We stayed at City Center this trip. We didn't originally plan it that way, but sometimes Las Vegas trips almost have a life of their own. We purchased Garth Brooks tickets when they were made available in June, and flights during Southwest's anniversary sale a couple of weeks later.
After finding out that our stay included an expensive night, I quickly locked in a rate for the last 3 nights at Mirage using a Players Club offer. Then I used an offer of my wife's at Gold Coast for the first 3 nights. This way we would be off-strip for the weekend, and have the use of the Mirage pool during the week. The pool is always an important feature for our early October trips.
Then fate intervened. I read that Aria Players Club offers for $109 per night were being issued as comped reservations. So I went into my account, and booked the first 2 nights. Then I contacted the hotel to confirm, and their system showed my reservation with rates of $159/$109. I mentioned my offer and the clerk said she would check with the Player Club. After doing so, she stated that there was an error in the system BUT Aria would honor my reservation. But we were still moving to Mirage for the last 3 nights.
I was aware of Mandarin Oriental's 3rd night free offer and it was not affected by the expensive last night of our stay (the 3rd night) so the total rate was quite reasonable. I tried to upgrade our reservation at Mirage to a Tower Suite, but it wasn't allowed with the offer I was using. Realizing that Mirage couldn't provide us with the type of restful experience we were seeking this trip, I used the MO promotion. So we ended up with a trip entirely at City Center. And we had never even walked into the place on either of our previous trips this year!
Oh well. Life is full of new experiences and this would be another.
Saturday October 2nd
We took a 9:45 am flight, which got us into McCarron at 11. No cab line to speak of. We find that the cab line at the airport is a pretty good indicator of Las Vegas crowds, and this time it was about right. Maybe it wasn't as slow as last year, but still not normal.
We arrived at Aria and our bags were picked up by a bellman. This was our first look at Aria and the lobby is fairly impressive. Not overly busy, but a couple of people at each line, as they use the MGM system of separate lines. We proceeded to Invited Guest. The clerk was very nice. She noted my requests for a quiet room down the hall, and after a search assigned us to a room on the 21st floor. Letting us know that she would contact the bellman to have our bags sent up, and maintenance to arrange for our fridge. The view isn't a major concern to us, but a quiet room is. I like the fact that Aria has 4 separate elevator banks for different floor sections, as it keeps down crowding and wait time.
We go up to the room, which is down a reasonably long hall, and find it faces Cosmopolitan. And at the moment they are not only still working on Cosmo, but they are using a jackhammer on the sidewalk. My fault. I forgot to explain that quiet meant away from all construction zones (duh).
So it was back downstairs to the same clerk for another room. She was very nice and apologetic. She then gave us room 50108, assuring us that we would love the view. And though it wasn't that far from the elevator it should be quiet. She was right. Our room on the 40th floor had a very nice view. On the left side a somewhat northern view of the Strip including PH, straight ahead an eastern view of the mountains, and to the right a southern strip view of Monte Carlo and their pool, also down to THEhotel.
We were pleased with the rooms at Aria. We liked the bathroom and the vanity area, which was well designed with plenty of space for two (and all the junk we bring). I had no problem with the attached tub and shower, although it is unusual. I especially liked that the room with the toilet had enough light. I hate feeling trapped in that small room without enough light to read.
The room itself however was too dark, mostly because they tried to save money by using low wattage light bulbs. All the bulbs were 60 watts. EXCEPT the bedside reading lights, which were those energy-saving 23 watt bulbs! And I'm supposed to be able to read with these? At home I use 200 watts, and even that sometimes isn't enough. Don't they realize that I can't do all my reading on the toilet?
After 15-20 minutes our bags and fridge haven't arrived, so I call maintenance and let them know we switched rooms and they promise to bring the fridge right up. I call the bell desk and the lady asks: 'Could you read me the ticket number?'
'Certainly, it's YVR226.'
'Thank you Mr T, we will have them up in a few minutes.'
Ten minutes later she calls us back 'Excuse me Mr.T, we can't locate your bags could you read the number again?'
