from Ottawa, Canada
Submitted on 06-05-2016
We recently rented unit #1592, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom “presidential suite” located on the top floor of Vista Torre, the single stand-alone tower in this three-tower resort. We were four middle-aged women travelling together on a four-night “girls’ getaway”. The Wyndham Grand Desert was recommended to us by a co-worker after her own recent visit and it definitely did not disappoint! We were all very thoroughly impressed… The location of this resort is pretty ideal; it is l...
We recently rented unit #1592, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom “presidential suite” located on the top floor of Vista Torre, the single stand-alone tower in this three-tower resort. We were four middle-aged women travelling together on a four-night “girls’ getaway”. The Wyndham Grand Desert was recommended to us by a co-worker after her own recent visit and it definitely did not disappoint! We were all very thoroughly impressed… The location of this resort is pretty ideal; it is less than a mile’s walk straight up East Harmon Avenue to “the Strip”, emerging between the MGM Grand and Planet Hollywood, with easy side-street access to the stores and restaurants in its Miracle Mile Shops. Given that proximity, the surrounding area is surprisingly quiet and it is well lit and used often enough by pedestrians to keep it safe for walking at any hour. A new TopGolf sports entertainment complex is currently being built right next to this resort (at the back of the MGM Grand’s property), but otherwise the area around the resort on that south side of the street is pretty residential. We found the unit itself to be really quiet as well, even though we did pass people in the hallways while coming and going and therefore we knew that the other units on the floor were equally occupied. This particular unit’s windows all faced south with views of the airport in the distance, but only a few times, and always during daytime hours, did we actually hear the distinctive rumble of jets taking off. With large windows and plenty of other light sources (e.g., ceiling pot lights, pendant fixtures, and numerous floor and table lamps), we found the unit to be bright and airy with high ceilings throughout. The central air-conditioning worked well at keeping the large space at a consistently comfortable temperature, with controls in the main living area and in the hallway near the master bedroom. The three bedrooms have carpeted floors but the rest of the unit is tiled. We found that everything was clean and tidy and the unit was very well appointed. No housekeeping services at all are included (i.e., not even the daily garbage removal and towel refresh that is typical in other similar resorts) and we were never offered the opportunity to upgrade, although we did find out at check-out that maid service could have been provided for a daily fee. That said, there was a garbage chute in the main hallway and extra garbage bags were provided in the unit, and there were lots of towels provided and extras in the bathroom cabinets as well, so we didn’t really want for anything during our short stay, even without a daily cleaning service. I would note that there was an incident with a clogged toilet on the second night of our stay and when we called the front desk to report the problem we were initially told that there is a plunger provided in each unit and that we were to try that ourselves first and then to call back only if that didn’t solve the problem. As odd as we found that response, we really did search high and low for a plunger but we never did find one, so we had no choice but to call back and ask for maintenance to undertake the repair. Just a few minutes later, a young man arrived with two plungers; one to leave in the unit’s front closet and one to use on the clogged toilet. Moments thereafter, the toilet was once again working properly and he left with the used plunger wrapped in a garbage bag so as to prevent its dripping on the floor. He did say that clogs are known to happen and he reminded us with a smile that maintenance is available 24/7 to help guests who encounter any building issues. He was very pleasant and professional. Free wi-fi is included in the unit and a code was provided at check-in that allowed us to create an account for up to four devices. While we had expected that would mean that no more than four devices could be connected at once, we soon discovered that seemingly only four devices could be recognized on the account. For us, that meant that each of us were only able to connect one device, rather than being able to switch between using our phones and tablets or laptops. Although we didn’t spend a tonne of time in the unit, admittedly this was a bit of a pain and, had we known, some of us might have made different choices about which device we initially connected to the network. That