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Only a hour flight away from Las Vegas we visit frequently, sometimes once a month. I'll be sharing our trip reports, tips on making the most of your stay in Vegas, reviews of restaurants and shows we have seen, along with my thoughts related to our favorite place to get away from it all.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My 20k win on Top Dollar at Aria, Trip Report!

I slept in late at Wynn but was able to get packed and moving around by 12:45pm. Taxi ride to Aria was uneventful after I convinced him I didn't want to go via the interstate. Service started out well at Aria with the bellman quickly checking my luggage and no wait at the invited guest check in area. My offer this time for Aria was again a corner view suite with city view, $100 a day for food (this was actually a decrease from July trip when it was $150 a day) and $500 free play.  I had a nice man checking me in who gave me the panoramic corner view suite with city view but since I insisted that I wanted to be far away from Cosmopolitan and their Marquee nightclub noise I was only able to get a room right away on the 14th floor.
I still found the view mesmerizing at night with all the neon and video flashing on the strip hotels.
The bell man had my luggage to my room in 5 minutes. I was impressed that instead of asking me if I wanted ice he already had it in a plastic container and immediately put it in my ice bucket, while going around and showing me different features of the suite. While I already knew them it was enjoyable to watch someone who is so good at their job.
I hadn't eaten anything yet so I ordered room service which I have found at Aria to be quick and also efficient in that they have yet to forget anything I have ordered which has happened frequently at other hotels.
I had the grilled chicken cobb salad with red wine vinaigrette dressing and a side of balsamic vinegar since they didn't have a balsamic dressing, I made my own.
The breadsticks and pretzel bread that Aria room service always brings is yummy. Here's a tip about their ice tea, if you order a glass they still bring it in a half liter container and it's much less inexpensive then the half liter or liter.

If you want to see additional photos of the Aria corner suite, check out my July Aria trip report.
My last trip in July at Aria I lost a lot of my bank roll in just 4 days so I almost took a offer from a different property this trip even though I love the corner suites at Aria. I was so torn between what to do I asked for advice from friends on the blonde4ever Vegas message board and they encouraged me to book it again for this trip. Once in the casino it started out mixed with me losing a quick few hundred on penny slots like DaVinci Diamonds and Kitty Glitter. I made my way over to the $5 slots to see if I might get lucky there and it was looking good when I quickly hit $450.00 on Pinball. I then went across from Pinball and tried a $5 Top Dollar X2 X2 slot at $15 a push and while I got lucky and hit the bonus it only paid $200 which was disappointing on that size of a bet.
I then started to look around for Ghostbusters which I had heard was at Aria but couldn't find it so asked a slot attendant who pointed out where  two of them were hidden behind a wall across from Jean Philippe. I had to wait a bit but finally got on it and enjoyed getting a few bonuses and hits though they weren't paying me much. The lady next to me though was hitting tons of bonuses and they were paying off good for her and she told me she was up about $500 on Ghostbusters at $2.50 a bet. If you haven't yet seen the videos I took of Ghostbusters they are here:
After Ghostbusters I was just losing on pennies and dollar slots and I'm becoming concerned that my bankroll is going down in flames again at Aria like in July. Thankfully after losing my free play and then about $600 of my own money it was time to meet Tricia (pennyplayer) for dinner at Sage.
Tricia and I both ended up getting Sage's prix fix and wine pairing, it was reasonably priced for a Aria restaurant at $49 for the dinner and $24.00 for the wine pairing. At first we weren't sure if we liked our server but by the end of the first course his humorous style and mannerisms had grown on us. We both enjoyed the amuse which was red pepper and Romesco sauce for the most part.
Tricia had the onion soup for her started and it was quite different from most onion soups. I had the roasted duck fat heirloom beets salad with Crescenza cheese foam and toasted pecans and while I had reservations about duck fat as I hated the duck fat french fries at Strip Steak at Mandalay Bay in the past, the beet salad was great. My photo of the beet salad came out too dark, so I'm not posting it.
Tricia's enjoyed her entree which is Shelton's Farm Organic Chicken with artichoke, chicken truffle Ravioli and a cippolini onion.
My entree was delicious. Yes, its halibut again. I can't believe I ordered halibut for the 3rd night in a row! Yes, I love halibut, all the entrees were different and good.
We both had the crunchy chocolate and peanut tart with cassis sphere and marshmallow sauce. This was a wonderful dessert with the cassis sphere being one of the most delicious chocolates with a liquid center I have ever had. I asked if they sold them separately because I would have easily bought a box of these, but alas they don't.

