This was our fourth trip to Las Vegas this year—I haven’t written about the other three because frankly the gambling results for me weren’t worth mentioning--not huge losses, but nothing very exciting either as I didn’t hit a W2G in the first 3 trips and DH only hit one. We stayed at Aria in January and Wynn in February and April. This most recent trip was to Aria—our fifth time staying there since they opened in December, 2010. As others have reported, there have been a lot of the positive changes since they opened—better lighting, kiosks are now easier to find and the restaurant selection is excellent. We stayed in the Sky Suites in room 51031 and I think the beds and pillows at Aria are even better than Wynn. If you’re looking for any cheap dining or movement outside of the Aria casino, you’re going to be very disappointed at this report. Just sayin’ We left Houston on our usual 7:30 am flight on Wednesday morning on United airlines and this time we were on an Airbus. I bet it has been 20 years since we’ve flown anywhere on an airbus. However, the pilot told us we could listen to air traffic control on channel 9—I always think it’s interesting to eavesdrop on the landing and takeoff process. Smooth flight out and for the first time since the Continental/United merger, the flight attendants were actually friendly. This was a welcome change from the last 6 months or so—maybe the growing pains of this new company are finally over. Arrived 15 mins early and met our driver at baggage claim and headed off to Aria. We had been assigned a room already, thanks to our host, but it wasn’t yet clean…..so off to the casino to gamble for about 3 hours. DH hates not having a room to go to when we arrive, but we forgot what a busy weekend this was and they were completely sold out on Tuesday night. This weekend was Cinco de mayo, Kentucky Derby and the Mayweather fight all rolled into one….whew!!! We escaped Las Vegas on Saturday at noon and were home by 8 pm that evening. Others have posted about the rooms, but I will compliment Aria on how cool these rooms can get. DH likes it cool at night and the Wynn rooms in Tower Suites don’t get nearly as cool at Aria. Also, the beds are amazing and as close as our real bed at home as you can get. Food: DH brought me coffee and a cheese Danish from Jean Phillippe each morning—the perfect way to start the day. He walked the strip each morning and was up a good two hours before me…..and I was still getting up at 7 am! Lunch—we had lunch at Julian Serrano’s with our host and her husband. The food and service were so great that we went back the next night and had dinner there. For dinner, we each had 3 of the tapas plates (huevos estralladas, scallops, beef tenderloin, stuffed dates, chorizo with mashed, chicken croquettes and Spanish rice pudding for dessert). Dinner for two with 2 glasses of cabernet was $105 before tip. On day 1 we had “linner” as we ate about 5 pm at Todd’s pub and I had a great Caesar salad with tomatoes and the chicken pot pie while DH had the corn dog puppies and fish and chips. Dinner with two glasses of wine was $75. We also had room service one evening and that was a big mistake. DH ordered room service about 9:45 pm and it didn’t arrive 11 pm. They told him they were busy, but certainly didn’t say the wait would be an hour and 15 mins for a very simple order. Yeesh! Again, my comparison is to Wynn where we have never had to wait more than 30 mins for room service. We walked across the casino into the City Center mall and had lunch at Wolfgang Pucks. DH had the Caprese salad while I had the tomatoes and parmesan salad for appetizers. For our main course, he had the chicken picatta and I had the four cheese ravioli which I topped off with a glass of zinfandel. We shared the Italian donuts with caramel sauce……yummmmmy! Lunch was $95 and charged to our room at Aria. Gambling: This was my fifth trip to Aria and I was really hoping to not get shut-out from the W2G’s this time. We both spend the majority of our time playing dollar DDB although I also play dollar triple play and lots of super times pay and double super times pay if they have it. Wynn doesn’t have any DSTP, but Aria has 4 machines—three that are just for that game and range in denominations fro nickels to $5 and then one standalone machine over by SPIN called 5 star poker that has STP, DSTP, quick quads, Ultimate X, etc in $1 and $2 denomination but single line only. I spent a lot of time on this machine as I love the triple play, but at $18 or $21 per spin, your money can go very fast. Our first session of gambling was pretty uneventful for me, but DH hit aces for $800 and 2’s with a kicker for $800. Session 2 saw me hit aces on single line and aces on triple play. I bounced around playing the dreaded nickel slots that tend to eat my money with no big losses or wins and virtually no bonus rounds. Should it be possible to play at $2.50 per spin on nickels (50 lines at one nickel per line) and not get the bonus after $200! Grrrrr to Day of the Dead, Siberian Tiger, Fire Opals—love those 96 ways to win, but they weren’t loving me back. I had a couple of decent bonuses on Cleo 2. Since I was ahead for day 1, I decided to try some of the dollar slots over by the players club. I generally see people hitting jackpots here and have been gravitating back to the dollar slots away from the nickels and dimes. I played a triple diamond strike machine and hit two red 7’s and a triple strike for my first jackpot at Aria for $1800!!! Whew—the curse is finally broken. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7149431073/in/photostream After that, I would play $100 here and there and finally cashed out a ticket having made another $700 on the dollar slots. There was a fun one called super times pay (five lines) where if you got 3 super symbols, you would get 10 free games at 2X pay. I hit that several times for $400 wins. No luck on butterfly 7’s or triple double cherry or triple double stars though. It was a very good day of gambling…… The next day started out on a horrible note due to an issue at work. It didn’t matter what machine I played, I was in a constant losing situation and DH wasn’t doing much better. Neither one of us hit anything on Thursday for more than $500…..I had one quad the entire day and it was kings. We were both relieved to have Thursday behind us. Bad karma at work and bad karma in the casino. The morning session on Friday continued to see me slide……I had been up on Thursday by half a royal and was now down by noon on Friday by a royal. Ouch!!! We played together for about an hour on the Ghostbusters slot as the Slimer progressive was over $1350, but neither of could hit that one. We did take the top 10 spots for the day though! We took a break for lunch so I could stop the bleeding of my bankroll and then took a nap. It was time to take one more stand….which could only happen after getting another marker. DH went to play the $ progressive (terrible pay tables for DDB—only 8/5) which he does well at every trip. I went to play single line $ STP DDB and DSTP DDB. Within about 20 minutes I get a text from DH which has a lovely photo of aces with a kicker—dealt quad aces and pulled the kicker. I cash out at my machine and arrive just in time to see him get paid. