Even though this place is about as Brazilian as a senior center's Mardi Gras party, it's nice here. Large rooms, a great pool, and loads of restaurants. It's not on the Strip, but it's close if you have a car.
Coupons Available for Hotel Rio Suites:
$5 off buffet for up to four people, $10 off seafood buffet for up to four people, two-for-one drinks at I-Bar. (Click Here For More Info.)
Room Quality: The rooms are big at 600+ s.f. Most of the room is in a huge bedroom area. There are a king or two queen beds, a sofa and a table with two chairs. Each room has an iron, ironing board, hair-dryer, safe, refrigerator, separate dressing area with two sinks, and large bathroom. The views can be spectacular because the windows are wall to wall, floor to ceiling.
Service Quality: Fair. This hotel is humongous.
What You Get Bottles of in the Bathroom: Shampoo/conditioner and hand lotion. Where is our old favorite, the sewing kit? It disappeared. Las Vegas' cost-cutting measures are killing us and our pants.
Clientele: Folks in their 30s to 50s. There are a lot of rich and wannabe rich Californians. All the men seem to be required to own Tommy Bahama shirts and smoke cigars. The women often wear slinky black dresses, and an extraordinary number have fake boobs. If you have fake boobs, you'll fit right in. Unless you're a guy.
How's the Pool? Very nice. There are three pools and we have peed in all of them. One has a sand beach and a waterfall; another is more for the serious swimmers. The third is just a shallow little kiddie pool. Bring a buck because you can't get out there without someone showing you to a chair and giving you a towel. If you're thinking about sneaking in, think again. The pool is closed in winter. There is also the Sapphire pool area which is swankier and allows for topless bathing.
Table Games: You name it and they have it: roulette, craps, blackjack, mini-baccarat, Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Pai Gow, and plenty of carnival games. They offer 3x4x5x odds on craps. It is a good place to gamble if you want a fancy atmosphere and attractive employees, and you don't mind losing a bit more.
Bet Minimums: All we ever see is $5 for Let it Ride, $10 for craps, and $10 for blackjack, at the lowest. Roulette is a $10 min. Pai Gow is the same. Don't forget that a lot of their tables pay 6:5 on blackjack.
Machines: Slots from a penny to $500. The fact is that the Rio is a great place to stay and eat, but the gaming is just ok. Heck, somebody has to pay for all of the fruit on Rio Rita's head. You're not likely to find a full-pay VP machine, but from time to time there are some on the casino floor.
Cocktails? The cocktail service is pretty standard for the Strip.
Who Gets Comps? At the tables they will treat you coolly if you even asked to be rated at below $25 a hand. If you play $50 for four hours you will get a meal and a room discount. $150 or more for four hours and they will consider giving you a free room. Although, a consistent slot or table player may see some mailers for free rooms.
All-American Bar and Grille: This is where you get the massive chunks of red meat. Huge filets and steaks are prepared in the standard American way. Nothing fancy, just high-quality meats served in huge chunks. They also have a pretty extensive appetizer menu and some cheaper sandwiches, served in a separate bar area in front of the joint, for those in a hurry or just not rich. Hey, will someone tell them that grille is not an American spelling?
Buzio's: A good seafood house at decent prices. We like their "open" kitchen because we just don't trust chefs. Not ever since we worked at Burger King. Open for dinner only.
Cafe Martorano: South-Philly style Italian, whatever that means. But it must be important because they keep reminding you that's what they serve. And the Thuggish impresario wants you to know he's really cool and creative. The food is all meats and rich sauces. There is a gangster movie theme, and promises of girls dancing on tables (don't count on it).
The Carnival World Buffet: We have heard of and seen two-hour long lines to get into this dining shangri-la. There is an extraordinary number of different food items, of Italian, Chinese, American, Mexican, and Mongolian origins. The overall quality is pretty good. The desserts are still fantastic. Breakfast is pricey, and creep up toward $25 for dinner.
Gaylord: A high-end restaurant serving northern Indian cuisine and based on the popular San Francisco restaurant of the same name. The lunch buffet is reasonably priced, dinner gets pricey. But it's good eating, and possibly the only Indian restaurant inside a casino.
Mah Jong: Cantonese and a noodle bar are found at Mah Jong's. It's not bad, although not very spicy. It is a casual place for a quick bite and the prices are fair.
McFaddens Restaurant and Saloon: The Rio is trying to do an Irish pub again, and hopefully more authentically than last time. This one is based on a joint in New York, where all the Irish got unloaded, and it does have shepherd's pie... and NY steak, BBQ ribs, and loads of burgers and sandwiches.
Sao Paulo Cafe: The Rio coffee shop, open for breakfast only. This place is enormous. On the plus side, there are no depressing ghettos surrounding this restaurant like the real Sao Paolo.