After dinner we decided to take the tram to Bellagio to gamble as I had nothing good to say at that point about gambling at Aria. When we got to Bellagio we mainly played the penny slots next to each and Tricia was having some luck which was great, but mine continued to be bad. I'm not a good loser and I'm sure Tricia detected that my mood was getting a little sour. If Terri had been there she would have likely have told me "Missy, watch that attitude".  After a hour or so I was actually out of the $600 I had on me when we arrived and was ready to go back in defeat to Aria. Since Tricia had a early morning flight and was staying at Paris we said good bye knowing we will likely see each other back in Vegas on November 25th.
Back at Aria I return to my room to get a couple hundred out of the safe as I've now lost my daily gambling allotment. I decide to go for broke with it and then go to bed if I lose so I start playing the $5 Pink Diamond reel slot and luckily hit a handpay of $1200.00 very quickly! The slot attendants were there in 20 seconds and I'm not kidding. I didn't have time to pull my camera out of my purse and take a shot of my win and Aria is one of those strip casinos which won't let you take videos of the slots and you have to be quick with photos because they frown on those too. Fortunately I had a couple slot attendants who were smart enough to know it might effect the amount of their tip so they let me take the above photo before I was  paid.
Naturally I'm quite happy now as I've almost broken even for the trip and can now afford to play and I always seem to have my best wins after midnight. Since $5 Pinball was nearby I give that a try after Pink Diamonds and have a hit for $375.00.
After Pinball I decide to play $1 Airplane at $9 a push and initially have some luck.
A little more luck, the $1 is treating me better then the penny one usually does as far as hitting a bonus or wilds.
I get the bonus and for once don't pick cash and get to play it. My ticket is now over $500 and I'm liking Airplane.
Oops, one last hit but my ticket is going down fast, I'm staying too long on this airplane flight. I leave the $1 slot area and start playing the pennies. I try the new Batman Dark Knight slot which is interesting but only wants to take my money. I try some penny megabucks and no luck there. I spot penny Kitty Glitter one of my favorites but those cats won't play. I see a open spot on Hangover and I hit a few bonuses but each time my picks only result in a $8 cash win instead of one of the fun bonuses. There's a wolf run nearby but it doesn't like me. Geeze, I'm going back to the $1 slots for a while.
I decide to play the $1 version of Pink Diamonds and get lucky for a win of $240.00. My luck is looking up again. Then I decided to go back to $5 Top Dollar and was excited to get the bonus but for the 2nd time that day was let down when my best and last offer was $150.00 which felt more like a loss when betting $15 a push.
After the let down with $5 Top Dollar it's back to the penny and five cent slots for me. Five cent Da Vinci Diamond gave me some brief fun before deciding to go 13 pushes without any wins.
I spot penny Black Widow and recalling my streak on the Wynn machine I get excited when I get this hit  on one at Aria but it quickly decided to take those winnings and more. I play Sex in the City, but those girls are keeping those bonus games for someone else.
On a whim I decide to play penny Buffalo. Slot machine forum always has lovely wins on Buffalo by various members and I'm always trying to duplicate their luck and never succeed but tonight I hit a bonus and it pays me $598.10! I have a new appreciation of the penny Buffalo slot, thanks SMF.
After the Buffalo win I was feeling pretty good about penny slots and started playing Kitty Glitter, Survivor, and Stonehenge among others until I lost my winnings on Buffalo and then some. It was getting late around 2:30am when I won the $300 on the $1 DaVinci Diamonds and then stayed too late at that party and lost it and a bit more so I decided it was time to go to sleep. 

