Green Valley Ranch is an attractive casino resort hotel located in the southwest part of Las Vegas. An alternative to Strip resorts, Green Valley Ranch offers everything a large Strip resort does, and often does it better. It also appeals to a slightly older, upper-middle class crowd. You wouldn't do badly to choose Green Valley Ranch for a gambling vacation. While it is expensive, it is a top-notch resort in every respect.
Green Valley Ranch is owned by Station Casinos and The Greenspun Corporation, owners of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper and other interests. Greenspun stays mostly behind the scenes, and Green Valley Ranch is for all intents and purposes a Station Casino -- you can use your Stations players card here, and you book the hotel through Station's website.
I stayed at Green Valley Ranch for three nights on 9/21-24. I was extremely impressed with the hotel’s amentities, decor, and service. Everything went above and beyond the normal hotel experience. I would rate Green Valley Ranch on the same level as the Wynn or Bellagio on the Strip -- surprising for a hotel all the way out in Henderson.
Green Valley Ranch is located in a retail development called "The District"; a "lifestyle center" featuring stores like REI, Whole Foods, Coldwater Creek, and other frou-frou emporia. There are also nine restaurants in the complex. The casino itself anchors the end of the outdoor mall, and has two parking garages. Both the casino and the mall are easily accessible from the Green Valley exit off the I-215. To reach the casino by bus, take RTC route 111 (Pecos) all the way southbound.
The area around the resort is a planned community that is very safe to walk around in. There is nothing really within walking distance besides the mall. McCarran Airport is conveniently a few miles down the I-215, and Ethel M's Chocolate Factory is nearby. You are also already halfway to the Hoover Dam and Boulder City.
There is a complimentary shuttle to the Strip for hotel guests that leaves four times a day, and a shuttle to the airport that leaves eight times a day. The same schedule applies for the return trip.
I stayed at Green Valley Ranch on a marketing offer than included a complimentary room and entry to a blackjack tournament. I was happy to get the room for free, since I am by no means a high-roller, and weekend rooms at Green Valley Ranch generally go for $100-$200 a night. (The weekend I was there would have cost me at least $450 if I paid full price.) If you are paying for the room, be aware that the hotel adds a $24.99 resort fee per night to the normal rate. This fee includes in-room Internet access, unlimited local and 800 number calls, fitness center access, a daily local newspaper (including Sundays), shoeshine service, and airport and Strip shuttle service. Incidentally, this is one of the highest resorts fees in Las Vegas. By way of comparison, the Wynn's resort fee is $25. When I checked in, I thought I heard the clerk say, "Your room is comped, there is no resort fee, and Internet is included." It turns out I heard that exactly wrong, and Internet was an added fee. Not knowing this, I got stuck with a $45 charge at the end of my stay, which was an unpleasant surprise. I guess I have selective dyslexia.
At the hotel, I came in the main entrance by the mall, and walked up the stairs to the casino. It turns out hotel registration was way in the back and nowhere near the casino. I wandered through some conference rooms, up and down stairs and escalators, and through some very elaborately decorated hallways before I found the check-in area. All this walking gave me a good overview of the resort, and I have to say I was impressed. The theme is Southern European/Mediterranean but they have really put their own stamp on things with the design motif. There are a lot of green accents, carved woods, and decorative ironwork. There are also tapestries, paintings, and cool antiques lining the hallways and corridors. It all adds up to a very aesthetically pleasing experience.
I was assigned a room in the East Tower. There are just 490 rooms in the property, so calling the hotel wings "towers" is a bit of an overstatement. There are eight floors in each wing, which surround the pool area. My room overlooked the parking lot, which was fine, but I got room envy when I saw the awesome views and balconies the pool rooms had. I'm sure they cost an arm and a leg more. The entry to the hotel area is secured by a locked door, and you have to go through it before you can even get to your rooms. Then you have to take one or two elevators depending on which floor you're coming from. You'd think you were trying to get to the Queen's quarters at Buckingham Palace.
