Last week, I asked an executive at MGM Mirage if it might be possible to arrange a brief walk through of ARIA's public areas in advance the Gordon Absher/VegasGang chit-chat session at Podcast-A-Palooza. I fully expected my request to be ignored, but held out a gamblers glimmer of hope that volunteering to wear a chicken suit during the tour might turn someone in that office's frown upside down enough to warrant a 45 minute Get Into Aria Free Card.
I'll let you know when they get back to me, but for now it looks like the first time we're going to get inside will be for tours on opening day. Waaaah wah.
As if by some stroke of magic, someone just happened to accidentally forget their ARIA interior photos on a table after Podcast-A-Palooza with a cut-from-a-magazine-ransom-note-style message that said - and I kid you not:
Do not open before December 16th.
Sinister, devious, comical. To purloin and pervert a related phrase, an awesome within an awesome. I'm Laughlin' so hard I almost forgot to remember to breathe. *rimshot*
Obviously, I can't post these photos (dealing with lawyers is not my forte), but I can use the written word to describe stuff in much the same way I would if the MGM folks opted in on the chicken suit routine.
Perhaps the closest analogues to ARIA's design style is recent-era Mirage with a spoonful of Red Rock's shimmering chandeliers and M Resort's uber sharp design and bronzed hues. The only things that reminds us of Wynn at ARIA is 1) the lack of drapery 2) the shape of the Breeze Cafe 3) natural light.
ARIA's very unfinished casino is bathed in natural light along the porte cochere, but it quickly envelops in a very Mirage like darkness. There are a handful of places where large skylights have been poked in the roof to provide a shaft of natural light during the day and a view of the stunning architecture at night.
There are no thematic features whatsoever, there is no recurring design language - ie. butterflies, flamingos, flowers - to unify the resorts identity. Obviously, they're not done yet, so we can assume that the delicate toys will come out of storage as the construction workers leave and they begin applying polish.
It is apparent looking at the photos that the budget has gone into hardware, not software. By hardware I mean construction, building, sawing, bolting, bending, measuring twice, scratching heads, measuring twice more and cutting once. Structural craftsmanship.
Whereas the Wynn/Thomas collection struts its stuff with pleated fabrics, tassle wrapped drapes, oversized pottery, complex mosaics, lush warm colors, and finely detailed woodwork, ARIA speaks with spaces and shapes. The swooping sharpness of an jet hangar that could do triple duty as a church, greenhouse or a hotel reception desk. Spaces are occasionally iconic and sturdy but fleshed out with repeating - yet mutated - iterations of shapelets which curve and bend in ways drywall, or whatever material is at hand, wasn't designed to.
There is definitely some truly fascinating stuff within. The Convention Center has a small forest/garden which "seamlessly" integrates the interior and exterior of the resort AND makes sense of the names they gave to their meeting rooms : Pinyon, Bristlecone & Bluethorn. The convention center is also home to some of the tallest escalators I've ever seen. The rendering in the ARIA meetings and facilities brochure is wholly accurate representation of what it actually looks like. Shocked.
In its current state (a construction zone) the decor of ARIA's non casino areas does not feel particularly cozy. Hallway flooring exudes a "vintage municipal" vibe despite the care put into jig sawing multiple colors of polished granite into Mondriaan-ish grids. I'm hoping that they are planning to roll out nice stretch of carpet in this little piece of DMV inspired wonderment.
The Poker Room is walled off by a purposefully disorganized array of rust colored metal notebook sized playing cards, embossed with their numbers, suits and faces in gold. They kinda look like this magnetic card sculpture but imagine it infinitely larger and painted by Ed Hardy. The Poker Room features a red and maroon squashed argyle carpeting with tangled outlines of the four suits - spade, diamond, club and heart - spread about in red, creme, yellow and white. The rear of the poker room has what appears to be a closed off platform where the bigger games will be. I don't really see the Big Game be moving to Aria from Bellagio. The casino decor, furnishings and carpeting are brown(ish) earth tones, with dark charcoal gray load bearing pillars which have occasional horizontal silver accents. The main casino carpet looks strikingly similar to the old Maxim/Westin Casuarina rugs.
Lots more to come on this tomorrow. If you've got any questions leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer.
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