“Acceptable. Not Bad, But Nothing Extraordinary Either”
Unlike most of my previous reports, this one took me almost two months to compose. Not because I have a lot to say, but because I don't. Avi is one of those places that has the dubious distinction of landing at that spot in your memory where it's difficult to remember much. I can't really say that I found anything significant that I didn't like about the place, But conversely, nothing really stood out either.
From the outside, the place doesn't look like much and the geometry of the buildings make the place look a lot smaller than it really is. As far as casinos go, their exterior is one of the more conservative and humble ones I've seen. The marquee signs are nothing flashy and only a few rows of blue neon light up the edges of the bulding at night. It's out in the middle of the desert, in the hottest part of the country, so landscaping is somewhat minimalist and given the limited choices of native greenery to work with, it's still landscaped quite well.
The inside of the casino floor and adjacent walkways was clean and presentable. The main check in desk has a certain romantic aura to it. Maybe it was just the lighting. Or else the six hour drive from Central California was starting to drain my sensory and cognitive processing skills. Regardless, the check in was fast with no hassles, headaches, or surly staff. So no complaints on check in. Rates were maybe a little higher than I would've liked. But still not so high as to be exhorbitant.
The rooms were decent-but definitely nothing to brag about, The wife and I had a river-facing room on the fifth floor so we had great views of the river, the pool below, and some of the desert scenery in the distance.
The one thing that did drive me nuts was the air conditioning. Try as I might, I could not figure out a way to keep it running; once the ambient temperature in the room reaches whatever the thermostat is set at, the unit shuts off. In theory, this may sound great from an efficiency standpoint but what it doesn't take into account is that some folks like myself like (and need) the white noise generated by it running so as to 1) get lulled off to sleep and 2) mask the sounds from both other people in the hallways and downstairs (yes, they could be heard five stories up-the wondow glass evidently isn't very thick) and the fireworks outside (more on this later).
So getting a good night sleep was something of a challenge. But it wasn't because of the room itself; the walls, linens, and bathroom again were all clean-even if a bit dated and worn in some spots. The room was otherwise comfortable and if only the A/C could be programmed to run continuously, we would've slept just fine.
Getting to and from the rooms while we were there was something of a hassle. This is because the elevators were out of service for almost the entire weekend, So we were relegated to using the bigger-but much slower and unattractive freight elevator. Hopefully this was just a minor nuisance and since our stay, the main elevators have been fixed.
The casino itself is pretty much what one would expect. All sorts of machines, tables, etc to liberate you of your cash, which they did a fantastic job of doing. We tried several slots of different themes and denominations and they ranged from tight to outright thievery. A few would throw back a few dollars here and there to goad us into continued playing while others didn't give anything at all. And like Robert DiNiros character in "Casino" said, in the end, they got it all. Disappointing for sure but not really unexpected. So the Casino helped us out by relieving us of $1000 that we thankfully didn't have to take back home with us.
The floor was clean-albeit with a lot of smokers, but that's to be expected. And the atmosphere and lighting was also acceptable and on par with most of your other better casinos. Not sparking but not run down and cheesy either.
The pool area is also one of the finer ones I've seen. I'd tie it with the one at Tachi Casino in Lemoore, CA that I wrote about last year. I think Tach is better as far as layout but Avi wins because of the rockwork and waterfalls, the bar right at one end of the pool area, and the sequestered adults only section (which thankfully was agressively enforced. So if you're under 16 and think you're going to pull a fast one and 'sneak' into the adults area, they *will* kick you out).
Food was for the most part, average to above average. The burgers that you can order from the pool were probably the biggest disappointment, I understand the whole "convenience" concept, but at about $8 and an almost twenty minute prep time, that didn't seem convenient to me. The interior food court consisting of (as of July 2012) a Sbarro Pizza, a Subway, and a Panda Express was somewat better, although I got a reminder why Sbarro filed for bankruptcy: at peak lunch hour on a weekend, they had *one* person acting as cook, cashier, and server. 'Nuff said.
The diner was probably the sleeper hit here. It's...a diner. Bacon and eggs, burgers, BLT sandwiches type of fare. Prices were quite low. But the quality on all items we had was actually very good. The diner being just that...a diner...really impressed me.