As I was walking back to the area for the elevators, the path led me between $5 pinball and the infamous $5 Top Dollar I had been playing earlier that day.  Pinball is usually my favorite choice among these two, Top Dollar on the other hand is the favorite of my friend Terri and I decided to run one last hundred though one of them on my way to the room. So it was a bit strange after my lousy earlier bonuses on this Top Dollar that I decided to play Top Dollar over my favorite Pinball.  My decision seemed to pay off when I got the bonus after a few spins and even had a cherry on the line with it, but my first offer was again lousy at 30 credits. I hit try again and the offer this time is 40 credits. I'm really getting ticked now with the poor bonuses on this $5 Top Dollar and while I'm not one to slap the slot buttons, I will admit to pushing that try again button a bit harder then usual and next thing I know the slot is saying 1000 credits X2 X2 and I've a win of $20,020.00! I quickly try to hit the take offer button but the machine has locked up and into the win.  I'm very happy, however if you are ever nearby when I win a handpay the only way you are going to notice it is when the slot attendants come running, because I don't cheer, yell or dance, in fact I stay very calm and this time was no different. I guess I sort of go into shock briefly. In fact my first thought was great photo op and I was fumbling around in my purse for my camera. 
While I'm fumbling around for the camera 2 slot attendants arrive and I'm not kidding within 30 seconds.  I ask them to wait while I take a photo and one of them hesitates and starts to object until I mention that another slot attendant had no problem with me taking a photo of my earlier hand pay and I see the other attendant shrug and nod to the one that she should let me so I get a couple quick photos taken. I'm sure they were both thinking that their tip would be more generous if they let me take photos and they were correct. I then tell them I would like a check for 17k and the rest in cash. Their response was wouldn't I prefer a credit instead at Aria. I'm thinking yeah, that slogan is right on, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but not this time! I'm taking some of that cash home before I likely give most of it back on future trips. When I stick to the way I want it handled they say it will take a while and they go off to do the paper work.
The slot machine in the meantime briefly played some music quietly when I first won but is no longer making a sound. While I'm waiting some additional employees in suits come by and congratulate me on my win. One of them asks me what offer it hit on and I told him on the 3rd offer and he said that is unusual as when the top jackpot hits it's usually on the first offer.  After he leaves I tweet my win on twitter and the congrats start coming in even though it's quite late. After about 10 minutes one of the suits returns with a slot mechanic and he opens up the machine to see if it has malfunctioned so I ask if this is standard procedure and the suit tells me at Aria they check the slot for any win over 10k before paying it off. Thankfully for my sanity and the serenity of Aria, there isn't a malfunction and my check is brought out to me, the cash portion counted out, tip given to the slot attendants and I'm calling my husband to give him the good news. After talking with Randy I see a message from Terri who is awake and saw my win and is very happy for me so we have a short chat while I tell her about how it went down.

