Pat and Cyndi @ Mix at THEhotel Mandalay Bay, May 2012


View from the Masquerade Tower, Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas.

I have to admit the first time I stayed at the Rio, last August, I was a little skeptical. The property is rumored to be up for sale by the debt laden Caesars Entertainment conglomerate, and it’s faded facade is just a small reminder of what little improvements have been made to this property since it was built in 1990.

The rooms are “all suites”, spacious enough with decent views of the Strip or the valley, depending on which tower you’re sequestered. But not much attention has been paid to these rooms since its inception, so you can imagine the history you are checking yourself into when you register at the front desk. But it’s Vegas, and how much time do you spend in the rooms anyway? The beds are very comfortable, and have been upgraded, let’s leave it at that.

However, after two visits to Vegas now that have featured stays at the Rio, I can only say I’ve experienced great times, primarily because of the staff that works there, from the front desk to the dealers to the cocktail waitresses (aka “bevertainers”), and bartenders, and yes, even the maids.

The attitude of the Rio employees flies in the face of what is generally happenening up and down the Strip. Angry, unappreciative, dealers, declining odds at the tables, and generally poor customer service overall.  The Rio has, regrettably, joined the “room fee” club, but they comped us, all across the board.  No fees for us. At the Rio, you won’t wait for a drink while gaming, you’ll always receive free beverages playing video poker at their many bars, and the dealers like to have as much fun as you do.

The gaming floor layout is a little funky, but it works. The once famous Show In The Sky is now defunct, so the Masquerade Tower area in now an afterthought. However, on my latest stay, the patrons were hanging off the rails at the Masquerade Bar, which sits conveniently at the base of the entrance to VooDoo Lounge. The VooDoo Lounge and outdoor rooftop is still one of the greatest venues in all of Sin City. The huge outdoor rooftop patio, featuring two level of music and bars, can hold you there for hours.

The pools at the Rio are a lot of fun too. They have the adult pool, Voo, to satisfy the day party crowd, plus two other pools, including one that is open to the Vegas public, which makes for entertaining sightseeing. We spent an entire day in August at the pool, easy to do when its 110 degrees and the beers are ice cold.

Restaurants. Check. Martorano’s is as good as any in Vegas. Two buffets, including the famous Seafood Buffet, plus a great deli off the sports book and another great casual diner called All-American Grille. Of course, the obligatory Starbucks is available.

All in all, if you hear someone talking down the Rio – poor table odds, decaying property – you might want to take advantage of the ridiculous rates being offered now through the end of the year at one of the icons of the “destination” properties in Vegas. (Shuttle service to the Strip runs every 15 minutes, and is free, with a drop off and pick up at Harrah’s).

Thanks again to the Rio staff for another great time this past weekend. Here’s hoping your new owners take as good care of your staff and property as you currently do for your clientele.

And For What