A Walk Through MGM National Harbor

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     Timeless design, high-end service and spectacular amenities combine to create a new generation of resort experiences: MGM National Harbor, the first luxury gaming destination in the Capital Region. Guests will be drawn into the bold, forward-looking design and breathtaking spaces as they discover excitement at every turn: restaurants by some of the region’s most celebrated chefs, an intimate theater showcasing the hottest acts in entertainment, an immersive spa escape, luxurious rooms and suites and much more. MGM National Harbor will be the ultimate destination, whether for an evening of entertainment or an indulgent weekend getaway.  

     Situated on a hill overlooking the Potomac River, MGM National Harbor serves as a landmark to the community and gateway into Maryland. The overarching vision of the resort draws inspiration from Washington D.C.’s monumental architecture while also incorporating the natural beauty of the surrounding area, including vistas of the Potomac River and annual cherry tree bloom. While respecting the District’s historic sense of place highlighted by classical structures, MGM National Harbor embodies a modern and bold design that complements the sense of timelessness created by the Nation’s Capital buildings.

     Designed by architecture visionaries HKS Hospitality Group, MGM National Harbor’s architectural expression reveals itself at every turn, from the series of grand steps leading up to the resort to its glistening knife-like tower rising vertically toward the sky. In designing the resort, it was important to not only pay homage to surrounding architectural marvels, but also to include MGM Resort’s legacy by incorporating trademark elements from Las Vegas resorts such as Bellagio, ARIA and MGM Grand. The iconic lion, prominently displayed at the VIP entrance, can also be found in front of MGM Grand on Las Vegas Boulevard as well as welcoming guests to MGM Grand Detroit.
     As guests travel up the tree-lined drive to the VIP entrance, they catch their first glimpse of Whirlpools by internationally acclaimed sculptor Alice Aycock. This commissioned work welcomes guests with Aycock’s compelling interpretation of water movement inspired by the nearby Potomac River. This large-scale installation, with hundreds of swirling or folded and curved aluminum plates, brings to life the feeling of waves whirling around you. Viewers can feel the power of this sculpture from a distance or watch it come to life as they examine the intricate patterns and attention to detail up close.

     As they walk inside, guests pass through two expansive water walls extending from the porte cochere. These curved walls, designed by Fluidity, are made of textured stone that create ever-changing geometric patterns as water flows, enveloping visitors in its serene presence punctuated by sweeping surges of choreographed water. In the evening, LED lights illuminate the walls.

     Just inside the VIP entrance is Fighting Cash by Liao Yibai. Currently based in New York, Yiabi explores U.S.-China relations in his very political yet humorous stainless steel sculptures. This piece makes a powerful statement on trade relations and economics binding China and U.S. and is best viewed from a 360-degree angle. Specializing in oversized everyday objects with a twist, Fighting Cash is an absurdist piece depicting Benjamin Franklin coming alive and bursting from a $100 bill, ready to box his counterpart on the 100 Yuan bill.  

     Just beyond that is The Conservatory, which pays homage to Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and serves as the centerpiece of the resort. It is a celebration of flowers and design that changes five times a year, one for each season plus a dedicated display for Lunar New Year. All designs through 2017 will be conceived by famed event planner Ed Libby.

     Just outside the main porte cochere, guests encounter Unity by internationally renowned sculptor John Safer from Washington D.C. Unity’s 60-foot tall structures seemingly defy gravity as they rotate 270 degrees from their base. Named for the nearly identical appearance of the three towers while acknowledging their differences, this piece represents an important principle for MGM Resorts: culturally diverse people coming together to work as a group.

     Guests entering from the Self Park entrance will be greeted by Bob Dylan’s first permanent public sculpture, Portal. This iron gate, made entirely of found objects collected by Dylan himself, was welded together at his California studio and is the first of his projects to be on permanent display. Dylan was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his poetic expressions within the tradition of American song.
     Guests walking toward the reception desk will be intrigued by a dramatic piece created by local Prince George’s County artist Margaret Boozer. This abstract map of the region, created with 10,000 pounds of clay excavated from the resort’s construction site, continues to evolve as the soil hardens, revealing new cracks and texture changes.

     A series of ceramic totems and vessels from another Prince George County artist, Ani Kasten, greets guests in the VIP check-in lobby. These nine separate works are comprised of two collections, White Birch Totems and Long-stem Bottle Forms. Each ceramic piece is wheel-thrown and hand-built by Kasten, then carved and stamped to create unique textures and patterns for each piece.

     An exquisite chandelier made of hand-blown Czechoslovakian glass featuring 892 droplets hangs down to the first floor and is best seen from the Lobby. Guests looking directly above the Conservatory will discover a photo of a Washington D.C. cherry tree in bloom taken in 2015. Cherry Blossom photography, taken by Prince George’s County native and photographer Ron Beverly, is prominently displayed throughout the resort including walls, elevator cabs, and decorative pillows in select suites, among other locations.