The rooms themselves are pretty spectacular. There is a large floor-to-ceiling window, a big rough-hewn wooden desk, a tabletop minibar with snacks plus a refrigerated minibar, a bathroom with a separate soaking tub and shower, a Bose Wave Radio with CD player, a flat-screen TV, a cotton robe, a safe, and an iron/ironing board. There is also a hairdryer and scale in the bathroom. There is also something called a "Library" on each floor, but my key wouldn't open the door to it. Is there anything more intriguing than an unopenable door marked "Library?" Room service is available 24/7, with an extensive menu. The television was a LCD flat-screen with about 25 channels.
For the interests of this review, I decided to take advantage of the hotel's shoeshine service. I called down to housekeeping, and a gentleman came up within minutes to take my shoes. I tipped him, and he came back about twenty minutes later with the best shoeshine I had ever seen. It made my beat up shoes look new. Unfortunately, he broke the shoelaces, but it was still a nice job. A few minutes later, the hotel operator called to make sure everything had gone okay with my shoes. I'm not used to this kind of service. Usually I just require a fresh roll of toilet paper. (If that. Newspaper works in a pinch.)
Finally, there is the pool area. "Area" is the wrong word. This is a whole other resort unto itself, with an artificial sandy beach, a regular pool, a hot tub, a couple water features, a private pool for adults, a row of cabanas with a private dip pool, a cafe, a bar, a helicopter landing pad(!), an amphitheatre, a salon, a spa, a vineyard, and a sitting area. Whoosh! There is drink and food service by the pool, as well as a self-service water jug. There is a great view of the Strip from the pool, since Green Valley is at a higher elevation than Las Vegas. The pool closes at 7 P.M., and there are lifeguards on duty at all times. Sorry, I forgot to go into the fitness area, but it is located in the poolside complex. Your reviewer is a slob when it comes to exercising.
Green Valley Ranch has a nice variety of upscale restaurants, in addition to a food court for quick items. Here is what they offer:
Hank's Fine Steaks and Martinis is named for Hank Greenspun, a colorful figure and patriarch of the Greenspun family. I did not get to try it, but they did have happy hour specials from 5-7 P.M., the room was swank, and they seemed to attract the “see-and-be-seen” crowd. (I myself prefer not to be seen.) You can use your Stations points at any of the food outlets, but be aware you cannot do a room charge at the food court. The pit also cannot comp you to the food court as easily as they can the Stations-owned outlets, so ask for a printed voucher if you want to go there.
I ate at four restaurants: Grand Café, Turf Grill, Feast Buffet and Terra Verde. The Grand Café was my morning stop for coffee, which cost me $7.75 for a large plus a chocolate croissant. I need coffee to function, so I will pay any price, although I prefer a coffeemaker in the rooms. That said, it was good coffee, and the croissant was excellent. I also had a late-night meal of a Monte Cristo sandwich and fries for $4.99. The sandwich was terrible, and I had to throw it away without taking a bite. They deep-fried it instead of grilling it, and it was gross. I will give the Grand Café credit for having the nicest room of any of the Grand Cafes I’ve been to, as well as the classiest servers.
At the Turf Grill, I had a chicken noodle soup with a side of macaroni salad for a quick bite. The soup was good, and homemade. This is a convenient spot if you want to get something to eat while watching sports in the sports book. They also had a nice selection of sandwiches, and while I was there, they were selling $1 hot dogs and beers from a cart during football games.
I ate at the Feast Buffet three times, for brunch, lunch, and dinner. I was decidedly unimpressed, although they do a decent job. For brunch, they had bagels and lox, which was all I really require. Lunch and dinner are basically the same service with a couple different items. They have a Mongolian grill station, and an ice cream bar. The Chinese station was the best, I thought. All-in-all, I did not think the buffet presentation or quality was better than the Feast buffets at the other Stations, even though Green Valley Ranch charges more for their buffet ($5/$8/$14 for breakfast/lunch/dinner & brunch). I would recommend only eating at the Green Valley Ranch buffet for breakfast; otherwise, only if you have a comp.
