Travel

By Kelley Granger

Wombi Rock and Leffingwells bar

The stars are twinkling over Wombi Rock as I watch the colors of dusk settle in on a chilly winter night. Clad in just a dress and knee high boots, I’m warm, cozy and clenching a mango margarita. Not one to embrace cold weather activities, I’m relieving my cabin fever at this spectacular lounge at Mohegan Sun hotel and casino in Uncasville, Conn. Wombi Rock, as it’s named, is home to Leffingwells, a three-level bar area that looks like jagged, illuminated stone and is complete with a planetarium dome that was billed as the largest in the world during its construction.

If you’ve been following the news out of Uncasville lately, you may have heard that Mohegan Sun’s massive expansion efforts have been put on hold due to the economic climate. I had heard that the casino industry hadn’t been faring well in these times, but after arriving earlier that Monday afternoon, I was surprised to find no shortage of gamblers on the casino floor. Even the hotel was packed – in spite of checking in around 5 p.m., it would be another hour and a half before a room was ready. (I should also say this slight inconvenience resulted in a very “suite” upgrade.) At times when hotel occupancy is dipping dramatically, Mohegan Sun’s spokespeople say they are running at 93 percent occupancy and often selling out of their standard rooms. After scoping the property out, it’s no wonder why.

The waterfall, shopping mall and hotel entrance all collide at this giant glass sculpture

The Mohegan Sun is a haven for the winter-weary. You have no reason to go outside. In fact, in true casino fashion, you don’t even have to look outside, as there are no windows or clocks to remind you of the time of day and how many hours you’ve spent at one of their more than 6,600 slot machines. There are more than 30 restaurants, including everything from a new Margaritaville with views of the Thames River to fine dining at Todd English’s Tuscany, which serves up an amazing steak tartare and wood grilled tuna behind the roaring waterfall that heralds the entrance to the shopping mall. An after dinner stroll winds by Tiffany & Co., Brookstone, Cache, LUSH, Tommy Bahama and more. Stop for a rest at the centrally located “memory piles,” seating areas along the stretch of shops that represent the piles of stones the Mohegans would use to mark their trails.

If you’d rather indulge in relaxation efforts, a beautiful indoor pool and Elemis Spa are easily accessed via the hotel elevator. I enjoyed a facial, during which my talented aesthetician Martha crafted a treatment for my sensitive skin and left it just as she promised – soft and glowing. Linger and unwind with tea and an apple in the relaxation room before hitting the Jacuzzi and the showers.

Gambling, eating, drinking, shopping, spa-ing and swimming are not even the end of the choice of activities. The property is home to a number of nightlife options – try Lucky’s Lounge, a retro themed bar that’s the first place I’ve ever seen wood paneled walls actually make sense. The “Lucky Beanie” is a good bet – a specialty drink concocted with Absolut Mandarin, Red Bull and Peachtree Schnapps. On some nights you can catch live music or a DJ playing sets at the Wolf Den, a small venue located in the middle of the Casino of the Earth. If you do some planning, you could also catch a high-profile performance by names as varied as Motley Crue, Fleetwood Mac, Eddie Money and Britney Spears in the 10,000 seat arena.

The lobby of the hotel was carefully designed using elements reminiscent of tribal life

After being duly impressed by the casino and entertainment options, you’ll find the hotel accommodations are nothing to scoff at, either. There are 1,200 rooms and suites each at least 450 square feet and often boasting river views. You’ll find the amazing decorative detail from the casino floor (for example, the expensive, expansive glass-beaded canopies that grace so many areas) follows through to the guestrooms, in more understated ways (like elegant light fixtures and mosaic tile accents).

At just two and half hours away from the city, the Mohegan Sun offers a Vegas-quality experience and countless opportunities to escape the doldrums of winter, without necessarily having to participate in it. Be sure check the “special packages” section of mohegansun.com/staying to check out some of the deals they’re promoting. And book early to ensure you can get the room of your choice!

Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard, Uncasville, CT 06382
For Hotel Reservations: 1.888.777.7922
http://www.mohegansun.com

Originally published March 2009
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