I could not resist a great rate offer to stay at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. A luxurious hotel for $88 per night plus tax and resort fee of $28 per night, plus $100 credit towards dining at any of their restaurant. Hey, why not? So I booked a 2-night stay during the first week in July, 2013.
Aria Resort & Casino is located in the City Center where prominent hotels and buildings are found: Vdara, Mandarin Orient Hotel and Crystal Center. Crystal Center is a shopping mall with impressive architecture and name brand stores (Fendi, Gucci, Prada, etc.) and many restaurants.
The hotel is centrally and conveniently located, with walkways that connect it to Planet Hollywood, Cosmopolitan, and free monorail you can take to Monte Carlo, Belagio .
Here’s a tip I learned from TripAdvisor forum. During check-in, and to be discreet, I slipped a $20 dollar bill between my credit and membership card to the hotel clerk, politely asked if it would be possible to get an upgrade to a room with city view on higher floors. The clerk laid the $20 dollar bill on plain sight, which caught me by surprised. Don’t know what their policy is on tipping to get a free upgrade, but it worked. Instead of getting a standard room for the rate I paid, we got a room on 36th floor facing the Strip.
Our room was good size, equipped with “high-tech” smart buttons much like the smartphone, used for light switches, drapes and TV. However, we were technically challenged and initially frustrated for we could not figure out how they all work. It’s simply decorated, with understated modern elegance. Lots of closet space, robes provided, in-room safe and mini-bar.
I truly enjoyed the magnificent view from our window, esp. at night when buildings were illuminated like sparkling jewels. We even left the draperies opened to enjoy the view while lying on our bed. No problem with privacy. An ocean view room would be the only contender to this one.
We ate at two of their restaurants, where the $100 dollar credit towards dining only made a small dent on our food bill. The Julian Serrano restaurant is famous for tapas or small bites. We went during happy hours from 4:00pm to 5:00pm; drinks and eleven of their most popular tapas reasonably priced from $4.00 – $7.00. Some of our favorites were ahi tuna popsicle, fried calamari and brava potatoes cooked in spicy tomato creamy sauce…delish! Did not care too much, bomba (a spicy lamb meatball) and lamb sliders. They have extensive wine collection, but of course, went for their sangria offered 3 ways: white, red and sparkling. I had the sparkling sangria with raspberries, and just loved it!
For a fine dining experience, we chose Sage Restaurant based on good reviews. The ambience is sophisticated, yet comfortable requiring a casual but dressy attire. It is a favorite Las Vegas restaurant for foodies focusing on contemporary American cuisine spiced with global influenced. We chose 4-course Signature tasting menu which costs $89 per person instead of the 6-course tasting menu for $120 per person. A wine pairing costs extra $40 per person. Hubby and I don’t drink much so each ordered sparkling wine by the glass. Intent on trying out as many dishes, I ordered 2 dishes for each courses. For our 1st course… foie gras crème brulee and wagyu beef tartare*; 2nd course… poached egg with shaved truffles*, octopus salad, Dover scallops; 3rd course… beef belly and Iberico pork w/ tomato jam, 4th course…almond tart w/ blueberries and Giovanato ice cream made w/ olive oil and served with chocolate mouse.The dishes in bold letters were our favorites. Our bill for the night including tip was $318.
Jean Philippe is the place to go for your sweet cravings. It has varieties of desserts, pastries, chocolate for sweet lovers. The place also serves coffee, crepes, sandwich for simple, quick breakfast and lunch. I liked their blueberry tart, but the croissant with almond paste fillings was just OK.
People go to Vegas for various reasons: gamble, eat, nightclub, shopping, see shows. For me, the highlight of our trip was seeing the MJ Tribute show at Crown theater in Rio. The impersonator, Justin Dean, looked, dressed, sang, danced and spoke just like MJ. His butt a little heavier, but he was Michael Jackson all the way around. Even if you’re not a fan, you’ll enjoy the show. He was a terrific performer, his dancers & band were good. Very entertaining and I highly recommend the show. I purchased VIP tickets to the show for half the price ($33) from Groupon.
Here’s another money-saving tip. I also purchased dinner with unlimited drinks at Carnival World Buffet in Rio from Groupon for $44 for 2 people. I could not speak for the rest of the food for all I gobbled up were their crab legs (sweet & tasty), but served whole and required lots of work getting to the meat. Feeling not full after two heaping plates of crab legs, I had Pho, a Vietnamese soup that was really tasty. Now I’m full and very satisfied with my dinner plus the glass of wine. But wait, I have to try their desserts. I went for sugar-free chocolate gelato…uhmm, very good.
The quick getaway to Aria Resort and Casino was a great experience. Although we liked and prefer the all-suite rooms at the Palazzo, we don’t mind staying again in Aria if another great offer comes along.
Here’s a link to a short video of our trip. http://www.kizoa.com/slideshow/d5049519kP141696268o2/aria-experience-las-vegas-july-2013