Adios Legendary Riviera! ~ Las Vegas 2015

Adios Legendary Riviera! ~ Las Vegas 2015

Those who have not visited Las Vegas for a few years will surely have quite a bit of catching up to do.  Many changes have recently taken place on the Las Vegas Strip and at resort properties near the Las Vegas Convention Center.  The Sahara Casino is now the SLS Casino.  The Las Vegas Hilton is now the Westgate Casino Resort.  The Greek Isles Casino was recently imploded and last but not least, the new Resorts World Casino Resort project broke ground on the old Stardust Casino property. Upcoming planned changes on The Strip in 2015 involved rebranding the old Monte Carlo, opening the shuttered Fontainebleau and sadly enough, saying adios to the legendary Riviera.  

The old original casinos from the golden age of Las Vegas are have nearly all disappeared on the Las Vegas Strip.  Those who liked the grand old days of Las Vegas in the 1960s will surely remember the marquis classic casinos and how they were the place to rub elbows with the stars.  Anybody with any kind of social stature spent time in the classic old casinos just to stir up a little bit of publicity.  The greatest entertainers on earth were booked in every showroom for years at a time back then.  Las Vegas was a different scene back in those days and casinos were designed to be easy to recognize long lasting places that did not change overnight.  The original goal was to provide long lasting familiar surroundings, so guests would be comfortable with returning time and time again without being lost in the shuffle of constant change. 

The old familiar casinos made changes and modifications to the buildings over the years, but the accent on customer comfort was always retained.  This is not the case in this modern age.  Starting in the 1980s, the old conservative approach to casino renovation gave way to razing the entire property and constructing a modern new resort from the ground up.  Then the mega resort trend began and the casinos of the past started to look like small specks on a map. 

Many visitors do not like the vast mega resorts because of the extreme distances involved with navigating the property.  In some mega resorts a guest has to nearly walk a mile from their room just to get to the valet.  One almost has to ask for a map just to find their way around inside a mega resort in order to avoid getting hopelessly lost.  This is the reason why so many of the casinos from the 1960s lasted so long.  The old casinos are small by modern standards, but they were easy to navigate once inside.  Old fashioned comfort kept the old casinos alive. 

A recent resort trend is Boutique Casino Resorts that have less than one half of the floorspace of a mega resort.  A good example is the Downtown Grand Casino Resort in Las Vegas.  This boutique resort used to be the old Lady Luck Casino from the 1960s.  Renovating an old outdated casino hotel and marketing it as a boutique casino resort helped to retain the loyalty of visitors that yearn for the old days of Vegas when creature comfort on a smaller scale was number one. 

For some of the old casino properties, there is no hope for renovation.  Just slapping some new paint on the building and turning an interior decorator loose on the property will achieve nothing in some cases.  When considering the extremely high occupancy rates that some of the old casinos have had through many decades, it is easy to understand how the wear and tear on the building structure can be extreme.  For example, replacing an entire plumbing, HVAC system, elevators and flooring can exceed the cost of building a brand new casino on the same property.  When an old casino resort reaches a certain point of wear and tear, it becomes a flip of a coin decision as to whether it is worth saving the building or not. 

The Riviera had been around since the old golden age of rock & roll began in 1955.  Every star in the book has performed in the Riviera.  This resort was once one of the most modern resorts in the world and the amenities were unsurpassed.  The Riviera was a comfortable gambling mecca for many years and this resort still had many loyal customers in recent years, but unfortunately all good things must eventually come to an end.     

Wear and tear is a factor that cannot be ignored.  An antique unsustainable building design that drives up operational costs in this modern age does give reason to abandoning any thought of renovating the casino property.  Such was the case with the old time Las Vegas landmark, the Riviera Casino Resort. The grand old Riviera Casino closed its doors for the last time on Monday May 4th, 2015.  Traditionally, midnight is the witching hour for such a closure and plenty of fans of the old Riviera resort property showed up one last time to get one last look and one last souvenir.  

On the flip-side, those who curse the Riviera because they lost their life savings on one roll of the dice at this casino will surely be looking forward to the Las Vegas style demolition implosion viewing party!  Yes, there is nothing like going out with a bang!  It took a while for the implosion date to be set, but the Riviera did officially end its tenure on The Strip with a big bang.  The imploded Riviera was completely razed in order to make way for the planned expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

On a side note, shortly after the Riviera closure, everything that was not nailed down was auctioned off. Everybody from memorabilia collectors to hoteliers were bidding to land some real bargains. Some of the neon signage ended up in the Las Vegas Neon Museum, while the most sough after piece of artisan brass work was destined to follow the Riviera headliner Crazy Girls to their new home in the Planet Hollywood Casino. The Crazy Girls Brass Ass sculpture in front of the Riviera was moved to Planet Hollywood, so now every fan knows the tradition of shining the Crazy Girls Brass Ass will continue into the future! 

As everybody knows, Las Vegas is all about change and sometimes change is good.  The historic Riviera will surely be missed by their long time customers and the many honeymooners that spent their wedding night in this resort will now have nothing but memories. All that can be said after the old memories are cast aside is an honorary adios to the legendary Riviera!


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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