Home » VT News » HuffPo Savages ARIA

HuffPo Savages ARIA

By Chuckmonster on Monday, 26th November 2012 3:00pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 26


With the New York Times' recent pillaging of Flavortown dripping fresh blood from the viral eyes of the internet, Huffington Post scribe James Marshall Crotty has thrown his hat into the vitriolympics with his review of ARIA.

Crotty, who claims travel writer resume with a link to a 15 year old out of print travel book going for the low low price of $0.01 on Amazon, snarls, complains and CAPSLOCKS his way through a nitpicky review of ARIA without ever attempting to give the user any sense of what the resort is like, save a pathetic and unfounded reference to long long gone restaurant of yore Spago.

It appears that Mr. Crotty is miffed at the resort fee. Yeah, I hate them too. But as a guy who is kinda sorta a semi-professional amateur travel writer I know enough to read the fine print when booking anything. To be surprised at the front desk by a resort fee? Well... he obviously didn't do his homework. In this post-great Recession day of resort fees, baggage fees, extra bag fees, upgrade fees, this fees, that fees everything fees... doesn't EVERYBODY read the fine print?

Or... Mr. Crotty is trying to burn down Flavortown. Again.

His miffage extends to a tirade against a Filipino employee's semantic choice when telling Crotty that ARIA's buffet is being renovated. Some would say he was done a favor being sent to the Bellagio Buffet.

No hot water? Well, that really is a problem. If this were me, I would demand they change my room. Hot water issues are the cause of the legionella outbreaks ARIA has twice endured since its grand opening. On second thought, I'd probably check out of the hotel... I like living.

He continues to bitch and complain about pool closing at 5pm (in late November?) about spa and salon services costing money (isn't pedicure included in resort fee?) a fee to have the maintenance guys bring a second mini-fridge up to the room (seriously?) and the cherry on top taking the mini-bar treats to task for not being Whole Foods approved. No, he really does.

On and on it goes... belittling ARIA's modern art collection as banal, reminding property overlords, that the casino is to be their only profit center and calling Circus Circus 'gauche' - to the point of becoming laughable. No, not at ARIA or MGM's expense, but at the expense of showing what a boob this guy is.

This is obviously purposeful writing. Controversy - real or manufactured - buys clicks and sells page views. Page views sell advertising. The more page views an article gets, the bigger slice of the pie the author gets. Why not try and piggyback a scathing review of a semi-vulnerable resort via the freshly lubed hatchet trail to Flavortown?

Yeah, Mr. Crotty's stay at ARIA certainly had its flaws, of which only a small portion deserve the hollow peevish venom spewed forth.

Or maybe I'm John Q. Dumbass.

Thank you to VT soul brother #1 Donnymac66 for the tip.

Tagged: aria   reviews   


Comments & Discussion:

Well this article may have crashed Aria website, as I get an error message when trying to access it.

I've left a few comments within the comments section of that piece. One has to wonder when the last time this buffoon set foot in Vegas was? From the way it sounds it definitely sounds like it's been in the neighborhood of 5-10 years (if not more). His claims regarding the resort fee not been made known is bullshit, as it clearly mentions the resort fee in the "interary" section of the personal info page when you book (This is true across MGM Resorts properties.).

If a Super 8 is more his speed and to his liking based on the hours their fitness center is open, Ellis Island is a short cab ride from Aria.

This guy should probably stay away from Vegas and stick to Laughlin or Reno.....

I left a few comments on there too. Basically the guy is a Vegas noob, and he's cheap but wants to be treated like the Whole Foods loving king that he knows he is. He booked a regular room and wanted Sky Suites treatment.

The writer's own comment in the comments sectionabout Cosmo being "financially successful" just further shows that this guy is a buffoon.

His article is like someone complaining that they went to Morton's and got "ripped-off" because they had to pay $9 for potatoes with their steak, ranting that they're insane for thinking anyone would pay more for wine than they could pay at a discount liquor store, and then whining that there were no ketchup bottles on the dining tables which "even Denny's has!"

All he's done by trying to make it seem like he's too good for 5-star luxury, is made it abundantly clear that he has no experience whatsoever with 5-star luxury.

I love his need to respond to every comment and defend his poorly written hack job

Ugh... The British.

He actually accused me of being a "paid shill for the Aria" in one of his responses because I called him out on his ridiculous expectations. He also said something odd that basically reinforced his expectations:

"....And, sorry, it is NOT customary to be charged $25 for use of wireless and workout area and another $30 for use of a sauna and steam. That, by any reasonable measure, is deceptive. And I clearly admit that if you want a massage, OF COURSE you have to pay for it. In fact, I said, I would be happy to have such services included in the overall price"

So he is apparently saying that massages, which generally start at over $100 and go up at all Vegas hotels, should be included in the $30 Spa entrance fee. He is delusional.

was the review written before or after he drank from his bag of wine?

