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FIESTA RANCHO

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Northwest of The Strip

2400 North Rancho Dr.

Las Vegas, NV 89130

800-731-7333

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100 Rooms

$39 and up double

$50-$100 per night

$14.68 per night including tax

69

AT A GLANCE

Highs

Lots to do; can be very cheap; very friendly.

Lows

Location.

Location: 2

North side of town puts you far from all the action.

Price: 9

One of the least expensive hotels of this caliber in town.

Value: 9

You get a lot for usually very little money.

Rooms: 6

Basic motel style accommodations, but a nice motel.

Casino: 7

Lots of gaming action in a low-key, friendly atmosphere.

Amenities: 6

Rooms come very well equipped.

Facilities: 8

Lots of restaurants and entertainment.

Service: 8

One of the friendliest places in town.

Fun: 7

I enjoyed myself here.

Bonus: 7

A terrific alternative to the Strip madness (& prices).

Total: 69

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FULL REVIEW

The locals casino/hotel market is almost entirely owned by Station Casinos, operators of Palace, Sunset, Boulder, Santa Fe, Texas, and Red Rock Station, Green Valley Ranch, and both Fiestas - the one in Henderson and this one on Rancho Road.

It's a small property - only 100 rooms, a 50,000 square-foot casino (about half the size of the monsters on The Strip), and nary a roller coaster or white tiger in sight. But what you get in return is friendly, personalized service and much cheaper room rates, two things that become more and more important in this era of $200 a night mega-resorts.

The hotel has a vaguely Spanish-mission architecture to it, although it isn't too in-your-face with the theme. The casino is long and narrow and rambles throughout the property, making it seem much bigger than it actually is. Even so, you'll find all of the latest slots and video poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, a cozy bingo room, a sportsbook with individual television monitors and comfy chairs, and a keno area.

Around the edges of the casino are the restaurants and lounges, a showroom, and other outlets of the gift-shop variety.

There is a small pool, but it's located next to a parking lot and probably isn't the nicest place in the world to lounge but if all you need is a quick dip and splash its here for you.

The major and most unique entertainment option is the full-size indoor skating arena. You can rent skates and fulfill your inner Dorothy Hamill fantasies to your hearts content, just be sure to watch out for the omnipresent young tykes. They also offer lessons, skating programs, and hockey leagues although you probably won't be around long enough to get too much into that.

The rooms are unremarkable but luxurious accommodations are not the lure here. What you get instead is a clean, comfortable room with either a king bed or two queens, television with in-room pay-per-view movies, a hair dryer, iron and board, high-speed Internet, an alarm clock, and air conditioning (of course). Missing are some niceties like room service, but what do you want for next to nothing?

Speaking of which, you can find rates as low as $39 and up during the week and $89 and up during the weekends - pretty amazing for Las Vegas in general and for this property specifically considering what you get for those kinds of rates. Don't forget the $14.68 nightly resort fee.

You'll need to have a rental car if you decide to stay here, although I recommend that anyway. The hotel is about 10 minutes (depending on traffic) from the northern end of the Strip, conveniently accessible by freeway or surface streets.

If you're a first time visitor to Las Vegas, this is not the hotel for you. It's also not a great idea if you want a luxurious, pampering getaway. But if you want solid, dependable lodging with a casino, lots of dining choices, and a friendly staff to boot, The Fiesta should be high on your list of options.

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