MGM Resorts invited me to Las Vegas this past weekend to check out their M life Rewards. It’s an interesting concept, which will require a separate post to explain (coming soon). MGM Resorts owns 15 hotels around the world including Aria Resort & Casino, which is where I spent three nights. It’s such a great hotel – here are 11 reasons to stay at Aria Hotel in Las Vegas!
1. It’s a destination within a destination
Aria Resort & Casino is a destination within a destination since it’s the 11th largest hotel in the world with 4,004 rooms. They have everything including 16 restaurants, 15 bars, and lounges, 12 shops, three pools, 300,000 square feet of meeting space, and a whole lot more. It’s part of the city’s $8 billion City Center complex. The City Center is comprised of three hotels (Aria, Mandarin Oriental, and Vdara, two condo towers, and a 500,000 square foot retail and entertainment district. MGM Resorts own it.
2. It’s beautifully designed
The design from the exterior to the interiors are jaw dropping. From the moment you walk into the lobby, casino and restaurants, your mouth will be open in amazement. I like that guests don’t have to walk through the casino to get to most of the restaurants, the spa or the pool, since they are located on the promenade level (2nd floor), which is perfect if you have kids or don’t feel like walking through a rowdy crowd in your robe. FYI: My photos don’t do the place justice (do they ever?) so you really need to see it for yourself.
3. The elevators
With 61 floors in total and over 4,000 rooms, you would think guests would have to wait a while for an elevator. Not the case. I never waited more than 30 seconds because they have different banks with each one only going to 5-10 floors.
4. It’s not that smoky
The architects must have figured out a way to make the casino less smoky than most; walking through them is a much different experience from walking through the older hotels, where the air is thick with the smell of stale smoke. I heard they have hidden fans on the floors, mainly around the slot machines, that blow the smoke up to filters but I didn’t spot them. Regardless, it’s amazing. What’s also nice is that the 150,000-square-foot casino doesn’t have any annoying bells going off.
5. The Aria Spa
The Aria spa is a staggering 80,000-square-feet and features 62 treatment rooms. They offer a unique blend of services, products and experiences, and inside there are distinctive design features using Aji stone, water gardens and natural light, which create a sense of calmness. I was surprised that the men’s locker room had at least a dozen guys in there, walking around in robes and watching college football on the big screen.
I quickly changed into my robe and was escorted to my treatment room for a 50-minute reflexology massage. Here’s the description from the spa menu: “Our reflexology-inspired treatment is combined with hot stones for the ultimate relaxation of your hands, feet, neck, shoulders, and scalp.” The $170 price ($160 during the week) is steep but I guess the demand is so high they can get away with it. Also in the spa are “Ganbanyoku” heated-stone beds, a “Shio” salt room, and an outdoor therapy pool. FYI: There’s also a state-of-the-art gym but surprisingly it’s not open 24/7.
6. The restaurants
Aria has 16 restaurants with some of the biggest celebrity chefs like Jean Georges. This trip I ate dinner at Michael Mina’s American Fish and breakfast at The Buffet. The buffet is very reasonable and has practically everything. It costs $18.99 for breakfast, $22.99 for lunch, $33.99 for dinner ($6 more on gourmet nights). It’s the only one in town that offers crabs legs for lunch every day and the only one on The Strip that has a tandoori oven. It also has the most gluten-free offerings since the chef is allergic to wheat.
7. The incredible shows
The big show at Aria is Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana. It seems there’s a Cirque du Soleil show for everything and this one has been billed as a reinvention of the variety show. It’s a story about a magician in an abandoned theatre who has lost his love and his magic and it’s bizarrely entertaining. The female juggler and sand painter are worth the price of admission.
8. The state-of-the-art rooms
My room at Aria was the most state-of-the-art room I’ve ever stayed in. First of all, you can control everything (curtains, lights, temperature, TV) from either the TV remote or the control center next to the bed. There was also a ‘goodnight’ button next to the bed that would turn off all the lights and the TV and close the curtains. With the TV remote, you could turn on or off any lights (including those in the bathroom) and adjust the room temperature. How amazing is that? The only thing in the room that was short on technology was the toilet. There was no remote control Toto toilet like the ones I saw (and loved!) in Japan and in my room in Shanghai, but the beds are super soft and the sheets are cozy.
The TV even had an alarm clock that would let you wake-up the way you desired. You could choose what TV channel to wake up to, or which lights to turn on and which curtains to open. The TV also had a channel with Las Vegas Airport’s Departures and Arrivals Board.
The only thing the room was missing were electrical outlets by the bed, but I might be the only person that goes to Vegas and likes to work in bed … besides the prostitutes, of course.
FYI: Basic (512 KBPS) wireless Internet is free but the good stuff costs $15 for 24 hours.
One of the hottest new spots in Vegas during the day is Liquid Pool & Lounge (open April-September). It’s the adults-only outdoor playground at ARIA. There’s a cover charge, Men $40; Women $10 (weekdays is $20 cheaper for men), to get secluded, seductive and sizzling environment. There are two pools, 8 cabanas, bikini-clad waitresses/dancers and DJs playing/rapping the most racist songs you ever could imagine. It’s definitely not for everyone, including me, because after 10 minutes I was ready to exit and hit the quiet family pool.
10. HAZE Nightclub
If you still have energy after Liquid then wait until around midnight and hit HAZE Nightclub. It’s one of the most electric clubs in Vegas, and it has a colossal cutting-edge light environment that supposedly challenges your perception of reality. It holds about 1,500 people and the line to get in is long (Costs: $40 Men; $20 Women). The night I was there had T-Pain as the guest DJ, and Michael Jordan had a bunch of his celeb friends in the house.
11. You can checkout online
The morning of my departure date, I got an email for express checkout. At a click of a link, I reviewed my bill online and then checked out so I didn’t have to wait in any long lines (if they can create something like this for check-in that would be remarkable).
As you can see, Aria Resort and Casino has it all and you really don’t need to leave the hotel property if you don’t want to. One thing is for sure: you won’t be disappointed.
the Royal India Bistro at the RIO has 2 tandoori ovens.