     Showcasing three local artists as guests arrive to the lobby was no coincidence, the designers chose them specifically to create a sense of home where guests will check into the hotel.

     At the center of the resort is The Conservatory, a vibrant tableau of flora and striking design elements. Guests will be immersed in designer Ed Libby’s expression of traditional elements through non-traditional means that evokes the feeling of each season without being literal: the holidays without evergreens, springtime in Washington without cherry blossom trees or at least not in the style one might expect. The first display, “Holiday Reflections,” is a contemporary forest filled with a series of geometric, glass-mirrored holiday trees and more than 150,000 flowers, sourced from local nonprofit Melwood, which supports adults with differing abilities. By day, the space is lit with an abundance of natural light that pours from the expansive glass ceiling, by night, the display glows with glittering lights, creating an enchanting experience that’s sure to draw visitors back again and again.  
Art at MGM National Harbor
     MGM National Harbor is home to a major permanent collection of art in Prince George’s County, encouraging visitors to discover the pieces seamlessly integrated into the resort’s public spaces. Inspired by the rich history of the Capital Region, The Heritage Collection showcases commissioned and procured works by visionary local and international sculptors, photographers and mixed-media artists, including Bob Dylan, Margaret Boozer, Alice Aycock, Sam Gilliam, John Dreyfuss, John Safer, Liao Yibai and Chul Hyun Ahn, among others.

     From the moment guests arrive to MGM National Harbor they encounter a sensory experience unlike any other. Guests will be immersed in a storyline unique to the resort with every aspect of the art – from the piece to the location to the orientation – carefully selected and strategically designed to complement the space. Featuring works from more than a dozen artists working with a variety of mediums – including aluminum, clay, stainless steel, bronze, watercolors, photography and more – the collection ranges from large-scale sculptures and paintings to photography and LED light boxes, creating a rich visual experience.
Signature Restaurants
     MGM National Harbor is home to a powerhouse line up of acclaimed chefs to lead its culinary program. Each concept has been carefully crafted to pay homage to the culture and influence of the region’s prominent culinary landscape.
Specialty Dining:
MARCUS – Making his Capital Region debut, five-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Marcus Samuelsson has crafted a menu honoring his cultural roots while showcasing distinct coastal flavors of the local landscape. Open 24 hours, Samuelsson serves culinary creations for breakfast, lunch and dinner including signature dishes such as his whole fried chicken, Miss Leah’s Blackened Catfish, Muffin Top Pot Pie and Red Velvet Cake N’Shake. The space, anchored around an open kitchen, offers two bars where guests can grab a signature cocktail or craft beer, as well as a patio overlooking the Conservatory. The overall vision for this concept was designed by Parts & Labor Design of New York, and encourages a celebratory and festive atmosphere, making it the ideal setting for either a special event or a casual stop for a quick snack while enjoying live music.
FISH by José Andrés – Internationally acclaimed chef José Andrés, named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People,” and who most recently received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama, introduces a unique seafood-focused concept overlooking the Potomac from the prow of MGM National Harbor. Drawing inspiration from the bounty of the regional Chesapeake Watershed, the restaurant’s menu features locally sourced ingredients and fresh seafood, prepared with local and international cooking techniques. The delicious dishes incorporate diverse flavor combinations and profiles such as Cornmeal Crusted Sunburst Ruby Trout, Cedar Planked Arctic Char and Grilled Rockfish, additional favorites include Maryland blue crab and oysters from the Rappahannock River. Diners can select their preferred setting including cocktail, sushi or tempura bars with exciting views of interactive kitchen stations. When the weather is nice, Chef Andrés plans to host outdoor clam bakes on the patio. Co-designed by Capella Garcia Arquitectura and Avenue Interior Design, the space highlights extraordinary details such as the undulating seafood bar and a wall of aquariums and tanks showcasing the day’s catch.
Voltaggio Brothers Steak House – Brothers and Top Chef champions Bryan and Michael Voltaggio join forces, for the first time, to open a contemporary steakhouse concept. The menu highlights regional specialties, drawing inspiration from their home state of Maryland. Offering steakhouse fare with a twist such as Shrimp Cocktail made with fermented radish and banana ketchup; the Iceberg wedge salad made with liquid nitrogen gorgonzola snow, pickled onions and tomato jam; and the Russet Potato, a twice-baked potato made with bacon, potato and white cheddar foam and smoked sour cream. The wine program complements the flavorful dishes by featuring classic pairings such as Bordeaux and Napa Valley Cabernet, with an Italian twist. The Voltaggio brothers wanted this restaurant to feel like the home they grew up in. The Living Room offers sofa-like seating and floor-to-ceiling drapery, while the Dining Room evokes formal elegance with fine china. Conversely, The Family Room focuses on a more relaxed dining atmosphere with the Eat-In Kitchen featuring exposed pantries and nook seating. Designed by Design Bureaux, this steakhouse is unique both visually and experientially.
Casual Dining
Bellagio Pâtisserie – Inspired by the iconic European-inspired pastry shop at Bellagio in Las Vegas, this eatery offers everything from crepes, sandwiches and salads to gelatos, pastries, cookies and coffee drinks. At the helm is World Pastry Champion Sylvain Bortolini who also serves as the resort’s executive pastry chef. The whimsical space was designed by Design Bureaux and includes one of the world’s largest chocolate fountains circulating two tons of chocolate daily.
Ginger – This Pan-Asian restaurant serves authentic cuisine from regions all over Asia: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Korean. Here, guests can enjoy traditional dishes such as Boiled Sea Bass with Szechuan spicy soup, Chaozhou-style Oyster Omelet and Fish Ball with Fish Broth. Designer Studio McCormack drew inspiration from across Asia to establish the design aesthetic including an abacus fixture flanking the entry and an ancient temple bell-inspired hostess desk.
TAP Sports Bar – Inspired by TAP Sports Bar in MGM Grand in Las Vegas, designers Studio McCormack intended this spot to be as comfortable and authentic as your neighborhood bar. Diners can pregame on classic bar favorites with a gourmet twist including crispy rib tips, lobster beignets and poutine. The main courses – TAP Majors, as they’re called – include Pork Ribs, Roast Chicken Thighs and, of course, classic Maryland Crab Cakes. The restaurant also offers wine by the keg, which preserves freshness. TAP, also has partnered with the local True Chesapeake Oyster Co. Farm to create the resort’s own private label oysters, called Lucky Shuck. Once these oysters have been eaten, the shells are recycled back into the beds to help filter and clean the bay. Guests are encouraged to hang with friends and enjoy a variety of bar games including beer pong and cornhole. Three outdoor fire pits overlooking the Potomac ensure TAP has some of the best seats in the house.
National Market – A vibrant indoor/outdoor food market concept overlooking the scenic Potomac River, National Market offers 10 unique, approachable dining options with an international flair. The warm and inviting décor encourages guests to dine and socialize in a bustling setting. Exposed brick, weathered paving stones and design elements unique to each venue create the chic feel of an urban setting. 

