MGM’s ARIA opens on a high note

Dec 22, 2009 5:02 PM
The Full Monti by Monti Rock III |

It was a spectacular opening for ARIA Resort and Casino at CityCenter. Yours truly was a VIP guest with a few hundred others, including the well represented international press, several local executives and some of the great suits from the MGM properties.

The beautiful water sculptures and features in front of the hotels and the restaurants were dazzling and enticing. Combine all of this with the shopping experience of Crystals and it is one of the most extraordinary properties to be found anywhere and especially in Las Vegas.

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To this columnist, the opening went smoothly and no expense was spared on food and drink. ARIA’s hostesses were wonderful. In all honesty, I didn’t see that many celebrities, but everyone was waiting for the official opening shortly before midnight. I managed to escape by 9.

I did see all the local media, the good, the bad and the ugly. Wait, wait… after all the years of writing this column I’m trying to turn into a more gracious columnist and not be too quick to judge who’s the loser, who’s the bottom feeder and who should really just get lost.

It seemed that each of the CityCenter restaurants had samplings to offer, and I must say the valet parking was quite easy. I was enthralled with the wonderful water features. One of the evening highlights for Monti Rock was seeing Mr. & Mrs. Richard Sturm. CityCenter, welcome to the Las Vegas landscape!

The day before ARIA’s opening we were treated to a VIP preview of the Elvis show. Priscilla Presley and others were there to view the Cirque show. The only Elvis I saw was on stilts! Everything was done with photographs of Elvis, Cirque acrobatics and a huge guitar. I kept searching for an Elvis. I’m trying to be a fan of Cirque bringing this great project to ARIA and I don’t want to be quick to judge since my earlier comments about Cirque were not well received. I’ve been called on the carpet more than once. I could be wrong, but I’m usually not.

The ARIA theater was quite beautiful and the seats were comfortable. The media was treated with press kits, glossy magazines and whatever we wanted. All of this conjures up a huge thanks to Kirvin Doak for doing such an admiral job. But a question remains for me. Will the locals embrace this property? As I wrote earlier, time will tell.

Could it be that there’s some mudslinging from Donald Trump aimed at CityCenter? He referred to it as "an absolute disaster" on the Larry King TV show. Could this be in response to MGM CEO Jim Murren, who allegedly said Trump Tower in Las Vegas "certainly is not Fifth Ave."

Received news this week that Anthony Cool’s Freaks at O’Shea’s closed, and we were all disappointed to hear the Sahara has closed two of its three towers. To top it all, Greenspun Corp. has cut much of its staff and Cable One Las Vegas is left with almost no local programming. "Face to Face" and "In Business" are moving to KVBC-TV, Channel 3.

The news about the Steve Wyrick Theater at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile is, according to rumors, Steve’s partners were not making enough money to keep the theater open. Steve Wyrick has been a great landlord for several years. Everyone likes him, and his efforts to copy David Saxe’s V Theater were well intended. However, this theater has had its share of failures. For what it’s worth, David Saxe seems to know how to run the theaters at Miracle Mile and is reportedly trying to take over the theater. Some say Steve Wyrick may reopen with either a new show or with new acts.

None of us enjoys show closings, especially on The Strip. Nor the downsizing and staff reductions happening all over town.

My annual Christmas party, this year at Rick Belcastro’s Badda Bing, was a huge success. Frediani’s restaurant in Henderson and Book It in Vegas sent fabulous dishes, while Great Buns Bakery and Badda Bing provided spectacular cakes and sweets. The chefs, the servers, the beautiful women at Badda Bing’s were all gracious. David Filter and the English Garden supplied fantastic floral arrangements for the evening. This was one of the very best parties I’ve ever given. To the entire staff – Nifty, T.J. and Steve-O – thank you one and all!

Thanks to the Wynn properties for reaching out to Monti Rock with tickets to Garth Brooks. A review will follow.

Are we ready for the "Golden Globe Awards" on Jan. 17? Meryl Streep, Matt Damon and Sandra Bullock are among the competitors for these precursors of the Oscars. But in my opinion, Mo’Nique gave the performance of the year in the movie "Precious." This talented actress takes no prisoners with her searing portrayal of a monstrous character.

The Rev. Monti wishes you all a fabulous week and a very Merry Christmas!

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Monti Rock III

Juicy gossip from Monti Rock III arrives fresh every Tuesday.