Miss Ginger's New Year has started off "swimmingly", as they say... not because she has started a new exercise regimen, mind you... she just started it off swimming in cocktails, but is ready to dry up a bit.
It's started with this rather innocent looking bloody mary at the United Club Lounge at Houston's Intercontinental Airport. I can't speak for any of the legacy United "Red Carpet" lounges (that name conjures images of smokey air and raspy saloon chanteuses), but if you ever have the opportunity to visit the former "President's Club" at Newark or IAH, I can guarantee you the best dang bloody mary you've ever tasted... and it's FREE! Hard to believe I only had one... but it's true!
Miss Ginger met up with Brother J at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas midday, and it was nirvana: no cab line!! We hopped into one of Las Vegas' many smelly and run down, but cheap, taxicabs, and headed to our destination for the weekend: Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino!
If you are familiar with Las Vegas, Rio is the big purple and red monstrosity across the freeway from the strip. Miss Ginger doesn't use the word monstrosity lamely: the place is HUGE! And, it's purple and red. You decide.
So, here's the 411 on Rio:
+ It's off the strip, so you get good deals, and you don't have to deal with "strip rats".
+For those who "must" cruise the strip, there are free shuttles back and forth every 15 minutes. (It really is just across the freeway, but it's a LONG walk!)
+ The rooms are HUGE!
+ They take pets. (Shelby insisted that Miss Ginger include that tidbit. No, she did not get to go.)
+ The casino is top notch, with great slots, plenty of table games, and everything else you'd expect from a top Vegas property.
+ The restaurant selection is great, with both a regular buffet and a seafood buffet, plus a wine cellar, a sports bar, and 2 Starbucks! VooDoo Steak has a great view, a great menu, and great service, without being pretentious... tops in Miss G's book!
+ The beverage service on the casino floor is A-MAZE-ING! In most casinos, a cocktail waitress is almost impossible to find, unless you are in the high roller area- heaven help you if you're playing penny slots! And if you do find one, she's usually a bitter old hag with too much hairspray, and lipstick on her teeth. But at Rio, they have "beveratainers"... beverage servers who are also entertainers. There are TONS of them; during slow times, they operate as you would expect, but when it gets busy, they pull out this iPad system that gets you a drink in 2-3 minutes, tops. There's no waiting with a dry glass, either... there are so many of them that you turn a couple away before you are ready for another!
+ Oh... "beveratainment". So, throughout the day, you will hear this little "cha cha cha- RIO!" interlude, and when you look up, your cocktail waiter or waitress has pulled out a little set of hidden stairs, climbed up on the slot machines, and is belting out a song or busting a move to beat the band! They sing live, and the dancers are cute, and they perform like 2 and half minutes, tops. Then they push the stairs back in, pick up their tray, and continue about their business! They have an equal number of boys and girls (you know Miss G loves equality!) and they are all amazingly talented!
+ The "Show in the Sky". Like nothing else! Rio was built in the 80's during the "can't top this" casino days. Their schtick was a Carnival Parade in the sky, and although most of the casino floor has been extensively updated, they have worked around the hanging trolleys to maintain the parade. Thursday through Sunday, from 6pm - 11pm every hour on the hour, singers and dancers come out and do a short little floor show, then disappear momentarily as a big section of a wall moves away. Out come fully lit Carnival floats, hanging from the ceiling on an amazing trolley system that carries the dancers all around the casino floor, slinging beads, dancing, and flirting with the screaming crowd below! It's a Vegas "must-see".
- It's not on the strip... if that's important to you.
- The rooms are huge, but a bit dated. They are clean, and comfortable, with all the amenities... but, it's not NOBU, or Wynn, or even Planet Hollywood.
- Their big show is "Penn and Teller". But, they also have "The Chippendales". And a shuttle to the strip.
Saturday, Miss Ginger and Brother J spent the day gambling, drinking, and catching up a bit, before heading up to VooDoo Steak for huge hunks of beef and a bottle of wine. After that, there was more drinking.... a hamburger... black jack.... black girls in the elevator... ... ... whatever else happened in Vegas stays in Vegas... mostly because Miss G can't remember!!!
She was feeling a bit puny the next morning, but rallied midday, and by New Year's Eve was all set for the "VIP Dinner" to which high-rolling Brother J had been invited. Beautiful food, obnoxious table mates, and a spectacular view of the fireworks over the strip made for an incredible New Years Eve!
Now Miss G has several more days off before her return to work, so she can get rested, relaxed, and prepared for the coming year!
How did YOU ring the New Year, dear 'Snaps? And how is it treating you so far?