Gone are the days of hokey western-themed, brightly lit, cheesy casinos. What the casino industry is shifting towards is opulent high-end resort-style casinos.
I adore this move. I love to gamble on the casino floor.
But it’s also nice to also leave the casino floor and be transported to a high-end exclusive resort.
This trend looks like it’s in for the long haul too.
I am going to take you on a whirlwind tour of the best casino resorts the world has to offer. We are going to visit some American names you’ve heard of, maybe even visited, and some that is what gambling girl’s dreams are made of.
In this series, I am going to share with you my experiences at these luxury resort casinos. I wish I could spend the rest of the years traveling the world to tell you about these stunning properties.
Please note that these properties are in no particular order. I will let you make your own decision on your favorite(s).
Aria Resort and Casino – What’s That?
The Aria Resort and Casino is a newcomer to this list. An MGM property, this resort casino is marketed towards the younger gambler.
If you look at their website, you get a millennial vibe, as if they were cast on Mad Men. I like the juxtaposition of 60’s cool with a modern touch for the new high roller.
City Center on the Vegas Strip
The Aria is located in the Strip’s City Center. This new 76-acre mixed-use complex is made up of casinos, resorts/ hotels, dining, and shopping. This type of urban development is popping up as a tribute to Brooklyn’s ability to offer it all in but in an urban setting.
This new addition to the Strip is what is keeping Vegas current for new generations. They are looking for all-inclusive without the clunkiness of old Vegas.
Other attractions include the Aria Express, a tram that connects the City Center properties to both sides of the famed Bellagio. Visitors can also indulge in high-end retail shopping and restaurants.
The Casino Floor
The casino floor of the Aria is comprised of 150,000 square feet of modern gambling options. The casino floor offers slots, table games, a high roller club room, and a sportsbook.
The high roller room offers skylights to carry the clean design and move from stuffy old Vegas.
The casino security system is run from a 3,000 square foot home base operation. This gives the management an eagle-eye view of the entire floor as well as the newest security in technology.
For those put off by smoking on the casino floor, Aria boasts a clean air system to almost filter out the presence of smoking on the floor.
Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam War Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C., was brought into to design the hanging Colorado River sculpture that is comprised of 87 feet of repurposed silver. The stunning sculpture is fittingly named Silver River.
The lobby also displays a water feature with light displays that are choreographed to music. Much like the fountains at the Bellagio (a sister property of the Aria), the “Lumia” is a draw in itself. The Lumia was designed and constructed by WET.
The Aria is also the only hotel of its size that is to receive LEED Gold certification. This also speaks to the younger visitor’s environmental values.
Sleep in Opulence
The Aria’s hotel is comprised of over 4,000 rooms on four million square feet. Within this expansive hotel, the property has 568 suites, and the VIP tower is aptly named the Sky Suites.
The Sky Suites are an AAA-5 Diamond rated Star hotel separate from the rest of the accommodations. The Sky Suites include private access and VIP transport between the Las Vegas Airport. The entire fleet of limos is run on compressed natural gas. This continues the care for the environment that is so important to the hotel’s clientele.
I can live my tech dreams vicariously through a stay in any of the rooms offered at this luxury resort and casino
The rooms in Aria are entirely automated through a touchscreen command center.
Can you imagine my delight when my love of automation was fulfilled when I found out I could control all the HVAC, lights, and electronics just by touching a screen?
The rooms in the main hotel range from 520 square feet up to 2,060 square feet. The top two floors are home to the Sky Villas. I imagine this where all my daughter’s favorite music celebrities and son’s athletic heroes stay.
The Sky Villas and Skye Suites are also a Forbes Five Star Hotel. All standard rooms are nonsmoking. This can be a hard find in smoker-friendly Las Vegas.
Are You Hungry?
The Aria is a foodie’s dream come true. I love eating on vacation, and I’m not unusual.
Luckily, Aria offers 17 eating establishments.
They have 13 traditional sit-down restaurants and four fast-casual options. They also have a Starbucks.
While we were staying at the Aria last time, we ate as many meals as possible.
Here were my top two experiences.
Lemongrass – Thai
I’ve loved Thai food since I was 10 when my dad took me to a hole in the wall Thai restaurant in South Philadelphia. I was in love. I have been waiting for a casino to open an excellent Thai restaurant, and the Aria did it with Lemongrass.
We started with the spicy cucumber salad and fried tofu. That would’ve been enough, but because I am on a constant mission to eat my 140 pounds of weight in Thai, it wasn’t.
We shared the lobster Tom Kha coconut soup. This soup is my favorite when going for Thai.
It’s always a good litmus test for a good Thai restaurant. Just like a BBQ place can be judged solely on its smoked sausage. I’m from Texas, I know BBQ.
I love spicy. I’m not talking about a seeded jalapeno or the run of the mill spicy of jalapeno ranch. I am talking spicy. Lemongrass satisfied my need for the burn when we ordered my favorite Thai curry, yellow.
The potatoes were tender, the onion crunch just right, and they hit it out of the park with the juicy beef and spice level.
Bardot Brasserie – French
I knew that I wanted to save this French establishment for our last meal. I wanted everything on the menu.
French can be off-putting — scary even. A brasserie is a French bistro. Bistro means bar in French. When I found that out, it took a lot of the high society fanciness out of French food for me in my 20s.
Don’t get me wrong. The French version of bar food involves much classier ingredients than frozen fried snacks and wings.
We walked into Bardot for our 7:30 reservation. We were stunned by the beauty of the space. I was transported back in time to the beatnik vibes of 1960s Paris.
Golden light delicately played from the chandeliers on to the finished concrete floors. It was welcoming and elegant at once.
The wine list is every oenophile’s dreams come true. We started with a bottle of the Sancerre, a French dry white made from the sauvignon blanc grape. We ordered foie gras parfait and the pop tart flambé.
I am a huge fan of offal and pork. I was not disappointed. The Sancerre was a perfect match. Thank you, friendly waitperson.
As is my usual MO, I wanted more. We moved on the ‘fruits de mar’ (seafood). I can’t for the life of me pass up raw oysters. We ordered a dozen of their West Coast oysters. The minuet sauce was to die for.
Still hungry, we moved on to our main course. I don’t have time for salad at meals like these. I do want to go back and try the king crab and endive Caesar. Yum out.
Our 3rd course arrived. I ordered the steak frites choice of flatiron steak, no sauce. The steak was 10 oz, Mishima, 5-star American wagyu. A cut like that doesn’t need to be disrespected with a heavy sauce. I want to taste the beef, not black peppercorn.
My husband ordered the poulete roti, a ½ roasted chicken that his boss has raved about incessantly since he ate at this restaurant. My husband is a company man. He said the chicken was the most tender, delicious roasted chicken he had ever eaten.
We had a Sonoma pinot noir with dinner by Kistler. This really was another fabulous suggestion by our server as its incredibly hard to nail a red with a steak and poultry.
You can order shareable sides, and we indulged. I have it stuck in my food-driven brain that it’s not a real main course if you don’t have a protein, green vegetable, and a carb. My trainer hates me.
We split the pommes puree (the airiest and light mashed potatoes), and the Brussel sprouts and bacon. Weird food rules followed.
This was one meal for the books. I was too stuffed for dessert at this point.
Please don’t be scared of the name of this eatery. This was one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas, ever.
I love gambling, technology, and food.
The Aria has so much more to offer than I could fit in this post. I can’t wait to go back.