MGM National Harbor ready for its Maryland debut

MGM Resorts is about to debut the latest jewel in its casino/resort crown. Designed by HKS Hospitality Group, the $1.4 billion, 22-acre MGM National Harbor officially opens Thursday, marking the company’s first foray into the Washington, D.C., area.

Located on the banks of the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, Maryland, the hotel boasts 24 stories, with 308 rooms and suites; a 125,000-square-foot casino (3,300 slot machines, 124 table games, 39 poker tables); a 3,000-seat theater (Boyz II Men, Lionel Richie, Bruno Mars, Duran Duran, Kings of Leon and Ricky Martin are already on the schedule).

Reservations are being accepted for stays beginning Dec. 10, with room rates starting at $299 and suites at $599 (subject to availability).

“MGM National Harbor will introduce something unprecedented to one of the country’s most popular travel destinations. Under one roof, guests will enjoy a sophisticated hotel experience, high-energy casino, celebrity-chef restaurants, world-class entertainment, nightlife, destination spa, upscale retail and curated art, complemented by incredible panoramas of D.C., Maryland and Virginia,” said Bill Boasberg, the resort’s general manager, in a prepared statement.

The casino is also home to a gambling floor “bigger than the White House” and expansive public spaces featuring the MGM National Harbor Heritage Collection — a showcase of nearly 70 works by such artists as Margaret Boozer, Alice Aycock, Sam Gilliam, John Dreyfuss, John Safe, including Bob Dylan. It is the singer and Nobel laureate’s first work of art for a public space on permanent display.

R&B group Boyz II Men will become the first music artists to take the stage Dec. 15.

The iconic group won’t be the only famous musical act performing at The Theater during the venue’s inaugural month — Lionel Richie (Dec. 22), Bruno Mars (Dec. 27) and Duran Duran (Dec. 31; Jan 1) are also on the roster.

The casino resort opens Thursday night at 11 p.m.

Things you need to know about parking at MGM National Harbor:

Parking Lot
5,000 parking spaces will be available in its garage — but you don’t have to park there if you choose to drive.

The garage opens at 10:30 p.m., only a half-hour before the casino itself opens, so it might be a good idea to know about the thousands more parking spaces throughout the area.

“Overall there are 16,000 parking spaces available in the National Harbor development,” said Gordon M. Absher, corporate vice president for MGM Resorts International and spokesman for MGM National Harbor.

In the downtown National Harbor area, there are multiple parking garages and an 800 space surface lot.

Circulator Bus service has stops in downtown National Harbor on St. George Boulevard, Gaylord National, Tanger Outlets and MGM.

A $5 all-day pass allows unlimited service between 11 a.m. and 4 a.m.

“So, if you came down and had lunch and then took a boat ride and then come up and had dinner or saw a show at our place (MGM), then you decided to gamble and had a night cap — you’d still be able to catch the circulator back to where ever you parked your car,” Absher said.

Passes can bought at the Mariner Garage Circulator Shuttle Management Office, at some National Harbor retailers or purchased online.

Valet Parking

Valet rates at the MGM resort are $25 for up to 12 hours. Overnight valet parking will cost you $45. The valet parking entrance is the one closest to the hotel entrance, which is on MGM National Avenue.

MGM National Avenue runs south of the facility and is one-way eastbound as you drive away from the Potomac River up the hill toward Oxon Hill Road.

Self-Park

MGM parking initially will be free, but will eventually be “paid parking.”

A high-tech system will help drivers navigate eight floors of parking. Each level has seven lanes of spaces.

“As you’re driving [in], you’ll see a large monolith which will show you each level of the parking garage as well as how many open spaces are on each level,” said MGM National Harbor Executive Director of Hotel Operations Patrick Fisher.

At every decision point to either turn or proceed, drivers will be informed about how many spots are ahead.

“And, as you turn down a center drive aisle — green and red lights will indicate open available spots,” Fisher said.

It’s easy to get lost in some large parking garages, but Fisher is confident that won’t happen at MGM.

“Signage in the garage is very apparent — with different colors on every level as well as sectioned off on the poles,” Fisher said.

Public Transportation

Metrobus service will have a stop at MGM National Harbor when it opens Absher said, with origin points from the Huntington Avenue Metro Station in Virginia and the Southern Avenue Metro Station in Maryland.

You also can access the area by boat.

The Potomac Riverboat Company provides shuttles between National Harbor and Alexandria, Virginia.