More room to play in Vegas

Times Staff Writer

HibernatING in winter is not exactly Las Vegas' style.

Among new offerings:

* Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Dec. 17 plans to open a swank all-suite hotel, dubbed THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, with more than 1,100 rooms. It's in a new 43-story tower with its own check-in desk, a 13,000-square-foot spa called the Bathhouse and, coming next year, a restaurant and lounge at the top.

Eschewing Vegas' mania for themed resorts, THEhotel "is going to be more like an upscale hotel you'd find in any other city," said spokesman Gordon Absher. Designed for business travelers, each suite has separate living and sleeping rooms.

With the addition, Mandalay claims to be the second-largest hotel in North America, totaling 4,766 rooms. Room rates begin at about $169 weekdays, $289 weekends. (877) 632-7000,

Also new at Mandalay is the Moorea Beach Club, an adults-only pool area that allows topless sunbathing by day (hotel guests only) and then converts to a nightclub. Four private six-guest pavilions with day bed, refrigerator and sound system rent for $350 and up. The pool closed last week and will reopen in spring.

* Why just walk between the Mandalay Bay and Luxor resorts when you can shop along a sky bridge that links the two? Mandalay Place made its debut in October with a handful of stores.

By year's end, all 41 stores, including a branch of San Francisco's Mulholland Brothers leather goods emporium, are expected to open. A wine retailer created by the chef of Mandalay Bay's Aureole restaurant was to have opened last week.

* Maxim hotel on Flamingo Road, which closed in 2001, has been reborn as the Westin Casuarina Las Vegas, thanks to a $75-million renovation by new owners. It has 825 guest rooms, a casino, a 24-hour restaurant and a showroom featuring comedian David Brenner. Room rates begin at $139 weekdays, $189 weekends. (866) 837-4215,

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