said, I suspect that if we had taken the time to ask, the resort might have been kind enough to just give us another access code. During the early mornings and late evenings, I know that there were times when all four of us were using the wi-fi at once and yet we never experienced any connection issues and the speed was always reasonable, which was great! Upon our arrival at the resort, right at lunch time, we were greeted by “Gus”, who directed us to the check-in desk. Understandably, the suite was not yet ready but we were able to leave our luggage with the bell desk and then head out to start exploring the city. The front desk took note of my cell phone number and then called a couple of hours later to inform us that the suite was now ready. Upon our return to the resort that evening, “Hayley” handled the rest of the check-in, which was both quick and painless. Since this is an ownership property, we did have to go over to the sales counter after our check-in in order to be issued the required (but free) parking pass for the property’s lot and to be provided with printed information about the resort and its facilities. I was really impressed because there were absolutely no hard-sell tactics employed; the man who served me was friendly and efficient and I was very quickly on my way after politely making it clear that I was not interested in taking a tour and/or attending a sales presentation. I was really pleasantly surprised that not once, over the course of our whole four-night stay, did anyone ever actively try to recruit me into membership. Several open opportunities were scheduled and advertised (e.g., evening cocktail parties, offers of “freebies” like buffet meals or event tickets for taking the sales tour, etc.), but I really appreciated that no one pushed us to attend anything. In my experience, it was passive sales at its absolute best, as they just let the many features of the resort sell itself. (Just FYI, while this was the experience of our group on this visit, we did see lots of guests being approached, and many of them actually taking the tour, but clearly you can control how susceptible you are to these obvious sales techniques…) The main lobby is bright and spacious and has several comfortable seating areas, a very convenient Starbucks coffee kiosk that is open for the morning rush, a “lounge” that we never actually visited, and a full-service concierge desk, in addition to the check-in area, sales centre and bell hop desk. The resort’s parking lot is quite large, surrounding all three towers, plus there was covered parking available as well. With all of our coming and going, we never once had any difficulty finding an available parking space within steps of the entrance to the Vista Torre. Also, I noticed uniformed guards patrolling the parking lot and the buildings’ exteriors several times in the late evening and personally I was comforted by that additional security feature. The Vista Torre does have its own small lobby area but we never saw anyone working in it during our stay and so it really just serves as an entry hub. Upon our arrival in the unit, a “welcome package” was provided on the kitchen counter including packets of ground coffee, a bag of microwave popcorn, mini salt and pepper shakers, packets of various condiments (e.g., ketchup, mustard, mayo), and even some lemonade drink crystals. Single-use packages of powder for the dishwasher and laundry detergent for the washing machine were also provided. Unit #1592 is designated as an “accessible” suite, seemingly meaning that some accommodations have been made for persons with different physical abilities, but there was nothing that made it inconvenient for use by more average guests like us. The unit door opens to a large foyer that includes a huge front closet with low wire shelving. Ours was stocked with an old-school carpet sweeper, a broom and a dust pan. Immediately to the left is the unit’s first bedroom, which is large enough to accommodate two double beds. It has a multi-speed ceiling fan, thick blackout drapes on the window, a good-sized TV (43”, if I had to guess) on the dresser, a decent-sized closet (again with accessible low wire shelving), an alarm clock and a telephone, as well as plenty of open floor space for cracking open luggage. A short hallway within the bedroom provides a wall-mounted full-length mirror, a sink and vanity area, and access to the bathroom. Inside the bathroom, there is another identical sink and vanity area, the toilet, and a tub/shower, with a curved curtain rod, plenty of hot water, a reasonable number of white towels (sized for bath, hand and face), as well as courtesy toiletries at each sink (i.e., shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mouthwash), plus a good quality hairdryer in each vanity (i.e., Sunbeam Pro 1875W with tourmaline). This set-up was really convenient for the two of us who shared a room, as we each