Having failed at another live TR, I am giving you two versions: First a super brief and than a longer of two midweek days at Aria. (2/16-18) Brief: Enjoyed Cromwell, CP and Cosmo for gambling, Catch and Din Tai Fun for food and Aria Tower Suite and Pool for daytime relaxation. I took me a day, but got used to the changes in Vegas, just as the ones at home. Considering all that is around us, nothing is as it was, Las Vegas is definitely worth a visit. After the vaccine it is an easy choice, but even before, as in my case visiting midweek, I never felt unsafe, crowds so modest that distancing was easy and the safety protocols were followed. Longer version: Seeing the daily posts increase on the site, I know many a jonesing for Vegas. After six cancellations, I finally took the leap and drove (LA based) to Las Vegas on Tuesday morning (2/16). Having a Sonata with advanced cruise control and COVID travel (no travel), I had a relaxing drive only interrupted by playing video game peeing at Eddie World. I could describe what it is, but maybe violate some decency restrictions set by Sonya. In short, the stall has a camera system that tracks the direction of your aim and uses this to guide a video game display. So hold your pee until Eddie and enjoy. I had not Self-parked on the strip in ages, but Aria parking, now free for all, was easy. I later, when retrieving things from my car the next day, had my only run in with an unsafe situation here. Leaving my car close to the elevator and cameras made me a little less nervous, but the following day I saw a street race inside the garage and hustlers near the pedestrian bridge. The driving by these people was so erratic and dangerous that I was shocked Aria security did not react to this. Also the hustler (lady with a sad story about having no money...) was there for far longer than good security should allow. Now this was the only time I saw anything remotely bad and the rest of the trip all was safe and good as usual. The Tower Suite lobby was closed and remained closed for my stay, so checkin was at the regular counter. I felt uncomfortable using the app as it asked me to upload a scan of my drivers license. Turn out they scan it anyway upon checkin, though of putting this up on the web made me nervous. I got the room as requested and no need to pay for early checkin at 1pm. There I made my first mistake. I entered the room with my mask and while storing away food, cloths etc kept my mask on. I simply forgot I had it on. Only hours later when returning from the pool, I realized the room had a smell to it. I am a former smoker and just the hint of smoke in the room gives me a headache. Changing rooms was easy, just annoying to have stored away everything first. Adriana at the front desk have me an upgrade to a Staywell suite, which I first thought was a gimmick. After the first night, however, I realized that the air in the room was great, the mattress amazing and I had the best sleep in Vegas ever. The first afternoon at the pool was relaxing. Only one pool open, towels to pick yourself out of a container and everything redesigned to avoid contact. So no Jacuzzi and the SkySuite folks are only getting a section of this one open pool. The changes and the mask wearing did not bother me at all. Now keep in mind that even in the sun, this was borderline pool weather and rather than a nuisances, the mask kept me nicely warm. Using a large cloth mask my breathing was easy, but I did wonder how this would work in the summer heat. The pool closed at 4 and I returned for a nice soak in my room. Having a suite with a good tub was now more important than ever. After a nap and workout in the room (exercise bands) I headed for my 7pm Din Tai Fun appointment. Given that there are no shows, no clubs and me not having been to a restaurant at home in over 6 months, made making reservations and dinner planning ever more important. Dinner somehow becomes the main event in this new version of Las Vegas. Din Tai Fun did not disappoint. The space is vastly unchanged from the underwhelming Aria Cafe and food for social distancing. I set about 15 feet away from anyone else. The ambience, however, is not the greatest, made up by reasonably priced excellent Chinese dumplings. Afterwards I had to walk off the post dinner stuffiness and went to my favorite Starbucks at Cosmo. By now the one at Aria had closed anyway. I used the newfound caffeinated energy to head, via Bellagio, for prayers and BJ ($25, 6:5) at CP, BJ ($15, 3:2k at Cromwell and a tour through Paris, PH, MGM, NYNY, Park MGM with return to Aria all within 90 minutes! During this walkabout I noticed a few things. Mind you that this is a Tuesday night and the following night would not be different: CP, Crowell, NYNY and Cosmo were lively enough to have a decent crowd without being crowded. Aria and Bellagio were slow but still had enough going to be okay. MGM Grand, Park MGM and PH, on the other hand were so slow that