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Yet Another Trip Report (ARIA/M Resort/Others, Sept 3 to 17th)

Last edit: StudiodeKadent on Wednesday, 3rd October 2012 5:48 am
Last response by StudiodeKadent 5th October 9:12pm

WARNING: Trip report contains some (gasp) dirty words. If you can't handle those please do not read. Let's hope the following isn't too offensive for Chuck...


Another Vegas trip, and a win of 100 units (YAAAAY!!!!). So, on to my trip report in my typical property-by-property format!

My Vegas home base retains the title of my favorite place. Why? In room tech porn, architecture porn, convenient location (for me), great restaurants with great service (Sage and Julian Serrano are must-visits on every trip, Lemongrass is good too), and an atmosphere I really enjoy. Jean-Philipe Patisserie is indulgent as living hell, the casino is great and I know the dealers and pit crew far too well.

Problem is they've installed hand sensors in the tables (to track the number of hands played). The system they use is far too intrusive and difficult, the pit crew and dealers and players hate it, and at times it malfunctions. Aria should get rid of it entirely; the system at the MGM Grand (which doesn't track hands played, but allows electronic data entry via touchscreen) is far less intrusive and less penny-pinching.

Another problem is that the bars at Aria, whilst competent, are all a bit generic and unexciting. The staff at Bar Moderno and Carta Privada are great, I should emphasize, but its just the bars as places to hang out seem rather dull compared to the bars at Cosmo or Bellagio (that said, I've had stunning service at Carta Privada so I like that place).

But as an overall package, Aria is still fantastic and my favorite place to spend time. The more laid-back vibe (compared to other casinos) and the high-tech hypermodernism simply make this place my kind of joint to hang out.

If there is one underwhelming restaurant, it is probably BarMasa. This is a shame, because it is the priciest restaurant in Aria, yet apart from the sushi and the fried chicken (so...juicy...) I was underwhelmed. Perhaps it is just Chef Masa's ultra-minimalist cooking style which doesn't really gel with me... that, plus the new Tetsu teppanyaki restaurant-within-a-restaurant seems to be pinching inspiration from Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (aka Nobu) with the use of a lot of Jalapenos... that said, the service here is still very impressive.

+ Technology and architecture porn in hotel format
+ Perhaps its because I've had a multi-year relationship with the place, but a lot of the staff remember me and I get really good service as a result
+ Casino has reasonable conditions and great dealers, pit crew and atmosphere
+ Great restaurants

- Bars can be a touch bland
- Goddamn hand sensors in the freakin' blackjack tables
- Barmasa's food could be better

Suggestions For Improvement
1) Remove the hand sensors immediately, they cost more than they save and they annoy the staff and players
2) Try to give the bars a bit more product differentiation between themselves

What can I say? This place is a classic and won't be going out of style any time soon. I've always loved the Bellagio. Olives is fantastic, and Le Cirque has excellent service (and impressive but not OH MY GOD AMAZING food, but still good and did I mention the service was excellent?). Good blackjack conditions with $25 minimums readily avaliable, too. Petrossian and the Baccarat Bar are nice bars, Hyde Lounge is a very good lounge and hasn't resulted in Bellagio being overrun with douchebags (thankfully), and Lily (whilst even more expensive than Hyde, shockingly enough) has a very good cocktail list I enjoyed drinking my way through (they really put effort into the presentation and garnishes for the cocktails).

I also saw O. This was pretty much the first Cirque show I've seen where the clowns were genuinely funny rather than annoying. It was impressive and very enjoyable, but I must admit I wasn't totally blown away by it; perhaps it is because I wasn't so close to the stage. However, it clearly is a good show (although some might argue overpriced... I'm tempted to partly agree, especially given how Absinthe at Caesars was IMO much more entertaining (if a bit less highbrow but that's part of the fun) and much less expensive).

+ The place still has stunning atmosphere
+ Good casino with great dealers
+ Petrossian, Hyde and Baccarat Bar are all great places to chill out
+ Good restaurant selection

- Lily, whilst impressive, is overpriced

Suggestions For Improvement
1) Lily's prices should be in line with Hyde's, at least (especially since Hyde has the better location/view/ambience)

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 StudiodeKadent responded on Wednesday, 3rd October 2012

Interesting.... this part of the trip report keeps getting cut off. Maybe its being pre-screened for excessive offensiveness. Please advise.

 Chuckmonster replied on Wednesday, 3rd October 2012

probably just too long.

 Blakjackkid responded on Wednesday, 3rd October 2012

Lily is much better than Caramel was. Looking forward to having drinks there on my next trip!

 Malibugolfer responded on Wednesday, 3rd October 2012

Can you try posting as a new entry "part two?"
Enjoy your insights.

 SalSagev replied on Thursday, 4th October 2012


 StudiodeKadent replied on Friday, 5th October 2012


Thanks! Have posted part 2 and part 3 below.

 StudiodeKadent responded on Wednesday, 3rd October 2012

For some reason, I can't post anything beyond the first part of my MGM Grand review. Chuck, can you assist me with this?

 jinx73 replied on Thursday, 4th October 2012

As Chuck mentioned, possibly too long, or sometimes characters used in the word processor don't translate well over to certain forums, you might want to check that out too.

 DeucesWild responded on Thursday, 4th October 2012

WTF are these hand sensors you experienced at Aria? Is this like the technology they had at the Flamingo a while ago that told the dealers when to shuffle up early?

