Aria Resort & Casino

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Viva ELVIS
Viva ELVIS

For each ‘Planner’s Pick,’ Prevue interviews a planner for their choices of compelling, high value destinations

PLANNER: TAMI BEEHNER
Meeting & Event Planner
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Minnetonka, MN
There’s nothing quaint or shy about ARIA Resort & Casino. In a city known for flashing neon, celebrity wattage and fortunes made with the toss of dice, ARIA debuted in December as perhaps the flashiest high-stakes gamble the city has ever seen.

By now you know the story about CityCenter, the 67-acre hotel complex operated by MGM Resorts International. Celebrating world-class urban lifestyle, the sparkly cityscape houses numerous celeb restaurants, boutique shopping and Vegas’ first major permanent art collection integrated into a public space. At the heart of it all, the 61-story ARIA features 3,436 rooms and 568 suites in a towering, curvy glass and steel structure that forever changed the Las Vegas skyline.

So what do planners think who’ve bought the space?

“Everything was right there, nearby,” says Tami Beehner, Meeting & Event Planner for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, who chose ARIA for a Leadership Summit following a series of site visits with the Las Vegas CVA in February. Her group included 600 account managers and executives, who required 20 breakout rooms, lodging and support staff. ARIA’s quick response to her Starcite queries made the decision a no-brainer.

“I’ve always found the MGM brand flexible to work with, so I was immediately intrigued by ARIA being so fresh, new and not a property I’d used with other clients.”

What she also found was a futuristic design by renowned Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, who’ve created an iconic masterpiece on par with their other projects, like the World Financial Center in New York City and Miami Performing Arts Center. And even though this is the second largest casino in Las Vegas, Beehner appreciated how the design layout didn’t force her attendees to walk for miles to get to their meetings.

“You could take an elevator from your guestroom and be right there. Much less distracting…,” she says. “VIPs staying in the Sky Suites were escorted from the airport and brought into a private entrance. Their suites included a bar area with beer, wine, snacks and desserts like chocolate covered strawberries.”

And how did it go feeding 600 people?

“For our dine-around evening, we needed 12 fine dining restaurants that could each handle 50 to 75 attendees. No one had to walk more than 10 minutes to get to their restaurant,” says Beehner.

Within ARIA, the 300,000 sf of meeting space in the triple-tiered convention center is illuminated by natural light. Scenic rooftop gardens, lush foliage surrounding pools and a glass curtain wall spanning the entire north façade offer dramatic natural backdrops. And there are three large ballrooms ranging from 38,000 to 52,000-sf and 38 meeting rooms.

The 80,000-sf Spa at ARIA includes a salon and fitness center, but for those ready to shake loose after sessions, Elvis lives at the 1,800-seat theater housing Viva ELVIS, a musical tribute from Cirque du Soleil.

“My takeaway from our summit was that it was stress-free…,” says Beehner. “We’ve recommended ARIA so highly that other groups have already booked it.”

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