Vegas, here I come

I’m headed to Las Vegas next week. Since Aaron started his company with his business partner, the four of us (Aaron, his partner, partner’s wife and I) have treated ourselves to an annual trip to Vegas. For the last two years we’ve stayed at Bellagio, but this year we’ve decided to try Aria, one of the newest resort hotels on the Strip. After reading the reviews on Trip Advisor, I’m reserving judgement. Bellagio is an older hotel; it opened in 1998. I remember we were in Vegas for Christmas 1997 and the big news at the time was the opening of the Bellagio, one of the most expensive hotels built in Vegas at the time ($1.6 billion.) For a giant hotel, everything was pretty accessible, restaurants were nice, and the suite was nicely decorated.

We’ve always gotten a two-bedroom suite. It’s generally an apartment without a kitchen. There is a bar with a small fridge and cabinet that we kept our own snacks in (there were mini-bar snacks, but they had sensors on them – they were wildly overpriced, and the sensors were there so that if they were even moved, let alone opened, you were charged for them.) The suite had a living room with sectional couch and coffee table and media centre (with iPod dock for playing music, but you have to have your own USB cable) and large LCD TV. There was also a dining area with a complete dining set and sideboard. Each bedroom had a king-sized bed with the most deliciously luxurious bedding EVER, and a cabinet with an LCD TV, dresser and seating.

I LOVED the his-and-hers bathrooms in each bedroom. It doesn’t even really make sense to call it a ‘bathroom’, because each one is almost the size of the bedroom. I always took the one with the jetted soaker tub, and Aaron got the one with the steam shower. For a two-bedroom suite, it was weird to think it had FIVE bathrooms (a “guest” bathroom near the entrance, and two in each bedroom) and SEVEN TVs. (One main one in the ‘living room’ area, one in each bedroom, and one in each ensuite bathroom.) It was like a swanky apartment, and it was while I was staying there that I really realized that I would much rather live in a sweet condo than a large house any day.

While the others generallly tend to enjoy gambling at the blackjack tables, I’m the only one who’s not a gambler. So when they are sitting at the tables for hours, I like to head down to the pool to read a book and listen to my iPod. And for this non-morning person, it always seemed I could get up with no problem (and even before anyone else) and pack my bag and head down there to spend some quiet time before the others meandered down as well.

Since we booked a suite, it came with several other perks, too. We got limousine pick-up and drop-off between the hotel and airport, and there was an “executive check-in,” a private room off of the main lobby where free fresh fruit and cookies, juices, pop and wine were available 24/7 to “executive” guests. (The chocolate-dipped strawberries are to. die. for.)  In the middle of the afternoon (okay, really, any time of the day) I’d pop in there for a cookie and a glass of wine, and they were fine with me taking off, glass in hand. We also got line passes for the restaurants in Bellagio, so we could skip the lineups at the buffet and Cafe Bellagio, our usual lunch spot. The other restaurants look good too, but we usually book it to PF Chang’s across the street at Planet Hollywood, or find ourselves somewhere else during the dinner hour.

We also get “preferred seating” at any shows we want to see. The first year Aaron and I saw “LOVE” at Mirage. I loved it. He had sunstroke and was sick, so he didn’t get as much out of it. The next year we saw “Mystere” at Treasure Island, which I thought would be just ok, but it was actually really good. The acrobatics and contortionists were amazing.

ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter, Las Vegas, United States of America
Photo from tripadvisor.com

So this year we’re headed to Aria. A much bigger hotel, and much swankier by some reports. It does look by the photos to be really nice, but according to a lot of reviews on Trip Advisor, there are glitches with the computerized room controls and there were complaints about extra fees and deposits for things that are not explained up front. The pool is important (for me, anyway!) There are two pool areas, one regular one and one called “LIQUID,” which hosts pool parties and DJs, great for a younger crowd maybe, but probably not what I’m looking for in terms of relaxation and avoiding any douchery, which I’m sure is in excess supply there. I checked a few YouTube videos of Liquid, and it looks crowded, noisy, and obnoxious.

Oh god, I’m getting old.

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