Green Valley Ranch has always been one of my favorite hotels, making regular appearances on the Vegas4Visitors.com "Best Of" lists published nearly every year since it opened. Their remarkable combination of luxury, value, friendliness, and aesthetic accessibility have resulted in an almost irresistible package.
The Station Casino chain has carved out a lucrative and very successful market in Las Vegas by building low-cost hotels with tons of entertainment and dining options near residential neighborhoods around the city. Their Boulder Station, Texas Station, and Sunset Station are not only good hotels, but they are enormously successful at attracting a lot of the local market through their doors.
Green Valley Ranch follows the formula but tweaks it with upscale amenities, design, and price. Yes, it's more expensive to stay here than at many of its corporate siblings but boy is it ever worth it.
It's located along Interstate 215 in Henderson. For those of you who aren't immediately familiar, Interstate 215 is the one that branches off from Interstate 15 just south of the Strip and takes you to the airport. Go about another 5 miles and Green Valley Ranch is off to your right - you can't miss it, especially with the huge LED marquee they added in 2014. It sounds like a trek and it is, but I made it from a restaurant at the hotel to the parking garage at The Rio in under 10 minutes so as long as you have a car, getting here is a breeze.
The hotel is designed with a vaguely Mediterranean feel, with warm earth tones, lots of exposed stone and woodwork, luxurious thick carpeting, big carved planters, and plenty of subtle lighting. The effect is a good one, offering the feel of one of those exclusive spa resorts you may find in the Arizona desert without feeling too stuffy or pretentious.
One wing of the hotel juts out alongside the pool area, somewhat diminishing the architectural elegance of the place but only somewhat. It certainly offers some really cool views of Vegas if you get a room on that side of the wing. The other side will give you a nice view of the parking garage if you're into that sort of thing.
Both wings, although attached, are completely separated from the casino. You can go from the front desk to your room and never come anywhere near a slot machine, adding to the luxury resort feel of the place.
The casino itself is smallish at "only" 50,000 square-feet but it feels much more vast than it actually is. There are all of the gaming options that you could possibly want here including all of the latest and classic slots and video poker, table games, a beautiful high-limit salon with baccarat, a big sports book, a poker room, and more. Most of the machines are typically nickels, quarters, and dollars but they have both higher and lower denominations available including very rare penny slots and all feature ticket-in, ticket out (coinless) technology.
Around the edges of the casino you'll find a variety of restaurants of all cuisines and price ranges plus a food court with a Fat Burger, Stage Deli, Coffee Bean, and Capriotti's, and more. Notable sit-down restaurants include Hank's steakhouse.
There's also a version of Stations very popular Feast buffet, offering everything the Texas and Sunset Station outlets have and more in a fancy harvest themed room (with slightly fancier prices).
Walk down the beautiful hallway past the meeting rooms and you'll go out back to the pool/spa area, which is absolutely one of the nicest in all of Las Vegas. Since the hotel is on a hill at the southern end of the city you get an amazing view of the valley and The Strip in the distance, but look around at everything they have to offer up close: a gorgeous pool; a sandy beach; "Opium Beds" with comfy pillows, TVs, and internet connections; vineyards; pool bar with gaming; tennis courts; bocce ball courts; lawns and gardens; and small outdoor amphitheater. The effect is stunning and peaceful and one of the few pool areas in Las Vegas where I'd actually want to spend any time.
In the same area is the deceptively large salon and spa, which offers every treatment and pampering known to man and a few you've never heard of before. Now four times the size of the old one (and now one of the biggest in Vegas), this is a terrific place to get a facial, a massage, a haircut, or just lounge by the therapeutic pools. Many treatment rooms are located under translucent panels, which in turn are under decorative pools, giving the illusion that your Zen state is being achieved in an underwater cocoon. I am not a facial or massage kind of guy and even I thought the rooms were relaxing and cool.
As if all this weren't enough there's also a giant kids arcade and a 10-screen movie theater with private viewing booths available for rental.
Adjacent to the Green Valley Ranch facility is a shopping and dining complex called The District. Designed to evoke a street scene (they call it Michigan Avenue, I say lower Halstead Street but whatever), the miniature city features name brand stores and restaurants on the ground level (Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, PF Changs, Lucille's Smokehouse Barbecue, and many more) with loft style condos and offices above.
The peaceful public areas and rooms in the two wings offer a resort style feeling. All rooms have gorgeous wooden furnishings including a lighted armoire and a substantial desk, a couple of comfy chairs, a full closet, a mini-bar, a huge bathroom with separate shower stall and a water closet, an iron and board, dual phone lines, robes, TV with high-speed wireless Internet access and pay-per-view movies, high-speed DSL Internet access at the desk, and what I officially declare to be the most comfortable beds in all of Las Vegas.
Read that again - the most comfortable beds in all of Las Vegas. I didn't want to get up. I hated the fact that I had to get up. I cursed the people that were making me get up. You get the idea.
And if you have the desire and bank account, you can go crazy in one of their super luxurious high-roller style suites, all of which are available for rental unlike at some other hotels that reserve them only for people who drop a lot of dough in the casino. The top floor penthouse suite is a rococo dream, all super-luxe fabrics, chandeliers, and a grand piano; the Whiskey suite is done in a 60s mod style with low furnishings, shag carpeting, its own DJ booth, and a giant set of doors to the bedroom that double as a screen for the projection TV; and the ground floor cabana suites with a Polynesian flair, pool tables, and private patios with your own small pool and barbecue area. Each of these are larger than the average two bedroom house and rent for at least $3,500 a night.
Some of the rooms and suites are geting a makeover in 2014. Let's hope they leave the beds alone.
Hopefully that will soften the sticker-shock of the regular rooms, which are on the pricey side of things. The cheapest weekend rate I've seen at this hotel so far is about $119, with it usually going for upwards of $200 per night and sometimes above $300. On the weekdays you can get as low as $79 per night but most of the time you're going to be paying in the $125-200 range even before you get to the nightly $36.47 resort fee they throw on top. That's a lot of money and while you'll probably be paying that much or more at a similar hotel on The Strip, at least it's on The Strip.
On every visit, the entire staff has been friendly, efficient, and absolutely eager to help out with whatever I needed. After spending entirely too much time in the casino (and winning a lot I might add), I had a cocktail waitress bringing me bottles of water with almost psychically timed precision. It's a little thing but it makes the experience memorable.
As newer, bigger, and more luxurious resorts open around town it's easy to forget about old favorites. Green Valley Ranch should not only be remembered, it should be in the top tier of your list of options when considering where to stay and/or play in Las Vegas.