'And how many bags are there?'
Five minutes later a supervisor calls. 'We can't seem to locate your bags. Could you please describe them?'
'Two are dark Samsonite rolling bags, and one is a black carry-on bag that says Mandalay Bay.'
'Do you remember who took your bags from the cab?'
My wife remembers 'Brian'.
'Thank you. I'm sure we will locate them.'
Fortunately 10 minutes later an apologetic bellman brings up our bags. We've heard of many who have had trouble with bags at the airport, but I must admit that we thought we were safe once we made it to the hotel, lol.
It is now 1:30 pm and we decide on lunch at the Skybox Sports Bar & Grill, so that we can watch the Padres-Giants game. It is the last weekend of the season and SF needs to win one of the remaining two games to win the division. I go make my Hollywood Park wagers and my wife stands in line for a table at Skybox. When I return she has a booth against the wall with a TV showing the baseball game. Of course she had to ask them to switch on the game for us. There must be 100 TVs in Skybox and all of them were showing college football. We were there over an hour, and in that time one other person asked to have the baseball game switched on. If you were a foreign visitor you would probably wonder how MLB manages to stay in business based on the interest in Las Vegas sportsbooks on a football weekend. Lunch was exactly what you expect from a Sports Bar: 1 Turkey BLT, 1 Cheesesteak, 1 order fries and 2 Iced Teas came to $47.
We then headed over to the race book to watch a couple of races and the rest of the baseball game. San Diego beat the Giants, so Sunday's game would determine who would win the Division and advance to the playoffs, and who would be finished for the year.
My races came out all right. Of my 3 races I won with a favorite, took 2nd with another horse, and lost with a longshot. I did hit 1 exacta with my horse that finished 2nd, so I ended up with a $38 profit, which almost paid for lunch. My wife wanted to watch Zenyatta win her 19th consecutive race (a piece of history) so we stayed until after that race, and then she went up to take a nap.
I now had a chance to check out the casino to see if there was any playable VP or any of my wife's favorite slots. She isn't really much of a slot player but likes nickel video WOF, WOZ, and the old quarter double diamond machines. Aria has a few Ruby Slipper machines but none of the original WOZ. They don't have much playable JOB. They have a few 9/5 machines at the $1 level, and some 8/5 at the 50-cent level. AND 4 machines that I missed that my wife later found (sometimes I'm so proud of her). These are Spin Poker machines, but they do have an 8/5 JOB pay table at the quarter level, and of course you can play just one line if you choose.
I took a walk over to Mandarin Oriental just to get some kind of idea about how far away it was from Aria. On Monday I would have to switch hotels and hadn't figured out how to do it yet. I spoke to a valet there who suggested I might call Monday morning and maybe they could send the house car to pick us up. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I did know that we couldn't just walk with our bags.
I went upstairs to find my wife up from her nap. As expected, we weren't really hungry enough for dinner so we decided that a visit to Jean Philippe was in order. You can't possibly go wrong having dessert for dinner, lol. Just in case there are 2 or 3 people reading this who haven't discovered Jean Phillipe at Bellagio or Aria yet, I am going to list prices. But understand, you can't adequately put a fair price on a great dessert. They are in fact priceless. Berry Crepe $8.50, Chocolate Crepe $8.50, Caramel Twist $5, Small Americano $3.50, total $27.57.
We then spent some time in the casino. Trying Ruby Slippers, which she didn't like as much as traditional WOZ. But we did get some play and saw the bonus rounds. I contributed $40 and she lost $20. And we also played Spin Poker, where I got a couple 4OAKs and ended up with a $60 profit.
This was our only gambling of the day. And the reason I mention it is because my totals, Race bets +38, Ruby Slippers '40, Spin Poker +60, for a profit of $58 resulted in what was probably my only winning day of the trip.
Sunday October 3rd
Danish and coffee from Jean Philippe for breakfast, and then it was down to the pool. The Aria pool isn't anything special but we enjoyed the atmosphere. We spent a couple of hours before the wind started kicking up, but we were going to leave early anyway.
We went to Wynn about 2pm to pick up our tickets for Garth. This worked out perfectly as we avoided the lines early and I'm sure after 5pm. You are given a ticket with your name on it, a wristband, and your hand is stamped. They do take this show seriously.
The baseball game was on so we headed to the sportsbook. And once again we found ONE screen in the far corner showing the SF-SD winner take all game. All the other TVs were showing week 4 of the NFL. We were lucky enough to get a couple of seats, so we were able to watch the game. And of course, SF won the game ending San Diego's season. During the game my wife called Maggianos and made a reservation for 5:30.
Maggianos was perfect for us this evening. It's a short walk from Wynn, and a place to have a nice meal in an hour. We really like the stuffed mushrooms there so most of our dinners begin with them. Stuffed Mushrooms $9.25, 2 side salads $8.50, Chicken Picatta $15.50, Mushroom/Chicken Riggatoni $13.95, 2 Iced Tea $5.90. Total with tax, $57.40.
Garth Brooks: Not much new can be said. It's a wonderful intimate theatre, and we had perfect seats, dead center in row M. And it's a wonderful intimate show. The type of performance you will always remember. His wife joined him for a couple of songs, but mostly it was just Garth and his guitar, telling stories and singing bits of songs. He doesn't blow you away or overpower you, but you are impressed never the less. I was not a huge fan before seeing his show, and I'm still not. But it was a wonderful show and I can certainly appreciate it. In many ways his rapport with his audience and the intimate atmosphere reminded me of Las Vegas shows from years ago.
We stayed a while to allow traffic to thin, and my wife contributed to Wynn's slot profits, then we called it a night.
Monday October 4th
We slept in this morning as we are switching hotels, and we don't go to the pool on moving day. Our Aria offer included two buffets, so we went for breakfast. We are not much for buffets, but will go to a breakfast buffet every once in a while. I must admit I was surprised and thought it was pretty good. Most of what I had read of the Aria buffet indicated that it was pretty mediocre. But most people were probably talking about the dinner buffet. There seemed to be a good variety, it seemed fresh, and the desserts looked very nice. I don't try a lot of different things myself, but I did have the lox and bagel, bacon both slab and sliced, some fresh berries, and strawberries and banana in cream. Everything seemed fine to me, and my wife enjoyed her selections. So we would recommend that if you want to try the Aria buffet that you choose breakfast.
We played a little Spin Poker one last time and prepared to make our move. This move was literally one city block, but also down one level, and certainly too far to walk with luggage. I just couldn't make myself call MO and ask for a car to pick us up. At heart I'm just a poor city boy, and I'm just not sophisticated enough to demand or expect special treatment. So we brought our bags down ourselves----and we took a cab.
And believe it or not the cab driver got lost. He'd never driven from Aria to Mandarin before so he went back to the Strip and through that entrance. I didn't really care because I had handed him $13 when I got in the cab, allowing him at least a 100% tip. The main entrance to MO was closed as they were replacing some windows on the 23rd floor. So the driver had to turn around and go back to the side entrance anyway. And even then the meter still only read $6.55.
The downstairs lobby at Mandarin Oriental is basically just an area to sit and wait for a cab or meet a hotel guest. The real lobby and hotel check in is up on the 23rd floor. And as you would expect it is impressive in a quiet way. In addition to the registration area,
there is also the tea room and the hotel bar, both with impressive views. I had reserved a Mandarin Room, which is on an upper floor and has a Mountain View. We were given room 2130, which afforded us a view of the MO pool as well as the pool at Monte Carlo, and Aria hotel along with NYNY, Excalibur and Orleans in the distance.
The first thing you notice about the room is the wood floor in the entrance, hall and closet area. It gives the room a very warm look. The closet area is on the left and extends about 8 feet, with drawers a full closet, and the valet closet. There is also a full-length mirror. This very much reminds me of the closet area in the Skylofts, only smaller. Next comes the bathroom. The raised sinks are easy enough to use but take up more room than conventional ones, and as a result the vanity area is too crowded. There is a nice vanity chair and makeup area with plenty of light. The tub is the centerpiece of the bathroom. It is on the side of the bathroom near the main room, and you can look through the glass wall and see the living area and even outside. Of course when in the tub you are facing the TV set in the mirror. The tub is very deep and difficult for children or short women to get in and especially out of. The bath amenities are everything you would expect. And there were little touches such as fresh orchids.
The bed was comfortable with great pillows. And the bed area had outstanding lighting, including excellent reading lights that were separate from the main technology system. The desk was equipped with convenient built in outlets and USB ports, making it easy to charge everything at night, and work if needed. It also had the technology kit, which had all the cables or attachments one would normally need. It also had a full range of hotel stationary, and even a pencil. And the room had little touches, like the flashlight in the bed-stand or the umbrella in the closet, and the fresh flowers in both rooms.
It was a nice understated room. Not as large as many in Las Vegas, but very well designed and the level of quality is evident.
My wife decided this was a day of rest so she settled in for a nap. I took a walk to the Aria casino and spent my afternoon playing Pai Gow (Aria had a $25 table) and VP.
Dinner was at MOzen in the hotel. It was quiet when we walked in around 7:30pm and we were given a window table. MOzen is on the 3rd floor of the hotel, and the windows face Crystals, and below the MO hotel entrance. Except that the entrance was closed due to the repairs being made to the 23rd floor windows above. So everyone who drove to the entrance was forced to make a u-turn in a small area and drive to the side of the hotel. The hotel tried to have a valet or bellman waiting to let people know, but this wasn't always possible.
It was great entertainment watching this take place from above. Most of the vehicles, of course, were cabs. You could see the drivers stop, and try and figure out the situation. Some would look for someone to ask, a few would figure it out right away, and some would drop off their fares anyway---even though they could tell there was no visible way to enter the hotel. We also saw 3 shuttles enter. Two of the shuttles just dropped their passengers off, not caring if they were stranded. One at least got out and tried to find someone to talk to. All three had difficulty making the turn to exit in the tight space. Because we had already been through it ourselves (in daylight) we found the situation and reactions quite funny. And it kept us well entertained during dinner.
This was our first visit to MOzen and I was feeling adventurous. It's very easy to dine out and always order items or dishes that you enjoy. But if you do, I feel you will be missing out on some wonderful experiences. The obvious risk here is that sometimes you will order something that lets you down or wasn't really what you expected. This happened to me. I ordered Mushroom soup, which was outstanding, and an East Indian Lamb Biryani. This was a lamb and rice dish served in a ceramic cooking pot. Even though I had discussed the dish with the waiter before ordering, the seasonings were not to my taste. Also the rice was a much greater part of the dish than I expected, and I am not really supposed to eat rice. So I ate a portion, and then passed it on to my wife. I have no doubt that the dish was prepared correctly, and was aware of the risk I was taking. There were plenty of choices on the menu that I know I would have enjoyed.
My wife did not actually order an entrée, choosing instead to have a small Chef's Salad, a Short Rib Appetizer, and a side of cooked spinach. She thought it was very good, and so did I after switching part of our meals. We both had different desserts and they were outstanding. Both were wonderful combinations of tastes and textures. Our meal was a relaxed 90 minutes, and a very nice experience. We will probably return, and I won't hesitate to recommend Mozen to others.
Dinner at Mozen: 2 Iced Teas $12, Mushroom Soup $15, Chefs Salad $15, Lamb Biryani $33, Kobe Short Rib Appetizer $21, Wilted Spinach $9, Large Fiji Water $9, 2 Illy Small (coffee) $18, Chocolate Delice $14, Mandarin Orange Brulee $12. Total with tax $170.80.
