If you have an average budget, want some luxury and wish to stay on the Strip, yo may be considering, among other Vegas resorts, MGM and Monte Carlo, both belonging to the MGM group. There are significant differences between the two, so hopefully this page will help you decide according to your needs. Note: there will be huge changes by the end of 2018 which will affect Monte Carlo; however, for now:
MGM Grand is better in all aspects but you do need to know the details, before making your choice: Affordability: Montecarlo is more affordable, at least at present, while the rooms have not been renovated (though some are being renovated, in some sections). It used to be the average Vegas resort, well located, for visitors 35+ on a budget yet wanting a great location and a decent resort. Now it’s trying to appeal to younger crowds too, especially in the pool area and with new bars (as well as an entrance ‘face-lift’). But affordability is still its forte. More on the rest in the following paragraphs.
Rooms. The standard rooms at MGM are traditionally better; much more modern, more elegant, even if it’s now decided to want young crowds only, it retains some elegance, class and quality (at least as far as the rooms are concerned). The standard or level-entry rooms at Monte Carlo are still relatively basic; moreover, lately, we found that some of these rooms (albeit the ‘cheapest’ rooms) were not as well-maintained and well-cleaned as they should be; on the positive side, we enjoyed the customer service at Monte Carlo. We have a video on the cheapest Monte Carlo Vegas Rooms. However, as mentioned, some sections and some rooms are being remodeled; I suspect that they plan to have some sections finished by the beginning of the higher season. Note on the new, ‘petite King’ room at MGM Grand: this is their cheapest room but it’s just too small, with the bathroom practically inside the bedroom, with barely any division. This is their level-entry room, what they give you if you are ‘comped’ from programs such as myVegas: we avoid it, it’s just too small for us, though it’s fine for a single traveler or a couple with no privacy needs nor any large bags/suitcase barely using the room. When we stay at MGM Grand we opt for the larger size standard rooms (the deluxe rooms), which are beautiful. We have a video on those too, as well.
Location. Late 2016 marks a huge change in the South Strip area between Monte Carlo and NYNY; a new, beautiful park (with cooling stations, restaurants and much more), a new arena and a new theater means that this area is about to become the next hot-spot on the Strip, with a large range of events taking place here. Besides this, we prefer the Monte Carlo location because it’s next to City Center (Aria, Cosmopolitan, Crystals shopping area etc) and close enough to mid-Strip (where Bellagio, Paris and Caesar’s are), where you will definitely want to visit and spend some time. MGM is South Strip and a longer walk to the more desirable places. I also recommend you spend some time in the higher part of Mid Strip, where Mirage and Venetian are: they are both stunning to see inside and out, with great food (the Mirage buffet is by far better than any South Strip buffets) and a great atmosphere overall.
All you have in South Strip (without using the shuttles) is MGM, Tropicana, Excalibur and New York New York; they are ok if you are very young (early twenties) because that’s the clientele it’s trying to attract; but there are still many budget families in the area (Excalibur) so it’s a strange and awkward mix. Having said this, MGM Grand does attract a variety of clientele because of the gigantic events it hosts, and Tropicana, the remodeling, has become a beautiful resort for those on a mid-range budget.
Pools. The Monte Carlo pool area is smaller than MGM’s (MGM has one of the largest pool areas in Vegas); The Monte Carlo resort is now trying to appeal to young crowds (they have added a wave pool with a beach-play area), which is popular, can be loud on weekends and on peak summer times; the wave pool is nice but nowhere near as large as at Mandalay Bay, though much louder: last time we were there we had to bring ear plugs to avoid becoming deaf from the loud music! However, during low-season, the Monte Carlo ‘regular’ pool is delightfully open, relatively quiet and decent enough. MGM has a much larger, newly remodeled pool area, with various pools for all preferences and types of clientele. If you want to read more about the best Vegas pools, go to our page titled best Vegas pools.
Restaurants. The buffets are not good in either resorts. Acceptable, but nothing more. Lately the MGM buffet has improved, although it’s still nowhere near as good as Mirage, for example (to name ‘mid-range-price’ buffets on the Strip). You can read our Monte Carlo Buffet review and our MGM buffet review if you wish to have more details. Each resort has some high-end restaurants and you can read about those on Top Restaurants in Vegas.
Gyms. The MGM has 2 gyms, one of them open 24 hours (which is absolutely wonderful!). The Monte Carlo gym is good enough, open until 8pm (always double check because they can change overnight). We have a best resort gyms section if you are interested in working out in Vegas.
Night Clubs. MGM Grand now has the huge and popular Hakkasan club (on busy weekends the line ups are immense), which is trying to be ‘the place to be’ in Vegas: well, admittedly, Tiesto (‘the’ world-renowned DJs) often performs here, so it must appeal to the dance-clubbing youth! Monte Carlo, on the other hand, is next to the popular Marquee club at the beautiful Cosmopolitan resort. We have a best clubs in Vegas section if this is a topic of interest for you.