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Can Rio All-Suites Hotel return to its former glory? What would it cost?

Last edit: jucifers on Thursday, 14th July 2016 10:34 am
Last response by pkluvsvegas 19th July 11:47am

How much would it cost for the Rio to do a complete room refresh?

What would it cost for Rio to remodel their casino along the lines of Wynn? Natural lighting, a floral conservatory, an elegant pool and spa, and restaurants overlooking the pool?

Could a new owner recoup this investment with higher room rates?

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 MinVegas responded on Thursday, 14th July 2016

"Former glory" really doesn't mean a Wynn casino. The original Rio that people celebrated in the 90s was a fancier-than-most locals casino in the GVR or Red Rock vein, with rooms much larger than many Strip casinos offered that gave it a tourist draw. This worked because the competition was only The Mirage and it's limited number of suites and villas, Luxor and it's penny pinching designs, and MGM Grand which was still Mansionless and Skyloftless. The only real competitor in standard accommodations was the Palace Tower at Caesars.

As soon as the Marnells aimed at MGM and Caesars with the Masquerade Tower and Mansion-style "Palazzo Suites", they sold everything to Harrah's who was desperately looking for something that would compete with those properties. In addition, Mandalay and Venetian and eventually THEhotel and Wynn opened up with huge rooms that made Rio's tourist draw dwindle. Another part of the problem is that the Palms was nearby and drew anyone that ventured that way just a little bit further.

Is there a way to make it shine? Sure has been, though it'll be harder to do now once Palms has Station's financial backing and slot club incentives. Is there a way to make it a tourist draw other than a value luxury pick for the VIPs who can't afford Grand Lakeview Suites and Skylofts for the weekend? Doubtful, unless you start reducing capacity to make the room inventory even bigger.

 jucifers replied on Thursday, 14th July 2016

Sorry. I never meant to suggest that Rio could ever be elevated to the level of a Wynn.

Would Rio be better off, focusing on the locals market? Loose slots, full pay video poker, 3-2 blackjack? Could Rio ever be top dog among the locals casinos?

It seems like Rio has the worst of both worlds right now: the only off-strip casino with crummy Las Vegas Strip odds.

 pkluvsvegas replied on Thursday, 14th July 2016

To be fair MGM had their Penthouses which is what the Skylofts used to be. Desert Inn and Dunes had some cool suites too. The Hilton also had their Sky Villas. It isn't like Mirage, Caesars, and Rio were the only games in town.

 NeverJustJ replied on Thursday, 14th July 2016

That's a lot of room inventory for a locals casino to support. They could, I suppose, mothball several floors of the original tower (I forget what it's called).

 MinVegas replied on Saturday, 16th July 2016

The problem is that Hilton sky villas etc are, to the best of my knowledge, not easily obtained by the average visitor. They were what casino guests etc stayed in before larger upmarket supply became available.

As luxury-focused expansions come online, a hotel like MGM will start taking reservations on rooms like Terrace Suites and the Skylofts. As newer, more luxurious hotels come online, a hotel like The Mirage will begin taking reservations on Villas that in the days of AOL on a CD you couldn't just reserve by wanting one. Those rooms are available now because the elites they used to entertain have all been moved to Bellagio.

But in the 90s days of Family Vegas and wearing fanny packs in public, when Monte Carlo was under construction and Bellagio was Dunes wreckage, you could go to Rio and get the really big room you needed to be a gambler to get on the Strip. That was the appeal.

 pkluvsvegas replied on Tuesday, 19th July 2016

Actually MGM Resorts will happily let you reserve almost any suite they have just as long as 1.) You have the money to reserve it. 2.) They "qualify" or "invite" you which means basically keep the riff raff out. The only suite/villas that MGM has that absolutely cannot be reserved for any amount of money are the Delano Penthouse Apartment which is accessed by the Skyfall elevator, and the Mirage renovated villa.

BTW the Bellagio Villas are bookable. I inquired about one last night, and they would have let me reserve it for $9,000 a night. I instead took them up on their offer of a discount to upgrade my Presidential Suite to the Chairman for $300 more for the night.

 parchedearth responded on Thursday, 14th July 2016

It is possible, but it would take the right owner and likely a huge renovation (guessing $500M in addition to the purchase price). The structure is probably still sound, but it needs a complete overhaul of rooms, casino, restaurants, shops, etc... A $200M touch-up is not enough to reposition the property. The new owner would need to take business from places like Wynn. I would like to see it happen, but the chances are slim. Best bet is Caesars sells it out of bankruptcy and a mid-tier player (Boyd, Pinnacle, etc...) gives it a quick refresh a la Tropicana.

 jucifers responded on Thursday, 14th July 2016

Are the Resorts World and Fontainebleau locations better than Rio's location?

Rio is closer to Bellagio/Caesars/Cosmopolitan/Aria than Resorts World or Fontainebleau.

Would Resorts World be better off buying and renovating Rio instead of building from scratch?

Would the rumored purchaser of Fontainebleau be better off buying and renovating Rio instead?

 vespajet replied on Thursday, 14th July 2016

If the rumored purchaser of Fontainebleau are the Fertittas, no. It wouldn't make sense for them to own the Palms and the Rio.

The Rio has been rumored to be for sale for quite a few years, but what supposedly scuttles the deal is the World Series of Poker. The rumors have been that the potential buyers either demanded that the WSOP remain at the Rio for X amount of years after the sale closes or offered a much lower price since they felt the property was significantly less valuable without the WSOP being held there.

