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IT'S NO SURPRISE to find a casino at a Las Vegas resort. And a spa. And great shopping. And restaurants. And a convention center. But sharks?

The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas has all this and more, and it all will be available to attendees at The Special Event, which runs Jan. 6-9 at the property.

The property is renowned for its 3,644 rooms, the largest pillar-less ballroom in the United States and its nearly 1 million square feet in exhibit space. Restaurants include the Border Grill from “Too Hot Tamales” chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, and Aureole from star chef Charlie Palmer. Entertainment ranges from acts at the House of Blues to the ABBA-based “Mamma Mia!” show. Instead of cookie-cutter retail stores, Mandalay Bay shopping is packed with everything from Balinese carvings to Picasso prints. And the resort offers 11 acres of beach plus the Shark Reef aquarium, which not only provides entertainment but also supports research and conservation initiatives.

“Of all the places in Las Vegas — if not in the United States — we're one of the most unique in that we offer so much for so many different people,” notes Todd Walton, director of special events at Mandalay Bay.

Attendees will want to check in at the Mandalay Bay by Monday, Jan. 5, so they don't miss “A Night at Light at Bellagio” that evening, when The Special Event takes over super-hot nightclub Light for a VIP, attendee-only event.

Walton also serves as chairman of this year's Gala Awards and Celebration, which takes place Friday, Jan. 9, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center with dinner following at the resort's South Pacific Ballroom.

“When packing for Las Vegas, remember to toss in your highest expectations for an event so extraordinary they say it cannot be done,” Walton says. “Miss it, and you will have missed the ‘special’ at The Special Event.”


Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, 702/632-7777, 877/632-7000;

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