My stay at THEhotel (parts 2 and 3 of this series) was on a Thursday night, which is why the rate was so low. In general, Tuesday-Thursday nights in Las Vegas are the cheapest, while Saturday night is the most expensive. My plan was to only spend two nights in Vegas so I could fly back home Saturday evening and not have to pay the expensive Saturday night rate, but that left me in need of a Friday night room that I knew wasn’t going to be cheap.
- Caesar’s Palace – Palace Tower Room
- THEhotel – Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) Rate
- THEhotel – Amex FHR Breakfast and Bathhouse Spa
- Aria Resort & Casino – Deluxe King Room
- The Palazzo – Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) Rate
- The Mirage – Resort Queen Room
- New York-New York Las Vegas Review
I proceeded to go through my normal routine when looking for a hotel. I first checked Kayak to get a general sense of how much each hotel would cost, and then cross-checked the ones I was interested in against Vegas.com. Prices were a little high for my liking, especially at some of the hotels I was interested in staying at. I wanted to stay at Aria in particular, and the price was $158 plus taxes and fees.
There aren’t too many other options to find a place to stay, and my last option was to check my Mlife Players Club account for special offers. If you’re unfamiliar with Las Vegas, many hotels have “alliances” (or are owned by the same group), and they have a loyalty program that they call a Players Club. These loyalty programs don’t get you very much in most cases unless you’re a big gambler or very frequent visitor, but occasionally there are some great and useful offers (wait until part 6 of this series). Signing up for Players Clubs is free, so you should definitely sign up for all of them.
Mlife is the loyalty program of MGM resorts, which include Aria, Bellagio, Vdara, MGM Grand, The Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Luxor, Excalibur, and Circus Circus. That’s pretty much half the strip, so it’s definitely worth signing up for!
I wanted to stick with MGM for two reasons: 1) I’d already been collecting Mlife points; 2) As I wrote about in this post (which was written when no one knew about Travel Summary), Amex was giving 5 points/dollar for all charges to MGM hotels!
I logged in to my Mlife account to see what my “Featured Offers” were. There are always offers, but they’re not always particularly great. There are exceptions, however, like when I wrote about how I got free nights on one of my trips. Unfortunately there were no free night offers, but I did see a reduced rate offer that I could get excited about:
Now we’re talking! Possibly as cheap as $80 a night plus $60 for free slot machine use…no brainer! I gave them a call to see what the rate was (note that it said from $80 per night), and sure enough the rate was more expensive at $109/night. That was still $50 cheaper than the alternative and I’d also get $60 to play with, so I jumped on it.
I headed to Aria after my (very) late checkout at THEhotel and went straight to the front desk. There’s a couple of things about Aria that’s a little different than some of the other big Casinos on the strip. First and foremost, the smell. Some people hate it, but most people really love it (I’m more in the latter group). In fact, they actually sell the scent in what are called Aria Scent Sticks – you can buy at the gift shop in the lobby or online.
The second thing you’ll notice is the size of the casino. It’s relatively small in comparison to the other mega-hotels in Vegas, but it’s still a walk to get from one end to the other. The front desk is of course on the opposite end of the self-parking lot, forcing you to walk through the entire casino to get there (this is a common theme in Vegas). The check-in line seemed short but took about 20 minutes to get through, even though it was fully staffed on the Friday. Check-in went smoothly and I got the RFID key (standard for all rooms here) to my Deluxe King Room, which is what Aria calls their standard rooms.
One annoyance I have with most Vegas hotels is the sheer size of them. My room was almost at the very end of the hallway, and these are some looooong hallways. It felt like I’d walked half a mile from the elevator just to get to my room! But after a few water breaks I eventually made it there.
As you can see, the room is not particularly big…especially compared to the suites at THEhotel. The furnishings are relatively standard but everything looked new and modern. I have only one complaint with regards to the room: the pillows. These are the worst pillows I have ever slept on (slight exaggeration). This was actually my second time staying at this hotel, and the pillows were a problem for me both times. These pillows are too damn fluffy! Most luxury hotels have down-filled pillows that are very comfortable, but these are big, fiber-filled pillows that I find to be very uncomfortable.
I generally prefer a flatter pillow so this was particularly annoying. It actually was so bad that I had to create my own ghetto-pillow using my jacket!
Aside from that, one thing was very apparent: this room is very technologically advanced compared to other Vegas hotels. There was a button for almost everything in the room, and most things could be controlled by a bedside, touch-screen remote.
That 7″ wireless remote really did control almost everything in the room (and beyond). It controlled the TV, the curtains, the lights, the temperature, the alarm clock (or wake-up call), music, and more. And when I say it controlled the lights, I don’t mean just on or off. I mean that each light could be controlled individually right from that console. The only downer to it was that it was a little big (it has about 6 inches in depth behind that screen), but it wasn’t heavy. All this control was cool to have and I enjoyed the novelty of it, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d pay extra to have.
Unfortunately there was one button in the room that did not work, and it was kind of an important button: the one that reads “Do Not Disturb.” Every time I pressed it, it turned on only for 10 seconds or so before turning off again. I didn’t realize this when I initially entered to the room, and when I came back later at night I found that I received turn-down service. The turn-down service was great and the bathroom slippers were actually pretty nice, but I had all my stuff out in the open in my room (including my computer) since I didn’t expect anyone to come in. Thankfully everything was still there when I got back. Before I went to bed, I made sure to write a hand-written “Do Not Disturb” sign and stick it to my door to make sure my sleep wasn’t interrupted in the morning!
I’ll note that this hotel has over 4,000 rooms (!) and is the largest hotel to earn LEED Gold certification (who said Wikipedia wasn’t useful?). There’s a lot of other technology built in to the room to help reduce energy consumption and costs, and you can bet that it was expensive to do so. The hotel also notes that it’s the only hotel in Vegas in which all rooms have corner-view windows. That’s kind of misleading though since the corner part is really only about a foot wide.
The bathroom here was about half the size (or less) than the one at THEhotel, but it was by no means small. It had dual sinks, a separate water closet/toilet area, and both a shower and tub – there’s really not much more you need in a bathroom. The tub here also did not have jacuzzi-style jets which was a bit of a bummer (apparently jets are a big deal for me), but the tub itself was huge. Bath amenities were Aria-branded but seemed pretty nice when I used them, and the bath towels and robe were particularly comfortable. The only real gripe I had about the bathroom was the water pressure in the shower, which was pretty low. I assume the low pressure was part of their goal to reduce energy consumption.
On Saturday morning I called the front desk to ask for late checkout, which can be hit or miss on the weekend. I was granted free late checkout until 1pm, which was just an extra hour of time but still useful to me. I could have paid extra for several more hours if I needed it. The checkout process was relatively easy downstairs (note that I could have done it from my TV as well), and I left for the airport after having lunch off the strip.
So would I stay here again? Maybe, if it was cheaper than the other hotels in the area. The pillows are really a big annoyance to me, and the broken “Do Not Disturb” sign and unwanted turn-down service were slight negatives, but they didn’t ruin my stay. The thing is, Aria and the rest of CityCenter is smack in the middle of the strip and are walking distance to nearly everything you’d want to see on the strip, so it’s a great location. At the same time, it’s one of the newest properties (built in 2009) and you pay for all that fancy technology and the location. I’d much rather stay at THEhotel if I could get the FHR rate, and might even pay a slight premium for it considering all the extra benefits.
Next in line is my review of Palazzo on the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts rate!