7 photos and videos that show what Las Vegas looked like on reopening weekend
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In what’s sure to be one of the biggest signals of the travel industry’s return, Las Vegas opened its doors this past weekend.
Many of the major casino resorts — including Treasure Island (now in the Radisson family), Wynn Las Vegas, Bellagio Resort and Casino, MGM Grand, New York-New York, Caesars Palace, Golden Nugget, Planet Hollywood, the Venetian and more — welcomed back overnight guests for the first time since the pandemic forced businesses everywhere to shut down.
Of course, it’s still not quite business as usual in Sin City. Pool parties remain paused for now, and pools will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines. You’ll have to wait a bit longer for live entertainment, shows and even nightclubs to reopen, too. Not all restaurants have resumed operations, and poker rooms remain shuttered.
So, while it’s not exactly the Vegas we all know and love, it’s certainly something for travellers who have been eagerly waiting for The Strip to flip the lights back on.
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Almost immediately after Vegas opened its doors, the casinos were filled with gamblers — and, of course, the tweets quickly picked up steam. At The D Hotel and Casino, one traveller said the “gaming floor [was] packed”.
But some slot machines are blocked or turned off to help visitors maintain a safe physical distance from one another. USA Today’s Dawn Gilbertson tweeted from Vegas last week, saying “every other slot machine [is] turned off ‘for your safety'”.
Returning travellers should expect to see plenty of plexiglass, too, especially at the gaming tables.
Eagle-eyed visitors did point out a few new developments, though. Namely: masks.
While they certainly pose a risk for video surveillance for safety and fraud prevention, casinos are taking creative steps to find a balance. For example, at the Venetian, “masks that obscure the entire face are prohibited”. In addition, if you want to gamble you’ll have to briefly lower your mask to identify your age in compliance with Nevada gaming requirements.
That said, it doesn’t look like people are doing much in the way of social distancing.
Even with so many visitors, Ashley Leonard, a TPG reader based in Newport Beach, California, noted “the casino didn’t have the normal Vegas buzz” on a trip there this weekend.
Still, the show must go on. Whitney Phoenix, a famous piano player at the Bellagio, is already back to performing in the Petrossian caviar bar in the Bellagio’s lobby, according to Gilbertson. The city really kicked things off with a bang, and frequent Vegas visitors were no doubt thrilled to see Phoenix.
The changes to the Vegas experience extend far beyond masked entertainers and dealers. Leonard said he had his temperature taken by a thermal scanner upon entering his hotel, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. There were also plenty of signs asking patrons to stay 6 feet apart, and no more than four people were allowed in the elevator at a time.
The room had a plastic seal on the door that you break when you enter, indicating it had been cleaned, Leonard noted, and the room was spotless. But the minibar was unplugged and locked.
His hotel also provided extra masks and two bottles of hand sanitiser (talk about perks!) and the room had been equipped with an Amazon Alexa that allowed touchless control of the room temperature, lights, drapes and even the “do not disturb” feature.
As far as room service? Hotel staff members won’t enter the room, but they push the table into the entrance of the door, where they’ll put a tray down. That way, you can stay inside the room for contactless delivery. The check is also included in the tray, as well as a pen that’s disposed of after use.
He also noted it was difficult to get restaurant reservations as they’re operating at 50% capacity — so if you’re heading to Vegas, you’ll want to plan in advance as much as possible.
The pool at the Encore was busy, too, although lounge chairs were spaced 6 feet apart to allow for social distancing.
Of course, in some parts of Vegas, it may seem like nothing has changed at all.
On 4 June, the Bellagio relaunched its iconic fountain for the first time in three months.
No word yet on how the ducks that have been occupying the fountain for the last few months feel about the situation, though.
It’s no doubt been a long journey, and so much is still changing and evolving. But this is a giant step for the travel industry on the path back to normalcy.
As travel resumes around the world, only you can make the extremely personal decision about when you’ll hit the road again. And before you book any trips, we still recommend you talk to your doctor and follow the guidance of health and government officials and research local travel restrictions.
But for travellers who are eager to get back out there, Vegas is clearly one destination that’s ready to get the party restarted. It will just involve more plexiglass and cleaning supplies than before.
Featured image courtesy of Daniel Viñé Garcia/Getty Images.
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