Wear comfortable shoes, stylish clothes to see all of CityCenter

CityCenter is not so wowie zowie when you’re bumbling around on your own, walking for hours with no place to rest, not finding what you seek, coming to dead ends. Then there was the snub at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Desperate to sit down after hours of wandering CityCenter on Sunday afternoon, I asked a hotel doorman about getting a drink at the Mandarin Bar on the 23rd floor.

The kid’s casing of my garb was not subtle.

Since it was 4 p.m., he could have honestly said the bar didn’t open until 5 p.m.

Instead, he said there was a dress code and a reservation was required … for the bar. Really.

Later I discovered the bar dress code is "stylish casual" and the restaurant’s dress code is "smart casual."

Slacks and a sweater made it obvious I was casual, but didn’t rate as "smart" or "stylish."

Practical advice: Unless you’re a smartly dressed, paying guest with a reservation, don’t bother to take the extra steps to try to see the Mandarin Oriental.

Now, I haven’t been to Aria yet, so maybe that will erase my memory of a lousy overall experience at CityCenter. I went the same way most of you will go, not on a media tour, but on my own, taking two friends from San Diego to see the newest Las Vegas joint.

I hope it makes buckets of money without sabotaging other properties. I hope high-end visitors flock to CityCenter and spend, spend, spend.

When you check it out, be warned: Don’t go to Crystals, the shopping area, with anyone who needs to sit down. There is no public seating. When Sugar Daddy says he’ll wait while you shop, he’ll have to wait in a restaurant. Until more restaurants are open, his places to sit are limited.

MGM Mirage spokeswoman Yvette Monet said the lack of seating is not an oversight. "We are monitoring the guest reaction to our decision to not place a lot of benches in the retail zone. We’re predicting this will become less important when more of the food and beverage outlets are open, and of course we’ll adjust this to meet our guests’ preferences either way."

Some of the problems we’re sure will be fixed. The portion of the flooring at Crystals that looks like airport linoleum was sadly scuffed. But a man was mopping.

Those architectural lines that force your eyes in so many different directions created a slight vertigo for the three of us. Not unpleasant, actually intriguing. It was like getting off a carnival ride and feeling woozy but happy. It was a tribute to the architects, who deserve all the praise that’s being heaped upon them.

CityCenter is a photographer’s dream, with lines and designs that scream out: Take my picture.

But if you’re trying to find your way from one point to another, get a map. Don’t try using directional instincts.

We thought we could take the monorail from the Bellagio to Crystals, peek into the then-unopened Aria, see Mandarin Oriental and walk to Vdara. (Another Mandarin guy told us we could walk to Vdara.)

Tip: The best way to get from Crystals to Vdara on foot is from Bellagio.

By the time we rode the monorail back to Bellagio, our tired threesome agreed, "To hell with Vdara."

MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren said in an interview that it wouldn’t upset him if locals never visited Aria, but he hoped they would wander around CityCenter and enjoy the environment. "I think that’s something that would be enhancing to them."

Visually, I was enhanced. But when your feet hurt, it’s hard for the spirit to soar.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at


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