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Isn't It Grand?

How to run a hotel with 12,000 guests per night.

9:18 AM, Oct 1, 2011 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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In case you missed it, last week's Wall Street Journal featured a behind-the-scenes look at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, one of the largest resorts in the world. If you were to stay in a different room each night, it would take you more than 13 years to get through all 5,043. Needless to say, pulling off such a massive operation involves more than 8,000 employees. As for the laundry, writes Andrea Petersen,

Unlike most hotels, MGM Grand does all its own laundry. A separate 65,000-square-foot facility employs 165 people to wash, dry and fold linens. Each of the three dryers can handle 300 pounds. Employees feed dried towels and washcloths into folding machines that enable a single worker to fold 1,000 hand towels or 600 bath towels in one hour.

Even if you view Vegas as a gaudy destination for degenerate gamblers, you still cannot help but marvel at this undertaking. (With more master sommeliers in residence than in New York and Los Angeles combined, I would argue Vegas is more than just a gambling mecca. Fine, it's mostly a gambling mecca, but there's "exotic" dancing, too!)

To keep guests satisfied (aside from restaurants by Joël Robuchon, Tom Colicchio, Emeril Lagasse, and Wolfgang Puck), the hotel places enormous emphasis on short wait times: "Room service is supposed to arrive within 30 minutes of an order. Maintenance calls need to be answered in 15 minutes. A car needs to be retrieved by a valet in eight minutes. The 370 housekeepers on duty on busy days aim to clean each room in 30 minutes."

Having stayed at the MGM Grand a few years back, I can recall the place was like a zoo—after all, some 70,000 visitors come through each day. But you hardly notice what it takes to keep things running. It certainly helps to have 36 check-out lines and a 14-lane driveway, not to mention 186 engineers on hand—Petersen reports that the most common repairs are for broken air conditioning units and clogged toilets. (I suspect there's a correlation with the MGM Grand Buffet.)

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