Last month, I was asked to do some work up at Reno, with the accommodations at the Grand Sierra Resort taken care of as part of the deal. So I figured what better way to celebrate January than to take the family up to Reno for some “real” winter weather, with snow on the ground. That might seem pretty counter-intuitive, but when you live in Las Vegas, the chance to walk around in snow is a novelty, not an annoyance.
I’ll share some details about the room and the resort, with the full disclosure that I didn’t pay for the room. On the other hand, I wasn’t asked to write a review and was under no obligation to do so, so there’s no quid pro quo here.
We were given a base-level Summit room, which is well worth the upgrade if you haven’t booked one. The decor was modern and the room clean. Regular amenities of a coffee maker and room safe, and a flatscreen TV. Pretty much what you’d expect to find in a good hotel room these days. It was more spacious than other rooms we’ve stayed in lately, too.
One note for people traveling with kids: don’t book the Concierge level, which is floors 25-27. We were given a room there, and when we tried to use the Concierge lounge, we were told kids weren’t allowed inside. I didn’t particularly mind since I didn’t pay for the room, but if I had paid extra to have access to the lounge and the continental breakfast, I would have been miffed. Originally I didn’t understand why they didn’t want kids in the lounge (no explanation given), but looking on the website I see that it turns into a bar at night, so that certainly makes sense.
Probably the best thing about the GSR for families in Fun Quest, which is located deep in the catacombs of the Lower Level. [Parenthetical here: GSR opened as the MGM Grand Reno back in back in 1978, and it's very similar to the original MGM Grand Las Vegas, which is now Bally's. You'll see what I'm talking about when you visit. On the Lower Level, you can even see the original MGM lions on the elevator doors if you look hard enough.] It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but don’t give up hope: it’s well worth it.
Anyway, Fun Quest is a blast. Since Prima and Secunda are still toddlers, they were confined mostly to the Tumble Town area, which is your basic kids play gym, meaning there are blocks, a bunch of things to crawl on, and more things to crawl on. We spent a grand total of three hours or so here, and the kids didn’t get bored at all–in fact they wanted to stay. You, on the other hand, might want to tag team it with your co-parent or bring a book.
There’s lots more to Fun Quest than Tumble Town–some cool slides, laser tag, and a whole arcade full of classic games like the basketball hoop game that was a plot point in Bookies and Dance Dance Revolution. And there’s probably lots more even cooler stuff for older kids that I didn’t notice, being pretty much confined to Tumble Town. But I saw a lot of teenagers and pre-teens hanging out here and at the Round Table Pizza down the hall, so I guess this is pretty popular.
Back to the hotel…one of the best things about GSR is that they let dogs stay. We don’t have any dogs ourselves, but the kids love saying hi to dogs they meet, and once or twice it took us fifteen minutes to get from the elevator to the side door because there were so many dogs to play with. It gives the place a not-casino vibe, which is a good thing.
Of course, you’re in a casino, and that’s half the fun. One morning, Prima and I were up early, so to get her out of the room (so that Mrs. Viva could get some extra sleep) we went for a walk downstairs and caught the parade of partiers staggering back in around 6 in the morning. Weeks later, Prima still does a good impression of one drunk but harmless guy who was weaving his way around the lobby and stopped to talk. Good times.
So if you’re staying in Reno, I’d definitely suggest the GSR. Noticed a lot of skiers there, so I assume it’s got good proximity to the ski spots. It’s right off the freeway–as in you drive straight from the exit right into the parking lot. Fun vibe that’s about halfway between a classic casino and a ski lodge. I’d pay for a room there next time.