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Riviera Remodeled Room Review
December 19, 2011 4:10 pm

Day 2 of the trip was planned literally minutes before I got in the car for the drive to Vegas. Being a Saturday during NFR, only place half decent place in town under a $100 was the Riviera. As an added bonus, it also happened to be the last of major Strip hotels that I have yet to stay. I checked in around 1PM, which was fast with no wait and I was up to my room in the Monte Carlo Tower in just a few minutes. I was on the 12th floor, looking north towards Encore and Wynn in a recently remodeled room. All new furniture included a table a two chairs by the window, 2 small dressers plus a vanity area. The bathroom has also been redone with stone through-out but is a typical old-school Vegas bathroom with a single sink and tissue dispenser embedded in the counter. There was also a safe, mini-fridge, iron/board and blow dryer in the bathroom.

Everything in the room was still in good shape with no major damage or stains and the new decor was certainly nice enough but the furniture was all on the small side. The room was slightly larger than a normal room and as a result, the somewhat sparse furnishings left an empty feeling. The under-sized 32" TV didn't help the matter combined with the underwhelming table and chairs and 2 dinky dressers. The bed was also new, firm and comfortable. The only real issue with the bathroom was the showerhead placed for a midget. I'm hardly the tallest guy in the world and it barely worked; if you are over 6 foot, you would be completely screwed!

Downstairs, a decent amount of money has been spent renovating the casino floor and they have done a nice job. I always remember the casino as being a bit depressing but the make over has definitely cleaned that up. They have a new sports book and added restaurants along with new tables and machines. The ABC Store in the lobby is nice plus with very affordable room supplies.

All in all, my stay at the Riv was pretty good. The remodeled rooms, while certainly can't compare with the Aria or Cosmo, are nice enough for an older hotel and the public areas are much improved from the past. It still has a pretty weak collection of restaurants and the pool area leaves something to be desired but the biggest downside is probably the location. Being on the north end of the Strip, the only thing in the immediate vicinity is Circus Circus with a sizeable walks to its other closest neighbors, Las Vegas Hilton and Wynn/Encore. If you want a just a decent room at a decent price and have a means of transportation, the renovations have made the Riviera a more appealing option than ever. However, if you want to be in the middle of the action, plan on seeing Vegas on foot or want to party at the pool then you will definitely want to look elsewhere.

Riviera Remodeled Room Pictures

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Rio Las Vegas - Original "Suite" Review
December 11, 2011 11:49 pm

I arrived at the valet on a Friday at 4:00PM and it was pretty empty. The same at the front desk where there was only one couple waiting before me. I was pretty surprised considering it was the first weekend of the big NFR rodeo. I was given a room on the 13th floor of the original, Ipanema Tower, which was not one of the recently remodeled rooms. It was the Rio standard "suite" that is really just an oversized room with a seating area. For a regular room, its really pretty decent. About twice the size of a normal room; it has a couch, coffee table, TV armiore and a desk in addition to the bed and side tables. The bathroom area is off the entryway with a huge vanity with sink outside and another sink in the bathroom. Other amenities in the room include a safe, Keurig Coffeemaker, mini-bar, hairdryer and iron.

While there was no real big complaints with the room, the general overall impression that was left is that the place is just tired. There were numerous stains on the carpet, a permanant water stain on the vanity, a beat-up, old 27" tube TV and no alarm clock. The couch cushions were sinking into the couch and the windows hadn't been cleaned in sometime. Even the outside of the building has the paint peeling off, Come on, man!

Downstairs, there hasn't been a whole lot of change over the years at Rio. Harrah's constantly is tweaking the place but it is largely the same as a decade ago. There is a mediocre collection of restaurants which skew towards the pricier end, none of which is overly acclaimed. The best restaurant in the joint has always been the Carnival World Buffet but since the introduction of the dreaded "Buffet of Buffets," it's nearly impossible to get in. This Friday night was no different with a line that was easily 100 deep. The casino area is large, resembling any Strip casino, filled with a ton of slots and the tables have your typical crappy Harrah's rules. Most of the minimums on Friday and Saturday were $15 and up, even early in the morning. I do have to give them props for excellent drink service. I played about an hour in the casino and was constantly attended to though I am still kinda freaked out by the male cocktail waiters!

Overall, the stay at Rio was perfectly mediocre which is the experience Harrah's delivers. They churn volume and that is their business model. If you don't know any better and don't expect much from your hotel, it may just be the perfect choice aside from it's non-Strip location. However, knowing what the options are, I would be hard pressed to stay at Rio again anytime soon.

Rio Room Pictures

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The Dry Spell Ends
December 6, 2011 11:19 am

After one of the longest droughts in a many years, a quickie trip of 2 nights ends the dry spell. It may have well been the most hastily planned trip ever; I booked the first night at Rio the day before I left and the second at the Riviera minutes before I got in the car! It was the first weekend of NFR so the town was packed with cowboys and it also was the weekend of the Vegas Marathon, producing traffic hell on Sunday evening. I few thoughts from the trip...

  • This was, far and away, the busiest I have seen Vegas in several years. Despite my VERY non-cowboy upbringing, I seem end up here every year at the same time as the Rodeo and it has not been like this in a long time.
  • Further along those lines, the parking garage in the back of Mandalay Bay may be the largest on earth and it took me 15 minutes to find a spot on Saturday night at 8:00.
  • Every hotel now offers upfront purchase of late check-out. It was $28 at the Riviera for 6 PM.
  • Harrah's, err, Caesars Entertainment are the kings of the Vegas package deal. The people who brought you the "Buffet of Buffets" now offer pre-paid liquor deals. $35 gets you $50 in drinks, $75 gets you $100 at their many casino bars around town. Not a bad idea in any way!
  • The Riviera was the very last on the list... With my one night there, I have now stayed at every hotel on the Vegas Strip!

Stay tuned for reviews and room pics from Rio and Riviera as well as new property maps over the next few days.

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