 Toro66 replied on Thursday, 14th July 2016

Its a looooong walk from the front of Caesars to the front of the Rio, much longer than it looks. Better to have a strip property.

 anawas replied on Thursday, 14th July 2016

I love me some poker. But I've never drawn the equation that WSOP = Rio. WSOP shouldn't be a condition of the sale.

Why? They moved the WSOP from downtown Vegas. They can move it again, presumably to Harrah's, which also has name recognition in 10+ other states.

And since the Vegas Harrah's doesn't have the space for a full WSOP slate, Caesars could use a fraction of the Rio's sale price to put a roof and some climate control atop Harrah's parking garage in order to hold the tournament there.


Anyway, as for sprucing up Rio, it needs something to draw the tourists off the strip. Rio's sky show was useful for that, back in the day. The property has the floor space for an indoor zoo, which might work because there are fewer live animals on the Strip these days.

Another way to build buzz would be to host multiple reality TV shows there. We saw what Real World did for the Palms. Rio would need that, plus maybe entice Pawn Stars, Counting Cars, or something new to film on site. I presume Penn & Teller would move to another Caesars property, but if not, their TV show also should continue.

Finally, any sale of Rio probably would eliminate the shuttle buses that run between Caesars properties and Rio. Those buses shouldn't be understated, especially if they run 24 hours.

 NeverJustJ replied on Thursday, 14th July 2016

WSOP (and families from L.A. traveling to regional soccer tournaments) is what has kept Rio afloat this long.

 NeverJustJ replied on Thursday, 14th July 2016

Indoor zoo? Yes...I want to go to an indoor zoo! Will they serve alcholic beverages?

 anawas replied on Friday, 15th July 2016

Can you drink in my hypothetical indoor zoo? Sure. While the monkeys entertain us, we can entertain the monkeys.

 vespajet replied on Saturday, 16th July 2016

One thing to remember is that when the then-Harrah's Entertainment acquired the WSOP in the deal to buy Binion's Horseshoe from Becky Binion Behnen, the Rio was the company's "nice" property in Vegas. Then they made the deal to acquire Caesars Entertainment, and Rio dropped down a few spots on the ladder.

With so much of the Caesars empire being so close to each other, spreading some of the WSOP events between them would make sense, with the Main Event final table being done at either the Colosseum at Caesars or the AXIS at Planet Hollywood.

One thing to keep an eye on is how the bankruptcy situation finally plays itself out. If some of their properties in Vegas end up in the hands of creditors, the Rio may likely be one of the properties they'll let go.

 NeverJustJ replied on Sunday, 17th July 2016

 antcomp responded on Saturday, 16th July 2016

There's plenty of other space to host the WSOP if Caesars wanted to move it. However, the Rio, while not what it was under Marnell, is still a valuable piece in the Caesars puzzle in ways that many people do not realize.

The key issue with Rio, is that is doesn't bring in money in the way the strip hotels do. Rio still has a sizable convention base (which, while some of it could be relocated to another property, many of those clients choose Rio for its off strip location), not to mention it has the Palazzo suites which are still routinely booked on a nightly basis (I have a few friends who work there), not just with VIPs, but many of the headliners (who perform at the other properties will often stay there due to the greater privacy they afford. While I'm aware of back of house hall ways and service elevators still think of the logistics of getting someone from a villa in the Octavius tower to the Colosseum. A blacked out limo can slip quietly out of the Palazzo suites without anyone batting an eye and drive down the strip without seeming at all out of place.

While I do think Rio would be best off in the hands of another company at the point, a likely buyer will probably be a regional operator, someone without a Vegas presence currently who might be more interested in a strip aquisition (Mirage possibly?). Caesars could probably do better with Rio if they stopped trying to pretend it was on the strip. If Caesars tried to market the Rio to locals in Vegas in the same way it markets its Atlantic City properties (all issues with AC as a whole aside) it might be beneficial. Target locals with cash back, promo-play, and giveaways. TR, while not necessarily as "rewarding" as some of the local players club, still may have some advantages. For example, while you may offer a player in Iowa a trip to Vegas, why not make a similar offer to a player from Vegas to go to Tahoe or Rincon? Not to mention, if paid parking catches on, offer it free to all locals, or waive the fee if they gamble or eat (similar again to AC).

In regards to room inventory, if the Rio still books conventions, that takes care of some of that (especially for the ones with a lower than average per attendee spend, which they'd possibly like to not be taking up strip inventory), but what about officially offering room discounts/comps that can be given to friends and family? While ingenious locals could obviously get around the requirement that they be the ones staying, why not officialy advertise to locals that you can "gift" your room comps/rates to visiting loved ones, who will probably spend money at the Rio along with the local who gained them the room.

I still stay at the rRio somewhat frequently, and while it definitely needs some TLC I don't think its as bad as some people like to think. I've certainly seen other Caesars properties in dire need of even more help (The Quad, Ballys AC, Harrahs Laughlin).

 levans responded on Sunday, 17th July 2016

I don't think it would matter if the Rio got a refresh because it's still off the Strip. As someone who has visited then decided to walk back to the Strip believe me that's a long haul. WSOP is what the place is known for and moving it would kill the place in my opinion because it's what the place is known for. So that said, WSOP stays and you could upgrade the rooms and yes, try to appeal to the locals but even with that it's too far off the Strip. Palms has the same issue.