Back in the suite, the win sinks in and I try to get to sleep but it's just not happening. I finally drop off to sleep though around 5:30 or 6am.
Next day I sleep in past noon and thanks to my great suite at the end of the hallway I don't hear any noise to wake me up. It might be a long walk to some of these corner suites but I don't mine because it means I don't hear the noise from other guests as they walk to and from their rooms. After getting ready I decide to celebrate with lunch at Julian Serrano. For those going solo in Vegas, Serrano treats solo diners well. They offer you the choice of the bar or seating in the restaurant and I asked and received a quiet table for 2 in the back. To celebrate last night's win I order this spicy strawberry cocktail.
Serrano is a Tapas restaurant so the portions are not large but reasonable. Above is the garlic shrimp I had which is delicious.
I also had the goat cheese salad which was tasty.
It was time to see where luck took me today and I tried some pennies, 10 cent slots, $1 and $5 slots at Aria but I wasn't doing much. I decide to walk over to Monte Carlo and I had some fun there playing the new Rockin Olives slot Monster Boogie. 
I managed to get one of each bonus some more then once but my pay outs on them weren't great. However I did have this lovely hit on a bunch of olives for $302.00 which for a $1.75 bet is nice. If you would like to see videos of the Monster Boogie bonuses they are here:
I found a $1 DaVinci Diamonds slot in Monte Carlo's high limit room and had a bit of action on it but wasn't able to take photos as it was in front of the cage where a slot attendant was sitting. I also tried a few more penny slots at Monte Carlo like Cheeseburger and others but wasn't doing well so I returned to Aria and played some quarter and $1 slots and while I had some nice hits on them, I wasn't ahead with today's gambling and was in fact about 1k down and counting.
I did have a brief thrill when I got a bonus on the 10 cent Cleopatra progressive and won over $700 on that bonus.
I decided to return to my suite around 8pm and order room service. I had scallops and a salad and they were quite good and they had the order to my room in about 35 minutes. I forgot to take photos so no food porn from that meal. I also decided to take a break from gambling and watched Crazy Stupid Love which was a funny movie.
After the movie I returned to gambling but was just losing on everything until I finally had a hit on a Ghostbuster's slot for $358.75. During this bonus which was the one where you tried to pick the ghosts out from where they are hiding in the ballroom a young man sat down next to me and made a cell phone call where I heard him telling someone he was done playing for the night but had made 11k. After he hung up he started up a conversation with me about Ghostbusters and worked into the fact he was a ex blackjack and craps dealer who now made a successful living playing craps twice a week with his system. During the conversation he mentioned several times how easy it would be for him to show me his system and perhaps he was just being friendly but I suspect it was leading up into some sort of scam where if I won during this lesson he would expect a large tip and if I lost instead, oh well that's gambling. Anyway I didn't take him up on his offer and instead left Ghostbusters and went back to my room to catch up on some sleep.
Next day I slept in late until around noon and made it down to the Aria buffet around 1pm. Reviews are mixed on this buffet and I have to agree with the ones that say it's not that great. Sure they have crab legs and lots of shrimp, but the Sunday brunch wasn't impressive and while the food was okay, there are much better buffets on the strip for the same amount of money.
Those of you who read my trip reports know I love desserts so it's not a good sign when I can only find one dessert that looks good enough to try at a buffet. Below was a pumpkin type dessert and it was good, but not great.
While I was on this trip one of my best friends from where I live had called and said she had to come into Vegas for a convention on Tuesday and was going to stay at Aria and would I stay over a extra 3 days and then return home with her on Thursday instead of my planned Monday flight. For the last 2 days I had been considering doing that especially since my husband said everything was fine at home and he didn't mind me staying, especially in light of my big win. But today taking stock I realized I was worn out, it had been a terrific trip, perhaps the best one I will ever have in many ways, but with running around at G2E and then the excitement of my big win, I was just exhausted, so I called and told her I was going home as planned tomorrow.
After brunch gambling again wasn't going well at Aria, though who am I to complain at this point after my earlier wins, so I went over to Bellagio where it wasn't any better.
Losing did give me time to tour the conservatory which of course had a fall theme.
To me it looked about the same as last year this time though it's possible there are some new additions I'm not noticing.
I wasn't able to tweet much this trip because I had a lot of cell phone connection issues with AT&T and Aria. Today I upgraded my iphone to the new 4s and I hope that helps. If nothing else photos that I take with the iphone and tweet will be improved.
Back at Aria I finally locate the Betty Boop Love Meter slot which they had hidden behind a pillar near the poker room. 
This is a cute slot and I enjoyed my bonus on it. I have a video of that bonus here:

Later in the day when I returned to play Betty Boop again, it took my money, let me push the button once and then froze and said hand pay. Of course it was a malfunction and after about waiting 10 minutes a slot attendant came and gave me the money I had put in and took the machine offline.
Most of the rest of the afternoon before dinner I was losing on various $1, 5 and penny slots but I did have my best hit on $5 Pinball for the trip with this win of $725.00.
Also had some nice hits on $1 DaVinci Diamonds.
Looks good, doesn't it? Then why am I down for the day? Yep, even with these hits when you are playing at the $1 and $5 levels these types of wins only help you try to break even.
Of course it didn't help that I started experimenting playing on the $10 Top Dollar slots though at least I did hit the bonus and get $650.00 out of it.
I briefly flirted with $1 Cleopatra and while this hit was alright, I couldn't get the bonus on it this trip.
I returned to the penny slots and had a fairly good bonus on Genie.
It was now time to meet Terri at Jean Georges for dinner and I took my server's suggestion of the above Lychee Bellini and it was very refreshing.
Terri and I hadn't seen each other for a couple days so we caught up on all our activities while I was enjoying the bread basket. Normally I don't eat bread, but the bread here is super good.
Terri had the baby iceberg lettuce salad with blue cheese dressing that she really liked and who wouldn't with all that delicious bacon on top?
My starter was the bacon wrap shrimp with papaya mustard and again what's not to love?
So we're at a steakhouse and usually we would order a steak but after hearing the description of the three cheese crusted boneless chicken with lemon pepper sauce and baby artichokes Terri had that. I had a taste of it and it's one of the best chicken entrees I have tasted.
As I'm writing this trip report I can't believe I had seafood every night of my trip! I came to Jean Georges with the intention of ordering a steak but when our server told me about the roasted chilean sea bass with a miso-yuzu glaze, I had to order it and it did not disappoint. In fact I think I prefer this now over the miso glaze sea bass we love to order frequently at Tao at Venetian. The sauce had just the right amount of spiciness without overwhelming the sea bass.
The side of asparagus was fine, but nothing unusual.
Even though we didn't order a steak they brought out their signature sauces of soy-miso butter, JG Steak Sauce, BĂ©arnaise and a homemade hot sauce. I dipped my asparagus in them and they were great sauces and would be yummy with a steak.
I was too full for a dessert but I had to taste Terri's dessert which was a type of molten chocolate cake. Alright so I had several tastes, it was very good even though I normally don't like this type of dessert. Our server's at Jean Georges were both personable and efficient and I also liked the ambiance so I will definitely be returning to this restaurant with Randy in the future.
After dinner Terri and I gambled together at Aria but I could not get any substantial wins. The above nudging wild penny slot was among my best after dinner. Terri and I did locate the Rockin Olives Monster Boogie slot and had fun getting a lot of bonuses on it.
It was late by the time I went to bed, but I stayed up reading in bed for a while and admiring the strip view from my suite.
I had a late check out of 4pm so I slept in late. When I awoke around 1pm, I ordered the same cobb salad from room service that I had the day I arrived. After getting ready and then packing it was 3:30 so I went downstairs to get my boarding pass printed and to check out. When I arrived they told me as they have in the past that the $100 a day food credit is only good for 24 hours and if you don't use it all it doesn't carry over to a credit for the next day. Since we had eaten at Jean Georges the previous nights our dinners of course cost me much more then $100 so I told him to take it out of my express comps. For whatever reason instead he first told me that I had $35.00 still not used for today and he would credit it to my account before using my express comps. He then did that though he had to override the system which took a extra few minutes. I'm not sure why he did this, confusion on his part on the new M-Life comp system or something else but it worked for me!
After checking out and asking for my room key to work until 4pm, I went back to my suite and called for luggage assistance and instead of insisting that I meet them downstairs at the taxi stand to pick up my rather large bag (I don't travel light), he escorted me to another area on the other side of the casino where one would normally grab a cab at Aria that I had never been too and where there wasn't a line! For those of you who haven't been to Aria you don't catch a cab at the same spot where one drops you off near registration, but up until now I didn't know there were two areas for cab pickups and one they really don't advertise for some reason.
Arrival at the airport was uneventful after I again had to convince my taxi driver I didn't want to go via the interstate. There wasn't a line really for security and the flight home was good. I really had a great time this trip, G2E, socializing and of course winning the 20k and coming home with most of it intact!

Next trip is soon! I return to Vegas for 3 nights staying at the Palazzo for Halloween weekend. Why back so quickly? Well, before I left on this trip I told the organizer Goldengreeke, of the slot machine forum's Halloween Stumble Meet that I couldn't afford to return to Vegas so soon after G2E and would have to miss that meet and then I jokingly said unless I win 20k. Who knew that would come true? So I'm keeping my word and returning to Vegas to have fun at the Halloween Stumble. My husband's take on this is next time I joke around about attending a Meet if I should win, I should increase that joke to a $100,000.00!


  1. Excellent trip report! So thrilled for you. Nothing like coming home with such an unexpected surprise. Have fun at the Halloween Stumble I am sure it will be a great time and I hope you quadruple the winnings you had this time!