I felt deserted and actually got a little depressed. This may have been an extreme example in mid February without conventions right after Valentines Day on a Tuesday and Wednesday, but a casino so slow is not any fun for me. Over this and the following night, Cosmo turned out to be my favorite. It was lively enough, had plenty of tables to choose from and the Chandelier Bar. The long, and at times sobering, walk made me yearn for a stable late night drinking experience and the Chandelier Bar was it. Great to see some of the old bartenders (Bryan) still being around. The hostess oversaw who was coming and going to make sure there was no crowding at the bars. For tables, you have to make a reservation, but I only stayed at the bar each night. Tuesday night all the seats (reduced capacity) were taken and on Wednesday only about half. This was still more fun than most other almost empty areas. Walking back at 1am to the Aria, I saw a few tables still with action, but only the Lyft bar open. Alibi and lobby bar were closed both nights. The next morning I had breakfast in my room: I had brought a travel water heater and instant coffee (Starbucks VIA), milk, cereal and made use of the fridge in my room to the max. The minibar was bolted shut and all snacks removed from the room in the spirit of COVID safety. My suite had a fridge right next to the bolted minibar. At first I did not see it and panicked a little when the minibar did not open and I had brought a whole cooler of yoghurts, milk, beer etc. All was good once I realized the second fridge still unbolted. Having breakfast without leaving the room was fantastic and while the coffee was not quite as good as Starbucks, it still beats the drag downstairs and standing in line, or waiting 45 minutes for room service, as I had done in the past. After breakfast I went back to the pool and found a nice spot in the February sun. On that day, I actually would get a sunburn on my neck. I am that pink This was the area above my shirt and under the face mask. A great save by the face mask as the sunburned skin on my neck was much easier to deal with than the face would have. I took a break from the pool around noon, and had planned to do this the following day, too. Salt and Ivy is the only outdoor dining option at Aria and I was disappointed at the totally bland food options. I did not keep my reservation for the following day and do hope the buffet will make a comeback in some form once safe. A second afternoon at the pool, followed by a soak in my tub was fantastic. I believe, being not hungover in Vegas made me treat this as a spa day, without actually being in the spa. The Aria Spa, as all in Las Vegas, has closed the common areas and one can basically just go there for treatments, massages etc. I usually used the day pass and just enjoyed the steam, jacuzzi and relaxation rooms. COVID now forced a do it yourself spa experience at the pool and in my suite that was surprisingly satisfying. My second night dinner was at Catch. I had also booked Yardbird, but cancelled when I realized to be short on my Aria food and beverage credits. Catch is amazing. The place is gorgeous, the staff super friendly and the sushi (had two rolls and tons of nigiri) as good as I remembered sushi to be. My judgment may have been clouded by not having sushi in almost a year, but I’ll be back here next time to confirm my first impression. Afterwards, forwent the walkabout as seeing all the emptiness got to me and instead headed over for: doppio at Cosmo, prayer at CP, 21 at Cromwell (the new Farner digestive special). On a midweek night I felt better being close to places with at least some action. Even at Cosmo things slowed down around 11 and I went to bed, almost sober around midnight. Woke up after another marvelous Staywell sleep and was not able to get a late checkout beyond noon as the team that can authorize later checkouts does not get in until after 7. I guess staff reductions are also happening on the backend. No problem, I had an amazing second morning using the suite to its full potential, checked out after more soaking right on the dot at noon. I forgot to go back to the pool as I wanted to see if it’s still accessible after checkout. The elevator and pool security now check if your key is active. It didn’t affect me this time, but on the past I would often spend the day at the pool after checkout taking a late flight back. Unfortunately my food credit was not accounted for and I went to the front desk and spent about 25 minutes getting this sorted. Everyone was super nice, but I can’t understand why Aria can’t make those discounts happening automatically. Summary: I was nervous returning and, at first, had to adjust to the New Las Vegas, but found my rhythm and had a great time. It was more relaxing than exciting, but considering the circumstances around me, a welcome reprieve. My next trip in May will now be for a full week as I rebooked from a two night stay.