If you’re booked to stay at Mandalay Bay, chances are pretty good that you are a business traveler who is attending a large congress or meeting. That’s because the Mandalay Bay Convention Center is the fifth largest in the U.S. (opened January 2003), with 1.7 million square feet of flexible meeting and exhibit space. So, what can you expect?

Mandalay Bay is a tropical resort-themed mega hotel (opened March 1999) that’s easily recognized by its gold leaf windows and sprawling wings on the south end of the Strip. It has palm trees and water features throughout the property. There’s a 14 foot high, saltwater aquarium in the registration area that is filled with colorful fish and two leopard sharks — a feature related to the Shark Reef Aquarium (which opened in in June 2000). Throughout the property you’ll find fountains, sculptures, marble and flora.

For those who enjoy gaming, you’ll find more than 135,000 square feet of gaming, including a Sports Book, poker room, table games, slots and more (unfortunately, the casino was not kind to me on this visit, but I enjoyed playing).

If you’re considering a meeting or staying at Mandalay Bay, here’s what you need to know.

Mandalay Bay Guest Rooms

Mandalay Bay has 3.211 rooms which includes 436 suites), and has nine different types of rooms and suites. I stayed in a deluxe room (16214). It’s a comfortable 550 square foot room with a king bed, faces south and offers a pool view. There’s definitely an efficient use of space to the room, including the bathroom (where there’s also a 13″ TV). The hotel’s rooms features floor-to-ceiling windows, a 42″ hi-def plasma TV, desk area and wireless and high-speed Internet (however, the free Internet service isn’t available in the hotel’s public spaces). Housekeeping does a great job with maintaining the rooms, and my automated wake-up message was a greeting from Chef Rick Moonen.

Hotel guests get free access to the Cardio Center, a 1,575 square foot workout center with Precor treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent bikes, uprigth bikes, climbers, a Cybex climber and a Matrix Krank Cycle (beach level, open daily 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.). In addition to Mandalay Bay’s guest rooms, Four Seasons operates an additional 424 rooms in the main tower (separate entrance and lobby), and THEhotel is a separate all-suite tower with another 1,117 suites — opened in December 2003, it will become the Delano Las Vegas in 3Q 2014 (looking forward to returning and checking that out for you!).

Meetings and Conventions at Mandalay Bay

During my stay, I ran into a meeting planner who was in the midst of checking out space for a future convention of with 3,000 delegates. Her spontaneous feedback was very positive.

Mandalay Bay can host a meeting as small as 30 or as many as 30,000. What’s nice about the convention center is that it is clearly separate from the casino and hotel, allowing organizers to have focused time and attention for the agenda. The convention center is located on three levels, and has 1.7 million square feet of flexible space. There are four massive ballrooms that range from 10,00 to 100,000 square feet (no pillars), and break-out space can be divided into 100 simultaneous meetings. Mandalay Bay is also committed to conservation — recycling an average of 81% of its convention waste. The Mandalay Bay Beach has 11 tons of sand and has been used to host a full range of private events (well, you can probably host a private event nearly anywhere on the property). Mandalay Bay was the selected venue for the MPI World Education Congress 2013.

The Mandalay Bay Events Center is adjacent to the convention center. It’s a multi-purpose 12,000-seat conference, entertainment, sporting and special event venue. World class concerts have been held here, including Black Eyed Peas, KEith Urban, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Alicia Keys. It is also where world championship boxing events have been held, including Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones. Additionally, The Events Center is home to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events and the Latin GRAMMY Awards.

Dining at Mandalay Bay

Like many hotels on the Strip, Mandalay Bay has its share of celebrity chef restaurants and great dining. Mandalay Bay has 25 restaurants and even more at the Shoppes at Mandalay Bay. Fleur by Hubert Keller is casual and chic, offering small and large plates of French, Italian, Chinese and Mexican dishes. During this visit, I was on a highly restricted diet of soft foods only, so chef Morita Sondoval pureed an amazing Mexican squash flavored with chili peppers for me.

A sampling of other highlights include Charlie Palmer’s Aureole (American cuisine and famous for its four-story wine tower and “wine angels” who retrieve bottles), Lupo by Wolfgang Puck (Italian, featuring exhibition pizza), STRIPSTEAK, a Michael Mina Restaurant which also features a collection of single malt scotches with more than 100 selections, Red Square (a Russian-themed restaurant and nightspot that is known for its private vodka locker and bar made of ice), Rick Moonen’s Rx Boiler Room (his newest restaurant at Mandalay Bay, offering playful creations of classic comfort foods presented in small and large plate portions) and Citizens Kitchen & Bar (a restaurant that has a full range of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Activities at Mandalay Bay

For entertainment and nightlife, Mandalay Bay is home to the Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du SoleilWith 63 dancers and performers, this multi-layered, immersive musical experience is perhaps one of the best performances I’ve ever attended. Two nightly performances are scheduled Saturday through Wednesday. (Check out our Michael Jackson ONE review.) Mandalay Bay also has the House of Blues Music Hall, Light Nightclub and 14 other lounges and bars. Mizuya is a Japanese lobby bar and restaurant that also offers live music in the evening.

Spa Mandalay is an elegant, 30,000 square foot facility with 21 treatment rooms, and a full range of services that are inspired by cultures from around the world. There are severa. Spa Mandalay also has a 3,000 square foot fitness center that has great views of Mnadalay Bay’s tropical lagoon. It’s open daily from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Check out our Spa Mandalay review.)

Located next to the convention center, the Shark Reef Aquarium features more than 2,000 aquatic animals, Shark Reef Aquarium is located near the convention center, and has a 90,560 square foot aquarium that is home to a Golden Crocodile, stingrays, jellyfish, sea turtles piranhas and a rare Komodo Dragon. And, as the name suggests, it is home to 12 types of sharks (including Shark Rays). Shark Reef Aquarium is a fun, family experience…

The Shoppes at Mandalay Bay include 40 retail shops, bars and restaurants. It’s located on a skybridge between Mandalay Bay and Luxor. A few highlights include and Elton’s Men’s Store, Lik Gallery, the Guinness Store and Ri Ra Irish Pub. I’m a fan of Irish pubs, so I stopped in for a little while later in the evening to listen to some live music. Of course, there are a full range of other stores located throughout the property, offering everything luxury goods, upscale apparel, gift shops, sundries and more.

Enjoy Las Vegas

When in Vegas, it’s easy to check out your favorite activities anywhere along the strip. During my most recent visit, I spent an evening at the Bar at Times Square in New York New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, where they have a great dueling piano show. They charge a modest fee if you want to stand ($5 weekdays and $10 weekends), and for a little more you can get your own table ($15 weekdays and $25 weekends). I met the nicest people from Tampa, Florida, who were staying at the MGM Grand and a couple who were from a town that’s about an hour outside of Glasgow, Scotland.

The Verdict?

Mandalay Bay is one of the most popular convention hotels in Vegas. Mandalay Bay is a AAA Four Diamond Award winner (2000 – 2012). Sustainability is a significant part of its business plan — Mandalay Bay received 5 Keys (2010) from the Green Key Eco-Rating Program for these efforts, including its procedures to reduce energy usage in housekeeping operations. And this year the hotel announced this year that they plan to install solar panels on its rooftop in 2014 to generate as much as 20% of the hotel’s electricity, and making the project the second largest in the U.S.

Mandalay Bay continues to evolve and enhance its guest experiences. It is certainly worthy of consideration for your future business meeting or event. And if it’s possible, extend your visit to enjoy the resort!