89158 Travel Guide
Openings / Aria / Chapels / Weddings / CityCenter / → All Tags
When Aria opened in 2009, it did so without something that had become a standard amenity within Vegas resorts -- a wedding chapel. Whatever the thinking, the CityCenter hotel-casino must have tired of seeing couples in love spend wedded bliss
and dough elsewhere because it built, and recently opened, a chapel of its own.
The Wedding Chapel at Aria was culled from convention space, but despite coming several years after the resort, looks as if it's been there all along. Located on the first floor of the convention center, an oversized frosted glass window, two dark-colored wooden doors and a simple plaque provide a discreet facade for the 2,750-square-foot venue hidden away from sight.
Stepping inside reveals a small, yet elegant reception area as well as a meeting room for planning sessions, both adorned in neutral hues. The understated decor subtly impresses through a chic mix of textures and patterns rather than too bright colors and trite floral designs. (Although, we did fall in love with the vivid, amethyst-colored light fixtures floating overhead that reminded us of jewels.)
Just beyond these rooms are the chapel's biggest selling points, contemporary his and her spaces for the bride and groom. For him, a room dominated by a pool table. For her, a plush boudoir filled with plenty of seating and, likely more importantly, plenty of mirrors. Another big plus? There is only one wedding hall (the muted design continues here with touches of cream, beige and mauve) meaning you won't bump into other couples nor need to compete for attention. Your union will be the sole focus while you are there. Photos of all the spaces can be found in the gallery below.
The Vegas pool season is here, baby! With highs finally climbing into the 80s, the time is now to get nearly naked, poolside. And, for the first time, you don't have to
ask friends if they have an old MO key card book a stay at Mandarin Oriental to lounge poolside at Mandarin Oriental.
The CityCenter resort is now opening its 8th floor pool (shown above) to everyone... willing to book a cabana. Before you pfft, rates start at the fairly reasonable (for Vegas pools, anyway) rate of $350 and includes a bottle of Moet Ice champagne (a $60-ish dollar value according to Google).
Eating / Dining / The Buffet at Aria / Aria / CityCenter / → All Tags
Most diners are fortunate enough to eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Others, though, need to intensely study menus and quiz wait staff before anything can be enjoyed.
For this Chatter'er, having a mom and two sisters with Celiac disease -- and one of those sisters dealt the double whammy of also being lactose intolerant -- has made me especially aware of just how hard it can be to eat gluten and dairy free in Las Vegas. Dining experiences that are often made even more trying when a server gives you a blank stare when you inquire about gluten-free options (as happened to us at downtown's Eat). Or, made surprisingly refreshing when the waitress not only knows what you're talking about, but can rattle off appropriate items without looking at the menu (as what happened to us at the now shuttered Rattlecan).
It has no casino, shows, or fancy restaurants, but it does offer a peaceful retreat from the sometimes overly frenetic energy of the Vegas Strip. And, even if you don't choose to stay at Vdara, there may be a new reason to get you there while on the way to points elsewhere -- a new spot for a quick bite and a moment of peace.
Bar Vdara has been there since the 'boutique' hotel opened so its not new, but its bar food menu is. Offered in the beginning, eats were later pulled, however, they're now back on the grill. Head here for a casual lunch, dinner or late night meal any day of the week. Seats can be had at the bar, at high-top tables, or outside on the patio. And, yes, most times, they're plentiful.
Mandarin Bar is known for its fab views of The Strip, but for a while, it was also known for its swingin' jazz sessions. That, sadly, came to an end for a spell, but now we're happy to share that Mandarin Oriental is jazzing things back up again. And, not just in the bar.
Every Sunday, a live jazz duo can be found in MOzen Bistro during brunch ($58), from noon to 2:30 p.m. And, later in the evening, live jazz can also be enjoyed in Mandarin Bar from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with no cover charge. Previously, live jazz was held on Wednesday nights, and only in the bar.
CityCenter / Openings / Closings / Vdara / The Crystals / Aria / → All Tags
It's been just over three years from the opening of CityCenter and the mega-resort complex is still trying to discover just what will make tourists
hand over their money happiest.
Yesterday, Aria announced that SKYBOX Sports Bar and Grill will close next week on January 2 for "an exciting new concept." Rumor has it that it will be a second, more casual concept by chef Shawn McClain who already operates Sage restaurant at the resort. (Rumor confirmed. It will be a pizza joint, FIVE50.)
Earlier this month, Aria's sweet spot, Sweet Chill, shuttered to make way for a Starbucks. And, another Starbucks is headed to the nearby Crystals mall as well, according to employment sites. So much has been happening at CityCenter that it may feel as if a scorecard would be handy, so we created one:
Aria / Poker / Multi Action Poker / Gambling / → All Tags
Last week, Aria introduced a new type of live poker game called Multi Action Poker. Multi Strike video poker has been around for a little while now (don't confuse the two like we did), but Multi Action Poker is different, allowing you to play two games of at once.
At first glance, the table layout looks very confusing, but as odd as the concept is, it actually makes sense. There are two dealers sitting across the table from each other, each taking care of a separate hand. Everyone, dealers and players included, will be able to differentiate between the two hands based on the colors of the front and backs of the cards. At each player’s seat, there are two spaces, one marked with a blue circle and one with a red circle, on which separate chip stacks will be placed. A small wooden divider sits in between the spaces to help keep the chip stacks from intermingling. The two flops will be laid out on corresponding blue and red diamonds in the center of the table.
Reopenings / Buffets / Dining / Aria / The Buffet at Aria / Remodels / → All Tags
Aria has been slowly cooking up a brand new buffet experience after turning off the grills back in October. An improved all-you-can-eat fest will reopen sometime this month. (Aria is only saying "late" December right now.)
When it does make its debut, the buffet will look different, but it's what they will be asking us to put on our plates that matters. And, now, the hotel-casino is finally giving us a taste of what's to come:
Openings / SHe by Morton's / Restaurants / Steakhouses / Dining / Eva Longoria / The Crystals / CityCenter / Eve / Beso / → All Tags
We had assumed Eva Longeria's second go at the Strip restaurant scene, SHe by Morton's (a steakhouse just for her), would be just another Vegas delay. But, here we are on December 5 and it's still actively touting a New Year's Eve debut on social media.
We know what SHe sounds like, a concept so
strange surprising that it will definitely call for an in-person visit. (Don't worry. We'll report back.) But, while there will be lots of spectacle surrounding dinners at SHe, what about the most important thing? The steak? Vegas Magazine sheds a tiny bit of light on how SHe plans to be a cut above the rest in its December/January issue:
Just One Dish / Julian Serrano / Aria / CityCenter / Restaurants / Dining / → All Tags
Longtime readers should be aware there are two things this writer believes make everything better: bacon and eggs. And, peanut butter. Let us rephrase that: There are three things that can elevate a dish for us. The menu at Aria's Julian Serrano is full of tapas, but it's one in particular that liberally uses eggs and is Just One Dish that we always order twice.
The Huevos Estrellados: fried potatoes, eggs and imported spanish pork chorizo for $10. Yes, that's fancy words for french fries and sausage bits covered in eggs. Real chorizo bits to be bitten, not slurped like our last chorizo dish. Is it breakfast or is it dinner? Is it finger food or fork food? It's a crispy, spicy, runny all-of-the-above dish that needs to be ordered in multiples of two. Not at once mind you, not unless your party is four or more. Order it as an appetizer and then later as a side dish. Point at the menu if you're nervous about pronouncing it. But, it is everyone's patriotic duty to order these french fried pataters.
Cirque Du Soleil / Zarkana / Shows / Aria / Openings / Vegas Souvenirs / → All Tags
Last month, we wondered what happened to Cirque du Soleil's pop-up Zarkana costume exhibit at Crystals. The one that lasted only a few days. Well, we found out. And, we also wondered what would happen to the TCB ("Taking Care of Business") Elvis door handles left over from Cirque's previous show in this theater, Viva Elvis.
Well, the handles have been pulled from the doors and their replacement is a very boring brushed metal. Here's hoping some imagination comes into play and they kick them up a notch before opening night.
Drinking / Cocktails / Javier's / Aria / → All Tags
Sometimes, just one dish will impress you. At others, it's not so much the food as the drink. At the newly opened Javier's inside Aria, it was one cocktail in particular that won our approval -- the Margarita de Pepino.
Described as a blend of Azunia Silver, Agave Nectar and freshly squeezed lime juice, it was the last ingredient of cucumbers that caught our eye and that we just couldn't move beyond. There's just something about that crispness that hooks us every times. We've said yes to the Cucumber and Cilantro Marg at Mandarin Bar inside Mandarin Oriental. A wonderful mix of Milagro Reposado, cilantro, cucumber, agave nectar, egg whites and lime. And, at a long gone bar at Mandalay Bay, we once had a killer cucumber marg with a kicker of red chili spice.