he CityCenter complex began its debut early this month with two "boutique" hotels: a 47-story Mandarin Oriental and the 1,500-room, non-smoking Vdara. The Crystals mall of shops and restaurants also has been open for a couple of weeks. "I think it's wonderful," Monique Gin, a visitor from San Francisco, said of the multi-angled Crystals. "It's like walking through a modern art museum."
Aria has 4,004 hotel rooms, a large casino floor and surfaces covered with natural stone, wood and metal. Aria and the surrounding complex of high-rises - the brainchild of MGM Chief Executive Jim Murren - is quite different than the typical themed Las Vegas of glitz, faux pyramids, volcanoes and gondola rides.
"It's just not my cup of tea," Chris Thompson said of the design of CityCenter's shopping area. They usually stay at Paris Las Vegas, run by Harrah's Entertainment Inc, but were staying at Wynn Resorts Ltd's namesake property, because "it was such a good deal you couldn't afford not to come."
Struggling to attract business during the recession, Las Vegas casino operators have lowered hotel room prices and offered discounted package deals to consumers. "We'll have no problem filling up the hotel," Murren told CNBC on Tuesday. "We can make money even at very low hotel rates."
But the specter of a price war caused by CityCenter's more than 6,000 new hotel rooms has some Wall Street analysts worried. "New properties had been viewed as more of an opportunity to expand the customer base of Las Vegas," said Majestic Research analyst Matt Jacob. "But unfortunately we are still seeing declines in the markets ahead of CityCenter opening."
Aria will house 10 bars and nightclubs, 16 restaurants and a new Cirque du Soleil show, called "Viva Elvis," featuring interpretations of the King's life and music - from gospel-tinged numbers to Elvis as a superhero acrobat.