Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

December 8, 2009

More Time Inside CityCenter's ARIA

Posted by Hunter

I got a second chance to check out part of CityCenter's ARIA last week - I figured this would be a good time to share some of those thoughts.

The 4,004 room resort is the centerpiece of the project, including the only gaming space in the complex.

Continue after the jump for some additional thoughts...

Instead of a massively long piece like last time, I'm going to keep this one short and focus on discrete thoughts, in no particular order.

Sweet Chill

The upstairs ice-cream joint has decor reminiscent of a Baskin Robbins inside the Wonka Factory. Funky colors and those bucket plastic chairs you'd find at an amusement park. As my tour partner suggested, this seems a likely candidate for re-design in the future. Odd looking.


Saw just a sliver of this massive area but what I did see looked very encouraging. Large blocks of cut stone, similar to the design of Sensi at Bellagio, line the hallway. It looks very neat.


There are restaurants spread all over the property but the three that I didn't get to see last time were the fine dining outlets on the second floor - Sirio, Jean-Georges Steakhouse and American Fish. These all look like solid contenders for my dollars but one thing I saw surprised me a bit. A restaurant design that I'm not particularly fond of has the front wall partially open - sometimes to a casino (think Brand at Monte Carlo or FIX at Bellagio) but in the case of two of the above, to the central lobby area. I think that's a little odd for fine dining - less private than I would have expected.

Downstairs, the BarMasa/Shaboo combo have a huge decorative staircase right at the front door, going all the way to the ceiling. Hard to describe but a neat design flourish. One unfortunate byproduct - the view from this joint, certainly not a cheap date, is of the slate grey Cosmopolitan sidewall. Ugh.


One thing I was very curious about that I didn't see on my first tour were the guest rooms. We headed up to the 'South Tower' and into one of the standard rooms. My first stop was something I had a question about since I saw the floor-plan months ago - the bathroom. As you may know, the bathtub and shower are arranged so that you have to step through the former to reach the latter. A little odd sounding but in practice, it seems fine. As we already know, the rooms aren't huge - about the same size as Bellagio, though without the huge furniture taking up all the space. I checked out the bed - it was wrapped in plastic but seemed comfy.


You may recall that in my last report, I was a little down on the casino. I think I can say now that it is growing on me. I saw a few things in more detail this time - the Deuce Lounge, all of the high limit and private gaming areas and the rest of the sports book. Some parts of the casinos are pretty dark but there are some areas close enough to the doors to be naturally lit.

The high limit baccarat games and the private gaming rooms are nestled back in the far corner - the path winds a bit with small salons on either side. There didn't appear to be any windows or natural light in these rooms.

Bus Lobby

I only mention this because the Bellagio bus lobby includes the same attention the rest of the building got. Not so at ARIA - looks like an underground mall parking lot.

Back of House

If you enjoy seeing how things work, there's more of it here at ARIA than any other facility I've toured. Multiple levels underground connect to parking garages, valet areas and HUGE storerooms. Between recycling and on-site rendering, they are re-using a lot of the waste materials inside the resort. One interesting note - unlike the other MGM properties in Las Vegas, CityCenter has its own data center operations onsite which would make any future separation or bankruptcy sale much easier to handle (the rest of MGM's properties all share a Bellagio data center if I recall, with a backup at TI).


One thing I hadn't noticed last time was placement of escalators between levels - do not fear, they are all over the place. Moving between levels should be relatively easy.

That's it for now. As always, happy to answer questions if anyone has any.


Read archived comments (16 so far)
December 8, 2009 6:11 PM Posted by mike_ch

I much prefer open to lobby than open to casino. For one thing, the lobby is a non-smoking area.

Did MGM still keep their backup at TI after selling to Ruffin? Figured they would move it to Mirage if at all possible. For the longest time they kept the Mandalay groups' electronics in the same room that Mandalay did (a glass door on the south end of the Luxor parking garage bridge, previously with a plaque that said "Mandalay Resort Group I.T."), until they were able to consolidate that into their present facility.

How are they meeting ADA standards in regards to these multiple levels? Are they going to simply use the room elevators and let Just Anybody use them (maybe a keycard check to access room floors if they want security)? I've never liked the method of having someone fart around outside the elevator lobby and hassle everyone for their keys.

December 8, 2009 6:20 PM Posted by Hunter

As far as I know, they do still have shared IT with TI - they technically still run it for Ruffin at the moment, IIRC. That will change at some point in the not-too-distant future.

As for the multiple levels, there are two public floors, the casino and promenade levels - both have elevators, stairs and escalators. They're pretty well served.

December 8, 2009 7:32 PM Posted by Phil

2 questions:

Does the fountain do anything beyond what that video showed a few topics back? Other than a change of colors, it doesn't seem to be a dancing waters type of fountain that constantly changes how the water flows. Given it was explained that MGM owns the rights to this new WET design application for a few years, I assumed it was more than just the lighting that was unique. I'm sure it looks nicer in person, but I assumed it did more that what the video shows.

The 2nd question is not relevant or important to many outside of car club guys in Vegas and I'm not sure we'll know the answer to this one until CC is fully open. Does it appear that there is a separate parking spaces for parking under the porte cocheres instead of underground valet? Not a big deal to most, but is to the various car clubs in Vegas. All club members are aware of what hotels they can park at and which ones they can't (valets claim insurance doesn't allow it), meaning the car owners wish to park their car themselves under the porte cocheres and keep their own keys rather than it being driven by the valet into the ungerground valet parking garage. The reasons are 3 fold: #1. we don't trust the valets, the horror stories of Vegas valets are a mile long (think Ferris Bueller movie and its more realistic than you would think) #2. the angle of the ramps scrape low stanced front bumpers causing damages if the valet drives too fast #3. some guys prefer the porte cochere spaces as valet employees are present to keep an eye on the car. Sure you have arrogant guys who play big shot to show off their car out front with a blond bimbo around their arm, but the overwhelming majority of true car guys I speak to in Vegas just want to protect the car they busted their ass to buy. In my 30 plus years of going to Vegas and having a 2nd home here with a toy in the garage, things like this have changed. All casinos back in the day it never was an issue, thats until corporate policies moved in.

