Tammy Cooper, the concierge and guest relations manager at The Mansion at MGM Grand, has spent most of her professional life in the hospitality industry. She especially enjoys restaurants. Here she shares some of her top secrets about getting the most out of a stay in Las Vegas.
Tell me about one of your favorite places to send first-time Vegas visitors.
The Wind Dancer helicopter tour with Maverick Helicopters. You take off in a helicopter and fly over Lake Mead and Hoover Dam before landing 3,500 feet into the Grand Canyon for 20 to 30 minutes. Enjoy a light snack with a glass of champagne where you can watch the Colorado River 300 feet below you. On the way back you'll fly over and see downtown and the Las Vegas Strip.
I want to update my Facebook photo. What should I have in the background of my selfie?
I know everyone loves the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, but I think it'd be fun to take it a step further and do the Neon Museum. It's where all the famous Vegas neon signs are 'retired' to. This way you can pose with several different ones. It's also a super popular spot for photographers.
Tell me about your favorite hidden gem in Las Vegas.
Definitely Red Rock Canyon and Mount Charleston. Mount Charleston is great for camping, hiking (there are even waterfalls), and snowboarding in the winter. Red Rock has amazing hikes year round and features a gorgeous outdoor theater called Super Summer Theater. You can picnic in the grass surrounded by the beautiful canyon, while watching your favorite play.
Where should I eat if I want to celebrate a special occasion? How hard is it to get a reservation while I’m in Las Vegas?
Joel Robuchon without a doubt. In my opinion the best French restaurant in town; was rated 3 Michelin Stars, Forbes 5 Star, AAA 5 Diamond, Chef of the Century, and more. The restaurant resembles a plush mansion complete with marble floors and a garden terrace. It's a great option if you're looking for something upscale and romantic.
What’s the most unusual request you’ve had as a concierge? What about the craziest request?
I had a gentleman in town over Easter because of work, and his family joined him. He wanted to do something special since he wasn't able to spend much time with them. The day before Easter he came up and asked me to bring Easter to his wife and kids like they were at home. A colleague and I went out and filled over a hundred colorful Easter eggs with candy and toys, blocked off our garden and pool area, and hid them all over. We got Easter baskets, and he had us write out personalized cards for each of his kids. We set up fun music and hired an Easter Bunny to help us run around with the kids hunting for eggs, and took pictures so they could remember the day.
Who is your favorite Las Vegas celebrity chef? Why?
Chef Akira Back. He's incredibly talented and his dishes are so unique (not to mention made with fresh, quality ingredients). His big eye tuna pizza over at Yellowtail is one of the best things I've ever eaten. What I really love about him is that despite all of his success and fame, he still takes the time to introduce himself to his guests and ensure they truly love what they're eating.
Where do you like to send guests to brunch?
In the past it was Jazz Brunch at Country Club inside the Wynn. By far the best brunch I've ever had. Live jazz band playing with an incredible buffet station of food to choose from. The buffet was high quality, fresh food and they also had a small menu of made to order food. This was all included in one set price. This has now moved over to Lakeside at Wynn, which I hear is just as amazing. Border Grill at Mandalay Bay is also fantastic. It's an all-you-can-eat, made-to-order Mexican small plates for one set price. You can sit inside or on their outdoor patio.
I want to experience classic Las Vegas. Where do you recommend that I go?
Downtown Las Vegas. It has lots of options to experience classic/old Vegas. The Mob Museum gives you a glimpse of Vegas' roots and is so informative about the city's dark history. The Fremont Street Experience is also great at night. It features 1,500 square feet of video screens playing a light show over bars, restaurants and hotel/casinos.
Where do you like to do some people-watching in Las Vegas?
Hexx Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas. They have a huge, delicious menu to choose from and an awesome outdoor patio right on busy Las Vegas Boulevard.
What’s the must-see show in Las Vegas right now?
Although it's not new, "Absinthe" is hands down one of the best shows on the Strip. It's a great way to kick off your night as it's absolutely hysterical (and I must add pretty vulgar). Think Cirque Du Soleil meets vaudeville.
How about nightlife? I want to hang out with friends but avoid the nightclubs. Where should I go?
I love Level Up Lounge at the MGM Grand because it's not your typical night out at the bar. In addition to the great cocktails, they offer so many different, interactive games for adults. One of my personal favorites is their Virtually Reality arena where you can team up and test your skills with puzzles, killer drones, or even surviving zombies. Level Up also hosts weekly video game tournaments where you can win prizes, karaoke, live music, and the usual games (ping pong, foosball, air hockey, etc.).
What tips do you give first-timers?
Research what you want to do! Las Vegas has so much to offer and it can sometimes be overwhelming to first time visitors (especially if you're just browsing the internet). Your hotel's concierge team is a valuable resource to help create unforgettable experiences that are personalized to what you actually want. Don't be afraid to come see us and unload all your questions.
Describe your perfect evening out in Las Vegas.
First, shopping for the perfect outfit at the many stores inside the Fashion Show mall. Then dinner at the fabulous Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant with a table on their outdoor patio overlooking the Bellagio Fountains. Next, cocktails at the Chandelier Bar inside the Cosmopolitan before bottle service and dancing at Marquee Nightclub.