Posted by Ric Garrido

With fresh eyes I woke up to see the Aria Resort for a second day and a good day of hotel viewing. I like to get up early to take photos when the hotel floors are their emptiest of people. This is about the time many people are heading to their beds.

The 4,004 room Aria hotel has 16 restaurants and over a dozen drinking places. First I toured floors to see different views from hotel windows.

Aria Elevators

Aria hotel has six different sets of elevators to divide guests by room floors.

There were eight elevators for the nine floors 16 to 24 in my hotel elevator section. The most I ever waited for an elevator was 15 seconds. Impressive speed.

There is an exclusive key access elevator section for Aria SkySuites and SkyVillas on the upper floors of the central towers.

The Spa and Fitness Room

The Spa, pools and fitness room are accessed through the Promenade level, above the ground level Casino floor. The Fitness room opens at 6am and is accessed through The Spa doorway. The place was quite active when I arrived around 7am.

Fountain in front of fitness room

Aria Tip – Free coffee is available in dispensers during morning hours at the relaxation lounge outside the Fitness room. A trip to this section of the hotel through the Spa will save you $3 a cup at one of the Casino outlets and also provide a comfortable place with soft music, TV, a fireplace, and newspapers for lounging in the hotel in the morning.

Many pieces of the workout equipment face the hotel pools and there is a bank of TVs in the room. The fitness room is large, but too many exercisers were present for photos.

Aria Spa is a section of the hotel I just passed through. I have no insight to its services.

Aria Pools

The pools at Aria were only open from 9am to 4pm. I have written previously about the ridiculously short pool hours year-round in Las Vegas Casino resorts.

Pool Bar

Breeze Cafe

A feature I do not like about the pool area is two of the spa pools are situated near the windows of The Buffet restaurant.

One spa pool is concealed in the palm trees.

There are only a couple of hotels like the Westin Casuarina with pool hours in the evening. When staying in Las Vegas during summer and it is 95 degrees at 9pm in the evening, you can forget about a plunge at most hotel resort pools. The pool area will likely have closed sometime between 5pm and 7pm.

Pool view of Aria architecture

Dining at Aria

During my stay I only ate at The Buffet and drank at Bar Moderno. There are plenty of fine dining options at the hotel with a variety of restaurants serving different types of cuisine.

Barmasa for Japanese food is located at the end of the Aria hotel lobby. This lobby has been likened to an airport terminal by some. I actually like the open space of the lobby, although the seating is not particularly appealing. The Bellagio Hotel is a place I think stands out for comfortable seating in the halls for guests to relax.

Barmasa gate at the end of the Aria lobby is open 5-11pm Wednesday through Sunday. The restaurant is aesthetically appealing in a minimalist design.

Sage is American dining in the lobby location by Barmasa. I like the metal grill covers in the shape of wine glasses.

My parents said they enjoyed a dinner at Julian Serrano Tapas when my sister was in town. My sisters are the fine diners in our family.

My parents and I usually head to Ellis Island for $1.75 pints and $10 full rack of ribs dinner when I am in town. This casino has the smoky ambience of a locals dive bar and usually requires a wait of around an hour to eat, but if you like cheap microbrew draught beer and barbecue ribs and chicken or you want an inexpensive full steak dinner, then this place is worth a trip while you are in Vegas. Ellis Island is located diagonally across the street from the Westin Casuarina Hotel, two long blocks east of the Las Vegas Strip casinos around Paris and Planet Hollywood.

Todd English British Pub is located next to Julian Serrano Tapas. This pub is actually part of CityCenter Crystals shopping area and not the Aria hotel restaurants.

There are other restaurants around the casino floor. Café Vettro is open 24 hours and casual dining.

Blossom serves Chinese food and Lemongrass is Thai. I missed these restaurants entirely during my walkabouts. They are located by the SkySuites elevator section off the center of the casino floor near the escalators.

Above the Casino floor is the Promenade level with the Viva Elvis theater and several fine dining restaurants as well as The Buffet restaurant.

The Buffet serves weekday Monday through Friday breakfast for $15.99 (7-11am), lunch for $19.99 (11am-4pm) and dinner for $24.99 (Mon-Thur 4pm-10pm). Prices are higher on weekends with just brunch (7am-4pm) and gourmet dinner (Fri-Sun 4-10pm).  

