Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

August 10, 2009

Exploring ARIA's Public Areas and Casino Floor

Posted by Hunter

One of the benefits of running a site like this is that from time to time, certain information comes my way before it hits the general public.

Most recently, this would include floor-plans of ARIA's public spaces and casino area. The hugely anticipated City Center anchor hotel, opening in mid-December, looks pretty great to my eyes.

In addition to being such a major milestone, ARIA is important because it is meant to be the crown of the MGM Mirage empire. The current occupant of that top slot, Bellagio, was designed and built by now-competitor Steve Wynn. MGM Mirage hasn't 'authored' a major Las Vegas resort for many years, its empire having been assembled through acquisition instead of development.

If you want some details about what is inside of ARIA, continue after the jump.

In a nutshell, imagine a post-Bellagio/Wynn Las Vegas design on two levels and you have a very basic idea of the layout at ARIA. Here's a quick hit-list of what is where across this massive property.

Casino Level:

* Casino
* Poker Room (Casino)
* Carta Privata (Casino)
* Salon Prive (Casino)
* Baccarat (Casino)
* Spin High Limit Lounge (Casino)
* Race and Sports Book (Casino)
* Union (Restaurant)
* Jean Philippe Patisserie (Restaurant/Retail)
* Blossom (Restaurant)
* Cafe Centro (Restaurant)
* Sage (Restaurant)
* Barmasa (Restaurant)
* Lemongrass (Restaurant)
* Shaboo (Restaurant)
* Julian Serrano (Restaurant)
* Skybox Bar and Grille (Restaurant)
* The Deuce (Bar/Lounge)
* City Bar (Bar/Lounge)
* Baccarat Bar (Bar/Lounge)
* Bar Moderno (Bar/Lounge)
* View Bar (Bar/Lounge)

Promenade Level:

* Gold (Nightclub?)
* Liquid (Pool-Based Club?)
* American Fish (Restaurant)
* Jean Georges Steakhouse (Restaurant)
* Sirio Ristorante (Restaurant)
* The Buffet (Restaurant)
* Breeze Cafe (Restaurant)
* Sweet Chill (Restaurant)
* Cirque Theater and Box Office
* The Spa
* Convention Space

Both levels have smatterings of retail but the number of stores does not seem to be significant.

The first floor is dominated by the casino with restaurants and bars around the edges. Similar to Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, there is a separate check-in area for Sky Suites guests, along with a distinct elevator core and valet area. Large baccarat and salon prive areas on the west side of the property likely have large windows to the outdoors. Nearby are the Thai and Chinese restaurants and another 'Baccarat Bar' (how many of these have existed on The Strip over the years?)

On the south end, a large race and sports book sits near the poker room and the 'Skybox Bar and Grill'. The far north side, near Vdara, includes a bunch of restaurants such as Sage, Barmasa, Shaboo and Serrano.

On the second floor we have access to the Cirque Theater, the pool deck as well as some additional restaurants - it looks like some of the fine dining is bunched together on the east end, perhaps overlooking the main porte cochere.

We also have what looks like a fairly large buffet, additional retail and a huge spa that must have incredible views of the pool and also of Vdara.

The massive pool deck includes 'Liquid', which looks to be either a nightclub, day-club or perhaps both.

Overall, seeing this stuff makes me more excited about ARIA. From the layouts alone, my first impression is that the designers clearly looked at recent properties such as Wynn Las Vegas and Encore to see what was working well over there. The completed interiors may look nothing like a Wynn property but the way things are placed is certainly reminiscent.

ARIA is a massive property but unlike something like MGM Grand, these layouts show a lot of promise based on a clear study of what customers are looking for these days.

I can't wait to try ARIA in December.