had our own bed and one of us could be in the shower in the bathroom while the other used the hallway vanity to blow-dry her hair and put on her make-up. The suite’s main living area is located in the centre of the unit and features an open plan with seating for both relaxing and dining, as well as an open kitchen. The lounge portion includes a cozy gas fireplace, easily operated by flipping a wall switch, (… which proved to be a very welcome feature upon our return from a cold and damp day-trip to the Grand Canyon!), another large TV (offering lots of channels!) mounted in a wooden built-in with storage drawers below, a DVD player, a three-seat leather sofa plus two arm chairs, a sofa table, two end tables, and a glass-topped coffee table. The dining area includes a pedestal table that could accommodate eight chairs (i.e., the six provided plus the two placed at the nearby breakfast bar) and a narrow buffet table. The open kitchen is U-shaped, with one arm of it creating the breakfast bar. The counters are black granite and the cabinets have a dark cherry finish. We found the kitchen to be really well equipped with plenty of dishes, glassware (including wine goblets), cutlery and common cooking utensils, as well as pots and pans and bakeware (including glass casserole dishes and metal pizza and cookies sheets). Since the suite has been built to be accessible, the two-sided sink, with sprayer and garburator, was set quite low in the breakfast bar area and the space beneath it was left open, except for a large garbage can, presumably to accommodate guests using wheelchairs. In the kitchen, there is a black GE Profile dishwasher, a medium-sized countertop microwave, a Cuisinart coffeemaker, four-slice toaster and blender, a fully-stocked wooden knife block, a roll of paper towels housed on a stand, several clean dishcloths and a set of potholders. The stainless steel fridge includes an icemaker and filtered water dispenser in its door (which the bellhop kindly turned on for us when he delivered to the suite the luggage that we had stored upon arrival) and the black slide-in range features a flat cooktop and an overhead exhaust hood. Two doors at the rear of the kitchen open to reveal a closet containing a full-size washer and dryer, as well as a convenient laundry basket. Between the kitchen and dining area is a short hallway leading to the unit’s two other bedrooms. Off that hallway is a small bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a nightstand, ceiling fan, alarm clock, and a TV on a dresser, with room-darkening drapes on its window. That bedroom has no closet but there is one located right across the hall, next to a bathroom that includes a sink and vanity area, a toilet and a really large (accessible) shower with a built-in teak bench and a hand-held shower head. Again, toiletries were provided, as well as a good selection of towels and a hairdryer. At the end of the hall is the unit’s master bedroom, offering a king-sized bed, a club chair and two spacious closets, again with the low wire shelving and with a large programmable safe secured to the floor of one. This bedroom also includes a ceiling fan, alarm clock and large TV with room-darkening drapes on its windows. The master bathroom area is only partially separated from the bedroom and offers a two-person corner jacuzzi tub, a separate shower stall, and a vanity area with two sinks, again with toiletries and a hairdryer provided, as well as an abundance of towels. The toilet is separated from the room behind a door… complete with its own telephone! In this spacious unit, the four of us were each able to find our own comfortable space. Outside of the suite, the resort offers plenty of amenities. As a stand-alone tower, Vista Torre offers its own heated outdoor pool and hot tub with plenty of lounge chairs and beach towels, as well as a gym area and a “business centre” where we were able to print tickets that were purchased online. In between the resort’s other two towers is the bigger outdoor entertainment area, featuring a large free-form pool for the use of all guests and then a separate “adults only” rectangular pool located up a ramp (or via a set of stairs) on a slightly higher elevation that offered some additional privacy. There were tonnes of available lounge chairs and table-and-chair sets, both shaded and in the full sun, and clean beach towels were provided in an outdoor hut. Private tented cabanas, each featuring lounge seating and wall-mounted TV sets, are available for rent in both the general and adult areas at an advertised cost of $100 USD/day on weekdays and $125 USD/day on weekends but none were occupied during our time in the area. Change room facilities and washrooms are available pool side and would be really convenient if you wanted to use the pool while waiting for your unit to be ready for check-in, or while killing a few hours before heading to the airport