The Rio is another identity crisis in progress. In a bid to appeal to a younger audience, the all-suites Rio hired Prince to play here in 2006 and 2007, while Pure Management Group brought in hipster bowling lounge Lucky Strike Lanes. But some things remain unchanged: Masquerade Show in the Sky a free parade with musicians and dancers, is still staged seven times daily. It's part of the hyperactive Masquerade Village, which features two storeys of dining, a variety of drinking (from Irish pub to wine cellar), dancing, shopping and shows. Other amenities include four waterfall-filled pools complete with sandy beach and volleyball courts, three wedding chapels and a floor of honeymoon suites, the top-of-the-line Michael's Salon, a spa, and access to the Rio Secco golf course, a half-hour away.
The comfortable mini-suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows, big (32in/81cm) televisions and fridges. The full suites, measuring 1,600sq ft (150sq m), come with better sound systems and wet bars.
Eating & drinking
The range of options here is wide and appealing: the All-American Bar & Grille, the award-winning Indian Gaylord's, wildly popular chain Hamada of Japan, solid Italian at Antonio's, and Buzio's for seafood. The Carnival World Buffet is a longtime favourite. Newest is the Italy-by-way-of-Philly Café Martorano, from East Coast restaurateur Steve Martorano, which goes nightclub afterhours.
The postmodern comedic magic of Penn & Teller is the rock of the Rio, holding the fort in the Samba Theatre; the entrenched Chippendales do exactly what you'd expect. For something different, try the interactive comedy theatre of Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding.
The nightlife has improved, mostly thanks to Cafe Martorano. Elsewhere, the tI-Bar combines natural earth elements (rock, water, light) with natural Vegas elements (dancing bartendresses in flesh-coloured costumes). The Flirt Lounge fits its billing as 'the haven for women to gather after seeing the Chippendales'. The formerly fashionable VooDoo Lounge offers ghastly decor, ordinary service and - the key - great views. Lucky Strike, a ten-lane hipster-heavy bowling alley contains a full-service restaurant and bar, retro decor and throbbing music.
The casino is huge, sprawling for two blocks, and the predominant colours are green ($25) and black ($100): at weekends, it's hard to find $10-minimum blackjack. Smaller-stakes gamblers should aim for the lower-limit tables in the outlying areas of the casino; or better yet, walk across the street to the Gold Coast. Poker is offered - the Rio is home to the - but it's a tough room filled with locals. A shuttle bus runs between the Rio and the Strip (9am-1am daily).