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  • Gabrielle Faust

Vdara: Discount Luxury at a Price


I will wholeheartedly confess that I am a self-proclaimed “hotel snob”. I grew up exceedingly poor — the type of poor where you have a wood stove for heat and a broken washing machine on the front porch. I know the value of every single dollar in my bank account. I know it, and I respect it. Therefore, when I spend said hard-earned dollars on a hotel room, I expect it to be and exceed what is advertised.


This month I took a little vacay to Las Vegas and found what appeared to be a great deal on MGM Resorts’ newest hotel in Vegas, the Vdara Hotel & Spa. Located between the Aria and The Cosmopolitan, with access to the Bellagio hotel via skywalk, the Vdara is almost exactly, in the middle of The Strip. After a very long day of traveling, no thanks to United Airlines (a vent for another post…), I was greeted by a very cheerful young woman at the front desk who made our check-in process very swift and smooth.


The room itself definitely lived up to the photos on the Expedia listing, to which I was very pleased. The bed was extremely comfortable; the bathroom spacious with a lovely spa tub, and there was a refrigerator and stovetop in case you feel like saving a few dollars and preparing a few meals in the room. The room was sectioned into a living space and a bedroom, as well, with a couch, desk, and two TV’s. This was where the “pro’s” stopped.

Now for the downside to this hotel stay…


First thing I noticed was the lack of a coffee maker in the room. Seriously? I mean, that’s about as basic an amenity as they come – even the $29 dollar a night bedbug suites on the side of the interstate have a coffee maker, don’t they? Alas, Vdara would like you to spend more to travel downstairs to their café or the Starbucks, or pay an exorbitant amount of money to have a carafe brought to your room. Which leads me to the 24-hour room service they advertise. Yes, they do have room service. Yes, it is 24 hours. However, the menu is very limited and VERY expensive. That’s when I started to understand the appeal of having a stove in your room. Honestly, if I’m going to end up spending $60+ (for food $24 - $36, and a glass of wine $18 -$30) on a meal, there’s 4 and 5 star restaurants just block away from Vdara…


A couple of details I also noticed were the “blackout curtains” advertised do not actually block out the sun as there is a good inch of space between the panels. For the technologically inept the room might be a bit tricky to navigate – there is a panel that operates the shades that took me calling the front desk to discover – and the rest of the services and info, including check-out, is done through the iPad on the bedside table. If you’re looking to swim, the pool is only open, according to the front desk and perhaps this is just during winter months (?), until 4pm, which I found strange.


And then there how you access The Strip from the hotel. There is no direct way to simply walk out of the hotel to the street. One must go through the Aria to one side, or travel through maze of the Bellagio resort via a skywalk on the other. On the flip side, there is a free tram that runs the perimeter of the Aria and Park MGM hotels and returns to the Vdara that runs ever 6 minutes.


However, the most perplexing and frankly insulting aspect of the stay was the interaction with the night staff. I was surprised to find basically the ground floor of the hotel completely closed at midnight. This is Las Vegas we are talking about, but you would think it was a bed and breakfast in the heart of Mormon country. The first night I returned around 2am. I was far from drunk, as one might expect in Vegas, and simply wanting to retire for the evening. When I said “Good evening” to what I took for a night manager, he replied sarcastically, “Good MORNING. It IS 2am after all.” And then gave me side eye as I looked away and walked to the elevator feeling oddly shamed. The next night I returned at midnight and was stopped by another staff member who refused to allow me access to the elevators until I showed my room key.


I did notice security posted at the elevators in other hotels, but I’m pretty sure the other hotels in the vicinity are not treating their patrons like scolded children or criminals. After the horrible shooting incident earlier this year I would expect there to be heightened security at all of the hotels and casinos. However, with Vdara there is no consistency. The first two nights no one asked to see my room key, but scolded me. The third night they were chasing people down to the elevators. That kind of vigilance doesn’t exactly make a patron feel safe.


Lastly, if booking through a site like Expedia or Travelocity keep in mind that the price shown does not include the hotel and resort fees. For this trip they totaled $143, but this could fluctuate depending on the time of year, so be sure to call the hotel to check before booking.


Will I be staying here again? No. Is it a good deal? Depends on what you’re willing to put up with to save a few dollars. For me, since it’s Vegas, I simply expect a little more. At least not to be judged by the hotel staff for staying out past my bedtime. After this experience I feel like I should have at least given them something to judge. I suggest spending a little more and staying at one of the surrounding hotels. There’s so many to choose from. Because, when it comes to reviews, what happens in Vegas obviously does not stay in Vegas.


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