Protocol Snow

Las Vegas 2009 trip – Vdara

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Vdara was the first property to open in the Las Vegas megacomplex of CityCenter. Although Vdara was originally designed to be a condo-hotel with residential suites for sale, the downturn of the economy forced it to be converted into a standard hotel. I stayed 2 nights at Vdara for my Vegas trip last month. Contrary to negative testimonials I’ve read, I had a mostly pleasant experience with Vdara.

Don’t expect your typical extravagant Vegas hotel/casino here. In fact, there is no casino anywhere in the building. Vdara has a professional, business-hotel atmosphere. Its contemporary feel matches well with the entire CityCenter project, but is that really what the typical Vegas visitor wants?

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

CityCenter was introduced rather poorly to the public, based on overhearing conversations from random visitors. Quite a few passengers on the tram ride from Bellagio to Crystals had no idea that Crystals was a mall. Curious people walked over to Vdara from Bellagio, only to turn back in confusion when they realized Vdara was literally just a hotel and had nothing fun for them to do there.

I imagine a similar confusion ran rampant when it came to Vdara’s parking situation. Vdara only has valet parking with no self-park garage. True, the valet parking is free, but I try avoiding situations in which I’m forced to tip, plus I don’t like strangers driving my car. CityCenter only has one self-park garage for all of its properties. Visitors to Aria will have no problem parking in the garage since Aria is next door, but Vdara is located on the complete opposite side of the complex.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

The quickest way to get to Vdara is parking in the Bellagio garage, then walking through Bellagio’s lobby and crossing a short walkway into Vdara. I only knew this because I had investigated it prior to my trip. If I had parked in the CityCenter garage (a totally reasonable move to make considering that Vdara is part of CityCenter), a substantially longer walk with my luggage would have awaited me.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Vdara’s entrance is isolated from the Strip and is strangely reminiscent of an empty airport terminal. I specifically likened Aria to a metal lab bench (“sleek and modern, but cold“), but that description applies to CityCenter as a whole. Can’t get much more sterile and impersonal than an airport terminal. It’s a very eerie sensation to stand by the entrance and look around. I would have no idea I was in the heart of Las Vegas if I didn’t just spend 3.5 hours driving here from Los Angeles.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

At night, the lights give the place a bit more vivacity. I said earlier that people not staying at Vdara have no reason to visit, but I take it back. If you’re wandering around in Bellagio anyway, take a few minutes and make it over to Vdara to check out the entrance. The quietness and serenity is really quite surreal and completely unexpected amidst the surrounding Vegas bedlam.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

The massive Aria resort-casino dominates much of the view from Vdara’s entrance.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

If you’re like me and want to self-park, you’ll have to make your way to Vdara from Bellagio. This is the walkway linking the two properties and is clearly a rushed, unfinished construction. First of all, the walkway is open-air. Temperatures at night were near freezing at this time of year. While you should pack warm clothes anyway when visiting Vegas in the winter, being blasted with frigid air is unforgivable when the walkway should have been better constructed. Halfway across the path, the metal overhead cover suddenly disappears.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Pipes and air ducts lay completely exposed. For many people walking into Vdara for the first time, these are the first visuals they see. My brother remarked that he felt like he was walking in a warehouse, not on the way to a major building of a $9 billion construction project. Hardly a great first impression. I hope that this walkway will be revamped in the very near future.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

After the walkway, this is the view of Vdara’s lobby from one of the far ends. Yep, that’s the entire lobby. This is the point at which I’ve seen some people take a few bewildered glances around, then walk back to Bellagio. At the end of this hallway are the registration desks and elevators to guest rooms. A couple bars are located on the left facing the courtyard outside Vdara’s entrance (aka the airport terminal). Immediately behind this vantage point is…

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

…Silk Road, a restaurant with a hip, groovy design that sadly seemed to be perpetually empty.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Slick hallway on the way to my 33rd floor guest room.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Vdara’s standard room is among the better ones on the Strip. Decor is contemporary and minimalistic. All rooms are smoke-free (in fact, the entire building is smoke-free, quite a rarity in Vegas). It’s comfortably spacious, which isn’t surprising considering these rooms were originally meant to be sold as condominiums. But on the flip side, as a condo the space isn’t impressive, if that makes any sense. I can’t imagine these easily selling as residences, so perhaps it was a smart move to convert Vdara into a plain hotel instead of a condo-hotel.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

My room had a fairly good view. This is accurately called the “partial Bellagio Fountains” view.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

A futon sofa bed comes standard in every room.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Very small kitchen next to the room entrance. A neat bonus for a hotel room, but a kitchen this small would be a dealbreaker if I were shopping for condos.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Clean and roomy bathroom, though not especially extraordinary.

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Aria CityCenter complex Las Vegas resort casino hotel Vdara room review

Vdara clearly isn’t party central and probably isn’t attractive to the typical Vegas visitor. But for those seeking a more quiet, professional place to stay in the middle of the Strip, Vdara may become a new favorite. While the location is a bit inconvenient, that isolation from the unyielding din, loud crowds, and smoke-tainted air of other Vegas hotels is simultaneously quite welcome and refreshing.

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Written by Protocol Snow

January 17th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Posted in Travel

  • http://kenleewrites.com k

    oh man, I want to visit Vegas! Hotel rooms are huge and so luxurious!

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  • Dirk

    The room looks nice, but everything else looks horrible. Hope they’re not charging much, since you’re inconvenienced with no casino, and no real parking. I’d probably take it for $90 a night.

  • http://www.protocolsnow.com Protocol Snow

    My Vdara stay was with a promotion for $130 a night and $50 resort credit. I was expecting them to force me to use the credit at the spa / bar / restaurant, but they simply said they would deduct $50 from my total bill. So that was nice.

    Oh, by the way, Vdara has a $15 resort fee per night. That covers the internet charge, gym use, and other stuff that didn’t apply to me. I always need internet when staying in hotels so the resort fee wasn’t that big a deal for me, but I know some people are very annoyed by it. The wireless internet connection at Vdara is blisteringly fast and might be the fastest Internet speed I’ve seen in a U.S. hotel.

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