I came back to try Terra Verde with a friend. This is one of the best Italian meals I’ve had, in a really nice room with great service. My favorite part was their “Enomatic” self-serve wine machines. These are machines that dispense a certain amount of wine — like a soda fountain — after you put in a stored-value card. We bought two encoded cards with $25 in value on each, and were able to sample about fifteen different one-ounce pours of wine. Not only is this a great way to taste a lot of different wines, it is fun to use the machine, too. I get a kick out of this kind of thing. My favorite wine was an Amarone, which was a new one for me.
For dinner, we ordered arrancini (rice balls) and calamari appetizers, both of which were well done. We also ordered a side of meatballs. For entrées, my friend got the branzino sea bass, and I got the tortiglioni sausage pasta. The sea bass was one of the best prepared pieces of fish I’ve ever tasted, and my pasta was great, prepared in a tomato cream sauce with fresh homemade sausage. For dessert we tried some kind of ricotta cheesecake, which the waiter tried to talk us out of getting. It was good, I thought, but the waiter scores honesty points for giving his opinion. The bill came to $170 including tax and wine for two.
Like all other Stations properties, Green Valley Ranch has a movie theater, an arcade, and a live music venue, Ovation. Most of the shows at Ovation had no cover, and featured well-known local bands. The movie theater is a Regal cinema and has ten screens. I saw “Resident Evil: Retribution” here. Horrible film, but a good place to see a movie. There's no bowling alley. I know you are very disappointed to hear that.
Quinn's Irish Pub does trivia on Wednesday nights which usually I would be game for, but I had other plans. There isn’t much else to do in the casino except gamble and drink, although you could head over to the mall area where there are more options. Green Valley is a pretty sedate area at night.
If you like drinking, Green Valley Ranch would be an excellent choice. As at all Nevada casinos, alcoholic drinks are complimentary while gambling, and Green Valley Ranch had a great selection of bottled beers. I ordered Guinness Draught in a bottle, which is hard to find anywhere, let alone in casinos. Cocktail waitresses are plentiful, often coming by every five to ten minutes. They also comp “call” liquors (e.g., Jack Daniels) for players, and premium liquors are “in the well.” (Beefeater gin, Jose Cuervo tequila, etc.)
Green Valley Ranch is a big, mostly slots casino. The table games pit runs in a circle around the central “Drop” bar, while the rest of the casino is slots extending out in various directions. Something about the layout makes it easy to get lost in, especially if you are coming from the hotel. The sports book is located in the back of the casino, and is big and nice, with big screen TVs, private booths, and a dedicated bar. There is also a poker room just to the right of the sports book, which spreads the usual Texas Hold ‘Em games, with a few good tournaments and promotions. I didn’t notice a keno lounge, but I think there was one. There is no bingo room.
The casino uses the Boarding Pass players' card which returns 0.30% to the player on slots or video poker. Sports, race, and poker players also earn points, but at a different rate. Table games players should turn their cards into the pit boss when buying in to be rated.
The best video poker game is deuces wild at the $0.25 denomination with a payback of 100.76% with optimal play. As at every Stations casino, you earn 1/4th the cashback on these "optimal" machines. There are lots of these machines around the casino, all marked “100% payback,” with some in the non-smoking section as well — a plus, for sure. Other good video poker games are marked with “99% payback” signs.
Table game rules are as follows:
Plenty of tables. The minimums are $5-$25. Most games are a double deck pitch game, dealer hits soft 17, resplit aces allowed, no surrender for a house edge of 0.40%. Others are shoe games with the same rules for a 0.64% house edge. There are no continuous shuffle machines. The casino offers the Hit ‘N’ Run progressive, and the Pair Square and Lucky Ladies side bets. Players may play two betting spots at $10 a hand, or three spots at $25 a hand.
Kudos to Green Valley Ranch for not offering any blackjack games that pay 6:5 on a blackjack. All blackjacks pay 3:2.
There is a high limit room that offers the same blackjack game as the main floor, with $50 minimums.
Pai Gow Poker
Many tables. $5/$10 minimums. Fortune side bet.
$5 minimums with 3x4x5x odds. Field pays triple on 12, hard and easy hops pay 30-1 and 15-1, respectively.
