In need of a great place for a girls weekend away, we headed to Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. This self-contained resort has it all, from world class restaurants to top notch entertainment, gaming, fun night clubs, a spa and shopping. But the friendly staff, nice touches and top notch hotel rooms put it over the top, making us think about coming back with our families next time.
A Weekend of Surprising Delight at a Connecticut Casino
I’m not a casino kind of girl. I like Las Vegas for its resort-style hotels and desert hiking more than the chance to win at craps or party all night in clubs with the Hiltons and Kardashians.
But a casino getaway was the perfect choice when we decided to celebrate my friend Carrie’s birthday. We spent the weekend at Mohegan Sun, a Vegas-style casino and resort set on Mohegan tribal land in central Connecticut and managed by the Mohegan tribal council.
What You Really Want To Know: How Many Stars Would I give the Resort?
The high quality of service, the grand hotel feel with nice touches, rooms that can stand up to other luxury hotels, and a status as a Preferred Hotels and Resorts member—I’d give our experience four out of five stars, with a solid five for the quality of service and thoughtful touches. The hotel staff was great and employees throughout the property were friendly, helpful and clearly wanted our weekend to be a great one.
The casino offered what you might expect—lots of fun, gaming tables, slot machines, night clubs and more. It was not the ‘subsidized’ experience that casinos can sometimes be (low priced rooms and restaurants to entice you to spend all your money in the casino). Weekend hotel rooms start at about $400 a night (weekday rooms are much more affordable, priced at about $180-230 a night), and gaming table minimums were about $25 for most tables (we found a few $10 and $15 tables). Also, being a casino, smoking is allowed in many of the spaces, though many of the gaming spaces, most of the hotel rooms, restaurants, stores and lobby spaces are smoke-free.
The Lay of the Land: Casinos Connected By an Upscale Mall
One of my friends, Marne, is a Mohegan Sun fanatic. She and her husband visit often and are members of the Momentum loyalty club which gives them special privileges including reduced room rates. She arrived early and sent us this email: “Just arrived at my home away from home. A little shopping and then the waterfall bar! Let me know your situations, women!”
When we arrived, Marne showed us around the resort, which follows some typical modern casino-resort rules. Mohegan Sun has three casinos connected by the hotel and the arena which features big name acts such as Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Jay Z, Keith Urban, Bon Jovi and Kenny Chesney. The mall features stores such as Tiffany & Co., Sephora, Tommy Bahama and Dylan’s Candy Bar, and restaurants are from some top names including Bobby Flay, Michael Jordan, Starbucks, Johnny Rockets and the famous Connecticut original Frank Pepe Pizzeria.
Once we checked in we started our weekend with spa and shopping. Even though the hotel’s spa is very nice, we had mani/pedi’d before getting there so we hit Sephora and got face masks and lip balm for a mini spa experience before dinner.
Dining Options Include a Connecticut Vineyard
Despite the great dining choices—I’d have opted for Bobby Flay’s Bar American—some of the girls wanted to go to a winery in Clinton (home of the Clinton Crossing outlets) for dinner, about a 30 minute drive. At Chamard Vineyards house made wines are served alongside farm-to-table cooking, seasonal ingredients and lots of local cheeses. We tried the cheese plate, a substantial selection of five cheeses ($16), a charcuterie plate of freshly shaved meats ($16), and brie en croute before ordering dinner and the winery’s cabernet sauvignon.
Post-Dinner Night Clubbing
After dinner we headed back to Mohegan Sun where we dropped our handbags in our rooms and changed into fancier dresses for a night out. One of the great things about staying at the casino is that we could hit the clubs and have a few cocktails without having to worry about driving; it was really great to have all the fun under one roof.
First Marne led us to the Vista Lounge, a mountain-shaped nightclub carved out of backlit marble and set under the dome of Casino of the Sky, a planetarium-inspired space that covers the entire casino. The lounge (no cover charge) featured a dance floor surrounded by nooks and grottoes and a second floor bar area that overlooked the dance floor and casino beyond. The dance floor was filled with 20-somethings and more than a bride-to-be or two; it seemed to be a popular destination for bachelorette parties and party weekends. There is another night club that we could have tried, too; while it has a cover charge, ladies are free until 10 or 11PM (depending on the night).
