Submitted on 05-10-2016
Lacks true value for money
Stayed here twice now, and there's no doubting this is a fancy hotel inside and out.
However, be prepared for staff not carrying out their duties properly, excessive queues at check-in and check-out, and long walks across the casino to get from the elevators to the front door. Then there's another long walk before you are actually on the strip. Give yourself at least 15 mins to make it from your room to the strip. Note: there are 'behind-the-strip' hotels that you ca...
Lacks true value for money
Stayed here twice now, and there's no doubting this is a fancy hotel inside and out.
However, be prepared for staff not carrying out their duties properly, excessive queues at check-in and check-out, and long walks across the casino to get from the elevators to the front door. Then there's another long walk before you are actually on the strip. Give yourself at least 15 mins to make it from your room to the strip. Note: there are 'behind-the-strip' hotels that you can make it from your door to the strip in the same amount of time.
As far as food and drink prices go, this hotel is right up there with the costliest. Even happy hour deals are still very pricey. Once you add a tip, you‚??re better off saving your hard earned bucks, taking a short taxi ride (or longer walk), and enjoying the much better variety and great deals on offer almost everywhere else along the strip. Tip: grab a cold drink, cruise the strip, and just take in the atmosphere while you decide where you want to go in.
Additionally, I'm fairly sure the only reason it calls itself a 'resort' is so they can qualify for charging their extortionate and compulsory resort fee. When you look at quotes to stay here, you are offered a ‚??room only‚?? rate. However, you can‚??t get a room unless you also pay the resort fee. Therefore, the room only rate isn‚??t correct, i.e. they don‚??t offer a room ONLY. If you want to stay here, your minimum cost is room AND resort (minimum).
Many will appreciate that the ‚??resort fee‚?? is commonplace in Vegas after the economic crisis of 2008, but for most travellers it is not good value for money. They claim that you get a bunch of 'free' stuff as a guest. However, as you have no option but to pay the resort fee, the services aren't actually 'free', they are in fact 'packaged'. In plain English, we usually refer to these services as 'inclusive' if the charge is mandatory. As they say, nothing in life is free.
For example, of the packaged resort fee services available from the Aria, we only used their WiFi for a couple of hours. Apart from one stop at the Lift Bar and one at the cafe, we were either sleeping or out on the strip, so WiFi wasn‚??t in high demand. We paid a total resort fee of $70 (plus tax) for a 2 night stay. Very poor value when you think about it. In comparison, you can buy a prepaid data SIM card in the US for much less than this. We did, as we were also travelling around California on the same 2 week trip. Cost: $30 (plus tax) for 2GB of data at 4G speed, which was more than enough for our needs.
As I‚??m sure veteran travellers will agree, times have changed quite a bit in terms of internet/WiFi availability in hotels. It's virtually a 'must have' now, especially for hotels that entertain business conferences. Instead of offering a WiFi service as part of your room rate, they appear to be profiteering by adding this to the resort fee. Given the size and popularity of the hotel (and that it‚??s part of the MGM group), I‚??m sure they have worked out a pretty favourable deal with their ISP & WiFi support businesses. I‚??d like to see what it actually cost them per person / per day to provide WiFi and internet access. I would imagine, it would work out at pennies.
So, unless you check-in at 3pm, are sitting in your room streaming movies all day, then hitting the gym for a major workout, meanwhile your partner is calling dozens of local businesses and making important legal documents, after which you both continued using the full range of resort services, and checkout the maximum 20 hours later (for a one night stay), then you'll be struggling to get value for money. Really, it sticks in my craw that I‚??m paying for someone else to have a document witnessed (see the Aria‚??s notary services as part of the resort fee). If it‚??s that important, why trust some random person at a hotel that has literally no interest in your business?
Oh, and if you think some of the resort fee goes towards securing the premises against 'local self-employed businesswoman'... think again. Or at least, they're not doing a great job of it for sure. We had to endure a very early morning encounter between an older inebriated 'gentleman' and his scantily clad much younger 'lady' companions (yes... plural), while one of them stood over him repeatedly shouting at him to, "just sign the check". The staff were nice enough to try and distract us while this went on, but I would have thought politely asking them to leave would have been more appropriate in this apparent class of hotel. What type of business and how it is conducted is no concern of mine (especially in Vegas), but the hotel are responsible for maintaining a level of security so that other guests are not impacted by this sort of public exchange.
Since our last visit to the Aria, you don't even get parking included anymore. So, that's another $10 per night... and that's not even valet parking... and it takes ages to find a parking space... and the parking garage is almost a 15 min walk from reception! At this point, I urge you to search online for the reply by Clark Dumont, Snr V.P. for MGM Resorts on this subject. In response to being asked about the introduction of parking fees, he ends by saying, ‚??Are people going to love it? No. But it is what it is‚??. For me, that says everything you need to know about how they treat their customers.
