Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ARIA Pre-Opening Pictures!

Even though ARIA doesn't officially open to the public until midnight tomorrow, it has been up and running for the past 2 days with MGM Mirage employees as the guests. They have been calling it "ARIA Fun Days" and security has been pretty tight checking badges. I checked out Crystals earlier tonight and it is prety damn interesting despite every store being ultra-highend. I will post the pictures of that tomorrow.

I went back down and poked around later near the entrance of ARIA and in a stroke of sudden nerve I asked a couple who was walking by if they were leaving and they said yes. I said I was a Vegas Fanactic and was dying to see the place, could I have their badge? They gave it to me. The keys to the castle woo hoo!!! Thank you who ever you are!

First impression... Absolutely gorgeous. Top-notch in just about every way, as much as one would expect with the price tag the joint has. It is styled like most of the recent properties that have opened, "Red Rock-eques" on steroids would be a good description. I really can't wait to get in there and check the place out top to bottom over the next 3 days. City Center really is a piece of work when you finally see it completed. Unfortunately, I didn't get much time to walk around as they were ushering people out so the VIP parties could start but as I avoided security, I managed to glance at most of the major parts and get a couple of good pictures before being moved along as well as some of the exterior of the build. I will post the Crystals picture tomorrow

ARIA Pre-Opening Pictures

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Complete Vdara Review

Overall, my experience at Vdara had quite a few high points and a few issues; most were temporary involving the opening of a new place. Some however are major design flaws that will not be easily corrected. I will start with the good...

I was one of the first hotel guests to arrived after the VIP Ribbon Cutting. When I pulled up to the front entrance, I was met by 15 valets and bellmen standing there waiting for me. I almost felt assaulted by the service. I would continue to get almost overwhelming attention my entire stay. I checked my bags as check-in was scheduled for noon and proceeded inside. The big wigs were still mulling around and the media were being led on tours. I managed to get a handshake in with MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren. At noon, we were told check-in wouldn't start until 1 PM. 5 years building it but apparently they needed an extra hour to get things ready! I used the time to find a spot to plug in the laptop and used the FREE (a shocker!) Wi-Fi to post the first set of pics. By the time I was done, the rooms were ready and check-in started. During my check-in, the key making system went down for a few minutes then once I got to the elevator, the first one was not working. Both issues were quickly fixed. The room floors were actually quite different than the lobby as they are dimly lit with subdued colors. A couple of cool features before even entering the room: door bells, electronic 'Do Not Disturb' signs and locks that just require the key to be waved past it.

The rooms are actually condos with a kitchenette/dining area are you walk into the room. It has a sink, microwave, combo fridge/mini-bar, Keurig coffee maker and the dining area was a small table for two. The living area and bedroom are separated by the media center and desk which is equipped with 2 large flat-screen TVs and a connection center with HDMI, USB, VGA, RCA and S-Video ports. It is furnished in the same modern/retro style of the lobby with mostly beige and dark brown colors accented by a few pieces of hideous green. The bathroom is quite big with high end fixtures, separate shower and a very large tub. The one big downside is only a single sink on the vanity. A couple of other cool features of the room include motorized blinds and a small locking closet which is something I haven't seen before.

Now for the bigger issues I encountered that will not be easily remedied... The room itself was great and I would stay again in a heartbeat if it weren't at Vdara. Despite my mistaken belief, Vdara is a completely stand-alone building. It is not attached to either ARIA or Bellagio. To get to ARIA, you will need to walk out of the front door and across the porte cochere which is only a couple hundred feet but still not fun at 2AM in February. The connection to Bellagio is even worse. After you walk down a short glass hallway in Vdara, you are deposited outside in a covered walkway that is 30 feet above a loading dock with utility pipes running overhead. $8.5 Billion building City Center and this is what connects the 2 crown jewels of the MGM business? Someone dropped the ball big-time on this one. The other major issue is a lack of basic amenities at Vdara itself. Once again, I get they are relying on ARIA to provide many amenities but not being able to get a cup of coffee in the morning at a 1,500 room hotel is ridiculous. There also isn't even a simple gift shop. Forgot your toothbrush or want a candy bar? Walk your ass over (outside) to ARIA or Bellagio. There also a lack of dining options with only 1 restaurant on-site and it is high-end. Bacon and eggs was going for $22!

No doubt staying at Vdara will feel much less isolated once the rest of City Center opens but leaving a key piece of the puzzle as a stand-alone building is a mistake and won't be cheap to fix though not impossible. This is an epic fail on par with the Aladdin Strip access disaster. The bottom line is Vdara is exactly what it is billed. If you are interested in staying at a very nice hotel with great service that is non-smoking and non-gaming then the issues of access may not be a problem for you and actually might sound appealing. If you are looking for a classic Vegas hotel, then it is probably the last place you want to stay.

Click Here for the room pictures...

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vdara is finally open!

It's finally open!!! Vdara opened at 12 noon to a decent amount of fan fare with news organizations local and national covering the event. The place is everything you would expect from the latest and greatest in hotel design. Lots of marble and dark colors as well as high ceilings and a lot of natural light. Its a very nice place thus far. Room pictures will be posted shortly...

Vdara Grand Opening Pictures

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