Black Hawk, CO: Rocky Mountain Mini-Vegas

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     Living in Denver and being a teacher on summer break, I was looking for somewhere to hang out for a few days to break-up the monotony of the weekdays. That’s when I noticed that Ameristar Hotel and Casino of Black Hawk  was offering a $99 special Monday through Wednesdays. Upon further investigation at the hotel’s website, they indicated an additional 20% saving for staying two nights. I had always been interested in what it would be like to stay at an Ameristar being that I grew-up close to the Council Bluffs location just across the river in Omaha, NE. Multiple travel search engines gave it four stars so I thought “what the heck?” and made a reservation.

Upon arriving at the hotel I took notice of the fact that I was really up there so to speak in terms of elevation. Later on this feeling would be re-affirmed by the hefty buzz I felt after drinking just two New Belgium Summersaults. I found the check-in a bit tedious, the time being past 4:30 p.m. and my room was not ready. However the Front Desk Agent provided courteous and prompt service, resolving the issue in less than 15 minutes. I waited in the adjoining lobby Imageuntil she flagged me back over with a friendly wave.

The room was spacious and comfortable. I had a lovely view of the mountains  from the room window, and just outside the room, a nice view of Central City and Black Hawk Image from the hallway window. The room Image had a very modern feel utilizing neutral colors with the occasional vibrant accent to spice things up. The bathroom Image showcased porcelain tile and marble along with a separate shower and tub, including a partitioned area for the toilet complete with a door to maximize privacy. It reminded me so much of the bathroom at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, perhaps a typical sign of deluxe casino hotel accommodations.

I consider the pool Image to be the best amenity at Ameristar. It has a rooftop location with glass ceiling and adjoining sundeck. The sundeck also features a cozy hot-tub that I imagine could be enjoyed all-year round. My only gripe about it is that one cannot truly enjoy the beauty of the mountains from it, because a wall blocks any type of view. The pool was cool, refreshing and of good size. I understand that food and beverage service is offered there similar to Vegas, but unfortunately not during the early part of the week during which my stay occurred. The rest of the amenities were so-so, nothing to get too excited about. As far as gaming goes I had no luck on video poker, slots, or blackjack. I was content to find a $5 dollar blackjack table but that was in the middle of the afternoon so I can only assume it vanished at some point in the evening.

Black Hawk, CO is like a mini-Vegas Rocky Mountain style with a few differences of course. The casinos stop serving drinks at 2:00 A.M. unlike their Nevada counterparts who go all night. All the casinos are non-smoking including the ones with hotels. There isn’t the occasional splattering of local bands playing in little corner casino lounges like in Vegas, well at least not any that I could tell anyways. Being early week, Black Hawk’s “Strip” did not have any type of “buzz” similar to Vegas. It maintained a rather low key vibe and portrayed mostly an older clientele. I played both shoe and single deck blackjack, having a little success this first night but giving it all back and then some the second one. The strip casinos I enjoyed the most for gambling and service included Fitzgerald’s and Golden Gates.

If I go back to stay overnight in Black Hawk I will keep it to one night. Hanging around casinos outside of Vegas for more than that gets to be monotonous and a little depressing. At almost 9,000 feet elevation it is a great way to beat the summer heat, but word of caution; alcohol there will hit you like a ton of bricks. Ameristar’s rooms and pool are nice, but definitely don’t overpay for the experience. The rest of the amenities are lackluster. If you don’t care about a nice pool, there are other lodging options in Black Hawk that may be of greater value.

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