Also, the Aria will charge separately for breakfast, so not even a slice of toast and a coffee for your compulsory $35 per day. So, no breakfast, but you can use their gym. I wonder how many holidaymakers have breakfast daily and how many use the gym daily?
Many of you will recall the dark days where budget airlines would advertise super cheap flight prices, but leave out the mandatory charges (e.g. airport taxes, service charges, etc). This is basically the same structured payment model, but at an apparent 5 star hotel. Some would call that type of setup ‚??no frills‚??. Put simply, you always pay more that you are initially quoted, and if you want more, they are going to charge you big bucks. Not exactly 5 star treatment... is it?
If the hotel made it so that resort fees were inherently reflected in quotes (and I don't just mean in the small print), then we might have a much better idea ‚?? straight off the bat ‚?? of what our stay will cost. Also, it wouldn't be such a bad idea to show the tax inclusive prices as well. Let's face it, many of us travelling to Vegas are on a jolly (and not a business trip), so it's unlikely we are looking to calculate the net cost of staying at the hotel just so we can return our receipts to our employers or local tax inspector as 'expenses'.
I'm not suggesting that hotels should stop investing in hotel services to offer a high-class experience; just for them to be more honest about the actual costs so that when we look at hotel prices, we actually are given a more meaningful quote from the get-go. Most people (that I have spoken to) prefer it that way, as it helps us budget accordingly, even on those special occasions where we are primarily interested in the full 5 star experience.
Compared to some other genuine 5 star hotels I've been in, you will notice a big difference in quality of service. Beautiful hotels, well managed, in unique locations, with WiFi included in the room rate, plus use of the pool and/or gym, where you only pay for additional (non-standard) services on-demand, e.g. clay pigeon shooting, a photography session, spa treatment, etc. In my experience, a 5 star rating includes all the little things you would hope for as if you were a guest in your own home; i.e. access to ALL the common facilities, use of a fridge, etc. You simply don‚??t get any of this with the Aria unless you are willing to pay well over the odds for them.
While it's definitely a luxurious hotel inside, it's certainly not value for money or 5 stars. Only because it's still relatively new will they be able to get away with it for now. Give it another few short years when the cracks begin to appear, and you'll see prices tumble here, i.e. it only has that draw while it's in pristine condition. Alternatively, if they decide to do a refit to stay on top of things, expect a remarkable hike in standard prices to cover the costs. As it stands, I would rate the Aria as a 3 star hotel in fairly opulent surroundings.
I can tell you from experience that you do have options if you want to spend less and stay in genuine value for money quality hotel. For example, I won‚??t mention it by name here in case you think I‚??m working for them, but it is a lovely hotel just 15 mins walk from the strip, has beautifully manicured grounds, is spacious and quiet but has all the usual Vegas amenities (casino, bars, etc.), the rooms are huge and well maintained with large comfortable beds, your own in-room fridge, secure pool areas and a gym, high quality & reasonably priced food and drink, free parking, access to a laundry... the works! They also have a resort fee, but at least this hotel is actually a resort for people who want to relax. Their resort fee is about a third less than the Aria‚??s... and their standard room rates are about half the price of the Aria.
Oh... and the Aria Express... what a complete waste of time! Each station is such a distance from anywhere you might want to actually be, you're better off just legging it through the hotels and shopping arcades to get around the destinations. From the Aria itself, to get to the Bellagio (for example), you need to walk a long distance in the opposite direction just to get to the Aria stop. And what‚??s the Bellagio most famous for? Why... it‚??s fountains of course. And how far from the Bellagio stop are the fountains? I‚??ll save you guessing here... they are a long way from where you got off the ‚??express‚??. Why they banked the track at some points I have no idea. The train moves so slowly, you just end up tipping towards the person on the inside when going round bends. The track is setup more for a high-speed pendulum train that their version of Stephenson‚??s Rocket. A poor analogy perhaps, considering Stephenson‚??s 19th century contraption was probably faster.
Finally, if you are a visitor from the UK, watch for how they charge you! Our initial down-payment was automatically (and without our consent) converted by the hotel to be charged in GBP. Because they did the currency conversion (and not our bank), it actually cost us around $50 more on top of our first night charges. Only when you go to settle the balance at check-out are you given the choice of charging to your card in USD (which is converted at a better rate by your own bank). I don't know how to avoid this, but you should at least try booking over the phone and instruct them NOT to convert to GBP. The last thing I would ever allow the Aria to do for me is act as a financial advisor. This form of monetary exchange is a crooked practice, and should be stopped immediately!
Finally, it took them 3 attempts for them to produce a final bill in accordance with our actual final dues. They first tried to charge us again for our second night stay (which we paid on arrival). Then, the $50 credit they offered for the original billing error was not applied to our total spend at the bar & cafe. The last time we stayed here, they did something similar at check-out, so this wasn‚??t just a blip. Absolute timewasters, and frankly scurrilous. I seriously wonder how many guests have been stung like this and not noticed until it was too late? Needless to say, we will not be back... not for any reason.