Read archived comments (35 so far)
August 11, 2009 7:29 AM Posted by LeoNYC

With so much to offer and in a prime location on the Strip, one cannot avoid thinking what will happen to Encore Las Vegas. I think Aria will attract way more people than Encore. People are attracted by novelties, and Aria / City Center is something never seen before on the Strip. Wynn Resorts biggest mistake was to advertise Encore Las Vegas as an addition to the Wynn Las Vegas. I still think whatever they have in mind for the golf course will blow our minds away. But given the current economy crisis, they should have done something more than an addition to the Wynn Las Vegas to attract more people.

August 11, 2009 7:39 AM Posted by Ken

Can you post the jpegs or pdfs?

August 11, 2009 7:54 AM Posted by Hunter

Nope, sorry. They are copyright MGM Mirage.

August 11, 2009 8:39 AM Posted by Tom M.

I think its unfair to compare Aria with Encore. More appropriate is to compare it to Wynncore and Bellagio. Despite the marketing, I view Wynn and Encore as one entity when comparing to something as massive as City Center.

August 11, 2009 9:04 AM Posted by Tim

Has anyone heard about an "ice water feature" outside of City Center like Bellagio? I read something about it a while ago but haven't heard anything since. I am a true Wynncore fan but I am excited to see what City Center has to offer. I can't wait until December!

August 11, 2009 9:10 AM Posted by Hunter

Heard bits and pieces but no hard data.

Unclear if this feature is intended for the front entrance or inside The Crystals:

August 11, 2009 9:57 AM Posted by parchedearth

Do they have a rooftop/upper floor restaurant/bar for the views? I would think each building should have something up top, but haven't heard anything.

I understand the thinking right now is that Aria will be the top property, but I respectfully disagree and believe after the newness wears off that Bellagio will be MGM's best. Bellagio has a timeless/classic style; whereas the sleek/modern style can lose its luster quickly. It would be very easy for MGM to cut back on the upkeep and amenities at Aria to drop it to a four star level of service. This is especially true if the condos fail to sell and their financial troubles continue for an extended period. I suspect you will have a number of high rollers who try Aria when it opens, but go back to Bellagio on return visits.

August 11, 2009 10:35 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Hum...2 levels? I'm still trying to take than in. Excalibur has 2 levels. Are these 2 full levels? Or just a few items that end up on another level? You could say Wynn has 2 levels, if you count the lake level, and main casino level. I'm hoping to be there in Dec also, have reservations currently booked, but I also have a few disasters working in my life, and either of which could derail my plans for a Dec Aria Opening trip.

August 11, 2009 10:42 AM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, it's not clear if the two levels are open to each other, ala Planet Hollywood, or if they are totally separate.

August 11, 2009 4:15 PM Posted by chrischerabie

First off, I've been a fan of this web blog for several years and I love the insider information you offer on Las Vegas resort design. I'm fascinated mainly because I am an architecture student and I love the rationale designers put into Las Vegas casinos. I am a huge Wynncore fan and I am really looking forward to visiting Aria in December. Keep up the great work and keep the information coming!

August 11, 2009 4:19 PM Posted by Georgeann

Does anyone really believe that Wynn had anything to do with the building of or design of the Bellagio? Makes me laugh to think of it. I can't imagine comparing Aria to the Wynncore, nor can I imagine anyone from MGM-Mirage checking out Wynncore to see what works there, when designing Aria.

August 11, 2009 4:24 PM Posted by Hunter

It is established fact that Steve Wynn was actively involved with the design and construction of Bellagio as he was head of then owner, Mirage Resorts, Inc working with internal design group Atlandia and some outside architects to create Bellagio.

As far as designers checking out Wynncore, I don't have any way to know for sure but based on the design, it seems reminiscent. Have you seen the designs and if so, why do you think I'm wrong?

Also, if you are a casino designer, don't you think it is logical to go and check out your competition to see what they are doing right (and wrong)?

Are you one of the people from the MGM board on Yahoo Finance? I've often questioned the sanity of many posters there.

