Hotel Review: Aston Montelago Village Resort Lake Las Vegas

aston-montelago-lake-las-vegasI’m in Vegas for the CES show but accommodation on the strip on the first night is incredibly expensive with the influx of tech enthusiasts so I decided to locate myself 25 minutes away in the famous lake & golf development, Lake Las Vegas. The room cost €47 for a studio apartment, versus rates of €300+ on the strip for similar standards. I remember watching a Discovery Channel show on the building of the resort and its artificial lake a couple of years back. I had also read stories of the resort being in trouble with the downturn in the economy. I was curious to see what the place is like today.

Location

Lake Las Vegas is located in Henderson, Nevada, 20-30 minutes drive away from the strip depending on traffic. If you don’t mind being a bit removed from the hustle and bustle or if you are looking for some peace and calm within easy reach of the strip, Lake Las Vegas could be a good base to stay. You do need a car though; taxis would be incredibly expensive.

The Lake Las Vegas resort is a beautiful luxury resort built around a manmade lake with buildings themed to give people a feel of Tuscan village in the desert. The developers decided to build an artificial lake in the middle of the desert to be the centerpiece of the development. Interestingly there was a stream called the Las Vegas Wash that ran through the area before they built on it. The wash now runs through 2 massive pipes under the lake and it costs $2 million annually to maintain the lake.

Scratch a little under the surface though and all is not well. I felt like I was the only person in this massive resort, it was like the apocalypse had hit. Imagine Will Smith in I am Legend, that kind of vibe. Soon after arriving I went for some food in the Irish bar located in the village (normally I stay clear of Irish bars while travelling but I was just off a 10 hour flight and 1.5hours of American immigration so The Auld Dubliner was an easy option. There were three customers there including myself, as well as three staff. In and around the village itself there wasn’t anyone out walking and I counted at least 8 empty shop units where businesses had shut. I also walked around the fairly large and well-appointed casino and counted 20 people in gambling.

There are 3 award winning golf courses on the resort, 2 of which are currently closed and the once lush green fairways are now brown and a bit of an eyesore. There used to be a Ritz Carlton located in the village, but it closed in 2010. The casino closed soon after that. The entire development has suffered badly from the recession with the main development company going bankrupt, many of the condo units have been foreclosed by the banks and the raft of bad news for the resort has caused visitors to plummet.  Another hotel on the resort, The Westin, is currently operating with occupancy rates of 34% (see here).

There are some green shoots though. The former Ritz Carlton, now called Ravella, has reopened under new management and the casino has reopened after a refurbishment. The golf courses have been bought in 2011, giving residents who bought homes overlooking the fairways hope that they will soon have views of manicured green fairways once more.

Room

Ah the room. I collected my room keys, found my room, opened the door to see what has to be the dirtiest hotel room I’ve ever seen. It was so dirty I was able to write in the dust on the worktop. In the bathroom there was a small colony of dead ants and under the sink, the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen (also dead). The windows were coated in a thick film of grime and the doorframe had a mountain of red dirt from outside built up in the grooves.

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There were also two pieces of paper that told me the room hadn’t been cleaned in 7 months. First, was a condo resident’s association leaflet under the door telling me of a meeting being held October 2012. The second was on the cooker, which said that maintenance had been in to repair the fan in July 2012. To be fair to the Montelago Resort, I figured out that I was probably given the keys to the wrong room. I took some pictures and went back to reception to get it sorted.

Debbie, the receptionist was great. She was incredibly apologetic and said I was given that room in error. She gave me a free upgrade to the one bedroom suite within the main building. This room was a 1-bedroom suite with lake views, large kitchen area, even bigger living room area and a massive bathroom. The bed was extremely comfortable. Old televisions though, I hate seeing old tube televisions in hotels. Nothing says this room hasn’t been renovated in a decade than seeing a big ugly tube television sitting in the corner.  Saying that, everything else about the room was perfect.

Cleanliness

I’m going to base my review and score on the second, upgraded room and not the first abandoned condo unit. You can assume I’d be giving it a zero score if it were based on the first room. The room was spotless and you can be sure I did check thoroughly. There was no evidence of any dust, dirt, hair or any unwanted residents anywhere. The windows in this room were clean and the balcony had been swept. Top marks

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Staff/Service

Debbie did very well in what the training manuals call, disaster recovery. When I went back to her about the first room, she was incredibly apologetic and efficient in fixing the problem. The free room upgrade was a welcome bonus.

Internet/Wifi

I’ve decided to include availability of internet as part of my reviews as its important to me to be connected while I’m away. There’s also such wide variety of internet in hotel rooms it can be very frustrating at times. The first room at the Montelago Resort had free wifi access but strangely the second upgraded suite didn’t have wifi, despite the info on booking.com saying that it was available throughout the property. Debbie informed me that there was only Ethernet internet in this room but unfortunately that didn’t work so wasn’t able to get internet in my room. This would have been an issue if I had been staying for any longer than a day but I was tired after 10 hours flying and just wanted to sleep. There was wifi access available in the lobby though.

Overall Score: 68%

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