The CityCenter is clearly MGM Resorts’ monument to the aliens. Should humanity ever be obliterated completely, the CityCenter is large enough that it will outlast the destruction long enough to stand as a testament to humanity’s decadence for the next alien species that comes through and tries to colonize this planet once more. There are eighteen different resort/casinos being operated out of CityCenter, 10 of which are owned and operated by MGM. Of these monoliths, The Aria is by far the most well known and well maintained of all of them. Aria imposes a resort charge which is just around $22.40 with tax included. Three nights at the Aria will run you $467.04 even with the Players Club discount. It would certainly make things easier if all of the extra fees were lumped into one easy to understand and prepare for total room charge. Oh well. On the plus side, the resort fee you pay will include campus-wide wi-fi, in-room toll-free local calls, access to a fitness center, two cocktails per stay (which would encompass the entire $22 fee alone according to the pricing in just about any club on the strip), and free boarding pass printing.
Each room in the Aria is a smart room, meaning that all you need to do in order to open the door is wave your card key in front of it. You don’t even have to swipe it, just swipe the key in front and the rest should be done by itself. Also, you should be notified (just so that you don’t become concerned that your room is haunted by the ghost of a long-dead burlesque dancer) that upon entering you will be treated to a show. Your curtains will open themselves and the TV will turn itself on. Right next to every bed is a small tablet computer which acts as the universal remote control for every aspect of the room including the curtains, TV, and lights. One wrong press or tap and the whole room could go awry, but for the most part you don’t have much to worry about as long as you don’t flop your hand around on the control too much. Even the most tech savvy people will usually find something wrong with this system at some point.
The rooms are fairly large, at 520 square feet, though if you’re a Vegas high roller you’ll probably think this is about average. One plus side is that the bath and shower are separate so if you’re showing a friend the room before you two decide to take off for the night trolling for chicks, you can shower in one room while your friend bathes in the other, or vice versa. There are low-flow toilets in all of the bathrooms which will make the environmentalist in everyone feel slightly better about the extravagance they are participating in, but be careful as these are prone to break, or become plugged fairly easily. Be prepared to call for service once or twice in a three day stay if your bowels aren’t timed precisely. Very comfortable bath robes come with the room which are relaxing, but some of the room safes are absent on occasion despite the fact that each room is advertised as having one.
Though the Aria’s spa treatment is not included in the resort fee, it is only an extra $30 per person whenever you need to use it. The spa contains a room made entirely out of salt bricks with chairs that vibrate lightly to the rhythm of soothing music. It also contains Ganbanyoku beds which are essentially heated stone beds. The website for the resort advertises them to help release harmful toxins by the body and increase overall wellness, but despite whether that is true or not, the beds still feel good regardless. Perhaps the best feature that the spa is home to though is the outdoor balcony with therapy pool. For other miscellaneous exercise needs you can pay a person to help you stretch either before or after a strenuous exercise regimen starting at $45 for 30 minutes, or you can pay $50 per hour for someone to guide you and your group on an indoor hike.
The Aria is home to the spectacular Cirque du Soleil show Viva Elvis! The show has a mediocre reputation with critics, but for Vegas newcomers or those that are new to Cirque Du Soleil, the stunts will still be impressive. It’s true that there are better shows out there though. Haze nightclub is also owned by MGM and therefore is directly related to Aria. You can attend this club on Thursday-Saturday. The Gold Lounge, the Elvis themed institution is also MGM related and therefore you have access to it as a guest of the hotel. This lounge is open every day except Sunday and is located next to the theatre that does Viva Elvis. They also have all-you-can-drink beer for $10 from 9-11 every night. The Deuce Lounge is another option for those of you looking into the nightlife here, but it admittedly is not the most popular destination for anyone on the Vegas strip.
There are a few different choices for you to pick from when you’re staying at the Aria as far as dining choices are concerned. You can choose from a Thai restaurant, a buffet, a sports, bar, a coffee shop, and even a small ice cream parlor. Each location has its benefits and its drawbacks. Obviously the ice cream parlor is not where you’re going to want to stop for dinner and neither is the café, but the sports bar is a great place to grab a hearty burger. The Thai food will have you feeling like you’re eating a real meal, but it is much more expensive there than at any of the other dining locations and the portions are smaller. The café might not serve dinner items, but the pastries are perfect for breakfast and go great with coffee, etc. The buffet also has a little of everything even if it may be of a slightly lower quality.
The Aria is not limited to these choices though; these were just a few of the options. There are a total of seventeen restaurants to get food at, with nine of them being listed as fine dining. As far as fine dining is concerned, the restaurant offerings in this category include a sushi place called Barmasa, Shaboo (a hot pot restaurant) each of which is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. Then there is Sage, an American restaurant which serves items such as Americanized pasta, duck, chicken, steaks, lobster, etc. Sage is open every day but Sunday. Julian Serrano serves ceviches, paella, all kinds of sophisticated Spanish dishes appetizers. The problem with this place is that each dish has a relatively small price, but the serving size is so small that it’s almost impossible to get a real meal out of it without ordering forty or fifty dollars worth of tiny servings per person.