August 11, 2009 5:16 PM Posted by GW

Sorry-I'm just too old school Vegas & know where too many bodies are buried. Yes - Encore & Wynn are reminiscent of Bellagio, and also the Golden Nugget...and no, actually I've never checked out the MGM board on Yahoo Finance... the MGM board on Google is almost more than I can bear.

August 11, 2009 5:31 PM Posted by NavinR

100% right, Hunter... Those message boards are as meaningful as that last comment!

August 11, 2009 5:49 PM Posted by John

"Also, if you are a casino designer, don't you think it is logical to go and check out your competition to see what they are doing right (and wrong)?"

Paging Mr. Adelson!

August 11, 2009 6:13 PM Posted by Brian Fey

We're are getting way off subject here, but trust me, the Yahoo MB are much worse than the Google ones. You at least get a few intelligent post on the Google one, I think only 6 year olds are aloud to post on Yahoo, at least that's what it would seem.

I'm a little shocked by Georgeann's comment regarding Wynn and his efforts on Bellagio. Anyone with any history and knowledge of Vegas at all, knows that Wynn spent substantial time designing and following each and every detail on Bellagio. I'm shocked that others question otherwise.

August 11, 2009 6:39 PM Posted by LeoNYC

Wow... I didn't mean to start to compare Wynn/Encore and Aria. All I said was that Aria will attract more people due to its novelty and location. Encore is seen by many (if not all) Wynn costumers as an addition to Wynn Las Vegas. And when people see it, they only think Encore is more of the same (with less brown, more red, and more sunlight), another tower added to the Wynn resorts. I love Wynn and Encore. Both together are the best resort in Las Vegas.
Hunter, and others who are Vegas experts: do you know if MGM will look Aria revenue separated from Vdara, Harmon, and the whole City Center. Or it will be all seeing as "one resort". Wynn added Encore to its quarter reports, but I'd love to see how Encore did by itself. It probably did very bad, and that's why I said Aria has the potential to do way better than Encore.

August 11, 2009 6:47 PM Posted by John

As a regular visitor to the hotels here in Vegas, I can honestly say that Bellagio is most certainly near the top, if not right at the top, of the list of easiest hotels to navigate. A testament to that shoddy design that Georgeann mentioned earlier.

Anyway, here's to hoping that Aria isn't a clutterfuck like Caesars is now. I feel like a lab rat moving around that place.

August 11, 2009 9:40 PM Posted by Hunter


Regarding your question about MGM will report financials for City Center - great question.

I don't know the answer but I would bet they will report it as one entity to serve their purposes - it lessens the (probably) poor performance from the non ARIA components.

We'll find out.

August 11, 2009 10:30 PM Posted by John

Not really related, by they occupy the same street: Hotel32 is open for business.

August 12, 2009 12:32 AM Posted by Doug

I'm with Hunter, I can't wait to try feeling is that it's going to be a spectacular 5-star hotel/casino( I noticed on your 'casino level' list there were 2 poker rooms - was that an error?).

On the other hand, why would anyone want to stay or gamble at Aria when they can walk across the street to Bally's and play 8-deck 6/5 blackjack?

August 12, 2009 8:07 AM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, the double poker room was an error. There's only one.

August 12, 2009 10:02 AM Posted by detroit1051

Regarding the two levels at ARIA, I always think the term "promenade level" means it's more like a balcony overlooking the main floor. Even if I'm wrong, the following quote from ARIA's website makes me believe the second level can't be a full floor. Part of it has to be open to permit natural light in the casino:
"When we designed our casino, we began by looking at things in a new light. Natural light, to be specific, which streams down onto the gaming floor in pools of illumination."
MGM Mirage is playing this close to the vest. I figured I could find some detailed information by Googling contractors and architectural firms, but no such luck.
Oh well, as the ARIA site points out, we'll know in 126 days, 10 hours.....