While we were out the Turndown Maid had come by. I mention this because MO added a couple of nice touches. In addition to the obvious including bottled water and a glass bedside, rose petals were placed on the tub and a beautiful water lily is put on my wife's bed stand. Asian art and garden images were put on the TV along with appropriate music, and also on the TV in the bathroom. We are very hard on the evening maid. Because most of our days are spent at the pool, we often shower late in the afternoon after the regular maid has cleaned. So the evening maid then has to completely clean the bathroom. So I always appreciate their efforts and tip them well.
Tuesday October 5th
We sleep in a little late and head down to MOzen for breakfast. We are seated at the same table as the night before, providing the same great view. I order Belgian Waffle with a side of bacon. 'I'll need some diet syrup with that'
'I'm sorry Mr. T. we don't have any.'
'Are you sure?' I asked in disbelief.
'Yes sir. We only have pure Vermont syrup.'
'Well I can't have regular syrup. Change that to Bagel and smoked salmon then.'
Are you kidding me? Mandarin Oriental doesn't have diet syrup! Who doesn't have diet syrup nowadays? Even Denny's has diet syrup! All right, I admit we don't go to Denny's. But I'd be willing to bet they have diet syrup.
My wife had the Walnut Banana Bread French Toast, which she said was excellent. And of course which was accompanied with some very sweet Vermont Maple Syrup, which she did not use. Salmon Bagel $14, French Toast $18, 2 Illy Small (coffee) $18, Total with tax $54.05.
After breakfast we went down to the pool. The pool is on the 8th floor and is fairly simple in design. There are two long lap pools on one side, with a hot tub. Then around a corner there is another hot tub and an infinity plunge pool with very cold water. Both areas have ample loungers, tables and umbrellas when needed. There were also cabanas, which were not used during our stay. I prefer the shade, so we were seated on the side near the plunge pool. It was very comfortable, although cooler than normal for early October, mostly around 75 degrees with a light breeze.
Needless to say service is a priority, so you are assigned a server. And someone brings treats by hourly, such as chocolate covered banana slices or smoothies or frozen grapes. There is music but it is very subdued, and the atmosphere strives for serenity. The Pina Coladas were creamy, the way we like them, and my wife really liked that they are served in real glasses. And they will gladly bring them while we are in the hot tub. The pool was never crowded when we were there, and it was a great place to read and relax. So we spent a pleasant afternoon there.
We decided on McMullan's Irish Pub for dinner. So at 7pm I called down to ask if the house car was available to take us to dinner. The driver Daniel had never been to McMullan's but had an idea where it was. When we got there the parking lot was completely full, which caught us by surprise. As far as we knew there were no sporting events or anything special tonight. Of course we normally just walk over from Orleans, so we don't have to worry about the parking lot.
We walked in and were seated at a table in a room on the other side of the Pub that we hadn't been in before. Within 15 minutes all the tables in our room were now occupied and people entering were standing around waiting, as the Pub was completely full. We had placed our order and were waiting for our mini Irish Nacho appetizer when someone came by and asked if we wanted to enter as a team in the trivia contest. The winning team received $100 bar credit. No wonder it was so crowded, Tuesday was Trivia Night. We declined, but certainly wanted to watch. The meal was excellent as usual, and I had the pleasure of indulging in one of my favorite desserts McMullan's Sticky Toffee Pudding. Another fun evening at McMullans, and we don't even really go there to drink, lol. 2 Iced Tea $5.50, Mini Nachos (house specialty with home-made chips) $7, Steak & Mushroom Pie $12, Bangers & Mash $11, Sticky Toffee Pudding $7, 2 Baileys Coffee $15, Total including tax $60.50.
The rest of our night was spent at Orleans. Playing the WOZ my wife enjoys, quarter 9/5 JOB, and a couple of hours of Pai Gow Poker. I did have one hand of note. The lady next to me had been playing for 5 hours and was down to her last few chips. I was dealt a royal flush, so she was paid the envy bonus. And then in the next hour she made a great comeback and was still there when we left. I was glad to contribute to her change of luck.
Wednesday October 6th
Down to the pool before 10AM. Breakfast was bagels and coffee, and another relaxing morning. I left a little my wife to lounge in the sun a little after noon.
