Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CityCenter ~ Las Vegas ~ WOW!

Viva Las Vegas ~

On my latest journey doing site inspections I enjoyed the luxury of the 3 newest 5 star accommodations in the new CityCenter in Las Vegas. Although I didn't get many pictures, I thought I'd share the few that I did get. My full evaluation is at the end ~ enjoy!

Mandarin Oriental ~ The most service oriented establishment I've ever visited.

The atmosphere at Mandarin Oriental is that of total relaxation, everywhere that you are. The rooms were equiped with a lovely soaking tub.

The Tea Lounge ~ great strip view ~ again, very relaxing. On the 23rd floor across from registration.

Rooms were very comfortable and plush.

I loved the door sign ~ very true!

View from my room ~ that's the new mall, Crystals on the bottom half of the picture.

Ok, my favorite thing about Vdara ~ the swing on the bar patio!

What a fantastic restaurant! Different, but good. Read below for the infusion list!

The lounge at Silk Road

Lighting Fixtures at Silk Road

Veer Towers ~ these are condos for private residency.

View of Aria.

Crystals ~ for the extremely high end shopping experience! Structures everywhere!

This is the Harmon Hotel ~ a boutique hotel that will open later in 2010.

It's hard to assess hotels that are brand new because everything is, well, new and fresh. With that comes the new staff and the little quirks that are yet to be worked out. Personally, I like to judge accommodations on the comfort level, appearance/cleanliness and atmosphere or overall vibe. Not to exclude all the extra amenities, which are part of the comfort.

Vdara gives you very sleek, modern and highly technical condo and hotel accomodations. What I liked most; Best Robes EVER! Extremely comfortable bed, refridgerator in room. Now, as great as this room was, it had a very stark, cold feeling; Almost too hi tech, too straight, too busniess. The lights, blinds, heat/air, audio were all controlled by randomly placed switches on the wall, or the tv remote controll. I arrived in my room before the bellman, and I had quite the time trying to get the lights turned on. I felt like a kid playing with the switches, watching the shades open and close. It was probably entertaining for the bellman, but I just wanted to see and get settled in.

Silk Road is the only restaurant at Vdara. I actually felt bad, because the place was desserted! Any action in the area was taking place at Aria, right across the way. As I hesitated about eating there, I knew I would, hopefully, be served quickly!!! Intimidation set in as soon as I saw the eclectic menu, I didn't know what most of it was or meant. So basically, I just looked for the key words, Chicken, Steak or anything that might resemble something I knew! Once dinner arrived, I was extremely pleased. The Asian inpired infusion of French, Morocan, Mediteranian and Indian delivered a suttle, savory flavor, with hint of sweet. The presentation was very nice, portions were just right and it came out hot!

As I should have taken a walk after dinner, I found the tram that provides free transfers between Bellagio/Vdara, Crystals/Mandarin Oriental and Aria/Monte Carlo. Two trams, that look like a Disneyland Monorail, run throughout the day and night. I was told that they only run one of the trams after 1:00 AM. So off I went. It took less than 10 minutes to get from one end to the other. This is a great way to rest your feet for bit and still get to where you want to go!

Regardless of the modern, high tech, sleek and cold~ish room, I had a great nights sleep. I thought I'd check out the fitness facility and get a warm up on the walking I was about to take on while scouting out the CityCenter. The fitness center was really nice and had all the latest hi-tech equipment anyone looking for a good workout would need. As I tested out the eliptical, I was pleased that they provided bottled water since I had forgotten mine. I was also really happy that I didn't have to pay an additional fee to use the fitness area. For those interested in pampering, full spa services were available.

The check out process was was very simple. They also have video check out for those interested. What they didn't have was the ability to help transfer baggage to Aria. Luckily, it was a short walk, but I do not travel light!!!! As I said good-bye to the many bell men, door men and other miscellaneous staff members waiting to greet guests, I was excited to get on with my journey! Vdara was very nice and I would probably recommend to the business traveler who is not interested in the hustle and bustle of casinos, or those who are interested in the gaming, but would prefer to stay in a non-gaming environment; as Bellagio and Aria are just steps away. Vdara's environment lacked warmth, but thier staff was very friendly and helpful.

