This weekend, hoping to break a long set-in case of the burnout blues, I decided at the last minute to head to Las Vegas. Some friends would be in town, it sounded like fun. Hell, I might even get to see the president (I didn't).
Continue after the jump for the rantings and raving of a madman.
I chose to make Aria my home base, my last stay was for the grand opening in December 2009. The nightly rate was 50% of what Encore was asking and it seemed like a good idea to get a sense of how the place is doing. The opening was a bit rocky but that's to be expected the first weekend... Now, eight weeks in, had those glitches been ironed out?
Well, Chuckmonster was also experiencing his second Aria go-round (go read that first). The incident that he mentioned with the bartender and the cucumber, I was there, it was just one example of the what seemed to be standard operating behavior at Aria. He's been joking around with me recently about my mood, calling me 'Cranky Hunter', which I think's pretty fair - I have been pretty cranky recently and this trip didn't help. At all.
From a ten minute computer outage at check-in to keycards that didn't work to employees that wouldn't look me in the eye or say hello as they passed by in the hall to the ever present issue with the cell service... Yes, he talks about the cell problems in his piece as well... They were *infuriating*. My room was looking out over the main porte-cochere, perhaps worse than the Vdara side of the building - I had to lean my phone against the window to get text messages and even then, they were spotty. All weekend, I would get messages hours later - something that really sucks when you're all alone and the only hope you have of hooking up with your friends is based on actually being able to reach them. Also important to mention - your phone uses far more battery when it can't find a signal, as it boosts the radio in its search.
Honestly, if your business requires you to be available (doctors, sysadmins, big law firm fixers, dog whisperers, I'm looking at you), you just can't stay at Aria until this is fixed. You can't rely on any comms to work in the building reliably (ok, I hear Sprint and T-Mobile work but they are the two smallest US carriers). As Chuck mentions, the story seems to be that they just need to sort out contracts. I've heard it was 'coming next week' for several weeks so I'm starting to lose faith. This has gone on too long... way too long.
On Saturday, I walked the complex with atdleft, something I love doing with people to get their reactions. It was fun to see it all over again and it reminded me that there are some really beautiful parts of CityCenter. Seeing Aria shining in the setting sun is awesome - the building looks amazing. It's the stuff inside that isn't working. Fortunately, that means they can fix it (if they want to). Service wise, they built a 4,000+ room Mirage with Sky Suites bolted on.
One outside bit that seems ridiculous, check this photo out - this is the main outdoor thoroughfare into Aria if you're not walking through Crystals. Why wouldn't they clean this up so it didn't look like a construction site? Boggles the mind.
Some things were great - dinner at Julian Serrano was remarkable and we didn't have the service problems that Chuck mentioned (if anything, they were too attentive). Drinks at the Mandarin Bar, no doubt enhanced by the quality of the company, were a highlight. The pool area at Aria is very nicely done, they did a great job there as well.
One last complaint: little Johnny, if you grow up to run a room service department, don't tell me you're sending Pellegrino and then give me a junior junior sized bottle of Perrier. It will sour my mood for a whole weekend.