A Rio Good Deal

More than a year ago, the Rio came out with a comprehensive program called Local Rewards in an attempt to attract more locals as the economy was fizzling. It was a good program with three main components: 25 percent off in the restaurants, 50 percent off in the buffet, and half off drinks at all bars. I wasn’t sure it would last, but the program is still going strong.

Before getting into the details on the deals, let me explain what you need to do to get them. Only this: live in Las Vegas and be a Total Rewards member. If you aren’t a member already, you’ll have to join, but that’s about all the effort required. You don’t have to get a special players card or add a sticker to your existing card. Simply show your Total Rewards card and local ID when you buy something at a restaurant or a bar. Your discounts won’t be quite 25 percent or 50 percent, because they charge tax as if you paid full price, but it’s close enough. Plus, these are discounts, not 2-for-1s, so there’s no penalty for going solo.

The restaurant deal is a straight 25 percent off the entire bill. The only restaurants not included are outside contractors KJ Seafood and BK Whopper Bar, which means it’s good at Buzio’s, Martorano’s and VooDoo Steak on the high end, along with less expensive outlets like the sports deli and even Starbucks. The discount applies to drinks, including bottles of wine, so it can add up. This also results in the lowest price available for the Village Seafood Buffet, which drops from $45 to $34. I’m told that one person with a local ID can apply it to a party of three guests, and maybe more. But be sure to inquire first.

It’s even better in the Carnival World Buffet, where the discount is 50 percent. Carnival World is still one of the most expansive buffets in town, and at $15 for dinner (after discount), it’s a steal.

The drink discount is good at all casino bars, including the fancy iBar, where a pricey $8 Heineken is suddenly less than $5. They draw the line at the top-shelf cognacs and scotches, but the deal applies to Grey Goose, Patrón and the like. Domestic beers in Shutters, Masquerade and other bars are a downright bargain at $2.68 a pop. It’s pretty tough to find drinks at these prices in the big resorts.

That’s not the end of it. At least until the end of July, Local Rewards gets you 2-for-1 tickets to Penn & Teller and Chippendales. There’s also a 20 percent discount on spa services, excluding packages.

Put together a dinner, show and drinks combo and you’re pocketing well over $100 in savings for a night out at the Rio, making it the best local program in town.