  • Pappas Crabcakes – Founder Mark Pappas created the famed crabcake concept in 1972 and his vision of offering fresh seafood paired with quality service still holds true today. Here, weathered wood accents and a seafood display case welcome guests to pull-up a seat and enjoy the dockside seafood ambiance.

  • Honey’s Fried Chicken and Doughnuts – This Southern-style counter specializes in mouth-watering buttermilk chicken, BBQ wings, home-style sides and doughnuts in inventive flavors including huckleberry glazed, apple fritter and banana pudding. Blackboard menus and exposed brick walls give this venue a true, down-home, Southern feel.

  • Amo Los Tacos – Concrete walls and a Mexican-style dyed tile counter front greet guests at this modern taco stand serving customizable tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tostadas served with freshly made tortillas, salads and authentic sides.  

  • Zizi’s Pizza – This New York-style pizza shop captures the essence of wholesome Italian cooking in an atmosphere with the vibe of an outdoor restaurant in the heart of Italy. The menu showcases the chef’s grandmother’s recipes and offers pizzas whole and by the slice, Sicilian-style pies, calzones, meatballs and garlic knots.

  • GWBW George Washington Beer and Wine – A contemporary bar offering a wide selection of beer and wine located right in the heart of the high-energy Market, GWBW is a great place to gather with friends and enjoy wine by the bottle, glass or flight. Guests may smple some of the eight wine flights to compare varietals, region or style, or try one of craft brews available on draft, bottle or flight.

  • District Deli – Named for the Nation’s Capital, but inspired by a traditional New York-style deli, this sandwich haven is the ideal lunch spot. Sandwiches feature carved meats roasted on-site daily; fresh deli-style breads including pumpernickel, sourdough and seeded rye; and regional cheeses as well as bottled, cold-pressed organic juices made in-house for those looking to add a healthful boost to their meal.

  • Bahn Mi Vietnamese Kitchen – Vietnamese sandwiches on soft baguettes, salad bowls topped with pickled vegetables, spring rolls and pho noodle soup are all served at this traditional outpost. Flavors such as Thai basil, toasted peanuts, chiles and green papaya add some spice to every visit.

  • S’Cream – A retro, 50s-style ice cream shop designed to delight adults and children, offers modern flavors juxtaposed by a nostalgic vibe. Ice cream, sorbet and cones made in-house are served alongside frozen desserts including milkshakes, root beer floats and Peach Melba.

  • Bento – Staying true to its name, everything at this Japanese counter – including sashimi, nigiri, specialty and hand rolls – is served in a bento box. Fresh selections of fish such as salmon, tuna, Hamachi octopus and halibut are expertly prepared by a team of skilled sushi chefs.

  • Shake Shack – Founded by legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer, Shake Shack is a critically acclaimed, modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers and flat-top Vienna beef dogs (no added hormones and no antibiotics ever), 100% all-natural cage-free chicken (no antibiotics ever), spun-fresh frozen custard, crinkle cut fries, craft beer and wine and more.


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