Vegas week on the blog is coming to an end, but I wanted to write a review of the hotel we stayed at, because it’s worth the price if you stay in Sin City. It’ll be a bit longer than my usual post, but I think it’s a fun read.
Aria Sky Suites
Once each year, we give up the trappings of points-earning hotels and stay someplace a little more upscale for vacation. This year, it was the Aria Sky Suites in Las Vegas located right around the mid-point of the main part of the Strip. For those who like luxury, it’s the perfect place, since the casino subsidizes the costs of the room with winnings from the casino (Stay tuned for some ways to save even more.). Since we don’t gamble, we benefit by default, and 75-degrees without humidity makes for great pool-lounging weather.
The Trip Begins at The Airport
Luxury starts from the minute you land. A taxi line? That’s for everyone else. Instead, the hotel sends an embarrassingly large limo to pick you up. The rock star experience continues at the hotel, where a gaggle of employees is waiting for you*. Check-in is taken care of in a private lounge. Hungry? There is complimentary food available throughout the day, ranging from continental breakfast in the morning to wine and cheese at night. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available. Now, it’s off to the private elevator.
There’s no such thing as a “room” here. Everything is a suite, the smallest of which is just over 1,000 square feet. You’ll walk into the living area which has a small fridge and table set-up. If breakfast comes with your room, I highly recommend the outstanding room service.
The bedroom and bathroom, though, are the real stars of the show. The bed is one of the most comfortable that I’ve slept in, and you may never have to get up, since everything is controlled by the tablet next to it. When you do stumble out of bed and into the bathroom, you’ll notice the large soaking tub and a shower the size of a New York City apartment. They also stock both bathrooms with soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and anything else you can think of. Everything is travel-sized and the amenities are replaced twice daily.**
While there are a number of amenities on the property (including, of course, the casino), the one that stands out is the pool The Sky Suites has a private pool and it never runs out of lounge chairs (We never saw it more than about half-full.). There were too many attendants to count, and they’ll happily do anything from set up an umbrella to bring you treats throughout the day. You can order poolside meals there throughout the day, although the menu is somewhat limited. The water is warm and swimming is comfortable. One downside was that there are no designated non-smoking areas (Remember, Las Vegas is a smoker-friendly city.).***
Overall, virtually flawless. We’re talking Disney-level good. Employees couldn’t do enough to make us happy and they were well-trained in the art of body language. They seemed to know exactly when we needed help, versus those times that we wanted to be on our own. I couldn’t say enough good things about the spectacular staff. Heck even the wireless network was good.
Naturally, it is almost impossible to totally avoid the casino. Like every gaming floor, the layout is a labyrinth and, of course, there are no signs for the exit. If you get lost in there, it may be days before you get out. Still, you can find everything from penny slots to five-figure blackjack tables so, if either of those is your thing, go nuts.
For what you get, this property is a ridiculously good value. Remember, your 1,000+ square foot suite is being subsidized by the gamblers, so the casino will give you a great rate just to get you in the door (As the saying goes, “ghosts don’t gamble.”). I’ve found midweek prices as low as $320 per night, and the standard rate seems to be in the $400-500 range. That’s what you would pay for a traditional Marriott or Hilton in many cities. Here are a couple of ways to make the deal even sweeter:
- Book through a travel agent. Agents who are part of luxury networks such as Virtuoso can get you added benefits, such as complimentary breakfast or a spa credit (or both). The price should be the same, but I have seen instances where the Virtuoso rate was higher, so be sure to compare.
- Use the Citibank Prestige card. The annual fee is a whopper and the benefits aren’t quite as good as they once were, but the card gives you a “Buy three nights, get one free” deal that you can use at almost any hotel and as many times as you like each year. If you use it even once during the year, you could end up making a profit, since the card also comes with a $250 annual travel credit.
And I wasn’t totally honest when I said that we wouldn’t earn points. MGM, Aria’s owner, has a partnership with Hyatt that gives you five points Hyatt for every dollar that you spend. You can also double-dip with MGM’s own program. It’s not great, but dollars spent at the hotel count toward your tier status.
Sadly, all good things have to come to an end, so we made our way back to the airport (The limo takes you back, as well.). Nothing like going from the Sky Suites to being herded onto a plane with 150 of my new closest friends, but I like to look on the bright side: I’ll be earning miles.
*Helpful hint: Even when we splurge, we like to be frugal. If your flight gets in late at night and you are going right to sleep anyway, you might as well stay at an inexpensive hotel by the airport and get your pick-up there. It can work on the other end of the trip, as well. If you have an early-morning flight and won’t get to take advantage of the hotel, have their car take you to a hotel by the airport instead of the airport itself.
**Take the amenities, even if you don’t plan on using them. There’s probably a shelter in your area that would appreciate them.
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