Rio Update: New President, Construction Pics, Wine Cellar is Well Hung Again

There’s a lot going on at Rio, including the appointment of a new resort president, longtime casino executive Patrick Miller. Miller’s hiring arrives on the heels of word the current president, Trevor Scherrer, is stepping down due to medical reasons.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve also got security breach pics at Lapa Lounge (replacing Rio’s lobby lounge, iBar) and a new restaurant, Luckley Tavern & Grill, replacing the All-American Bar & Grill.

We’ve got all the deets, which is the way our fellow kids say “details,” because not saying that additional syllable saves tons of time which could better be spent having “experiences” like eating cheese sandwiches at music festivals, protesting things they don’t understand or not having sex as often as their grandparents.

If we don’t make a joke about maracas every 30-45 days, we may actually die of an aneurysm.

First, Patrick Miller. Who is having just as much sex as his grandparents, trust us.

According to Rio and its owner Dreamscape, “He held key positions within MGM Resorts International, including Senior Vice President overseeing the Hospitality divisions at MGM Grand, New York-New York, Excalibur, Signature, and the Shadow Creek golf course. His most notable role was as the President and COO at Park MGM and NoMad Hotel, where he spearheaded the transformative half-billion-dollar renovation of Monte Carlo to Park MGM.”

Oh, stop rolling your eyes. Undeniabe blandness aside, Park MGM is fine and has to be making more money than Monte Carlo did.

Welcome, Patrick! Now, what’s the most Bruno Mars has lost in one session of blackjack or baccarat? Just between us.

MGM Resort is a reliable casino resort operator, and those in its ranks tend to be experienced and competent. These days, MGM Resorts doesn’t actually own casinos, it operates them. The company’s era of big ideas (like CityCenter or paid parking) has come and gone. Now, it’s a tenant for REITs. Long story.

Our dream is Patrick Miller has been living under the oppressive yoke of MGM Resorts, and now he will truly come into his own at Rio, fulfilling on the promise Rio can return to its former glory.

Rio’s direction has already been set, and someone with a strong operations background is just what the doctor ordered. Yes, doctors used to order things, apparently. Presumably, medicine to cure something. Nevada probably isn’t the best place to use this idiom, as many patients suffering from paper cuts have died under the care of Nevada physicians.

Anyway, Dreamscape is convinced it can turn Rio around and has invested a metric ass-ton in doing just that.

Which brings us to Lapa Lounge and Luckley Tavern & Grill.

Lapa Lounge is just inside the hotel’s main entrance.

Samba music is popular in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro. Samba, with its irresistible batucada rhythm, inspires people to dance, frequently resulting in pregnancy or a broken hip.

Here’s a look at the construction inside Lapa Lounge at Rio.

The new lounge will open in June. Chop-chop, construction dudes.

Here’s what the lounge will end up looking like if all goes according to plan.

Jaguars and monkeys and hooch, oh, my.

It wasn’t clear from the rendering if there would be gambling at the lounge bar, but there are glorious holes for such activity in the actual bar. Dibs on the band name Glorious Holes, by the way.

Bars without gambling leave money on the table. Just ask Fontainebleau.

Everything was stripped down to the bones, and here’s how this new lounge is described by Rio: “Infused with the vibrant energy of Lapa, the lounge’s design exudes an eclectic fusion of Rio De Janeiro’s Tijuca National Forest charm and the chic allure of local high-end establishments. Stepping into the Lobby bar, guests are greeted by a spectacle: a ceiling adorned with golden-textured brass monkeys and jaguars, encircling a stunning blown glass chandelier straight from the heart of Italy. Bathed in a warm glow, the honey onyx bar top radiates alongside reclaimed teak accents and daring animal-inspired patterns in vivid red and green fabrics. Anchoring the space, the veined black marble floor emanates sophistication, completing the ambiance of refined luxury.”

They were going to call this lounge the Tijuca Bar, but it sounded too much like “The Hooker Bar,” for which Rio was known for many years prior to Dreamscape taking over.

Now you know why Rio both loves and hates us. We could not agree more with their assessment of us.

