The Mirage is a 3,044 room Polynesian-themed resort and casino, located on the Las Vegas Strip. It was built by developer Steve Wynn, who is also known for developing the Golden Nugget, Treasure Island and The Bellagio, and is currently owned and operated by MGM Resorts International. A free tram connects The Mirage with neighboring Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.
The Mirage was the first resort built with Wall Street money through the use of junk bonds. Financier Michael Milken helped to finance the project by selling $525 million worth of mortgage bonds. Going way over budget, it was the most expensive hotel-casino in history, with a construction cost of $630 million. The hotel’s distinctive gold windows get their color from actual gold dust used in the tinting process, and the original marquee sign in front of the building is the largest free-standing marquee in the world.
The Mirage is noteworthy in that it set a new standard for Vegas resorts. Thus, it is widely considered to be the “father” of today’s Las Vegas. Prior to the resort’s opening, the city was experiencing a decline in tourism, dating back to the 1970s when New Jersey legalized gambling and tourists (especially from the East Coast) began to frequent Atlantic City instead.
The Mirage, whose name was chosen by Mr. Wynn because of the resort’s South Pacific theme, also holds several other distinctions:
- At the time of its opening, in 1989, it was the largest hotel in the world, with 3,044 rooms.
- It was the first new resort to be built on the Las Vegas Strip in 16 years, after the completion of the MGM Grand in 1973.
- The hotel tower’s Y-shape design was later copied by the Treasure Island, Monte Carlo, and Mandalay Bay resorts.
- Rooms on the hotel’s top five floors were used exclusively for high rollers and featured penthouse suites.
- It was the first casino to use full-time security cameras on all gaming tables.
Starting in 1990, The Mirage was the venue for the Siegfried & Roy show, which combined magic and the use of wild animals. Unfortunately, the show closed in 2003 after performer Roy Horn was critically injured by one of the white tigers used in the show.
In 1993, the resort hosted an extended run of the Cirque du Soleil show Nouvelle Expérience. It was during this time that Mr. Wynn decided to invite Cirque to create the show which would become Mystère for the soon-to-be-built Treasure Island resort, located next door. In 2006, Cirque du Soleil finally returned to where they began in Las Vegas with a permanent production known as Love, which is based upon the music of The Beatles, featuring remixes of many of their songs. There is also a Beatles-themed ultra-lounge known as REVOLUTION, marking the first time that Cirque du Soleil became involved in the development of a nightlife venue.
Other notable features of The Mirage include:
- Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.
- An artificial volcano that “erupts” nightly at 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm. A piña colada fragrance is added to the natural gas stream to prevent the smell of uncombusted natural gas.
- An atrium, at the hotel entrance, featuring water features, palm trees, and other rainforest flora.
- An 8-foot tall, 53-foot long aquarium, located behind the registration desk (below), which is home to nearly 1000 specimens.
- Visited: Feb 1995, Apr 2015
- Attended: Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles: LOVE“