Bring back the other Brit, if this is the type of replacement writing they are going to provide.

Jim Crotty has been regularly visiting and writing about Vegas at least since the early-Nineties. His articles about Vegas during these twenty years have typically been enthusiastic. You may disagree with his opinions about Aria but they do not come from someone new to Vegas or ignorant about standards in the hospitality industry.

Hey, this is the guy who wrote the article on Aria on HuffPo. See article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-marshall-crotty/the-aria-resort-in-las-ve_b_2189186.html

Thanks for the coverage. Moreover, here are some quick corrections for your readers.

1. It is true I have not been an official travel writer for a while. My last major travel piece was for Travel & Leisure back in February 2004. It featured a drive from Las Vegas, NM to Las Vegas, NV. Your readers might enjoy it. See here: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/way-out-west-february-2004

2. I was a travel writer for nearly two decades. In addition, the book I referenced in my hot link was just one of several travel books I authored or co-authored (check out the “Mad Monks’ Guide to New York City,” “Mad Monks On the Road,” “How To Talk American,” and more). Links to these works are at http://www.jamescrotty.com. And at http://ww.monk.com. However, I was best known as the peripatetic publisher and editor of Monk: the Mobile Magazine. The New York Times article on Monk can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/11/business/the-media-business-monk-magazine-takes-founders-on-a-rewarding-journey.html

Nevertheless, you are right. “The Mad Monks’ Guide to California” is out-of-date. And, like all old guidebooks (save, perhaps, for the WPA series), it is offered cheap online. However, isn’t kind of a cheap shot to suggest that such an old guidebook might be priced differently?

Instead of travel writing, I have lately been focused on other beats. I am the business of education contributor for Forbes. See my column here: http://blogs.forbes.com/jamesmarshallcrotty/

I also routinely cover politics from an independent perspective on HuffPo. A losing proposition in this age of dogged ideological extremism. See here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-marshall-crotty/

Moreover, I occasionally dabble in sports and travel commentary on HuffPo and elsewhere.

I largely gave up my writing career from 2003-2009 to pursue a new adventure teaching debate and speech to at-risk urban men in the South Bronx. The teaser and trailer from my forthcoming documentary about this experience can be found here: www.crottyskids.com.

I also help run a production space rental concern in L.A. See here: www.monkspace.

Only in July of 2011 with Forbes, and January 2012 with HuffPo, did I get back into writing in earnest.

3. As for describing the resort in greater depth, I think you have a solid point. Except that HuffPo likes us to keep the articles very short. At most 800 words. And preferably 500 words. Therefore, this does not leave a lot of room to get into much detail, especially if one is also articulating an opinion. If I did a guidebook on Vegas, the Aria, or ARIA, would be covered in more detail. HuffPo columns tilt towards strong opinions, not so much towards guidebook-level detail.

4. The fees argument has been dealt with in depth in the Comments section at the HuffPo piece. Essentially, those fees are not told to you in advance when you book through a service like Priceline (which I used). This is because Priceline gives you a hotel of their choice based on your parameters of price, location and quality. It’s somewhat of a no-win. However, as I make clear in the HuffPo Comments, ARIA is low-balling on Priceline to get folks to book and then subsequently hitting the customer with fees the guest had no possible way of knowing about before they made their bid on Priceline. Lesson learned: when booking five-star resorts in Vegas, the price you pay is by no means the final rate. However, this is only one of many points I make, though again, your notion of “homework” is not possible when booking through Priceline. And no fine print before you agreed to the offer, since the hotel is not revealed. However, I understand your confusion since I did not reveal I used Priceline in the piece.

5. The Filipino employee argument is a non-starter. Her use of “repairs” had nothing to with her Filipino heritage. If she were Caucasian, I would have said the same thing. Nice try.

6. The hot water thing is serious. You have added to my case. Thank you for reminding me of the connection to the Legionnaire’s Disease outbreaks at the Aria.

7. A pool closing at 5PM is absurd. We agree to disagree. If a Holiday Inn Express in Omaha, Nebraska can keep their pool open all-year (and God knows the temperatures are colder in Huskerland), then a Vegas five-star resort could at least keep the pool open as long as the workout room and spa. You are paying for this service. It just seems insulting and cheap to close it at 5PM. Especially for folks who gamble late into the night.