 StudiodeKadent replied on Friday, 5th October 2012

No. It doesn't track the shoe's true count. It only tracks the number of hands played.

 StudiodeKadent responded on Friday, 5th October 2012

[PART 2!]
The new carpet works in context, but what really matters here is that I had the best winning streak since my first Vegas vacation (thanks, Del!). The drink service is still quicker than you'd expect, and L'atelier de Joel Robouchon is utterly fantastic food-wise (Emerils is nice too, and Fiamma is pretty tasty!). L'atelier was my best meal of the trip, IMO (also they remembered me from two years back so the service was really impressive there).

They still have a less-than $25 S17 blackjack table, although the cards are ASM-shuffled.

Interestingly, I didn't see a single CSM; former CSM blackjack pits seem to be going to 8 deck shoes instead.

+ Great value table games
+ Excellent restaurant variety and selection
+ Renovations are going well

- At present the renovations are somewhat disruptive

Suggestions For Improvement
1) Keep that less-than $25 S17 BJ table right where it is, and don't remove it.

My usual visit to Scarpetta was supplemented with a visit to STK, and OH MY FUCKING GOD the food at STK is nice. Their steak tartare is packed with black truffles (yummy), and their parmesan truffle fries are the food equivalent of hardcore pornography. Oh yes, yes, YES.

The gambling conditions are the same as they were last time, but apart from the fact the minimums in the Talon Club seem to be jacked up somewhat (although I did see a $50 Midi Baccarat table in the ground floor high limit area!), they now pay 6:5 on all main floor double deck games.

The food is better than sex, the quirky-alternative atmosphere is great, the cocktail bars are stunning (Vesper is awesome, as is the Chandelier), but the gambling still sucks monkey testicles.

+ The food is orgasmic
+ The cocktails are wonderful

- The gambling is Chihuaua excrement

Suggestions For Improvement
1) Gambling conditions on par with Aria and Bellagio, please! No more 6:5 Double Deck!!

 StudiodeKadent responded on Friday, 5th October 2012

I didn't stay here but I hate the place. It is The Venetian with no irony, worse gambling, and nothing really good about it (one dishonorable mention must be made about the Pussy Cat Dolls Pleasure Pit; the worst blackjack in Vegas! Talk about getting fucked by the Pussy Cat Dolls).

With one exception.

Absinthe. I saw it. It was brilliant. A savage, irreverent satire of Cirque shows, with heaps of filthy and depraved comedy (I've never heard a more graphic description of oral sex in my life!). The acrobatics were amazing, especially since you're so close and can see the strain that the performers are under. This show is the funniest thing I've seen in Vegas since Penn & Teller, and I'd say it is the best show on the Strip (out of what I've seen).

Come for Absinthe. Ignore the rest.

+ Absinthe

- The decor is not even good bad taste. It is bad bad taste
- Abysmal gambling
- Surly dealers outside of the Palace Court and main (circular) pit areas

Suggestions For Improvement
1) Kill (metaphorically!) the Pussy Cat Dolls
2) Implode everything that isn't Absinthe

This is the big disappointment of the trip; the M Resort is going downhill.

They've abolished the $5 Happy Hour and they've lessened the range of booze at the M Bar (no more Peanut Butter Rum, therefore no more Peanut Butter Cup Martinis!!! AAAAARGH!!! And they've shortened the cocktail list generally). They now want $50 per hand for Macau-style (player handles cards, i.e. midi) Baccarat. And they got rid of the single-zero roulette wheel and replaced it with "Double Action Roulette." "Double Anal Roulette" might be a better name since you'll feel that way if you play the game (and if the idea of double anal excites you, ammend that to "double anal with no lube" and you'll understand how the game feels).

Penn National are fucking this casino brutally.

The rooms are great. The staff are universally wonderful. The pool and spa are impressive. The food (including room service) is delicious (apart from the Vig Deli, but maybe I just didn't order the right things). But the value is going downhill, and the casino is bad value for money (unless you're a video poker player, where you can get 25c 9/5 Jacks Or Better at the bar!).

On the bright side, they've made the high-limit double deck blackjack S17 again.

Blackjack conditions on the main floor are H17, RSA, NS, and they deal down to the last half deck (card counters, attack this place now!!!) on six deck shoe games. Double deck has no resplit aces. $5 mins for shoes, $10 for double deck.

S17 games are high limit only, $100 per hand min (and they aren't willing to go down to $50, trust me, I tried). Surrender and RSA allowed on six deck, and I think they allow RSA on double deck as well.

+ Great aesthetics, rooms, food, pool and staff

- Casino conditions going downhill fast
- The bar has been neutered and cost-cutted

Suggestions For Improvement
1) S17 blackjack at $15/$25 minimums. Shoe game with no surrender, but with resplit aces. C'mon guys, you can do this!!!!
2) Give green-chippers Midi Baccarat. $25 for player-handles-cards please!
3) Single Zero Roulette!
4) Bring back the long and detailed cocktail list!
5) Okay, $5 Happy Hour was perhaps too generous, but you don't have to get rid of Happy Hour ENTIRELY. Maybe a "$6 Happy Hour" or restrict Happy Hour to daytime hours, but please, BRING BACK HAPPY HOUR in some form!!!