It can be tricky to manage a glass of bubbly while being pampered with a manicure and pedicure, but somehow I pulled it off, toasting with newfound meeting planner friends to the start of the recent Bellagio Foodie Fam in Las Vegas.
The decadence had just begun, we discovered, after entering our individual guest rooms, nails aglow, to find a welcome amenity just as indulgent—a bottle of Veuve Clicquot on ice and homemade truffles.
Fast forward one hour and we’re all decked out, walking into an opulent villa at Bellagio, complete with a live cellist, delicacies such as giant fresh snow crab, lobster and blinis with Tsar Imperial Caviar, and more of the finest champagne and wine. An impressive dessert spread greeted us on the pool deck, and we capped off the night enjoying an incredible performance of “O” by Cirque du Soleil.
The evening was just one of the many ways MGM Resorts International’s Bellagio is elevating and customizing the experience for groups, with incredible venues and superb culinary offerings that make the property a standout for both its in-house chefs and celebrity chefs who helm the many high-caliber restaurants. Bellagio is the only hotel in the country with two AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five-Star restaurants, Picasso and Le Cirque. Its other claims to fame include such stellar establishments as Harvest by Roy Ellamar, Lago by Julian Serrano, Michael Mina Bellagio, Prime by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Spago by Wolfgang Puck.
We had the opportunity to get a thorough taste of Bellagio’s culinary expertise and some of the renowned restaurants on property, all of which are ideal settings for a variety of group events.
At Bellagio’s Tuscany Kitchen, we were treated to a playful and interactive brunch, during which an entire gingerbread house-making station was set up for each planner. After enjoying brunch, Bellagio’s assistant executive pastry chef Yamilet Hillers taught us the tricks of the gingerbread house-making trade, and soon we were icing and decorating our sweet individual houses, which were then given to a nonprofit for those in need.
That evening, our group indulged in a unique dine-around at three of the property’s lakeside restaurants, complete with displays of the dancing fountains of Bellagio.
At Spago, we dined on Wolfgang Puck’s famous smoked salmon pizza and handmade ricotta cavatelli with spicy lamb Bolognese. Bone-in ribeye with roasted shishito peppers, truffle mashed potatoes, cream spinach and a velvety Duckhorn merlot were the highlights at Prime by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Ending the evening with dessert at Lago by Julian Serrano, we savored three Italian-inspired creations.
“What makes Bellagio unique for groups from a culinary perspective is that we have the top chefs here with their own restaurants,” said Amanda Voss, vice president of hotel sales for Bellagio. “So under one roof these five diamonds and five stars are at your touch. If you combine the luxury of Bellagio and the group perspective, where in Vegas can you dine at a five-star restaurant overlooking a lake?”
Bellagio’s F&B philosophy is to be the best in class and offer highly unique experiences, according to Andreas Reich, vice president of food and beverage at the hotel.
“By working with chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Jean-Georges and Julian Serrano, we are able to strive and excel in every aspect,” Reich said. “We’re able to curate unique experiences for all of our groups when it comes to our restaurants, not just culinary but ambience, as most are located on the lake, with views of the fountains.”
And on that note, we enjoyed one last toast over desert at Lago, as the dancing fountains performed a colorful show just outside the window.
Bone-in Ribeye and planners enjoying dinner at Prime
Eat Well, Be Well
Creating customized programs for groups is Bellagio’s forte, and its Foodie Fam was no exception. Aside from the divine flavors dished out during the program, health and wellness were weaved into the agenda in unique ways.
“I really wanted to instill the importance of self-care, especially around the holidays, so incorporating wellness-oriented offerings like the relaxing manicure and pedicure at Bellagio Salon, the intuitive energy healer and some of the amenities was a great way to do that,” said Jamie Gagnon, associate director of sales at Bellagio, who organized much of the fam.
Planners packaging meals
In addition to the opening spa activity that relaxed planners with manicures and pedicures over champagne and small bites, Gagnon organized an intimate fireside talk by an intuitive energy healer for the opening reception.
Attendees were asked to fill out individual cards about their personality and what is most important to them. Each attendee then sat down for a private healing session customized for them based on their answers.
Our group headed back to our rooms to be greeted with another attendee gift that took the wellness aspect to new heights: The Chakra Book: The Definitive Guide to Balancing Chakras, and The Chakra Set, which contained seven healing essential oil blends and seven chakra stones.
The way to a woman’s heart may definitely be through her chakras.
MGM Resorts International not only strives to provide standout culinary experiences for guests and groups, the company endeavors to be highly sustainable and responsible with regard to food waste and management. During the Bellagio Foodie Fam, meeting planners had a chance to see one of the most innovative food rescue programs in action and lend a hand themselves.
Our group headed to Three Square, Southern Nevada’s only food bank, for a tour and overview of their novel programs, including a one-of-a-kind partnership with MGM Resorts International that aims to significantly curtail food waste.
Chakra-themed attendee gift
Through the partnership, nutritious food is repurposed for those in need regularly and safely, with a very detailed operating procedure.
Each week, MGM works with Three Square to let them know the potential opportunity for extra food based on its scheduled events. Through Three Square, the food is put into a chill blaster and brought to a safe temperature for storage, then placed in a freezer to lengthen the shelf life so it has a second life in the community.
Catholic Charities then steps in, thawing and prepping the food for clients, serving approximately 400 to 600 meals 365 days per year.
Whereas 18 years ago, extra food would have all been thrown away on The Strip, there is now a system to recover that food through the partnership with Three Square and MGM Resorts International.
Following the presentation and tour of Three Square, 16 planners prepared 300 meals in 30 minutes for after-school programs for kids in need. It was a feel-good day all around.