Jean George’s steakhouse is yet another iteration of the casino steakhouse type restaurants littering the insides of resorts and the Vegas strip. This place offers expensive meat based dishes. There’s not much more to say about it. Sirio Ristorante is an Italian restaurant which features essentially exactly what you’d expect from a mid-tier Italian restaurant. It is very expensive though. American Fish is a seafood restaurant which serves seafood and is also very expensive. They are open every day but Monday.
There is a Chinese restaurant included called Blossom and the offerings her include regular classic Chinese dishes along with some very fancy seafood choices. For example, the Lobster and fresh fruit menu item costs about $160, and must be ordered one day prior to attending. How fancy is that? Union restaurant and lounge is yet another American themed restaurant with an atmosphere modeled after the times. The one thing that the Aria does not have is a food court which is fairly disappointing. It makes it seem as if the hotel is only out for your money, trying to sap up as much of it as possible through expensive fancy restaurants.
The Café Vettro is one of the gems of the restaurant selection with many items befitting the café atmosphere, but it also has a few traditional breakfast items so you can eat a real meal there for breakfast at least instead of having to tide yourself over with a flaky pastry. The downside is of course that it is very expensive. The price of one bacon and egg breakfast, one waffle, and a cup of coffee comes out to $29. Considering the price, the real meal items weren’t worth it, but the scones and cinnamon rolls make perfect snacks and have reasonable price tags attached. The comp that you’ll get isn’t exactly fabulous, but it will probably be enough to cover at least one full meal like this.
As with any review of a hotel/casino resort type building in Vegas, the most important part is going to be with the gaming. After all, the hotel part is only there for you to rest your feet in between gaming sessions. Luckily, if you enjoy gaming, Aria is the place for you, since the Aria has 150,000 square feet dedicated for gaming and has a more spaced out approach to the layout as opposed to places like the MGM which has only slightly more space.
Aria maintains the following games at their establishment: Baccarat, Blackjack, Blackjack Switch, Big 6, Casino War, Craps, Crazy 4 Poker, and European Roulette, Let it Ride, Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, Pai Gow Poker, Roulette, Three Card Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold’Em.
The website lists the rules and betting limits for each as well, so I won’t waste space listing it here as they are subject to change anyway, but I will say that betting limits are generally at a $25 minimum, or $50 for some games. Some minimums will go as low as $15, or even $5. The minimum is $2 for Big 6. The Maximum can range anywhere from $300 for really low stakes games like Big 6, or as high as $5000 for the more serious games. There were still some good opportunities for lower betters to play games, but overall the benefits were lousy.
Drink service was just okay. The coffee at Aria is spectacular though so if you are an avid coffee drinker, be sure not to leave without having a cup or two of the stuff. The drinks are usually served in large rock glasses and come in generous proportions.
The system for benefits is called M Life and is based on points. A player can earn up to ten points every time they bet $2 at the slots and ten points for every $10 bet in video poker. Therefore every point in slots is worth 20 cents and every point in video poker is worth $1.
Though shopping isn’t what you normally think of when you come to Vegas since everything is so overpriced and the last place you’d think to shop is a resort/casino. However, Crystals is a very high end shopping area located right next to Aria and it is worth your time. You’re sure to find something you love. Just know that you can’t go crazy or else you’ll have lost all of your money on clothes and snow-globes instead of at the craps tables.
All things considered, the Aria is a nice establishment and is worthy of the space it takes up on the strip. There were a few gripes about some of the things in the hotel like the low flow toilets or the tablet computer controlling all of the room’s peripherals. Basically though, these were all things you can get over. The comp program was crappy and doesn’t give you back nearly as much as you’d like, but if they gave back all that money they wouldn’t be making any, and in the end the Aria is a business just like everything else is, so I can’t fault them for that.
Aside from those gripes there were mostly great things to say about the place. Drink portions were very generous, the dealers were very nice and pleasant, and they were very accommodating of all of my needs and will be the same for you I am sure. They went all out for my birthday when I got there, offering me cookies and strawberries on a plate when I entered without telling me or preparing me. I was even given a birthday card signed by the guest services director which was very nice. I wonder if they do this for everyone. In any case, it’s definitely a place to visit when you come to Vegas as long as you have the money to spend and are prepared to lose some more of it when gambling. Make sure to check out the spa and make sure to order yourself some of their world class coffee. Of course it is best to stay at the Aria if you’re able to get a good deal, because the deals that I got saved me a fairly significant amount. As a final word of warning, the Aria is a bit of a walk away from the main strip, but the great thing about it is that the Aria also has just about everything you could want out of Vegas all within its borders. You could have a full Vegas experience complete with all different types of cuisine, night club attendance, Cirque Du Soleil show, casino trips, and shopping excursions all without ever leaving the hotel and walking more than a block. That is definitely something to write home about.
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