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RIO ALL SUITE HOTEL & CASINO

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Just Off The Strip

3700 W. Flamingo Road

Las Vegas, NV 89103

888-752-9746

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2,582 Rooms

$90 and up double

$125-$175 per night

$30 per night plus tax

74

AT A GLANCE

Highs

Large rooms, lots to do

Lows

Casino is very "busy," kind of expensive

Location: 7

Not right on The Strip but very close.

Price: 6

A little on the expensive side

Value: 9

You get a lot for that expense

Rooms: 8

Very large and very comfy

Casino: 6

Kind of overwhelming in places

Amenities: 8

Tons of stuff in the room

Facilities: 10

Tons of stuff in the hotel

Service: 7

Much improved

Fun: 6

Getting better all the time

Bonus: 7

Points for improving the place

Total: 74

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FULL REVIEW

The Rio is one of those hotels that is hard to get a bead on. There is a lot to like about the place - terrific rooms, enough to do so that you never need leave the building, friendly service, and more. But there are also a few issues that can't be overlooked that keep The Rio from being one of my favorites.

I find the Carnavale in Rio atmosphere to be a bit overwhelming, mostly in the older parts of the casino where the low ceilings, crowded floor plan, and general gaming merriment conspire to create more "energy" than I like. The newer parts of the casino in the Masquerade Village area have a higher ceiling and are little less claustrophobic, but still lound.

But with over 120,000 square-feet of casino space you should be able to find someplace you can be comfortable. And don't forget that as part of the Caesars corporate family you can earn points on the Total Rewards slot club and redeem them at any Caesars property nationwide.

The rooms have always been one of The Rio's strengths, although they are not technically the suites they claim to be if you, like Webster's dictionary, define a "suite" as a group of rooms occupied as a unit. Rather, they are oversized single rooms with sectional sofas, tables, writing desks, and beds of course with a separate bathroom/dressing area. And yes, I know a bathroom counts as another room but if that is the argument for defining these as suites then almost every hotel room in the world is a suite.

They are of course very large rooms - bigger than any most other standard accommodation except for perhaps those at The Venetian or Cosmopolitan. They all come equipped with all (or most of) the following: high-speed internet access, hair dryers, irons and boards, safes, dual vanities, televisions with in-room movies and Nintendo style games, coffee maker, mini-fridge, and more. The furnishings are well-tended and are almost consistently updgraded to keep things fresh.

The newer "Samba" rooms feature all of the above amenities but with a brightly colored design scheme. They are nice, if a little too energetic for my tastes.

For entertainment you have the always dependable Penn & Teller and their intelligent magic show; the impossibly hot guys at Chippendales strutting their stuff; and the VooDoo Zipline, a thrill ride that sends people on a motorized chair contraption thing between the two hotel towers. Yikes!

I still find the location to be a tiny bit of a drag. Yes, it's just across the freeway but it's still quite a hike to The Strip, especially if it's hot outside. And yes, they offer free shuttle service to Harrah's but then you're on their timetable instead of your own and that can be annoying.

Then again, why you'd ever need to leave is another question all together. There are more than a dozen restaurants including one from celebrity chef Guy Fieri, several shows, shopping, nightclubs, bars and lounges, a spa and salon, wedding chapels, convention and meeting facilities, a race and sports book, and an affiliated golf course just in case you get bored. Check the related reviews below for some of the best of the bunch.

It's worth noting that Rio is one of the only hotels on The Strip that allows pets. For an extra $20-25 per night, guests can bring up to two dogs, each weighing up to 50 pounds. Once in the room, Fido or Fluffy will be greeted with water and food bowls, a special doggie mat, treats, and even a special room service menu. In addition, you will receive packets that direct you to special dog walking areas and the disposable waste bags to take care of their business afterward. They even have a doggie concierge of sorts that can give you information about local pet services including grooming, walking, and vet care.

The service is a definite plus now. I often used to find the staff inconsiderate at best and downright surly at worst. However on our recent visit I got friendly smiles from almost everyone (there was that one bartender...) and that makes all the difference in the world.

For a long time, the prices here were higher than they deserved to be but nowadays, with increased competition, they have sunk down to bargain levels. I have seen rooms for as low as $39 during the week and $119 per night on the weekends, although the more common price range I've seen is about $30-50 higher than that. That is not including their fairly outrageous nightly resort fee of $30 per night. Worth it? If you can appreciate the good and overlook the not-so-good, then yes.

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