There is also an Aruze "Shoot-to-Win" bubble craps game that is an electronic version of regular craps, with giant live dice that players roll by pressing a button. The minimum wager on this game is $1, and you can take up to five times odds. The maximum total action is $250. Be aware that cashback is earned at 1/4th the normal rate on this game. (You can still insert your players card for points.)
$5 minimum inside/outside. $1 chips. 0/00 American-style wheel.
There is also an electronic version of roulette called "Organic Roulette." This is a physical wheel and ball, but wagers and payouts are done by individual electronic touch screen. The minimum bet on this game is $3-$300, and the rules are the same as a normal wheel. (0/00.)
Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em
Two tables. $5 minimum. The "Trips" side bet paytable pays five units for a straight, for a 1.9% house edge. Players may play the side bet exclusively without risking anything on the main game if they wish. The progressive side bet pays out if the player gets a royal flush “on the flop."
One table, $5/$10 minimums. Dragon bonus side bet. The high limit room offers midi-baccarat where the players may handle the cards. Minimum bet $50.
My gambling consisted of Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em, blackjack, and video poker. I find myself playing more Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em than blackjack these days because the atmosphere is better, the players don’t get angry at you for making strange plays, and the mood is more jovial. Also, the element of risk — 0.55% — is the same or better than most blackjack games. I played two or three hours of UTH each day of my stay. I usually just play the base game, with no sidebets. However, this strategy backfired on me when I hit a straight flush (two through six of hearts). The dealer was visibly upset with me, but what do I care? I did tip him $10 on the win.
I also played blackjack. I like the blackjack games at Green Valley Ranch since they have a lot of tables open and you can get a nice, uncrowded game. They also offer decent rules, and deal about eighty percent of the pack out, which is good for players who like to count cards. (For the basic strategy player, penetration does not significantly matter.) I played the double deck game for a few hours, keeping a rudimentary count and not betting any more than $100 a hand. I did make one notable gaffe: On the first hand after a shuffle, a flood of little cards came out onto the layout, and I exclaimed — under my breath, I thought — "Wow, the count is already plus twelve." The dealer must have heard me, because he asked, "Is that the true count or the running count?" I told him, and the woman next to me said I should watch out or they’ll boot me. The dealer said, "Actually, we encourage card counters here. Card counters mostly lose." I played for a little while longer, and colored up with a nice profit. Darn all this losing.
I also played deuces wild video poker, both on the full-pay version and the 99.73% "Ugly" paytable. I didn’t hit the four deuces, so I lost quite a bit. Even on a theoretically positive video poker game, you often will have big losses, so this was not unexpected. I did try to earn a lot of points on my players card for meals and room charges, but I couldn’t seem to accumulate more than $10 or so.
When it came time to check out, I had racked up $115 in room charges on my account (all in food and internet fees, since the room was comped). Upon check out, the clerk flat out declined to comp any of my room charges, which surprised me, since I thought I had gambled a lot. Often times, a casino will want to see you "cover a room" before they comp any additional charges. My room was expensive — I was happy to get it for free — and it is probable that my play didn’t warrant anything extra. I would suggest, however, that players try to get a comp up-front from the pit rather than charging it to the room and taking the crapshoot that they will comp anything later.
Green Valley Ranch somehow has hit on the formula of how to create a luxury resort while still appealing to locals. The casino was packed most of the time I was there, and the majority were not hotel guests. There is enough to do in the casino that you can have a good time even on a day trip, and the outdoor mall and movie theater are nice diversions.
While the hotel is expensive, I would say it is worth it if you want a luxury experience and don’t want to stay on the Strip. One thing Green Valley Ranch does not have is the youth-oriented, nightclub culture that is becoming more prevalent on the Strip. The atmosphere here would appeal to n slightly older crowd who is serious about great service, good gambling, and fine dining.
Pros: Great restaurants, spectacular hotel, superb service. Gambling-wise, it doesn’t get much better, although I would prefer they offer higher than 3x4x5x odds on craps. Awesome décor.
Cons: Nothing really in the immediate area besides the mall. Labyrinthine layout. Opaque comp system for table games players.
Address: 2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, Henderson, NV 89052
Web site: greenvalleyranchresort.com
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