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7149608605/in/photostream I head back to my machine and hit a couple of quads and then hold a pair of 6’s with a 3X multiplier…..I don’t think much about that as I don’t catch too many quads with a single pair. However, today was a different day and the other 6’s show up for a nice $750 win. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7003429816/in/photostream About 15 minutes later, I get another text from DH that says “unbelievable” as he has held a pair of aces and pulled the other two with a kicker for another $2K hit. Again, I cash out and go and look at his fabulous result. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7149517059/in/photostream I head back over to my machine at SPIN and alternate between STP and DSTP depending on if I’m getting any multipliers or not. If I run out of multipliers on STP, I switch over to DSTP and this strategy seems to be working well. At one point, I’m dealt quad 8’s on DSTP and am hoping for that second chance multiplier, but it doesn’t come. I had been wondering if you could get a multiplier after holding all the cards and am rewarded with a 5X multiplier on a dealt full house. Question answered! And then it happens…..one of those hits on STP or DSTP that you hope will come your way but always wonder if it will. I’m playing DSTP and get a 10X multiplier with a pair of aces. I hold the aces and my breath, hit the draw button and two more aces hit the screen for an $8000 jackpot!!!! http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7149735765/in/photostream I call DH (who doesn’t answer), text him a picture, call him again and he answers this time and asks if anything is wrong because “I have that voice when I’m upset”. I tell him that I just hit an $8000 jackpot and he says “no way”. A security person asks if a slot attendant has been here and I say not yet, but I’m in no hurry. Well, they come right away, ask me how I want it (cash and pay off one marker please) and they handle it perfectly. I get my cash, play one more hand as we have dinner reservations in 5 minutes and leave my now beloved machine. I played some regular Cleopatra after dinner—forgot how much I enjoy the regular game. Get the bonus twice and cash out with an extra $100. Also played Diamond Queen—but no bonus on that game for me. First thing Saturday morning, I return to my favorite machine which gives up 3 small quads and not much else. I hit a nice bonus on Cleo 2 for $950 (20 lines at ten cents per line), but not much else. DH hits three small quads on the progressive, but can’t pull the royal even though it’s over $5500. Time to pack up and head back home. During this trip, I was dealt four to the royal five different times, but couldn’t pull the final card. One time I had a 2X multiplier and just needed a 10 of diamonds…..maybe next time. My last royal was in August of last year…….but, I’ll take a 10X multiplier with aces any day. I played “Build a Wheel” twice this trip…..the first time I was playing quarter triple play DDB and it took about $250 before I could fill all the slices. I hit a quad at the same time I got to spin for the slices and got 1880 quarters for a net gain of $200. I immediately cashed out. I was really lucky the first time I played this game (in January at Aria) as I was dealt a full house which showed all the slices right away. My second attempt resulted in losing $100 immediately without getting a single slice…..aaarghhhhhhh stupid carnival games! This and That: The computer systems at Aria have always been somewhat challenged and this trip was no exception. It was typical to have the system reboot itself and your card would start flashing red. We had $500 in free play that was put on DH’s card. However, I couldn’t activate my $250 of the free play until about an hour had passed after he had used it as it would take that long for the computers to catch up. When we got ready to use our point play at the end of the trip (I had 17,000 points and he had 7000), it was not available due to computer issues. So, we’ll be using those on the next trip. Another odd thing occurred when we were checking out—it turned out that our food for each day was only covered for a total of $150 per day. We had used $60 more than that on the day we went to Julian Serrano’s and Wolfgang Pucks in the mall. However, the Sky Suites front desk didn’t ask us if we wanted to use any of our express comps to cover the difference….and we have several thousand dollars in express comps. Thus, DH had to go back and ask them to use the comps—he was told that they will only use your express comps if you ask them to. Weird!!! Anyway, all charges covered except for tips. It was a “thug weekend” by Friday…….and I am assuming that this was due to the fight. The entire atmosphere of the hotel changed dramatically by Friday afternoon. Lots of hip hoppers and thugs everywhere, screaming and shouting, one young woman dropped a full beer bottle on the marble and watched it go everywhere. However, security and housekeeping were on the scene immediately for the cleanup and cordoned the entire area off. It was a good reminder to check the events of the weekend before you go. They could really use some better quality wine on the floor at Aria….now admittedly; I’m a bit of a wine snob and enjoy wine. At one point, I went into Bar Moderno and played at the bar. I asked them if they had any better wine than was served at the bar and the guy gave me a glass. It was better, but not as good as the house wine at Wynn—and the bartender made a point of telling me it wasn’t comped. Seriously…..I’m pretty sure I can afford to pay for this glass of wine. So there you have it—a fabulous trip to Aria with my best DSTP or STP jackpot ever. We’ll be back in Las Vegas in June for our 30th wedding anniversary and will be staying at Wynn.