel Guide Star award winners can be found here.

Controversy over development near Victoria Falls

Environmentalists are complaining that the tour company Shearwater Adventures has violated national and international law by expanding their luxury resort into the rainforest near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Shearwater has constructed a new restaurant, bar, kitchen, and information center next to the public entrance to the World Heritage Site. A lawyer for Shearwater insists the development is a legal replacement of earlier structures that had fallen into disrepair and that none of the new buildings go outside the area already reserved for facilities. Opponents to the construction contend that the buildings are on a much larger scale than the previous ones and are forbidden by a 2007 moratorium. This was put in place after UNESCO threaten to rescind Victoria Falls’ World Heritage status after a local businessman tried to build a hotel and golf course in the World Heritage zone.

Without being on the ground it’s hard to say if who’s telling the truth here. Last week The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe ordered that no new construction take place. It is now running the site along with the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, which used to have sole authority. The government is currently trying to decide which body will run the Falls.

As this shakeup is going on, conservationists say Shearwater is planning a giant $6 million development next to the VIP entrance to the Falls. This will include a complex of buildings close enough to the Falls to threaten its World Heritage status. There’s also worry about the development’s location only a few yards from the Zambezi River.

[Photo courtesy user colmdc via Gadling’s flickr pool]

Get 178 Mandarin Oriental Tokyo rooms, keep the neighbors away

There’s nothing worse than being in a hotel room that’s filled with the sounds of your neighbors. It has to get pretty bad outside your door for some out-of-control moron to be loud on your side of it, but let’s face the reality: some hotel neighbors are awful. You can solve this problem easily, as long as you have close to three quarters of a million dollars on hand per single night of bliss.

The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo has a great deal for guests who just want to sleep well at night. Pony up a whopping $679,500, and the only other people in the hotel will be the staff – and the few lucky people you invite to join you. Spa rooms, all nine restaurants … you can turn the hotel into your personal playground

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

The luxury hotel in central Tokyo began selling the plan a week ago as “something splashy” to commemorate its opening five years ago, said hotel spokeswoman Chie Hayakawa. It intends to apply for recognition from Guinness World Records once a reservation is finalised.

“When the hotel opened we had an exclusive party like this — black tie, cocktail dresses. There was music and drinks and food from the restaurants, and it was all quite grand,” said Hayakawa, who took part.

The rather hefty price tag doesn’t even get you a full 24 hours; it only runs from 3 PM until noon the next day. But, you can host a cocktail reception for up to 500 people.

There has been some interest in the package, mostly from businesses. Of course, eccentric individuals are also open to book a stay of this caliber. There is a catch:

“The only thing is, you have to pick a date where there are no reservations already,” she added. “It’s not as if you could just request it for later this week.”

[photo by TheTruthAbout via Flickr]