As the door man opened the door leading into Aria, I was excited at the more traditional Las Vegas atmosphere that surrounded me. Besides the hospitality staff that I was greeted by, I instantly noticed the pleasant scent that many casinos install in their air conditioning systems. Check in was not until 3:00, so I checked my luggage with the bell desk and started looking for lunch. Aria has 18 eating establishments to choose from on their casino and promanade levels. Since I wanted more of a comfort meal ~ meaning I needed to understand the menu ~ I opted for casual dining at Skybox. What a great choice. Not only did I have the best mac-n-cheese and grilled chicken sandwich, our server, Lori, was great.

Even before getting to our room, Aria just felt more warm and welcoming. Once the room was available, I was extremely delighted in the accommodations. Very warm, comforting and spacious. Also very hi-tech and modern, but much more inviting than I felt from Vdara. The decor included many art pieces and sculptures that, again, gave a welcoming feeling. Well, this may a bit personal, but I have to tell you how much I loved the warm toilet seat! I'm not sure if every Bidet has a hot seat, but they should!!! I also liked that the bath tub was positioned to look out the windows. They also had a small tv positioned in the bathroom so you could watch it while relaxing in the tub as well. There was natural sunlight coming through the windows that made it even more appealing. Something you don't find in many places in Las Vegas unless you're outside!!! The room was large enough that when the bellman brought up the luggage we didn't have to dance around eachother to get out of the way and get the bags in.

I really admired all the structures and local art that surrounds the CityCenter. Each of the hotels, inside and out as well as Crystals, display an amazing aray of local artwork. In the very middle of CityCenter is a massive sculpture of canoes! Hundreds of them. I found it a rather interesting choice for a centerpiece for the CityCenter. At the registration desk at Aria, another fascinating sculptured river overhead. I never ran out of unique pieces to admire.

Aria has many restaurants and lounges that surround the casino floor area and more. It took awhile to get your bearings about where you were at, but after I had done a few laps I was figuring it out quite well. Some of the lounges were private, VIP or High Roller. Most were very open, meaning not an enclosed environment, so I was able to take a peek as I strolled by. The lounges that were open to all seemed very inviting and welcoming and look like a very fun comortable atmosphere. My new favorite sweet shop and bakery is Jean Philippe Patisserie. WOW! First of all, the crepes are the real deal! Second, the chocolate is simply heaven and third, their sandwiches were the perfect comfort food more than once during my visit!

Next on my list was Crystals. The mecca of high end shopping. I was reminded of Vdara ~ very big and empty! There were very few people shopping and the people that were there were just like me, excited to see what was there and open. I was disappointed that more stores were not open. Many to open in February and many more to open throughout 2010. I've listed just a few of the stores, in case your wondering!! Luis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, YSL, Roberto Cavali, Bvlgari, Bottega Veneta, Tiffany, Cartier, Versace, Miu Miu, Paul Smith, Bally, Kiki de Montparnasse, Nanette Lepore, Brunelli Cucinelli, Van Cleef & Arpels, ilori, Assouline, Porche Design, Mastros Ocean Club, Tourbillon, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna ~ just to name a few.

Day three, Mandarin Oriental. {Located at the forefront of CityCenter, a revolution in sustainable design. The 23rd floor sky lobby soars above the city's brilliance, offering guests a non-gaming oasis of oriental calm. Sleek and contemporary interiors are complimented by a holistic spa, expansive meeting facilities and exquisit dining.} Guest Relations, service, sereen ~ these are the 3 words that come to mind when I think of Mandarin Oriental. I was greeted mid way down the stairs as I managed to keep my luggage from running into anyone or taking them down the stairs! The doormen were very attentive, saw my situation and were more than happy to assist. After turning the bags over to the bellmen, I was escorted to registration (on the 23rd floor). The Bellman must have called the front desk to let them know I had arrived. Apparently there was a message at Aria for me that a car was coming from Mandarin Oriental to get me so that I didn't have to walk my bags over. Thanks Aria, I didn't get the message. Regardless, they had a guest relations manager appologizing to me, in a very quiet voice. I appreciated the effort and the attention. Since my room was not available, we were directed to the Tea Lounge. Offering a view of the Strip and city, I sat back and enjoyed a flavorful cup of tea as I waited for my room.