for a flight home. Life guards were on duty at each of the pools during our visit. There are three spacious hot tubs in the main pool area, although each is enclosed behind separate fencing, presumably for security reasons; one on either end of the main pool and then another one up in the quieter “adults only” area. Also on that “upper level” there is a designated smoking area comprised of a circle of park benches surrounding a decorative fire pit, which I thought was kind of a nice touch for those in need of that kind of space. (FYI, there are several other designated smoking areas located elsewhere on the property too, each with bench seating and sometimes under cover from the weather.) All of the grounds of this resort are really beautifully landscaped, and pleasantly fragrant, with lots of palm trees, greenery and colourful flowers. In the rear part of the main resort buildings, on the third floor (pool level) of Primo Torre, there is a convenience store that sells basic groceries, beer and wine, souvenirs, and some clothing, and also a food-service counter that sells Starbucks coffee and basic breakfasts as well as convenience meals for lunch or dinner. We didn’t eat there, but I glanced at the pictorial menu while picking up a morning coffee and the prices seemed to range between $10 and $15 USD for sandwiches, hot wings, pizza, and the like. If guests don’t want to carry their food back to their suites, there are a few indoor tables available in that area or they could take their food outside to eat at the tables in the pool area. Upon check-in, we were provided with an Activities Calendar for the whole month, showing all of the resort’s scheduled events. Some were free while others indicated seemingly reasonable fees. The paid activities ranged from grocery store runs and transportation to the nearby outlets for some shopping, for those visiting without a vehicle, evening trips to Fremont Street, various craft classes, and also movies in the resort’s cinema, where recently released films are played throughout the day and popular theatre snacks are available for purchase, according to the calendar. There was also a spa advertising different service bonuses each day. Honestly, there just weren’t enough hours in the day to make full use of this resort’s facilities in addition to seeing the city’s many sights! Again, it was a quick and easy walk up to “the Strip”, but the resort also offers a convenient shuttle to the hotel lobby of Harrah's casino, located further north on “the Strip”. The shuttle stops at the resort’s main entrance and also at the entrance to Vista Torre and then heads over to the Harrah’s transportation hub every 15 minutes or so for most of the day. For the cost of tipping the very friendly driver, we took advantage of this service one day in order to save ourselves the walk when we were heading to the Venetian to check out the gondolas and the Cake Boss’ bakery. And another day, after walking the southern part of “the Strip” right up to Harrah’s, we waited for just a few minutes (in the terminal’s welcome shade) and took the shuttle back to the resort in order to freshen up before heading back out to dinner and a show. Also, we found that most tour companies (heading to the Grand Canyon, Hollywood, or even just around the city) offer free pick-up at the resort’s main lobby. Finally, I do want to note that we received really great service from the front desk throughout our stay. As a visiting Canadian, I took advantage of the opportunity to do some online shopping in advance and so I had packages shipped to the front desk of the resort. (I called ahead and confirmed that this service was available so that a note could be placed on my file for check-in and then when I placed my order I did so in my name “c/o The Front Desk at the Wyndham Grand Desert”.) Of course, the items couldn’t arrive in one package; instead they came in three separate parcels on three separate days! Each time, the front desk accepted the package and then left me a voicemail saying that they were holding my parcel for me. I then just had to stop by with my photo ID and sign their log book in order to receive my parcel. Every front desk clerk was friendly and professional and seemingly happy to provide me with this additional service. On my last day at the resort, while still waiting for one final parcel to arrive, the staff were very accommodating in agreeing to sign for it for me even after I had technically checked out at 10 AM, so that I could spin by on my way to the airport later in the day to pick it up. Now that is quality service! Many thanks to “Brian”, “Callee” and “Cindy” at the front desk, as they are all employees who are well deserving of recognition for their amazing customer service! All of us would highly recommend this resort and I am sure that we will be back there again soon, as there is still so much more for us to do and see in Las Vegas!