This ceiling contouring is prevalent in the casino, but adjustments are being made in this area next to the Lapa Lounge to accommodate some of the new, big-ass slot machines.

We also snuck in to see the construction at Luckley Tavern & Grill. By “snuck in,” of course, we mean Rio invited us over to take a look, but pretending it’s a “security breach” just makes it sound sexier.

Yep, that’s the former All-American bar. No way MGM Resorts would let us share pics like this. No pressure, Patrick Miller.

Here’s the description of Luckley, despite our hope the Supreme Court will at some point ban news releases in America: “Drawing inspiration from the idyllic Cotswold hills of the English countryside, Luckley Tavern & Grill encapsulates the convivial atmosphere of traditional pubs and the essence of warm hospitality. Reflecting its namesake’s welcoming ethos, the restaurant beckons guests to immerse themselves in a culinary adventure filled with hearty flavors and friendly vibes.”

The food will be American, thankfully. All due respect to our Brits!

Luckley Tavern opens in June, too. Insert juvenile “wood” joke here.

And those new venues are just part of the story of Rio’s rebirth.

Rio is becoming a Hyatt hotel, which is fantastic marketing databasewise.

The entire exterior of Rio has been relit, with programmable LEDs, which make it spectacular.

Rooms have been renovated, the pool complex has been overhauled, the marquees have been upgraded and Rio’s new food court is buzzworthy.

Another big move at Rio: The hotel’s Wine Cellar has reopened. Here’s the official site.

In Greek, the word for wine was “oeno,” as in, “I had a lot of wine last night. Oeno, where did I leave my thong?”

Caesars Entertainment, which previously owned and operated Rio, took most of the wine with them, but the Wine Cellar at Rio has been restocked. Some places tout their aged wine, but the Wine Cellar has lots of fresh wine! (Fun fact: This oenophile joke was first made in 1926.)

In Greek mythology, the “Oenotropae” were the three daughters of Anius and Dryope. We’d pause to make an Anius joke, but we’re really more interested in the names of the daughters: Oeno produced wine. Spermo produced seed. Elais produced olive oil, for which Popeye should be eternally grateful.

Anyway, dibs on Spermo as a superhero name.

Spermo would fight crime, eat lots of pineapple and have webbing like Spiderman, but stickier.

Mice have longer sperm than elephants. This was today’s thing you will never see in a Las Vegas Review-Journal story about the Rio. You’re welcome.

One of the best pieces of news out of Rio is the return of Wine Cellar Manager Hung Nguyen. It took a minute, but that “well Hung” joke finally paid off.

Nguyen (pronounced “win”) is a legend at the Wine Cellar, and stuck it out at Rio for several years while the Wine Cellar’s future was being decided. It never reopened after the pandemic, but Nguyen believed it would return, so he slugged it out in whatever venue needed him, including VooDoo Steak and, wait for it, Starbucks.

Nguyen has an encyclopedic knowledge of wine and his laugh is infectious. If Rio could figure out a way to bottle Hung Nguyen, they’d make bank.

Hung Nguyen is a Las Vegas institution and must be protected at all costs, despite this serious face which is nothing like the actual Hung Nguyen.

There’s a lot more happening at Rio, but we do not “take notes,” per se.

One of the more startling changes at Rio is overhead. As the ceiling is getting a facelift, it’s helpful to view this side-by-side comparison of fresh paint and 30 years of cigarette smoke.

If you don’t think it’s time to end smoking in casinos, you shouldn’t be allowed to vote, procreate or operate a motor vehicle.

We trust new Rio president Patrick Miller will hit the ground running and Rio will be smoke-free like Park MGM before you know it! Just kidding. Don’t get us started.

We’re rooting for Rio, and Dreamscape has been making a lot of great decisions and investing in what many considered a lost cause. While Rio’s reputation was a smidge tarnished in recent years due to neglect, the ongoing transformation is bound to change some minds, as it did ours, about the prospects of success for this once-beloved off-Strip underdog.

More to come!

Which might be Spermo’s catchphrase, come to think of it.