The Moonshadow (their high end place) was cozy and romantic. The New York steak was about average for that type of establishment. But I've had better. The waiter we had however was a little creepy. He spoke just a little too softly and too monotonously to be a server in a high end place. He also made some off the wall-not inappropriate-just odd-conversation. The wife and I just shook our heads. Price was less than we were expecting, so that was a plus. The desert wagon left a bit to be desired. Most of the choices were exotic pastry but I settled for the six layer chocolate cake which also, while acceptable, I've had better elsewhere (like Claim Jumper for instance).
The Italian restaurant was again, average. Not horrible and definitely not a cheesy corporate shill like Olive Garden. But just nothing about it stood out as spectacular either. The "specials" comes with all kinds of elaborate and frankly ridiculous terms and restrictions, so I just gave up trying to interpret them and instead ordered a pizza. Thin crust, again, average. Not bad. But not mouth watering either. Atmosphere and ambience was on par.
And there is a nice lounge nearby that's dark and cozy and a great place to kill a few drinks before dinner (or mourn over your financial losses).
Avi has a unique and advantageous position on the shore of the Colorado River. Now that has its good points and bad points. The good is obvious: the river and their own beach. A paradise for lovers of water sports, because you can launch your own watercraft right there.
The bad? The beach area isn't really that big in terms of size and usable area. It's hugely popular with the guests so if you aren't there setting up "your" spot by (yes really) 7AM, don't even bother showing up. It gets filled to capacity by 9.
Plus, that white sand, in that climate, that time of year, acts as a gigantic heat sink. Even with sandals on, it's a painful slog to walk across because it gets so hot.
So put all that together: the scorching hot sand, the place packed elbow to elbow with other people, and a constant barrage of boat noise, and frankly, the beach is highly overrated. Stick with the pool instead if you aren't out on a boat.
And one last word of caution about the beach: bring your own chairs, umbrellas, etc. Unlike some resorts I've been to that provide those comforts, Avi does not, unless you want to rent them at extortionate rates.
One thing that's popular about Avi is the little convenience store located adjacent to it. It contains a year round fireworks shop. And on the other side of the property (about a ten-fifteen minute hike) is a designated fireworks discharge area. So if you are into pyrotechnics, Avi will be your heaven on earth because you can celebrate "Fourth Of July" year round.
Missiles. All types and sizes of mortars. Firecrackers. Roman Candles. Bottle Rockets. Poppers. The Avi fireworks shop has them all.
Buried deep inside the Avi adjacent to the gift shop is a movie theater. We did not travel all this way to go to the movies, but rumor has it you can drink beer and cocktails inside. I did not confirm this, but if true, next time we come, we'll have to do this because I don't know of any other place you can sit in a theater watching the big screen with the popcorn in one hand and a cold Bud in the other.
Avi, is actually more kid friendly than many casinos. Of course at and near the main entrance, there are strictly worded signs (and a red line painted on the walkway leading out of the casino) warning anyone under 21 to stay away from the casino area. The one age group that would be bored out of its skull here would be: teenagers. Obvously, there's plenty for adults to do. And you have to look for it, but it's there near the pool entrance, is what appears to be a very elaborate indoor childrens play area. I didn't see it except in passing (no children), but just from a few fleeting glimpses, it looks like children would have a blast there. And it appears to be relatively secured so no worries about them getting lost.
But nothing at all I saw looks conducive to the 12-20 age group. So unless you plan to take them out on the family boat, bringing your already attitude-loaded teen here will make for a miserable trip for the both of you.
So all in all, a decent stay. The wife and I actually came out to attend a wedding which was held on the little island but also made it into a weekend stay. We'd definitely like to come again next year. LIke most of Laughlin, it's not a bad place to stay if that's the only place you were staying at, but next time, we're going to rent jet skis and turn a fun weekend into a really exciting one.
My only areas of disastifcation were noted above. Generally minor in the grand scheme of things. If they'd just do something about the A/C. And who knows what decade that Blue Moon will rise when, for once, I win (or at least not lose) at the slots. To quote Homer Simpson: "D'oh!"
And one last note: unlike at Native American casinos here in CA (like the Tachi I reviewed a year ago), both indoor and outdoor photography was not at all an issue or problem here. The only area that was a no-no were the poker tables. Anything else was Fair Game, as long as I wasn't filming or getting in anyones way. The Security staff seemed almost surprised that I even took the time to ask. When I gave a brief synopsis on Tachis paranoid and hostile outlook on it, they too just shook their head and laughed.
So yes. I was satisfied. Not blown away. But I think the wife and I will be returning next year.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC