The important things to remember about City Center are that it's enormous and that it's expensive. So, don't get lost and don't break anything. There are condos, shopping malls, luxury hotels, and somewhere in there a casino. The architecture is more striking from the inside than out, and the public art is frequently cool to see.
Room Quality: At 520 square feet, these rooms are more than half-again the size of an average hotel room. The rooms are done in neutral browns and whites. The bedding and furniture are as plush and deluxe as you'd expect from a luxury joint. The differentiating thing here is, besides the bathrobes, the fancy technology. For this reason, some say this the best hotel in Las Vegas. Big flat screens, one-touch control of lighting, room temp, TV, drapes, room service and other stuff. If you can figure it all out, you can synchronize the room temp, volume and lighting to gradually wake you up. Bathrooms are all granite with separate showers and tubs. But, you sort of expect that nowadays, don't you? Want a view? You can pay extra for a "City View" room. Want a bigger room? Upgrade to a 920 s.f. or bigger suite.
Service Quality: Twice-daily room service means you can make a mess twice as often. The hotel is a swanky joint and they will strive to offer service commensurate with the other top-end players in town.
What You Get Bottles of in the Bathroom: Shampoo and separate conditioner, lotion, mouthwash and, although they don't come in bottles, bathrobes that you can wear while you march up and down the hallway playing the harmonica. Of course, you'll run into several other people with similar plans. Maybe you can start a band! Is it true that hairspray is included? Do people still use that stuff?
Clientele: To some degree, City Center is poaching from existing places on the Strip. With the fancy shopping in the complex and the high-end eateries, you can expect it to have mid-30s and up crowd who drive German cars and wear a lot of silk.
How's the Pool? There are three large pools, all shaped like ovals of some sort. It's a lot of pool real estate and a lot of palm trees to surround it. The pool is on a deck, not at street level. It looks pretty nice with big pools.
Resort Fee: (What is this?)
Aria’s $22.40 (includes tax) per night resort fee goes towards Internet, local and toll-free calls, Fitness Center access, daily newspaper, two welcome cocktails per stay and airline boarding pass printing.
Table Games: All the usual suspects are here including craps, roulette, Pai-Gow, baccarat and a handful of other games.
Bet Minimums: There are some ten dollar shoe blackjack games, not dealt from an actual shoe. But if it were, it would be a Mahnolo Blanik. Look for a $10 table or two at craps may open with 3x4x5x odds.
Machines: The machines are all new and smell awfully nice. Few grubby hands have been all over them. Expect about 95% video machines with a wide range of games from pennies up to the $100 plus machines. There is very little, if any, full-pay video poker.
Cocktails? The drinks are served fairly quickly and well. That is, as long as the cocktail waitress can find you. Better start tipping two bucks a drink because $1 will make them sneeze at you.
Who Gets Comps? Expect to be playing black chips to get noticed right away. Preferably a few black chips every hand. No matter what you play, use your card and track your play. The mail offers will come to fill up those 4000 rooms. The M Life slot club is meant to make you very loyal to the MGM casinos.
American Fish by Michael Mina: Picture this as your getaway lodge, your place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Go ahead, pack the wagon with kids and fishing gear for your trip to this rustic restaurant complete with birch grove and weird metal sculpture that serves up the delicacies of American lakes, coasts and streams. Trout, salmon, crabs, maybe a tasty little tuna and a few delicious newts are on the menu. Okay, no newts. The rest of the menu emphasizes the bounty of our waters that aren't full of toxic levels of mercury and poisons.
Barmasa: Bar Masa is yet another celebrity restaurant. This time, the food is Japanese and the chef is Masayoshi Takayama. His technique is to focus on the strengths of individual ingredients as opposed to whipping everything together in a blender. This is a huge and very expensive joint that serves dinner. Inside Bar Masa, is Shaboo, a small, very exclusive place that serves food Shabu-Shabu style. That means thin-sliced meats and vegetables cooked in boiling water, served with dipping sauces. It also means multiple hundreds of dollars per meal.
Blossom: A traditional Chinese menu served in an indoor garden setting. There is a lot of seafood on the menu, including a few lobster and crab dishes, as well as ribs and Peking duck.
The Buffet: Yes, it's a catchy name, isn't it? The Buffet promises to deliver a variety of international tasty treats.
Cafe Vettro: Here is the coffee shop, serving breakfasts, lunches and dinners. In the morning it serves the standard eggs, bacon, potatoes. A mid-day sandwich will set you back high teens. The dinner menu is designed around sort of fancy meals, not a quick bite before hitting the casino. Around the coffee shop is art that looks like huge, glowing stacks of green, plastic cups.
Jean Georges Steakhouse: You get one guess at what they serve here. Did you guess pizza? You're wrong! Pay us $100. Seriously. The correct answer is fancy steaks. And also seafood, like shellfish in rich sauces and big, fat lobsters. It's a sort of dark and foreboding space.