I decided to play poker at Bellagio. This gave me the chance to take the tram. Like most others I was not really impressed. Maybe next time I'll take it to Monte Carlo. At least I could visit the Cupcakery, the one thing I meant to do and forgot.
I had to wait quite a while for a table, but still managed to play a couple of hours. The table was pretty good the 1st hour, but I really didn't have any cards to take advantage of the situation. The next hour was a slow drain, so I ended up down $25 for my afternoon.
We had 7:30 reservations for dinner at BB Kings. The live music starts at 8pm, so this gives us time to get our order in before it starts getting too loud. The great thing about BB Kings is that you want to drag your dinner out, so the more food the better, lol. Thanks to recommendations on TA we added the Sweet Potato Puffs with caramel sauce to our list of favorites. Had a great meal, listened to some good music, overall an enjoyable dinner. Fried Pickles $9, Sweet Potato Puffs $9, Bourbon Ribeye $28, Chicken Fried Chicken $17, 3 drinks $27 Total $89 less $25 restaurant.com certificate.
We also had a larger certificate that we didn't use, so my wife went to a larger table with a party of eight and truly used it as a gift certificate.
There really isn't much for us to play at Mirage, so we took the tram to TI. And I was really pleased to find that TI has now added some 9/6 JOB at the 50-cent level. So we played these for a while to put some points on our players cards.
Then we sat down at a $10 Pai Gow Poker table. It turns out that the dealer normally dealt Blackjack and had never dealt PGP before. So of course he was really slow and made some mistakes. If this happened on a Blackjack table people would get stressed or leave, but he had a good personality, and it gave the rest of us more time to socialize. So his shortcomings actually contributed to the mood at the table. We played for about 90 minutes, made a few dollars, and more importantly had a good time.
Thursday October 7th
After packing we decided on Café Vettro, the coffee shop at Aria, for breakfast. Where I finally got my Belgium Waffle with diet syrup. The coffee shop is nice but nothing special. They are understaffed. Because they don't have an employee to serve drinks, like the better coffee shops, this has to be done by your waitress. So even though she tries, service here is lacking. Hopefully this is just a sign of the times. IMO it is over-priced, but not more than the other Las Vegas Cafes (coffee shops). Omelet $16, Belgian Waffle $12, Smoked Bacon $6, 2 Coffee $8, Total $45.40. One nice thing is that we could charge this to our room at Mandarin Oriental, which is not true of all MGM restaurants.
Then we took one more foray to the Spin Poker machines to kill our last half hour. I was tempted to use my MGM points for free play, but decided it's nice to have a few dollars in the Las Vegas bank for next trip. On a nice note, my wife hit a 4OAK turning her $20 into $38, allowing her to leave Las Vegas a winner.
There was no line at all for airport security on Thursday at 1pm, sadly another sign of our times. However our flight was almost completely full, so we took opposing aisle seats on row 8. As I was getting into my seat I saw Ricky Henderson in the aisle. I didn't say anything but I knew my wife would recognize him. In addition to being an A's fan most of her life, she used to have an office on the same floor as MC Hammer where Ricky was a frequent visitor. So my wife blurts out 'RICKY. That's Ricky Henderson'. So any chance to have a quiet anonymous flight he had just went out the window. Of course, anyone who knows Ricky knows that anonymity is not something he really strives for, lol.
She remarked how wonderful his speech was at his induction this summer, which she knew he would appreciate. They exchanged pleasantries for a couple of minutes, while everyone in front was stowing their luggage. And then of course, I had to explain to the couple from Manila seated next to me who Ricky Henderson is.
As we were coming down the escalator to baggage claim my wife said: 'Those look like our bags'. Sure enough our bags were sitting there on the ground with a few others. It seems they took the flight before ours. Our luggage certainly had some interesting adventures this trip.
For those who think that just because we live in California we can hop a plane anytime we want to visit Las Vegas, know that we left our hotel a little after 12:30 pm and arrived home at 5:30. So even though our flight is less than an hour and a half, it's still a 5-hour journey in today's world.