I ate lunch and enjoyed the Asian foods with chicken tandoori, naan bread, sushi and black bean beef. The snow crab is very popular. This past month has been Dungeness crab season in California so I am spoiled on good crab. I thought the snow crab was way too salty. The shrimp was flavorless. I waited too long for the waitress to come by for a drink order. You can’t even get a glass of water without a waitress.

The buffet selections covered many food types and the price is about standard for Las Vegas buffets. The weekends offer lobster gourmet dinner buffet.

The hall across from The Buffet features fine dining at Sirio Ristorante, American Fish a Michael Mina restaurant and Jean Georges Steakhouse.

Cactus garden in between Sirio, Steakhouse and American Fish

Blossom and Sirio Ristorante were closed during my stay.

Union Restaurant and Lounge offered a casino floor dining experience with 5 – 7pm happy hour offering half off drinks and appetizers seven days a week.

Jean Philippe Patisserie, located right by the main guest floor elevators was a popular place throughout the day for a quick snack or coffee.

Next up - Aria Resort and Casino – Part 3 – Art, Architecture and Space

Tomorrow I will be back in Las Vegas at the Mandarin Oriental.

Tuesday I am hoping to be invited for a pre-opening press tour of The Cosmopolitan Hotel. The hotel says it has to approve my press credentials. Really now. Who else is going to give the hotel more complete coverage?

[update Dec 25, 2010 - VegasChatter.com has given the Cosmopolitan extensive coverage in the past two weeks if you want critiques and reviews of various aspects of The Cosmopolitan rooms, pools, dining.]

Related Posts:

Betting on Expedia.ca for a Vegas Suite Deal (Nov 20, 2010) [This post tells how I bought my flight to Las Vegas and an upgraded room at the Mandarin Oriental for $12.]

CityCenter Las Vegas – Art, Architecture and Space (Dec 16, 2010)

Hotel Detail – Aria Resort and Casino Las Vegas in HD (Dec 11, 2010)

Aria Resort Las Vegas – Pools, Spa and Dining (Dec 12, 2010)

Aria Resort Corner Suite and SkySuites (Dec 18, 2010) 

Aria Resort Las Vegas SkyVilla 19 (Dec 19, 2010)

Vdara Hotel, CityCenter Las Vegas (Dec 19, 2010)

Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas (Dec 23, 2010)

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (Dec 21, 2010) (The Cosmopolitan is next to Vdara Hotel, but not part of CityCenter complex. The Cosmopolitan is a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel.)

7 Responses

  1. Quick note: Great review! just wanted to clarify that Ellis Island is not downtown. It’s 2 blocks east of the strip and is considered East vegas, but saying downtown would confuse a taxi driver.

    Ellis Island Casino & Brewery
    4178 Koval Lane
    Las Vegas, NV 89109-4568
    (702) 733-8901

    Great prices, not a lot of ambiance…

  2. Rick, great objective info, something I have been seeking for a while. Look forward to the reports on the Mandarin O and the Cosmopolitan.

    S

  3. Rick, love the reports on Aria so far and look forward to more. I will be there this weekend for my Expedia 300 stay at Vdara so can’t wait to check out the Cosmopolitan myself :-) Also, thanks for the free coffee tip … plan on stopping by myself.

  4. Lemongrass is my favorite. I had to make a stop there during my Expedia 300 stay ;). It’s a fusion of Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

    For those that need a caffeine fix, there is a Starbucks right next door in the tunnel between Aria and Monte Carlo. To get there:
    Pass the bust of Elvis and keep on walking towards the back set of doors. There will be a small snack stand to the right and doors and escalators to the left(outside is the taxi stand). Go up the escalators and then down the set of escalators and starbucks is right at the bottom on your right.

    There is another Starbucks in the foodcourt as well.

    Comment by James Williams on December 13th, 2010 at 6:34 pm
  5. Edit: The Monte Carlo foodcourt is where the second Starbucks location is.

    Comment by James Williams on December 13th, 2010 at 6:36 pm
  6. Jason – Thanks for your comment regarding Las Vegas Downtown. I now realize that Downtown has a specific location meaning in Las Vegas that is separate from the Strip. I was using downtown in a generic sense of being in the vicinity of the Las Vegas Strip, but when trasveling from the airport I saw the signs this week at the LAS Airport shuttle stating:

    Strip Hotels $6 one-way
    Off-Strip $7 one-way
    Downtown $8 one-way.

    Thanks for correcting me. Now I just need to research what actually constitutes “Downtown”.

    I think this is the Frontier/Stratosphere section of the casinos which is a mile or two farther from the airport than Bellagio, Caesars, MGM Grand.

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