CityCenter are the huge hunks of steel in the middle of the Las Vegas strip and owned by MGM-Mirage that has been under construction for the past few years. There are multiple buildings as part of the city and there were multiple grand openings for these properties. The final building to open was Aria, the casino and hotel, which opened while I was in Vegas.
I waited for everything to have their grand openings before exploring CityCenter. I walked over from the Bellagio where I had a wonderful cigar and Grey Goose and soda at the Petrossian Lounge. I was treated to some Christmas songs on piano while enjoying a Sunday night. This is one of my favorite spots at Bellagio.
I hate crowds and I didn’t need to worry about that when I headed over to CityCenter. After walking through the construction I finally landed in Crystals mall. This is a beautiful building, but the lack of opened stores was kind of depressing. If it wasn’t brand new it would have felt like a mall on its last legs and about to close.
I hope this isn’t an omen for Crystals. It could just be the bad economy. Right now, I don’t think the market needs more high end shopping. Of course, this wasn’t the case when CityCenter was being planned. Similarly, The Shoppes at Palazzo had a similar feeling but at least there are restaurants to bring people in.
From Crystals I headed into Aria. One of the cool things about both Crystals and Aria was the modern style and clean lines with interesting shapes and certainly not boring. Modern style only remains modern for so long and it will be interesting to see how Aria develops in the future. From the monorail station I felt as if I was looking at a building from the movie Tron. Below is a sweet water wall outside the main entrance.
The interior of the casino was very dark and the ceilings felt low, even though they weren’t. My iPhone couldn’t grab any interesting pictures due to the darkness. This is in contrast to how bright everything was on the outside.
Everything inside the casino was new. All new versions of my favorite slot machines – including a version of Top Dollar which I’ve never seen before that paid me $200. All of the slot machines were very bright and showed well in the dark setting.
There was one odd finding at Aria. There was a lack of ticket cashing machines. I walked around for a few minutes before I could find one. I only saw one in the entire casino. I’m sure there were more, but there was poor signage throughout CityCenter and this was just another example.
There were not many people playing table games. If I recall correctly all blackjack games under $25 use a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CMS). I don’t like CMS, but it’s better than 6/5.
After my tour I searched around and around for the monorail to go back to Bellagio. Since signage was poor it took a few minutes, but I found my way. The monorail let me off in an area of Bellagio that I’ve never seen. If I didn’t know what I was looking for there was no way I’d ever wander from Bellagio to CityCenter.
Overall, I have mixed first impressions on CityCenter. Everything looked very cool and very clean with some innovation that we’ll see in future casinos. I like the modern feel to everything, but that feeling was subdued by how cold and empty Crystals and Aria felt. I have the feeling that would have been even deeper if I’d gone into the other buildings.
CityCenter is still so new that I have to reserve judgement. After all, I hated Wynn after one trip and my December trip changed my mind. I’m curious to see how the property develops this year. I’m looking forward to seeing the difference when I visit later this year.
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