What It’s Visiting Las Vegas in the Age of COVID-19
What’s new: Despite the pandemic, new resort-casino development has continued: The city has its first adults-only luxury casino-resort, Circa, which opened in October with 777 rooms in swank vintage style, and the world’s largest sports booking stadium. The stylish Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opens March 25 (motto: “Everyone leaves feeling better”), in place of the old Hard Rock Hotel.
Coming soon: The $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas is slated to open on the Strip this summer — a giant project with 3,500 rooms, a 24,000-square-foot Asian-themed food hall, nine “pool experiences” and more.
Restaurants and Bars
Safety protocols: Most of Las Vegas’ hot spots have reopened for dining at 50 percent capacity, including the Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio and Catch at Aria Resort & Casino.
Reservations are no longer required, up to six people are allowed per table, and tables are spaced out to allow for social distancing. Many offer touchless to-go service and/or digital menus for ordering.
Guests are asked to wear masks while walking to and from tables.
Buffets, that staple of Las Vegas dining, remain closed. The Wynn Buffet had reopened as a redesigned all-you-can eat experience with servers but closed in September due to lack of demand. Caesars Palace even delayed the reopening of its usually popular Bacchanal Buffet.
Visitors are able to go to Vegas bars, taverns, wineries and breweries, but capacity is capped at 50 percent.
Pool parties Encore Beach Club and Liquid at Aria have reopened in new guises — tweaked from high-energy parties into low-key hangouts with socially distanced seating, reservation requirements and no cover charge.
And at least one nightclub has followed suit, as Omnia at Caesars Palace reopened in March with a lounge-style atmosphere, touchless menu systems and a rigorous cleaning plan.
What’s new: While some restaurants that closed last year are unly to reopen, new ones are popping up in defiance of the pandemic: Los Angeles-based dumpling and noodle hot spot Din Tai Fung opened its first Las Vegas location at Aria in late 2020; chef Todd English’s The Beast Food Hall arrived in the new interactive entertainment complex Area 15 in January; and Milanese eatery Brera Osteria opened in February at the Venetian’s St. Mark’s Square.
Coming soon: Pastry chef Claude Escamilla is bringing Sweet Sin by Claude Escamilla to the LINQ Promenade in April, a pastry shop centered on a giant chocolate fountain, with taps ready to spout chocolate, white chocolate and caramel atop ice creams and desserts.
Entertainment and Activities
Safety protocols: The curtain was finally lifted for Las Vegas entertainment in October, but capacity limits kept many theaters dark.
Now they’re allowed to open at 50 percent capacity, and some shows are planning returns.
(Some long-running productions, including Le Rêve at Wynn Las Vegas and the Australian vocal quartet Human Nature at the Venetian Las Vegas, have announced they will not be back.)
Many attractions are maintaining infection-prevention measures, such as the Mob Museum (officially the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement) downtown, where visitors are asked to purchase tickets online and arrive 15 minutes early for a contactless temperature check.
The High Roller Observation Wheel, 550 feet above the Strip at the LINQ Las Vegas, requires that guests wear masks, but again is allowing visitors to book Happy Half Hour cabins: Up to 10 guests can enjoy an open bar and bartender for one full 30-minute rotation of the wheel (at $60 per person).
And yes, lovebirds can still shell out for the classic Vegas shotgun wedding, but it, too, has been transformed: The Graceland Wedding Chapel’s Elvis-themed ceremonies now require face coverings and temperature checks for all in attendance. More cautious lovebirds can marry (though not legally) with the chapel’s help online for $279, while accompanied by an Elvis impersonator singing “Love Me Tender.”
What’s new: Area 15, full of new food offerings, as well as ElectroRoll, a pop-up retro roller-skating rink that’s open through March. It also has Five Iron Golf, “an indoor golf experience,” with golf simulators; and Emporium Arcade Bar, aglow with arcade games, specializing in craft cocktails.
And opened last year — but without fans in the stands for its inaugural season — is the sleek, nearly $2 billion, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium, home to the city’s new NFL team, the Raiders.