Sports Deli: This little deli next to the sports book serves what they call "urban sandwiches". We're not sure how those differ from the ones served in the country, and even a taste test wouldn't let us differentiate. Maybe it's the extra two to three bucks they charge that makes it city-smart.
Village Seafood Buffet: Merely good selection of seafood and exquisite desserts, but be prepared to eat loads of food. They have lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops, fish of all sorts, and whatever else comes from the sea. For the same money you can get a very good sit-down meal in Vegas, so it's really only for people who want lots of seafood.
Voodoo Steak & Lounge: Pretty good food, but very tame by true cajun standards. The highlights here are the fantastic view from 40 flights above the city and the voodoo theme to the place. Very romantic and expensive. At night there is a dress code, but during the day, you can just go up to look around, but you have to pay $5 for the elevator ride.
A Whopper Bar serves up fancy Burger King with "whopperistas" adding a wide variety of toppings. Up on the second floor, near the Masquerade Village, you'll find a food court with TCBY, Wetzel's Pretzels and other junk food for your belly. For coffee snobs of all stripes, they've got you covered with a Starbucks and a Rio Java.
Bevertainers: Every now and then, a cocktail waitress stops serving drinks and hops up on a little stage among the slot machines to dance and sing a song. Occasionally, a male dancer will get up and do it too.
Chippendale's: The Show: This Chippendale's is the show, not the fine furniture. Sorry, wood lovers. Err, um, real wood, we mean. This is a beefcake review, with scantily-clad men doing just about anything but taking off their underwear or "teabagging" to please the predominantly female audiences. Ladies, shop for the best men's shows in town. Don't worry, we'll have our agents waiting outside all the shows to hit on the lustiest of the bunch. This show takes place in a Girls-Night-Out Entertainment Complex.
Penn and Teller: Penn and Teller have made a name for themselves puncturing the pomposity of grand magic and Vegas illusion shows. It's more entertaining than just about any other magic show in town.
The Platters, Coasters and Marvelettes: If you like the smooth vocals of these types of groups and their hits like Yakety Yak, Charlie Brown and Poison Ivy, then this is the nostalgia show for you. Of course, there are no original members of the namesake bands in the show. But the replacements do a fine job.
The Rat Pack is Back: A tribute to the days when the Rat Pack were the kings of Las Vegas. Impersonators do Sammy, Dino, Frank and even Joey. Mostly it's singing, but there is also some banter and old jokes, just like they told 40-odd years ago at the Sands.
Show in the Sky: Hop over to the Masquerade Village section of the Rio for this rowdy parade that travels overhead. Actually, if you're losing, trudge over. Only winners hop. The show is free, happens every hour on weekend evenings and has some floats, dancers, performers and music.
Voodoo Lounge: Their lounge draws a slightly older crowd than the Strip joints, so it's perfect if you don't feel comfortable hanging with the young'uns or are looking for a cougar. The view from the patio is so romantic even us ugly guys can get kissed.
Number of TVs: Thirty-two, but some show keno, which is probably as much of a sporting event as televised poker. Two big screens, which switch between racing and sports, depending on the importance of the day's events.
Number of Seats: About 60 race desks, 40 of which have little TVs, seven booths in the back of the room and about twenty little tables in the Sports Deli.
How Many Betting Windows? About thirteen. The sports signboards are electronic, but the race board is on the screen.
Free Drinks? Sometimes. Occasionally, a cocktail waitress will even ask you if you'd like a drink if you're there to take notes for a web site. If you're betting, ask for a drink ticket when you place your bet, though, and see what they say.
Snack Bar? Sports Deli next door serves up grub right next door. Mah Jong is also close by for noodles.
Minimum Wager: $5 sports, $2 for racing, sometimes.
Other Notes: When this casino added its poker room to keep up with the hold-em craze, they hacked off a chunk of this room. Why couldn't they take out some slots?
Number of Tables: They have ten tables packed into a section of what used to be the sports book. Most times about half to eight tables are running.
Comfort of Chairs: They say World Series of Poker on them. Whoop-de-doo.
Closed Room or Open to Casino? This room is wide open and pretty noisy. A three-foot high wall partially "separates" it from the sports book but not the casino. One table in the way back has yet another three foot wall around it.
Game Spreads and Limits: Hold 'Em, Hold 'Em and more Hold 'Em. They deal what you see on TV because the clientele is mostly arrogant rookies who want to win big like they've seen on the boob tube. Games are 4-8 and up with a $1-$2 and $2-$5 no-limit game usually going as well.
Beginner Games or Classes? There are free poker lessons but you need to make a reservation.
How Crowded is the Room? Crowded. Expect an hour or more wait on busy weekends.
Comps? A buck an hour up to eight bucks a day. Whoop-de-doo.
How Good Are the Players? If you play tight-aggressive, you can make a fortune here because this place is crawling with loose jokers who know far less about poker than they think.
What Else Do I Need to Know? They host the World Series of Poker here.