Julian Serrano: This place serves Mediterranean food. Specifically, it specializes in small plates that are meant to be shared. Popularly known as tapas. What you'll get are things like grape-leaf wrapped meats, roasted olives, toasted artisan breads and their world famous Big Mac. Naw, just kidding about that last one. You get those at Mcdonald's.
Lemongrass: This Thai restaurant resides on the casino floor. It's very modern and sort of austere. The food is traditional Thai, although they say it is a modern interpretation. We assume that means you can eat it with forks and get it with a Budweiser.
Sage: High-end American cuisine served in a pretty fancy joint. Lots of meats and organic foods. This place has some of the best vegetarian options on the Strip.
Sirio: They say this Italian restaurant has a "Felliniesque" decor. We guess that means you eat while sad clowns and ashamed priests watch. The food is mainly traditional Italian, served for upscale prices in an upscale room.
Skybox Sports Bar and Grill: Typical sports bar grub like burgers, chicken wings and lots of stuff fried deep down. You can watch the game while you enjoy a hot dog. Skybox also has take-out service near the poker room.
Union: This is a painfully hip and enormous restaurant that serves steaks and typical American meat dishes in one very open, very enormous dining area. The room is separated from the casino by only a brass rail.
The Breeze Cafe is out by the pool and serves cafe type food. If you love pastries, stop by Jean Philippe Patisserie. While you're there you can also get a sandwich or salad. Oh, and a croissant to drop in the mail to us. We're starving.
Crystals: What Las Vegas needed more than anything else was another shopping mall on the Strip to accompany the ones at Caesars, Planet Hollywood, Bellagio, the Fashion Show Mall and all the mini malls. Only, this one needs to be even ritzier. Thank goodness Crystals has filled that niche and saved shoppers from having to travel a quarter mile to buy stuff. The mall has a few interesting public art displays that make it worth visiting.
GOLD: This is a swanky ultralounge all done up in warm golds and fancy French-looking furniture. It is partially a creation of the Cirque folks who put on the nearby Elvis show, so expect a Presley vibe.
Haze: If you're going to have a nightclub in Vegas you have to give it a monosyllabic, mysterious name. Anything longer than a single syllable confuses the some of the drunkards. Haze boasts an enormous size and a fancy sound system.
Viva Elvis: This is a Cirque du Soleil show, this time to the music of Elvis Presley, much the way they appropriated the Beatles music at the Mirage. So, you can expect acrobatics, wacky costumes, elaborate sets and a lot of the music of The King. The story follows the life of Mr. Presley, but it does not include a dance scene commemorating his death on a toilet.
Number of TVs: There are eight big screens, with two really giant, very nice ones. Then, there are dozens of smaller flat screens. The room is separated into smaller areas, the two main ones each having a giant screen.
Number of Seats: Somewhere near 100 seats. What's important to note is that a lot of chairs are all plush and comfy. Some are set up lounge style in small groups, and there are a few sofa-type seating areas too. Then, there's bar style high-seating: bah. The racebook is its own area and has about 30 seats with individual TVs.
How Many Betting Windows? Six windows total.
Free Drinks? Yes, you get cocktails, but only if you make a bet. Don't make a bet? Then bring in your own 40.
Snack Bar? The Skybox Grill is next door.
Other Notes: This is actually a small room for a huge casino. To its benefit is that it's way in the back and not susceptible to loads of foot traffic. To its demerit is that it's way in the back and you need to walk a long way to get to it.
Number of Tables: Twenty-four tables in the room, making it one of the bigger boys on the Strip. It's a large room with a high ceiling and high-lighting, which makes it feel quite airy, even though the tables are packed together. A few tables are in a sectioned-off high-limit area.
Comfort of Chairs: High-backed chairs look like they were made from your grandmother's drapes. But, they are rollers and they're pretty dang comfy.
Closed Room or Open to Casino? The room is partially closed off, with one open wall (with some, uh, distinct card sculptures) and it will mostly stay nice and quiet.
Game Spreads and Limits: They have limit from $3-$6 on up, with an occasional mid-limit game. They have No-limit starting at $1-$3 and going up to $5-$10, and maybe beyond on occasion.
Beginner Games or Classes? No, they aren't interested in teaching you bupkus. Come in, sit down and play cards.
How Crowded is the Room? Not a terribly crowded room. In fact, with so many tables and so much local competition, the wait lists are only bad on weekends.
Comps? Standard MGM-Mirage comps mean $1 an hour and that's about it. If you play the bigger games you may be able to negotiate something else. We wouldn't know about that fancy stuff, though,
How Good Are the Players? For now, tourists and the locals who prey on them. It remains to be seen if any local pros occupy the condos in the complex, and use this room as their office.
What Else Do I Need to Know? Oh, it's a nice room. Very pretty. Prettier than the others? Well, that's like asking a father to tell you which daughter he thinks is best.