Got there early as usual (9am)...I'd called a couple days earlier and they had a few of my room choices on notice with my name on 'em...just waiting for HouseKeeping to 'do their thang'...I was in by noon in IPANIMA TOWER, 11th floor. Pulling back the curtains of the two walls of windows that over looked the pools and STRIP, I immediately saw the form letter from RIO President Marily Winn: ************************************************ Welcome, my friend, to Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino! You've chosen the wildest resort in all of Las Vegas for your vacation, and I couldn't be happier about your decision. You've got a whole world of amazing things to explore right here at Rio, with dozens of restaurants, bars, shows, shops and maybe even a few surprises along the way! I wanted to greet you properly and invite you to settle in with a very exciting announcement about the newest amenity here at Vegas' home of the uninhibited. It's the SAPPHIRE POOL, a one-of-a-kind Brazilian pool experience created by Sapphire, Las Vegas' premier gentlemen's club. We're proud to cut the ribbon and open up this ultra-hot-adults-only attraction opening this weekend. The magnificent lagoon pool is surrounded by seven VIP cabanas, luxuriously appointed with personal hosts, as well as twelve day beds. If beautiful women aren't eye candy enough, feast your eyes on our three waterfalls and lush foliage. The Sapphire pool also features a Jacuzzi and specialty cocktails served by waitresses dressed in bikinis and sarongs for a true Brazilian feel. Entertainment is provided by the best DJs spinning Top 40 and hip-hop throughout the day. Admission to the SAPPHIRE POOL is $10 for women every day. For men, it's $20 on weekdays and $30 on weekends. You can also move up to a lounge chair for a normal fee. The pool is open daily from 10am until 6pm. I truly hope you enjoy your stay here at Rio. Don't hesitate to let us know if there's anything we can do to make your visit more enjoyable. ************************************************ Hmmmmm. At first glance, everything looked the same down at the pools...then you notice the tall bamboo wall separating off the largest pool at the far back...STRIP (no pun intended) side. It was a hot, clear day and the whole pool area was busy...except for the Sapphire Pool. Maybe a dozen guests...couples, single women and guys, and NO 'gawkers'. THEN THERE WERE THE SAPPHIRE BABES... 4 to 6 women...hired by the RIO from the Sapphire Gentlemen's club to lounge around and entertain the guests (mostly, the men guests...) They play beach ball in the water, engage in conversations and over turn unsuspecting male sun worshippers floating on air mattresses, AND...they're not (completely) topless. Because they're considered employees, they MUST WARE PASTIES. Seashells, Stars, Butterflies adorn their bodies poolside AND...not all the women seemed to be in playful moods everyday. Many of 'em either just floated around, belly down, on air mattresses or grouped together around lounge chairs...pretty much sticking to themselves. I know this by observing their activites for 5 days, so as...TO KEEP YOU!...the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino fans, aBREAST of this new experience! The Sapphire Pool area is private and you can't see it from the main pools BUT... If your room is say...10th floor or higher and you have a pool/Strip view...YOU CAN SEE EVERYTHING. Now if you don't get enough entertainment 'outside'...rumor is 'inside'...Sapphire is going to take over the Club Rio Showroom if the Brazilian pool thing goes over well. No one knew very much, but the buzzzz was all over the casino as well as CAMERA CREWS... At first, I thought they were filming a movie or interviewing the WORLD SERIES OF POKER celebs. All week...daytime/late night, they had lighting crews, mobile camera tracks, limos, and hot models busily setting up and shooting scenes for new promotional videos Harrah's will be airing on television for the RIO. More skin outside, possible more skin inside, sexy promotional videos...funny to have all this activity for a property thats still rumored to be announcing it's sale by the end of the year. (WSOP final table moved back to November...watch for the possible announcement after that) THEN THERES THE 'NEW' MASQUERADE SHOW IN THE SKY... The new Show is up and running and it's a MAJOR IMPROVEMENT over the last version. An older cast, good choreography and costumes, 3 different Shows starting at 7pm (on the hour) til midnight...Thursday thru Sunday. Each Show features their new male/female lead vocalists...WHO SING LIVE!...a welcome change to back to the good ol' days of Tony Marnell (sorta...) Both of 'em look and sound good and come with semi professional experiences on curse ships and television talent shows. The Shows aren't as long as they used to be...maybe 15-20 minutes each and end with the floats circling the Village. (lots of folks riding the floats this trip) SEX SELLS is all you can say about the Show's new theme. Theres no nudity, but sexy teddies, underware and bras are the fashion choice of the evening (lots of kids still in the audience too...) Again, theres 3 versions of the Show and each one gets a little more naughty featuring a bath tub in one scene and ending with a giant, silk sheet covered bed in the last...all swirling in teasing, humping cast members. It's a good looking cast and nothings done in bad taste...IMO. It's kind of like RIO RIA's naughty twin meets the CHIPPENDALES. Other than that, not much else new going on at the RIO. Crowds were lite, gaming pretty tight this trip and the weather was good...HOT!!! The ALL AMERICAN BAR AND GRILL is now open 11am-6am to cover for the early afternoon closing of SAO PAULO CAFE (6am-3pm) CITY CENTER: Workers staged a 12 hour STRIKE with aggressive picketters voicing their concerns along the sidewalks next to the site after the death of a 6th construction worker. MGM/MIRAGE met with and agreed to worker demands for better on site training, on site access by UNION representatives, and OSHA training. CREDIT CARD TAXI CABS: Some of the cabs I used this trip were equipped with new credit card processing machines. GAS PRICES: Las Vegas gas prices hit $4.02 overnight on Tuesday, 5/3. (many cabs use propane) SHOWS: TOXIC AUDIO, CRAZY HORSE Paris (LaFemme), JERSEY BOYS, ELTON JOHN, SPAMALOT. I'll have some thoughts in Shows and Entertainment by the end of this weekend. IT WAS A GOOD TRIP! I took a $2,900 bankroll down and brought $3,800 home! Most of it due to a good (lucky), short session on a dollar Double Bonus machine prior to my SPAMALOT, 'Back Stage Tour' Show at WYNN LAS VEGAS. ...good thing too. When I left home, Regular Gas in Oakland was $3.99. This morning, it's $4.50, lol.......WELCOME HOME SIR!