December 8, 2009 7:42 PM Posted by Hunter

On question one - I still haven't seen the fountain in person, just the videos on YouTube. It's supposed to look like a bit of a fireball type thing. The video I saw was impressive and I'm looking forward to a real performance. In addition to the fountain, there are large rock walls along the porte-cochere that have water running down them. Very pretty.

On the second question - you're right, I really have no idea... but I think it's a fascinating ask. I did stand in the underground valet parking area at ARIA (right now it's full of storage - stuff that will be going into guest rooms and restaurants over the next few days). Let us know what you find out about this - I'm very curious.

December 8, 2009 9:18 PM Posted by bklyn2la

I am curious to know if the doors to the guestrooms is like the Mirage (really loud) or not. I really hate when you are awakened by slamming doors and always found this a huge flaw at several hotels. I have a reservation at Aria for mid January, have they said if all the restaurants will be open by then? Still debating if we should keep this reservation or switch back to the Wynn and wait until Aria works the kinks out. Thank you for all your great information Hunter, love reading your updates.

December 8, 2009 9:38 PM Posted by Hunter

It's funny you mention the doors - I noticed they were pretty heavy but since I really didn't want to mess up a brand new hotel, I closed them super-gingerly. I can't tell you if they make a loud noise or not.

I've been told that all of the restaurants open next week.

December 8, 2009 10:20 PM Posted by mike_ch

Wait, huh? People want to self park in a garage that isn't the self park garage? For no other reason than that their car costs more money than the hoi polloi?

Isn't this one of those "people in hell want ice water" kinds of things?

December 9, 2009 12:15 AM Posted by Mike E

Regarding the idea of having to step through a bathtub to get into the shower, it may seem like an odd configuration, but I think it's a great, logical idea. One of my pet peeves with hotels that have a separate shower and tub is a wet tile floor that, despite using a mat, inevitably occurs after a shower or bath. Assuming a towel rack is within easy reach, you can use the shower and dry yourself off in the tub (or vice versa) without making a mess.

December 9, 2009 10:41 AM Posted by parchedearth

MGM announced PennyMac will handle mortgage financing for CC units. Does anyone know if this company is even reputable? It would be interesting to know what assurances MGM is providing to PennyMac in exchange for financing units that are instantly underwater.

The rennovated Andre's at MC had the bar open to the casino floor and it was so noisy in the restaurant they have now installed a glass wall. Missed details like this can kill a restaurant.

December 9, 2009 1:59 PM Posted by kage


max financing = 50%

(20% downpayment, 30% price reduction)

related - anyone figured out the addresses yet, to use for assessment database?

December 9, 2009 3:07 PM Posted by Hunter

Not sure.

ARIA is 3700 Las Vegas Blvd. S LV, NV 89109

December 9, 2009 5:09 PM Posted by Marios

Hey does anyone know if Aria includes a t.v in the bathroom for the standard rooms, because it seems kind of weird if it does not since most luxury hotels in vegas do like Wynn, Encore, Palazzo, Venetian, The Hotel, even Mandalay Bay.

December 9, 2009 5:25 PM Posted by Hunter

Sorry - I can't remember.

December 10, 2009 11:55 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Dear Mr. _ch
Hot cars and hot women are two of the things that help make Las Vegas the most exciting city in the world. I always rent a car when we go to Las Vegas, and valet almost every time. It is extremely common for the waiting area nearest the vehicle pick up to have the nicest and most exotic cars. This is done for two reasons; so the employees can keep an eye on them to prevent theft and vandalism, and so the customers can lust in an acceptable and safe manner. This is part of what Steve Wynn alluded to when he made the statement about how bad a dead porte cochere can be for a hotel or casino.
Having worked on older and exotic cars for 30 years, I can assure you that they can be just as moody and difficult as any beautiful woman. How to start and put them in reverse are a couple things that can vary greatly and have a miserable outcome if one isn't paying attention. I am speaking from (costly) experience. This is part of why the car owner would like to park it themself, if possible. I would assume that (for the proper compensation) this could done most of the time, depending on time of day and who holds the keys.

December 11, 2009 4:50 AM Posted by detroit1051

Bloomberg has an interesting review of CityCenter's architecture. The following sentence is the author's summary, but he is actually very positive on Aria.
"Viewed from the Strip, this architectural bouquet never forms a crisp, readable ensemble. Instead the massive towers elbow each other impolitely. "

February 20, 2010 5:28 PM Posted by Jesse Bergeron

The main reason most Exotic cars or any cars for that matter are kept up front, is that they tipped really well coming in.. They dont want to wait in line for 30 to 45 mins on a club night to get there car. $20 and upwards for a tip to the valet on the drive is most accepted, and will most likely be held up front. Regulars that come in almost every night will usually get good spots. I have a friend in Valet and he said they will keep pretty much anything up at the "Door Spot" if they drop a good tip. Vegas runs off of tips. Take care of people on the way in, you get a good response on the outcome of convenience for your wait for your vehicle.. Even $10 will get you a "First up". Meaning, if there are 30 people in line, yours gets bumped to the top. Its about the dollars, frequents visitors and executives that get the good spots. If a guy in a Lamborghini parks his car with Valet, and doesnt tip on the way in, believe me, it gets parked. Even if he tips the average $3 to $5 tip up front. It will get parked.