One of the nicest things about Las Vegas is that you can stay in luxury for far less than you would in other cities. Given that almost half of the city’s revenue comes from gamblers, room rates are set to encourage visitation. As the old saying goes, ghosts don’t gamble. My previous choice for our annual splurge was the MGM SkyLofts, but I think we’re parting ways with the property. It’s on to the Sky Suites at Aria.
The Sky Suites is one of the newer luxury properties in the MGM Portfolio. Located at Aria in City Center, it’s a Five Diamond hotel with almost as many luxury features as the SkyLofts. Being new has its advantages, however. The wireless access and air conditioning actually work. The touch pads that control the room are easy to use. The suites are up to date. It was simply a more enjoyable place to spend time than the SkyLofts, which always felt a bit cold. And with 442 rooms, starting at 1,050 square feet, the prices are at the low end of traditional five star hotels.
One of the benefits of the Sky Suites is that they pick you up at the airport. A few days before our arrival, though, we hadn’t heard from them, so we called. They arranged our car and a limo showed up to get us when we arrived. The hotel has a private entrance which leads to the lobby and the Sky Suites lounge. The ground-floor lounge had snacks and drinks throughout the day. It was a good place to load up on bottles of water before a day in the heat.
A bellman accompanied us up to our room and gave us a tour. There is plenty of room to spread out and we relaxed in the living room for a while. We had requested a Penthouse Suite, which also had a living room and dining area. It was 1,465 square feet and came with a kitchen/dining area attached.
The Sky Suites Room
The suites are simply beautiful. They had a modern appearance but felt warm and comfortable. Our suite came with a view of both the mountains and the Strip, so we could leave the drapes open on the floor-to-ceiling windows for a view of the entire area.
I’ve never understood the need for a large bathroom, other than to be luxurious in and of itself. No Bulgari amenities here, but I’m not complaining (much). The enormous sinking tub in the middle of the room seemed oddly placed, and the barely frosted glass cut back on privacy a bit, but the lighting was great and there was plenty of closet space.
The bedroom was one of the smallest room, but the bed was extremely comfortable. See that dark blanket at the end of the bed? I want one.
If there’s one area where the hotel was a little weak, it was service. It’s difficult to get everything right with a boutique property as large as this one, but one of the Las Vegas truisms became clear very quickly: No matter how much money you paid for your room, the best service is reserved for those getting it for free. A gambler betting $5,000 per hand at baccarat is likely going to be a far more profitable customer than I would be, so they deserve it. On the plus side, everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. They really did seem to care.
The downside is that they missed on a lot of the little things. I was surprised, for instance, that we never got a call from the plan-ahead concierge or to arrange transportation. Housekeeping never showed up when we wanted it to. We made a request for a certain time period every day, and they missed it almost every day. And while we were able to get a late check-out, they didn’t seem to have told the staff, who showed up a couple of times during the day to turn the room.
The most frustrating part of the experience was getting my Hyatt points for the stay. I gave them my number with the reservation, at check-in and again at check-out, and the points still never showed up. It took an hour-long phone call that involved four different people to get the issue solved. Note: If you have the same problem, call the M Life desk directly.
It’s Las Vegas. If they don’t have in and you want it, they will find it for you. The gym, the restaurants, the business center (and its $15 charge to scan and email a document) were all within reach. Heck, there was a Starbucks at the base of the elevators. Somebody thought ahead!
The nicest perk, though, was the private pool area for Sky Suite guests. There was absolutely no problem finding chairs, and umbrella or somebody to serve us. If you wanted, you could also rent a cabana. Every 90 minutes or so, the staff brought around a small “treat.” Remember, though, this is Las Vegas. Even at the pool there were no smoke-free areas.
The value equation for the Sky Suites is excellent. Midweek, the traditional one-bedroom suites start as low as a little over $300. The Penthouse suites can be had for $475. All rooms come with transportation to and from the airport and, if you use a Virtuoso (or other premium) travel agent, you will get perks such as breakfast (including room service), a spa credit and upgrades thrown in. Again, it’s nice to be in a place where the gamblers subsidize my room.
As affordable luxury goes, it’s hard to top the Sky Suites.
Cover Photo: Creative Commons
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