As We See It

[The Incidental Tourist]

A decade in, Red Rock Resort remains the best neighborhood casino ever built

Red Rock Resort’s luxurious environs are fresh as ever.

I’m actually not a tourist, so I don’t exactly know what it is about a Las Vegas casino that makes it a tourist’s favorite. It’s probably free parking ... just kidding. It’s unlikely to be one specific feature or amenity that makes a Vegas visitor choose one resort over the rest. My bet is it’s a combination of grandeur and service.

I do know, however, what it is about a locals’ casino that makes it a locals’ favorite. That’s easy—it’s the staycation factor. When Las Vegans visit their friendly neighborhood casino to eat or bowl or see a movie or, yes, gamble, do they quietly wish they could check in? Sleep on those soft white beds and order room-service breakfast? Spend the morning at the spa and pool and pretend they’re from somewhere else? I do, when I go to Red Rock Resort, and it’s all of six minutes from my house.

Red Rock Resort's bowling center.

My favorite casino turns 10 on April 18, but it doesn’t look anywhere near that old. Station Casinos has done more than just maintain its flagship resort in Summerlin, famously located at the base of the majestic Red Rock Canyon. Thanks to consistent updates—some subtle, some more dramatic—Red Rock feels as fresh as it did on opening day.

“It’s harder to stay great than it is to get great,” says Staci Alonso, Station’s executive vice president of innovation and administration. She’s spent half of her 30-year gaming career with Station, including opening Green Valley Ranch Resort and Red Rock.

Alonso makes it sound like I’m right, that favorites are created by the grandeur-plus-service equation. “There’s a team member pride I believe exists here [at Red Rock] and pushes us to improve upon service because the [team] has seen the continued reinvestment in the property. We always have a new reason to satisfy our guests or attract new guests.” Retaining longtime team members is a big part, too, and around 25 percent of the Red Rock staff has been there all 10 years.

Red Rock Resort's pool.

Luxury sets Red Rock apart, even from GVR. Its timeless desert-resort design hasn’t needed significant enhancement over the years. From the casino floor to the lounges, hotel rooms to restaurants to the breathtaking backyard pool, you could pick up the entire joint and drop it on Las Vegas Boulevard—it can absolutely compete with Strip levels of fancy. That’s why those of us who live on the west side of the Valley remain so enamored: We can get a certain level of experience without driving to the Strip. We have our own fancy.

I love the lobby, which hasn’t really changed since day one. Before you can even check in, you’re drawn into this glowing space with a massive crystal chandelier and uber-dramatic staircases. They just don’t build these anymore, not even on the Strip.

Red Rock Resort's lobby.

You can break down the recent restaurant updates or explore all the technology that’s gone into the sportsbook or even debate the merits of the current version of the Lucky Bar against its original environs, but there’s no question this is the greatest neighborhood casino ever built. And the true genius of its creation is evident now more than ever, since Downtown Summerlin has arrived and helped bring even more traffic to the area and the resort. You could say Downtown Summerlin is the Red Rock Resort of Las Vegas outdoor malls.

“We really viewed it as one plus one equals three,” Alonso says. “It does bring more traffic to our area, and we’re good neighbors and enjoy promoting each other. It’s exciting for us to promote the mall with our out-of-town guests who don’t have to take a ride now to go to Fashion Show.”

Red Rock never needed anything else, but now it really has everything.

Red Rock Resort Anniversary Fireworks Show April 16, 9 p.m., free.

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Brock is an award-winning writer and reporter who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently ...

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