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Bright Shiny Objects: Vdara Hotel, Crystals and Mandarin Oriental mark opening of CityCenter Las Vegas

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
The now-open Vdara Hotel shines brightly in the Vegas sun.

CityCenter's towering Vdara Hotel shines brightly in the Vegas sun.

Like a Broadway debut from the city it’s trying to emulate, CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip is opening…softly. Beginning last week with the December 1st grand opening party at the 1,495-suite Vdara Hotel, project CityCenter continues to open piece by glittering piece with the Crystals retail and dining complex and the new Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas now open as well. All three properties are, however, a prelude to the main act: the 61-floor MGM MIRAGE Aria Resort & Casino featuring over 4,000 rooms, a new Cirque du Soleil show – Viva Elvis – plus eateries from such well-known chefs as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Julian Serrano. Aria will open December 16th.

CityCenter is not just another high-end gaming property opening in Las Vegas. This 67-acre parcel of prime Strip real estate — site of the biggest privately financed construction project in United States history — is now home to a “city within a city,” an urban landscape of shining skyscrapers, public art displays, an elevated train, residential condos and even a “pocket park.”

We visited last week and got a first glimpse of the Vdara Hotel and the Crystals shopping area. Both are striking examples of the city-chic contemporary architecture guiding the entire project. All sharp angles and shimmering surfaces, the thin December sunlight bounced from one building to the next creating an urban canyon of sorts.  And, honestly, having lived in D.C. as well as having spent considerable time in NYC, we have to say that we really did feel like we were in a major metropolitan neighborhood.

We entered CityCenter via the new pedestrian walkway running from the Bellagio into the Vdara Hotel. It is a striking contrast to go from the lush Italianate surroundings of the Bellagio and into the stark yet stunning halls of the ultra-modern Vdara. (Be sure to check out the bar at Silk Road restaurant before continuing on into the hotel’s reception area.)

Bar Vdara is a cozy spot for a cocktail (albeit an expensive cocktail )and affords a great view of the interior courtyard of CityCenter which features a Nancy Rubins sculpture in a starburst design composed of castoff canoes. (Read more about the artist and see a similar sculpture here.)

The Crystals retail and dining area can be accessed from the Strip via a new pedestrian bridge and walkway (across from Planet Hollywood) or by tram (the “elevated train” mentioned earlier) from the neighboring Bellagio. (The tram continues on to the Monte Carlo conveniently linking all three MGM MIRAGE properties: Bellagio, CityCenter and the Monte Carlo.)

At Crystals, we found a lot of construction still underway with only about 40% of the retail area occupied by stores. This is high-end (think nosebleed-level) shopping. From the three-story flagship Louis Vuitton boutique ( a Strip-side LED light show will take place every night from dusk to dawn) to Roberto Cavalli, Mikimoto pearls, Hermes and Prada, this is destination shopping at its finest. BESO, a fine-dining spot from actress Eva Longoria Parker with celeb chef Todd English in charge of the kitchen, is open on the first floor. The spot also features, Eve, a swank nightclub.  Additional restaurants from English, Wolfgang Puck and other top toques will be opening in the future.

Here are some pics from our recent trip PLUS the latest promotion codes and links for getting the best room rates at both Aria and Vdara.  Also, check out the CityCenter website for more information on the project.

The multi-level Crystals shopping and dining area at CityCenter Las Vegas features numerous high-end shops.

The multi-level Crystals shopping and dining area at CityCenter Las Vegas.

Opening December 16, the new Aria Resort & Casino is the crown jewel of CityCenter Las Vegas.

Opening December 16, the new Aria Resort & Casino is the crown jewel of CityCenter Las Vegas.

The precariously perched Veer Towers form a background for the new Crystals shopping area at CityCenter Las Vegas.

Veer Towers form a background for the new Crystals shopping area at CityCenter Las Vegas.

Bar Vdara at CityCenter is highly-recommended for people-watching.

Bar Vdara at CityCenter is highly-recommended for people-watching.

There's a sculptural feel to the burnished metal portico marking the entrance into CityCenter's Vdara Hotel.

There's a sculptural feel to the burnished metal portico marking the entrance into the Vdara Hotel.

The CityCenter tram runs past the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas and Veer Towers.

The CityCenter tram runs past the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas and Veer Towers.

Vdara “Winter Special” Rates from $139/nt (2nt Min). *Stay Two Nights at Vdara Hotel & Spa at a Special Introductory Rate from $139 and Receive a $50 Resort Credit (*See site for additional detail and restrictions). Dec 1, 2009 – Mar 31, 2010. Promo Code: VRLVCVA (Exp 4/1/10)

ARIA “Winter Special” Rates from $159/nt (2nt Min). *Enjoy this incredible offer at ARIA, MGM MIRAGE’s newest resort-casino at CityCenter – Stay Two Nights at a Special Rate from $159 per night and Receive a $75 Resort Credit (*See site for additional details and restrictions). Dec 17, 2009 – Apr 1, 2010. Promo Code: AR159G75 (Exp 4/1/10)

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