Las Vegas Strip Reopening, Moving Toward Normal
Last week Las Vegas reopened with some fanfare after being closed for over two months. It’s famous strip, normally bustling with activity, went totally silent. Shawn caught the Las Vegas strip reopening day, staying in Caesar’s Palace and checking out the activity in the casinos.
I’ve made it no secret that I avoid Las Vegas. So why did I visit earlier this week? Well, with Las Vegas reopening and other restrictions loosening in Nevada, it is an early summer destination that offers a bit more to do. I checked out a few destination options close to California for a couple day getaway, and Las Vegas won.
With the caveat that I have very little experience in Vegas, I wanted to detail my experience as well traveling during the early days of the Las Vegas strip reopening.
Staying On Strip: Great Deal at the Flamingo
With all of three Nevada casino-hotel stays under my belt (two in Reno), I’d actually never stayed on the Vegas strip. As would be expected, rates at reopened hotels were very good (here’s how Shawn was able to hack his night at Caesar’s Palace). The Flamingo was offering excellent rates. As a Caesar’s Diamond member, I was able to book the hotel for just $17 per night including taxes, with the resort fees waived!
We arrived late Sunday night, renting a car and driving to the hotel. Parking is currently waived for all guests at Caesar’s properties as well.
When we walked into the lobby, two things struck me: one, most people were not wearing masks (including us). This was Shawn’s observation as well, but it did seem like less than 20% of the guests were wearing them. Harrah’s and the Flamingo both had staff offering masks to guests at the main casino entrances facing the strip, so don’t worry if you forgot one and need one.
Temperature Scan at Check-In
Before stepping into the hotel check-in queue, our temperatures needed to be scanned. This was done by a contactless scanner. You’re easily able to stay six feet away from the staff performing the scan. What’s hysterical is that no temperature check is required to simply enter the casino floor.
The queue had a few people in it, but it wasn’t anywhere close to full. However, I noticed it completely full on two other occasions during our three days in town. The Las Vegas strip reopening certainly has generated demand!
We did score a top-floor room at the hotel with a view of the High Roller! The $17 price was even for one of the GO rooms, which I’m told are nicer than the standard rooms. The room did appear very clean, too. However, there would be no housekeeping during our three-night stay due to COVID-19, presumably to avoid anyone entering our space.
Dining In? No Problem!
If you’re looking to eat out, many places in Las Vegas have also opened to dine-in guests. Since demand isn’t back to full capacity, quite a few of the casino restaurants are still closed. I looked for places to use my $100 Casear’s Diamond celebration dinner, and there were woefully few options.
We ended up using the certificate at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. The food was good, and the service was excellent. Like all dine-in establishments, the servers and bussers were wearing masks at all times.
Besides the celebration dinner, the rest of our meals were a mix of dine-in at local mom and pop restaurants and chain restaurant drive-thru. The latter was entirely for expediency rather than fear of COVID exposure.
One final mention is the buffet situation: I really wanted to use the $100 celebration dinner at the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace. However, none of the buffets are open, including the main restaurant at the Flamingo. I’m assuming this isn’t just limited to Caesar’s and that all buffets are to remain closed for the time being although the Wynn appears to be the first buffet coming back.
At least Carlos and Charlie’s was open at the Flamingo. The two for one margaritas was an unexpected surprise! I headed down for a drink at got a second. I asked the bartender how he felt about reopening, and he said he was thrilled to finally be back to work. The other guests shared his enthusiasm, and even though the place wasn’t even close to packed, it was pretty loud on a Tuesday night!
What’s Open and What’s Not
There was enough demand for the Las Vegas strip reopening that Caesar’s ended up opening three properties instead of just two. You can currently stay at the Flamingo, Harrah’s, and Caesar’s Palace. More are certainly on the way. MGM Resorts announced that three more of their properties will be reopening in the next few weeks.
The casino floors are obviously open at properties that are back in action. Dealers were wearing masks, and some slot machines were blocked off. I didn’t see a ton of table gaming happening, and where I did see folks, there were typically no more than 2-3 people at a given table.
However, not all the restaurants are open, and some of the shops are closed. Although places like the Planet Hollywood Miracle Mile Shops are technically open, many of the retail stores and restaurants remain shuttered. We walked through the Miracle Mile, and it was eerily quiet.
The pools are capacity controlled at the hotels as well. When we arrived at the Flamingo family pool, I thought it was fairly busy. But talking with another guest who frequents the hotel, she said this was nothing. It was actually a treat to be able to enjoy the pool without people packed from wall to wall!
Las Vegas Strip Reopening: Is The Action Back?
In my very un-expert opinion, yes and no. There was certainly constant activity at the Flamingo, and the casino floor at Harrah’s seemed decently busy the one time we walked through. There were plenty of people around enjoying themselves, so things never seemed empty or eerie.
But I have to imagine that this is also not normal Las Vegas. Hearing other guests describe the pool and casino floor on busy weekends when they normally visit leads me to believe that things are still rather light. There certainly weren’t the normal crowds walking along the strip.
But it is clear that the Las Vegas strip reopening has drawn people eager to get out of town and enjoy a vacation. I’m not surprised at the lack of masks, as the “early adopters” heading back to Sin City are likely the least concerned about the coronavirus.
It’ll be interesting to see how quickly more hotels open and what the actual capacity numbers are like over the next few months. Las Vegas wasn’t on my radar for a trip this year, but we had an enjoyable time, both during our stay at the Flamingo and on our day excursions to Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston.
But whether you’re keen on Vegas or not, know that the strip has turned the lights back on and is reopen for business!