August 12, 2009 12:43 PM Posted by mike_ch

I noticed the other day that the MC/CC garage I explored the other day has entrance signage on Frank Sinatra. The "employee entrance" sign is the same font as the other new one over at Bellagio, but whereas Bellagio's is brown with an arch through the letters the CC one has white letters with orange rectangles "floating" in the air behind them, continuing with the orange on the side of many of the buildings.

I just thought it was interesting that the Bellagio and CityCenter (employee) garages are intended to compliment one another.

August 21, 2009 5:48 AM Posted by detroit1051

Three ARIA comments/questions:
If ARIA's smoke evacuation system works well, it'll be a big plus for us non-smokers:

The photo used on the Sky Suites site is much more appealing to me than the old one with orange upholstery.

Hunter, help me out. Is it ARIA or Aria? It's confusing to me to see the all caps ARIA intermixed with the lower case script Aria on the same site.

August 21, 2009 11:01 AM Posted by mike_ch

It's whichever you like. Even the site blends 'em, using all-caps in the text but of course the mixed case in the logo.

Unless you're running a blog and are making a big deal about caps and full titles in hopes that you'll look like legit press and be invited to openings and VIP events (who could possibly be doing that? :) there's no reason to get too worked up over it.

Regardless of whata highly-paid marketing firm wrote, almost everybody is going to write "Aria" because of the logo. I feel like if I'm going to write it in all caps it should at least be an acronym for something.

August 21, 2009 12:12 PM Posted by Hunter

The name on all the PR materials is 'ARIA' but as others have noted, 'Aria' is used in some places as well.

MGM Mirage officially calls it 'ARIA' at this point, though I wouldn't be surprised if that changed at some point.

August 21, 2009 2:36 PM Posted by Hunter


The way I spell things has nothing to do with 'trying to look like legit press' or to score invites to anything.

I care about that stuff because I care about that stuff. It's just the way that I am.


August 21, 2009 5:09 PM Posted by mike_ch

Hunter: I was just having fun, hence the smilie.

Hope you didn't take it too personally. I know that there was a bit of a high online after Encore in that so many, er, amateur press got a lot of access.

August 21, 2009 7:07 PM Posted by parchedearth

No mal intent, but I would like to interject that while the capitalization of Aria may seem trivial it is an interesting question. Especially for trademark purposes it could be significant. Speaking as an intellectual property attorney, MGM really needs to start being consistent with the usage for trademark purposes. Personally, I think it should be Aria (not ARIA) unless it is an acronym for something yet disclosed. I would guess they actually want to cover both, but really am not sure it is necessary.

August 21, 2009 7:08 PM Posted by Hunter

Personally, I hope they switch to 'Aria' as well. I'm not a fan of 'ARIA'.

August 23, 2009 9:45 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

As far as the Las Vegas Sun and In Business Las Vegas are concerned, we use the "Aria" spelling, foregoing the extra caps. After a few years of following the company's post-acquisition preference and calling the company "MGM MIRAGE," after I became business editor we switched to MGM Mirage. At the same time we dropped the capitalized "The" in front of "The Mirage," "The Venetian" and others, and in many cases (unless it sounds bad) dropped the "the" altogether.

September 1, 2009 11:13 AM Posted by Don

Has anyone heard anything about the Japanese restaurant MASA?

September 1, 2009 1:36 PM Posted by detroit1051

MASA: Only thing I've seen is the press release on the CityCenter site:

Light Group has a press release today describing its club, bars and restaurant as well as the ubiquitous "adult" pool:

November 9, 2009 1:03 PM Posted by Kenny

I think its really unfair to the Bellagio that Aria is using all of the chefs from the B to use as their own. (Jean Philippe Maury, Julian Serrano, and Sirio & Mario Maccioni). Its really un- creative and bland of Aria to do; They're basically coping their next door neighbors chefs. Also, will the chefs' older restaurants at the Bellagio go down in service? Quality of food?
(since their owners are opening more and more restaurants?)