An Evening Stroll, and More Shopping
After having a drink at the Vista, we decided to take a walk through the casinos and check out more of the shopping, much of which was still open at 11PM. We meandered through Casino of the Sky then to the mall, following it to the Casino of the Earth and finally, the Casino of the Wind; we wanted to get a feel for the types of gaming tables and machines that each held. Most tables had a $25 minimum, but we did find a few $15 tables and some dollar slot machines. Elena put in $10 and won: She cashed out a ticket for $12.35.
While the girls were at the slot machines, I found another club, Mist, at the far end of Casino of the Sky. Flanked by a water fall wall, the club is open to the casino and featured a DJ and dancers on stage and a huge crowd of people dancing and watching.
After a while, my friends pulled me away, heading back toward the hotel. Since it was rounding 12:30, they wanted to call it a night so we could explore more in the morning.
Girls Night Out: The Day After
The next day we got up, dressed and packed, leaving our bags with the bell desk so we could shop and have breakfast. We decided to skip Starbucks and one of the three Krispy Kreme branches and have brunch; our choices included Johnny Rockets, Tuscany and Hash House A Go Go, which is what we chose (we would have picked brunch at Bobby Flay’s or Frank Pepe if they were open). The country themed Hash House offered a nice menu of oversized plates of hash—several kinds including chorizo and jalapeno, which I had—egg dishes, waffles, flap jacks and more, all freshly made and tasty.
After breakfast we shopped the mall stopping at Lush for yummy handmade bath and skincare products and Sephora where we tested, sampled and tried out cosmetics before heading to the valet for our car.
Despite being busy with people checking out after the weekend—the benches in the valet area were filled with guests—a valet scanner at the Mohegan Sun made getting in and out easy; we just scanned our ticket and less than 10 minutes later our car was brought out (the evening before it only took about 5 minutes to get the car).
One Last Touch of WOW
The weekend after our visit, Marne returned to Mohegan Sun with her family for the Thanksgiving weekend; for her and her husband it was the perfect anecdote to too much family and food. But in rushing out of the hotel at the end of the weekend, she left her coat, car keys and a pair of shoes in the room. Of course, she didn’t realize this until she was all the way home. A call to the hotel quickly located her things and for a small charge of $12, the hotel promised to send her things for Monday delivery. WOW.
A Club That Kids Love (If You Must Bring Your Children, That Is)
Over breakfast Marne told us about the Kids Quest/Cyber Quest kids club, so I had to check it out. Her sons beg to go there and hate to leave it: the iPad station, video games, climbing wall and tunnels are just the start. Kids can have a meal and you can even specific if they are to have only healthy foods, Marne said. For just $11 an hour you can check your kids in for an afternoon or evening of fun while you have dinner, hit the casino or see a show. Hours are until 11PM weeknights and 2AM Friday and Saturday.
Mohegan Sun is certainly a destination on it’s own; 2 hours from Boston and 2.5 from New York City, there are not a lot of other activities near by and the resort has thought of a lot as it is—there is also a golf course for play during the warmer months. After knowing so many people who go to Mohegan Sun for gaming and concerts (it’s a very popular destination for concerts) I can see why they stay. The only negative, and this is purely my opinion, is that the hotel’s scent machines—it’s a growing trend for hotels to pump scents into the air— seemed to be on overdrive; the fragrance was strong everywhere except (thankfully) the hotel rooms. I must have a sensitive nose; it smelled quite strong to me, but my friends were less bothered by it. And, considering that cigarette smoke can easily trail long distances inside, I do appreciate that the hotel is paying attention to the interior scents, but less of the signature scent would be nice.
Disclosure: We were a guest of Mohegan Sun for one night and received a media rate for a second night so we could write this review. Opinions expressed here are all my own.