8. My point about Spa services is that this extra $30 should be included with the Resort fee. Alternatively, instead of separate Resort and Sauna/Steam fees, these should be folded into the hotel rate. No hidden fees. No extra fees. Heck, certain airlines now waive fees. It’s not a fait accompli. Aria could do it. For example, for a set price, you get use of wireless, pool, workout room, sauna and steam. Best to bury that in the price of the hotel, IMHO. But, I am by no means saying that spa services like pedicures, massages and so on should be free. In addition, you are absolutely right, by inference, that the Aria spa is no ordinary spa. They do have a salt room, after all. So, hey, just include the sauna and steam in standard Resort fee. And charge extra to be in the salt room. This could all be worked out.

9. I explicate the Whole Foods reference in greater detail in the Comments area on HuffPo. Again, my simple point is this: ARIA is pitching itself as an eco-friendly, LEED-certified, upscale, hip and gourmet destination. When you are a FIVE-STAR property, you need to be attentive to the tiniest details. That’s the mark of a five-star property: anal attention to detail. The mini-bar selection is evidence that they have not thought through their upscale, hip, and eco-friendly brand down to the smallest particulars. In addition, it’s so easy to solve. You missed the point.

10. You also missed the point about gaming. Yes, it’s the primary driver of revenue at most casinos. As I made crystal, or CRYSTALS, clear in the HuffPo Comments, Vegas resorts today need multiple revenue streams. However, a guest won’t spend at the Aria’s upscale eateries and indulge in the expensive Spa services, if he or she feels a bit hornswoggled out of the gate on fees, and the room experience is a bit off in its particulars. Running a five-star property is a huge theatrical operation. And the details need to be right in every little particular. You cannot just coast to that five-star designation. You have to really earn it every single day with every single guest. Aria is coasting a bit. It is not a horrible place by any stretch. And it’s positive in a few areas, but it needs to up its game. And to one of your commenters points about the Cosmopolitican, I didn’t cover the Cosmo in the piece. In the comments area, I said it was popular. And then extrapolated that such popularity translated into profit. This is not YET true in the Cosmo’s case, but, as I noted in the Huffpo Comments are, they are on the right path and will eventually figure out a way to translate their popularity into dinhero. A nice article on that here: http://www.vegasinc.com/news/2011/jun/13/cosmopolitan-too-big-fail/

Now, your last point is just flat out wrong. You laughably suggest that I am paid to write for HuffPo. And that my paycheck is based on clicks. Ah, wrong. I write for HuffPo for free. Yes, free. And, like any reputable travel writer, I PAID to stay at the Aria. No quid pro quo. Crazy, isn’t it? I wasn’t paid to write my story? And I paid to stay at the resort? Unheard of! Outrageous! Perhaps that is one tiny reason that Aria President William McBeath was canned today. You see, if the travel writer was paid to stay and play at the Resort, well, that’s one thing. The Resort has leverage. However, this writer was not bought off. So, hey, maybe, just maybe, there’s a tiny sliver of truth in what I write.

Buy me book.

Crotty's response reads like another single-spaced meeemo from our general manager at work. After the first few sentences I lost interest and quit reading.

Holy crap, he posted his whole Vegas tripping response in the comments section on his own article. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so aggressively attached to defending a blog post.

He also seems to be believe that his article may have gotten Bill McBeath fired in the approximately 36 hours his article has been up. McBeath is/was President of City Center (I can't find anything about him being fired), and Bellagio and the Mirage before that. Here is the Crotty's comment:

"Naturally, I hope his firing was not exclusively, or even primarily, due to my piece. This is a tough economy. I don't like to see anyone fired. Rather, I like to see five-star properties live up to their five-star billing. And that means being anal-retentive about all aspects of the hotel and resort experience, however picayune. Naturally, one does not expect such level of OCD focus in a 3-star or 2-star properties. Take what you like, and leave the rest."

I'll say it again, he is having delusions of grandeur.

Someone should also mention to him that the resort fee is mentioned on pricelines information page about aria, the site on which he decided to book his reservation let me remind you, under the hard to spot bolded title ‘important information.’

As is the buffet closure for extra measure. Research is not important in the field of business journalism either...


I appreciate your rebuttal to the arguments, Mr. Crotty. The only thing still really bothering me is your insistence that you’d call the Filipino a Caucasian if he/she was white. I really doubt you would have done that, and I’m awfully surprised it made it past the editors of Huffington Post. But as you say, we’ll agree to disagree.

While Priceline does make mention of the resort fee, the amount is not mentioned and that really is an issue that should be pinned on them and not Aria. It is not the hotel's responsiblity to inform potential guests of the amount of the resort fee when they are booking from a third party site, it is the responsibility of the booking site. The anger this writer is showing towards Aria is completely misplaced and he should have complained to Priceline and not the hotel. Travelocity clearly mentions the resort fee (The amoount it is per day plus what you get with it.) at the time you go to select your room at a property that has them and you see that prior to any listing So if Priceline isn't doing that, then they may be in violation of FTC regulations.

