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June 21-23: A quickie at the ASS

Last edit: HedgedBettor on Sunday, 1st July 2012 7:23 pm
Last response by HedgedBettor 5th July 10:36am

This is a report about a short trip staying in the Aria Sky Suites. What did you think I was writing about?

1) After a few days to think about it, I'm not totally sure what to make of the Sky Suites. First of all, if you're booking a standard Aria Suite don't expect the gorgeous room from Blackjacker's review on VT - that's a 1-bedroom Penthouse, not an Aria Suite (fortunately I had already realized this). So what is an Aria Suite? Basically its a normal entry-level suite, similar to a Bellagio Suite for example, plus a complimentary limo transfer to and from the airport (see my comment below for my bitch session about the limo transfer that I didn't want to dominate the review because its a one-off) and the usual benefits of Aria, like the extra in-room technology and the access to my favorite casino in town. What it isn't is a MGM Skyloft (despite the similarity of the name) or a Wynn Tower Suites room - there is no special service worth mentioning. That's not the end of the world, but it begs the question of why the Sky Suites are in a "hotel within a hotel." Other than a separate checkin area (not a huge deal if you're a MLife Gold or higher member and get invited checkin) and a separate elevator bank (frankly less conveniently located than the main bank, though on the positive side I met a player from my beloved Arsenal FC in the elevators!) I saw very few reasons to stay in Sky Suite as opposed to a Corner Suite. (To their credit, the Aria realizes this too - the price differential between the two rooms is minimal)

Of course, a basic suite in the Aria is still really nice. The bathroom is enormous, if poorly laid out (the shower stall in particular is too small), the Aria bed is still wonderful (much nicer than at the Mandarin - no, I am not making that up), and the fully separate living room area is tastefully furnished and has a real fridge in it, which is awesome. All in all it was a great place to stay.

2) My wife and I ate at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, which is a truly amazing restaurant. Just as an example, my "Spring in Oregon" appetizer consisted of four separate plates that were each wonderful - basically ordering a la carte was like ordering from a tasting menu at most restaurants except with more control (this is a great idea). But its the execution thats spot-on - its New French at its finest. And its not even that expensive - if you avoided wine you could do dinner for 2 sub $300 easily enough, and consider that vs how much you blow at the blackjack table in an hour. The food here is so good that my wife, who refuses to eat seafood anywhere under any circumstances, devoured the tuna tartare that came with her 4-part appetizer and praised it to the heavens. Why isn't this restaurant more crowded? Its doing better than Alex was in the last few meals I had before it was murdered by Marilyn Spiegel, but still has too many empty tables for comfort.

We did my beloved Craftsteak on Saturday night, but I have to sa that was a bit of a disappointment. Meats and sides were all solid but not as spectacular as meals I've had there in the past.

I don't understand the flak that Cafe Vettro gets on this site - having now eaten there a few times I think its one of the best coffee shops in Vegas.

One of my favorite things about Aria is the conveniently located and delicious Jean-Phillippe Patisserie, but they need to staff it better in the morning rush hours. It took 30 minutes to get our breakfast on Saturday morning.

3) It was a volatile trip of gambling - I was solidly up after a Thursday post-night-flight arrival session, treaded water Friday before getting thumped back to flat Friday night and then got beaten badly in the first part of the night playing blackjack at MGM and NYNY before staging a furious rally in the Monte Carlo high limit room (I was pressing winning bets to the point where the pit boss started asking for my host and whether I was staying at MC, clearly intending to call me in for a suite upgrade) and the Mix Lounge at Aria (I was hoping to play blackjack with my buddy and maybe meet some attractive females, but I lasted less than one shoe because I was winning but found the room terrible with a bad crowd and bottom-of-the-barrel club music). The coup de grace was that, on the way back to the elevators, I dropped into the Aria high limit room (the only place in the casino that has a single-zero roulette wheel, which isn't ideal) and put $200 of my winnings on my favorite numbers on the roulette wheel, 4 and 7 (100 each). One spin only, my buddy mentions how 7 should be lucky, and while I'm reminding him of the 47 story the ball drops into 7! Thats just about the best way to cap a rally.

4) The Aria Spa is really poor. I'm not a fan of the hot tub setup, but what ruined it completely was pounding bass from the Liquid pool party in the spa. I'm not all about the "spa lifestyle" BS they all spout, but that music really prevented me from enjoying myself in the spa area.

All in all a pretty great trip for such a quickie.

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 RateVegas responded on Sunday, 1st July 2012

Yes, the Aria spa is really poor. Considering it opened after the Encore spa it's amazing that one is like Tiffany to the other's Costco.

responded on Monday, 2nd July 2012

So glad you enjoyed Twist, Hedged. It is extraordinary. Can't wait to eat there again someday.