Opinions, Conclusions, and Random Thoughts
Mandarin Oriental: Elevators. It's true that you have to take 2 elevators to get to or from your room. The elevators in the lobby on the ground floor can be used by the public, but they only stop on the 3rd, 8th & 23rd floors. From one of these floors you must switch to another elevator to access the floors with rooms. It's really not a big deal or inconvenience. We were staying on the 21st floor, so it was easiest for us to switch on the 23rd floor both going up or down. I'm sure guests on other floors were able to figure which floor worked best for them. These elevators were key activated, and I know for a fact that they would not work if you forgot to use your key. So the hotel did not have security checking keys in the lobby.
Butler closet: We didn't really have much use for this except for the morning newspapers (we chose LV Review-Journal and WSJ). I'm not going to have laundry done or my shoes shined. That's just not the kind of people we are. In fact my wife was up at 5am to go to the bathroom one morning and she heard the closet door shut loudly. Scared the hell out of her as she thought someone was trying to get in the room. It was just the guy dropping off the papers.
Service: It was what you expect, and expectations are high. Although my wife did say that after I left the pool Wednesday she was pretty much ignored. We did miss turndown service one night. But it was our fault as we left the privacy light on, and they did leave a card telling us we could call.
The only amenity that we took advantage of was the House Car. We used it twice, to go to dinner. The driver was friendly, and didn't mind the night we wanted to go somewhere off-strip. It was nice not to have to use a cab. The atmosphere was what we expected; quiet, serene and almost dignified. It is certainly not for everyone, and not for us every trip.
Aria has a lot of good things to offer, but I think it's going to have an identity crisis. Like THEhotel, MGM won't know what to do with it. They want to charge top-level prices, but won't deliver an experience to justify them. I would gladly stay there again, but I don't think I will find value there based on the pricing.
We got a little unlucky with the weather. The rain wasn't a factor, but it was about 10 degrees cooler than normal with most days in the 70's. And it was a little windy, which affected comfort at the pool.
We did very little gambling, partly by design and partly because we stayed at a hotel without a casino. Normally when you read a Trip Report most of the blank spots were filled with gambling. Not so this time. This time it meant we were resting. Overall we did lose, but not much because of the small amount of play.
The City Center Experience: We spent most of our time in one place. We didn't leave unless we had a reason. No sightseeing, no gambling, no walking around. The only hotels or casinos we visited were Wynn (Garth) Orleans (McMullans) Mirage (BB Kings) and TI (gambling). MGM would be so happy. It's exactly what they wanted. We spent our whole vacation in their little man-made city. It was almost like we weren't in Las Vegas.
We did not go to Crystals. We are probably the only people to ever spend 5 nights at City Center and not even see the place. We also didn't venture to Vdara.
We didn't see a porn-slapper or Timeshare Pimp and weren't approached by any hookers. We didn't see many kids. And once we got to MO there weren't any.
We stay at off-strip hotels and enjoy them. But they are always full service hotel/casinos. We've never stayed in a condo or timeshare in Las Vegas. Hotels like Orleans, South Point or even smaller ones like Gold Coast still feel like they are in Las Vegas, even though you can't walk to the Strip. Mandarin Oriental does not,
even though it is literally on Las Vegas Blvd.
Was it worth the money? A question I rarely ask myself and never in a TR. I don't know. I wanted a place we could rest and relax and was willing to pay for it. MO and even Aria to a certain extent provided that. Our other hotel choices wouldn't have. I was aware of the costs that come from staying at and enjoying the amenities of a 5 star hotel, so there were no surprises.
The problem with Las Vegas is that you could stay at a Mirage for a low price or an Orleans for free, and still have a great, although very different, time.
We love our October trips. We got exactly the type of vacation we needed. We rarely visit Las Vegas in winter and our next trip is scheduled for early March. I'm sure that one will have more activity, but that's the great thing about Las Vegas, every trip is different.