Once the room was ready, I was escorted down the elavators to my room, very quietly! The staff must have gone through an extensive training course on speaking quietly. Already, I could tell that I would be spending time in other areas or locked in my room! My room was very comfortable and welcoming. There was an infusion of relaxing aromas that calmed the senses. I actualy thought about a nap! The room was spacious and had every amenity that you could possibly think of. Top Shelf, of course. The television in the vanity area was very hi-tech. It was part of the mirror. There was not an actual tv placed in there, it looked like a different shade on the mirror and when you turned it on, the shading was the screen. Very cool!

Something I haven't seen in many hotels was a valet closet. This allows you to have something delivered to your room without having to open the main door. The also have a tray for your shoes and they will shine them for you, complimentary, upon request. A short time after I was settled into my room, Flowers were delivered to the room from the inhouse floral staff. I thought this was lovely, especially since I love orchids and tulips!

Mandarin Oriental has the most prestigious spa treatment services I've ever seen. Even though I did not partake in these luxuries, I spent the better half of an hour reading through their treatment menu which were accompanied by prestigious prices as well. For those who are able, this would be the place to find total and complete relaxation.

The resaurant at Mandarin Oriental, Twist, was not open for lunch and it was too early for dinner, so I decided to go on another walk. Right outside the entrance area to the right are Kitton, Carolina Hererra asn Amore pastierre. Up the stairs and to the left, an art gallerie that you could spend all day in admiring. As I took another stroll through Crystals, I exited the from the second floor towards Las Vegas Blvd. There was a skywalk that took you across and towards the Miracle Mile (Shopping Center) at Planet Hollywood. Before I entered into the mall, I stopped for a quick Hot Dog at Pink's! Now that's a good hot dog!

The Miracle Mile has hundreds of shops, for every kind of shopper. It was packed! There is also hourly entertainment in a few locations within. One is a laser light show ~ pretty impressive if you like that sort of thing. Others include comedy acts, musicians and random artists. Many resaurants were amongst the shopping establishments which made the Miracle Mile a destination area of it's own. I popped into Planet Hollywood, which has access to Miracle Mile, and was very pleased with good music, lots of people, restaurants, lounge areas and lots of fun people around. I'd have to say that Planet Hollywood has the best vibe out of any casino I had visited. It just seemed so alive.

I didn't feel like getting dressed for a nice dinner at Twist, so I ordered in. My meal was delivered in less than 20 minutes. My shrimp appetizer had the perfect amount of spicy flavor to keep me going back for more. However, my entree didn't have as much flavor and the beef was a bit tough. The asparagus was cooked perfectly and melted in my mouth.

One of my favorite things to do in Las Vegas is go to The Bar at Times Square at the New York New York. There, they have dueling pianos and it is a blast! Good Old fashioned fun! And again, I was not disappointed. Once I got back to my room at Mandarin Oriental, I was pleased to find a Tea pot and tea had been set out for me, a bowl of fresh fruit, an orchid placed on the bathtub towel and bottled water placed beside my bed.

After another perfect nights sleep ~ they definitely got it right with bed and linen choices ~ I was ready to pack up and head for the airport. I ordered breakfast and was glad I did. A three egg omlet with ham and cheese. As expensive as it was, it was delicious! As I headed up to the 23rd floor to check out, the bell men were right there to take my bags back down and wait for me curbside. I was escorted down the elevators into the lobby where the doormen were patiently waiting for me. As I drove away, the doormen and bellmen were all politely waving goodbye.

My overall rating on a 1 to 10 ~ Vdara 6 ~ Aria 9 ~ Mandarin Oriental 8

I enjoyed each, but I personally would probably only stay at Aria again. I know many clients who would prefer Vdara and many who would soak up the attention and service at Mandarin Oriental. I learned a great deal about these fine establishments and look forward to sharing the information with you. Thanks for sharing my journey with me!

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