    Tim (inceptiongeek)

  2. Thanks Tim, it was a happy trip that's for sure. I'm hoping to just make it through part of the stumble, I'm a lightweight when it comes to the day and night that GG has planned. :)

  3. I see you hit the 4-up Cleopatra which is good for me.

    Maureen and I are at the Encore for Haloween so we might meet. Greeke is there as well.

    Great hit obviously, especially the $20 cherry. :)



  4. Thanks, Dan, perhaps we'll run into each other. I'll likely be back at Palazzo by early evening on Halloween. I don't have the stamina of GG and the rest for the Halloween Stumble they are having to last into the late hours. :)

  5. very much enjoyed reading the details of the trip! I enjoy meet trips too. I travel solo and have no qualms about it, but I've met very nice people on the forums and Vegas boards and it just makes for a better time. We all go off on our own to gamble anyway often. Have fun at the Stumble lol.

    (this in NMchop, Blonde's board).

  6. Thanks NMChop, great to hear from you here. I'm looking forward to that stumble even though I have to make a 8am breakfast for it (shudder). :) Hope we meet up at Vegas one of these trips!

  7. How long did it take Aria to pay you after you hit? (another board member's 5 hour wait got me thinking...)

  8. Between them checking out the slot to make sure it hadn't malfunction and the issuing of the check it was about 45 minutes. This hit happened around 2am in the morning.

  9. As someone who normally stays at Wynn how would you say Aria compares overall - do you think I would miss the Wynn or is Aria comparable? (For the record I like modern design).

    Also you seem to stay at Palazzo a lot of Wynn, Aria, and Palazzo, how would you compare & rank them?

  10. I like all 3 properties but it's hard to beat Wynn for service, so you might miss it.

    Not knowing what is the most important features in a hotel casino to you personally I can't really compare apples to apples for you and take into consideration your personal likes and dislikes, but here's my thoughts anyway. ;)

    I've always been treated well at Aria, but some of my friends have had some service issues, so they can be inconsistent. What draws me to Aria the most, other then the big win I had there the beginning of October are those corner suites with the strip views, I just love them. Also, while some don't like it's location for the fact you can't walk out and be immediately on the strip sidewalk, I like walking around the corner into Monte Carlo, and find it easy to take the free tram to Bellagio and from there find it easy to get to Cosmo and other strip properties.

    Palazzo on the other hand feels like home. Love the slot selection they have at Palazzo and Venetian, consider it the best on the strip and my host has so far treated me well with personal service. I'm also partial to a lot of the restaurants at V&P like Tao, Cut and Grand Lux.

    Based on my own personal opinion and what I look for I would rank them :


    However a lot of time the choice of which of those 3 properties to stay at depends on who is offer me the best upfront deal in comps as I enjoy all three.

  11. Thanks for the reply. I guess I would say the two most important things to me are service (both overall & from the hosting staff) and dining - I like a good lineup of great restaurants. I also like places that tend to be less crowded - which is why I usually avoid Bellagio & MGM Grand LOL.

    I haven't been crazy about some of the changes at Wynn lately (I think the restaurants have been slipping and the clubs have been bringing in a rowdier crowd that sometimes gets on my nerves, especially over on the Encore side, which is why I've been considering a change)...but at the same time I do love the suites and the service at Wynn so much I'm afraid if I go anywhere else I'll be disappointed, especially since I only get out to Vegas about twice a year...but Palazzo & Aria are the two I've been most considering jumping ship too

  12. I like the service at Aria and Palazzo, but I can understand why you hesitate to try something new when you love the Wynn and it likely feels like home to you. I agree with you about the club crowd but unfortunately that seems to be a issue these days at the majority of the luxury strip hotels.

    Whatever you decide let me know how your next trip goes.


  13. do they comp your corner suite

  14. My corner suites I have had at Aria have always been comped. However, sometimes when they fully booked and my upfront offer doesn't specify suite, they won't upgrade me to a corner suite, but so far that has only happened once. However it does help to be tier level NOIR with M-Life to get the upgrade or to be on the upper end of the points with the Platinum tier.

  15. Awesomeness.... I love it, glad you found your winning moment!!!