 Malibugolfer responded on Monday, 2nd July 2012

I very much look forward to your impressions of your visits, thanks for writing.
I've stayed in the ASS 3 times now and would concur with your takes with a couple caveats.
The 1 br's that end in 001 are corner units and much superior floor plans to the interior suites like 022. As a many many time WynnCore visitor I'd say the 001's are far superior to any standard Wynn or Encore TS room and also a Wynn Executive. In keeping with your title nomenclature, one has to love the ASS toilets with their heated seats and dual bidet functions. Don't know why they'd do that and not a bigger shower. Those toilets retail for $6000.
As one who drives from the LA area, the limo is only a benefit to my son when he flies in to meet for golf. Ditto the separate entrance. Nothing compares to Wynn TS valet IMO though.
There was a single zero on the Aria floor when I was there 6 weeks ago. $25.
Aria has the best options and games of any LV Casino.
I did run into 3 servers at Aria restaurants who knew me from Wynn. They left because they have a better deal there. Marliyn, are you listening? Do you care?
Noth Valet is the way to go there BTW.

 HedgedBettor replied on Tuesday, 3rd July 2012

How did I forget the most important "complaint"! This is more a complaint about all hotels everywhere rather than Aria, but its doubly important here - how could you put in a friggin Toto Washlet, the Ferrari of toilets, and put awful scratchy single-ply TP next to it? Like filling your Ferrari with cooking oil. But the heated seat is heavenly and a great idea

 blackjacker1979 responded on Monday, 2nd July 2012

Nice trip summary. Which Arsenal player did you meet?

 HedgedBettor replied on Tuesday, 3rd July 2012

The backup striker Chamakh, who is almost certainly on his way out... - I introduced myself, it was definitely unique!

 LAvegasphile responded on Monday, 2nd July 2012

Wasn't Blackjacker's review of a Panoramic Corner suite and not a one bedroom? That's the room I had a lurrrrrved it; 12311.

 HedgedBettor responded on Tuesday, 3rd July 2012

Also, the rant that I wanted to keep separate from the main trip report - the Aria limo pickup at the airport that comes complimentary with a Sky Suite was a total dud. The driver wasn't at baggage claim like they said he would be, and after looking around for a couple minutes and not finding him we stalked off to the McCarran cab line. When we were finally at the front of the line and stepping into our cab the Aria transport people called to find us - I asked why they hadnt called earlier and they said their policy was to not call until 30 minutes after the plane had landed!! Thats the dumbest policy in world history. Whenever a real transportation company picks you up they call while you are still in-flight and leave a voicemail confirming your pickup. After I took the cab to the Aria I kvetched about this to the lady at the checkin desk, who just stood there stammering out apologies - the woman next to her had to intervene to point out that she could either offer me another ride later in the trip or give me a $50 refund for the limo. It was remarkably poorly handled by them and did not produce a great first impression.

Having said that, its really a one-off I'd assume, it was a pain for me but probably isn't a fair way to judge how good the Sky Suites actually are

 Malibugolfer replied on Tuesday, 3rd July 2012

HB, my son has been picked up 3 times and they've been right there. He said, in keeping with their techy theme, they now have i-pads with the name on an Aria background. He thought it was pretty classy.
So it seems like it was a one-off.
Ditto on the t.p.
And man, all those panel lights at night make it seem like one is in the Enterprise. My wife just had to put the ironing board over the panel in our Wynn Salon bedroom but no way at Aria. Bath, hallway, bedroom...they're everywhere.

 Skywise responded on Tuesday, 3rd July 2012

"You said Whut Whut in the ASS?"

Are the blackjack rules better at the Aria? I'm headed up in a few weeks and usually play at the Bellagio/Ballys for BJ but everyone seems to rave on here about Aria's casino.

 Malibugolfer replied on Tuesday, 3rd July 2012

Skywise, as you probably know, the table games and their limits can shift dramatically due to occupancy or house whim.
That said, Aria consistently has the most s17 games at the best bet minimums. I have seen s17 double deck at $25 at times on the casino floor.
Bellagio also has good options but take care to note the 2 pits on each side of the interstate highway of tourists and their strollers are no longer both s17. One is now h17. But still good choices, especially for the B, if you need green chip levels.
Forget Bally's, I wouldn't walk in there for blackjack.

 HedgedBettor replied on Thursday, 5th July 2012

I agree with everything Malibugolfer said, and I would add that Aria is, alongside MGM Grand, the best casino for the mid-to-high-mid limit player to play in. First of all, Aria manages to have one of the largest casino floors in Vegas (basically the same size as MGM) while keeping all of the good blackjack clustered in one easily accessible area (right by the rear entrance, the craps pit the coffeeshop, the convenience store, the elevators and the high limit area). But its not just the size and location of the main-floor blackjack tables with good rules - its that they don't let the minimums get too high. Bellagio and the Wynn properties tend to have a bunch of tables at $500+ minimums whereas I've never seen a minimum above $100 on the Aria floor - a huge boon to players who play $100 blackjack. Furthermore, even at prime time there are almost always seats available at a $50 table with optimal rules (S17 RSA DAS LS etc); outside of prime time there are plenty of seats at $25 on those rules. For lower limit players its like the other MGM properties - a decent selection of H17 games, no 6-5 to be found anywhere.