I think the author might have made some good points unfortunately it was written in the style of a popular 8th grade girl that just had her hairstyle insulted.

Mr. Crotty, the thing that got your article negative attention here is the petty tone of it. Of all the people on the planet to be somewhat defending Aria, Chuck has been given pretty much the least reason to do so. He had many issues there but has voiced them more professionaly. (Not that HuffPo is interested in anything professional...)

Finally, the hot water thing at Aria drives me nuts. I had a great stay there in July other than the fact that the water in my room barely reached body temp even though it was 112 degrees outside. I had one hot shower upon arrival then for 3 days the water was barely lukewarm. Ridiculous.

@crotty. Thanks for posting your résumé. It's the best job interview I've read today. Good luck at Huff Po.

No hot water? Lukewarm showers and baths? Hell, even the Super 8 at Ellis Island has hot water. I'd be plenty steamed if that happened to me at a 5-star hotel.

I also think he got way too hung up on the "5 Star" expectation. The regular Aria rooms have never received 5 stars from any major rater. Hotwire and Priceline manipulate their stars to suit their booking processes.
As has been stated previously, Crotty needed to stay in the Sky Suites to get his star treatment.
Still wouldn't find any Whole Foods snacks though.
And his pool comments belie a lack of understanding of the unique Vegas experience. He correctly mentions new profit centers and then harps on pool closing too early. No money for the house in the pool Crotty. Sheez.

Who ever said that the Aria was a 5-star property?

Whole Foods. What's that? Does it go with Crown Royal?

My initial reaction to the article was: themed resorts? What are those? Thought they stopped building those in the early 2000s. Thought the article provided no new insight and seemed to be off a decade.

I actually heard Bill got fired because his long time girl friend Jami who he had been seeing since about 2002 was demanding another promotion and since she isn't very good at the job she currently has as Brand Manager he couldn't deliver. A girl who has a 2 year degree, goes from front desk clerk to employee services manager in less than 18 months then 10 years later is in an Intl Corportate Position just because she slept with the then President of The Mirage. He moved her to every location with him acting like a teenage boy after his first real piece of a--. It was great to watch as a bystander in the beginning. The President of The Mirage standing at the employee services window swooning over a young girl who is showing cleavage but not very pretty with an awful nose. So he fell in lust, cheated on Shannon his wife and mother of his children, for several years. But then the girl friend got greedy, she knew she couldn't get him full time, ever. He wouldn't leave his wife for her. So she kept demanding promotions that she was not qualified for. Luckily her employees were qualified. But you can only cheat for so many years before the promotions no longer suffice. She threatened to blow the lid off this affair and spill the beans. The scandal would only hurt Shannon, Baldwin accepted the resignation because he was being pressured from his bosses to put an end to the rumors, the employee complaints of suing because qualified people were always overlooked for the positions Jami just "blew" her way into. Well, that and his wife was tired of the public embarrassment so she was putting pressure on him to end the affair. If he ended the affair, Jami would blow up and cause an embarrassment for him and the empire he worked for. He most likely allowed Jami to influence him in choices for Aria's design to make her feel important. He may have done alot of stupid things but what I remember being fun to watch was him following Jami around like a teenage boy with his tongue hanging out and slobbering after her. It was a show that must come to an end. It would make a great romance novel. She might even be writing it. He should've ended it before it cost him his career and his marriage that is now just a show for the family. Poor beautiful Shannon, she didn't know until the affair was well underway. She really thought he worked so much that he had to stay overnight at work when he was really at Jami's. Jami did well but she will pay for her following her temptations on judgement day. So that is the story that the MGM Resorts employees talked sbout for over 10 years, we were almost sad to see him leave because then all we had left was the Chris Norling and Kelli Tucky affair to watch. Who needs soap operas when you go to work everyday in the middle of a soap. Just like a real soap, the actors don't even know the fans exist but we watch and discuss episodes everyday just for something to do. My pleasure Mr. McBeath anything else we can do for you, sir?

Comments Are Closed

Subscribe via RSS

Recent Comments:

michigan2010 posted: "MGM equals cookie cutter casino. No to reason to step foot in Bellagio again. Just hope they don't screw up..."
» Sayonara Bellagio Table Game Canopies...
saharalv posted: "I wish the editors were the entire electoral college in 2016...."
» Introducing the Trippies Class of...
fatbastard posted: "So many people letting a billionaire live rent free in their heads. Funny. Too bad it also detracts from the..."
» Introducing the Trippies Class of...
wpsteel66 posted: "Total bummer…talk about taking the class and uniqueness away from the Bellagio…another smart move on CEO Jim and making all..."
» Sayonara Bellagio Table Game Canopies...
damania posted: "Is there a podcast?..."
» Introducing the Trippies Class of...

» More Comments