ARIA opening christens new era for Las Vegas

Dec 17, 2009 8:03 PM
by David Stratton |

MGM MIRAGE (MGM) last night christened ARIA Resort & Casino, the flagship of its urban commercial district, CityCenter, on the Las Vegas Strip.

Under a canopy of fireworks illuminating the night sky, ARIA opened its doors to thousands of visitors who streamed in to get a glimpse of 21st century Las Vegas.

They weren't disappointed.

Located at the heart of CityCenter, ARIA is the centerpiece of this extraordinary urban resort destination. Its debut signifies the official grand opening of this city-within-a-city, following two weeks of celebrations for the opening of Vdara Hotel & Spa, Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas and Crystals retail and entertainment district.

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Featuring an unprecedented combination of striking architecture, sustainable design, high-end service and spectacular amenities, the stunning ARIA has dramatically altered the skyline of the world's most famous boulevard and will forever change the perceptions of the Las Vegas Strip.

"ARIA and CityCenter reflect a combination of innovation, energy and visionary design that we believe will reshape how the world views the destination resort experience and attract visitors from around the globe as a landmark of taste and style," said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM MIRAGE, which developed CityCenter in partnership with Infinity World Development Corp.

ARIA is the only hotel in CityCenter with a casino, and it has instantaneously become the flagship for the MGM MIRAGE family of resorts.

The casino, while it contains over 150,000-square-feet of gaming space, is laid out with curving site lines, indirect lighting and strategic placement of gaming centers that make exploring it a delight.

The casino features nearly 2,000 electronic gaming machines, and about 150 table games. The high-end player will find plenty of games worth pursuing, including craps, roulette (single and double zero), and blackjack, which offers liberal rules that have nearly disappeared in Las Vegas (including surrender and doubling down on any two cards).

For the truly high-end players, ARIA features several upscale lounges that combine a relaxing club-like atmosphere with high-stakes gaming.

The casino's Baccarat Lounge is at once breathtaking and impressive, consisting of five separate rooms, each offering its own brand of high-stakes baccarat.

Also for the well-heeled player are the Carta Privada lounge, Salon Prive, and The Deuce Lounge, a hip destination fusing the elements of an ultra-lounge with high-limit gaming.

Not to be left out, the high-rolling slot player will find gaming machines ranging in denomination from $25 to $5,000 in ARIA's Spin lounge.

For the race and sports bettor, ARIA's sports book "breaks the mold" of conventional books with a living-room-like set-up - bettors can choose from a number of parlor-like setting, all within view of two giant screens (the largest in Las Vegas) and dozens of other screens.

The betting windows are actually apart from the viewing areas, although there are high-top tables and chairs near the windows for the players who like the action fast and frenzied.

The race books portion is cozy, with room for about 28 players, each with its own station and TV screen.

The entire race and sports books is located in its own wing near the north entrance of ARIA, which also features the casino's poker room.

Poker Room Manager Adam Altwies has created a beautiful room with 24 tables, 18 of them located on the main floor, with five in a high-limit alcove and one reserved for an exclusive VIP room.

The room is designed so players have plenty of elbow room, with comfortable chairs and food and beverage service available.

A nice touch is the Genesis-Bravo reservation system, which allows the poker room to summons the guest through a text message to his cell phone, rather than using some of the pager-type systems.

For a complete breakdown and analysis of ARIA's casino, see next Tuesday's GamingToday here at

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: David Stratton