As visitors continue to make their way back to Las Vegas, some of the chatter has shifted from what’s open to what’s not open — and what may never reopen.
The majority of the 30-some resorts along the Strip are now welcoming guests despite the continuing coronavirus outbreak. The Mirage will relaunch Aug. 27. As at other properties, the hotel, casino and pools will be open, but other accommodations will be limited. Only a portion of the resort’s restaurants, led by Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak, will welcome diners but hours and days of operation may vary. The popular Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat, founded by magicians Siegfried and Roy 30 years ago, will once again delight visitors.
The Mirage is among the last of MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas properties to reopen. Only Park MGM and its hotel-within-a-hotel, Nomad, remain shut.
“We are continuing to evaluate business demand and market conditions to determine when we will open our properties,” Jenn Michaels, an MGM Resorts executive, said in a statement. “Our hope is to have Park MGM open by the end of the year.”
At Caesars Entertainment, 2½ of its resorts on Las Vegas Boulevard — the Cromwell, Planet Hollywood and the hotel portion of the Linq — show no sign of opening anytime soon.
“Caesars will open its remaining Las Vegas properties in line with customer demand, regulatory requirements and any additional health and safety considerations,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.
One of those properties, however, is being eyed for sale, according to company Chief Executive Tom Reeg. “As soon as we get to the other side of the virus and to more normal business levels, you should expect we’ll be thinking about that,” he said during an earnings call with shareholders earlier this month.
The futures of two well-known, off-Strip resorts — Rio, a Caesars property, and Palms, a Station Casinos property— are also murky. Both are located along Flamingo Road west of the 15 Freeway.
Palms last year completed a splashy $690-million makeover, touted as the most expensive renovation in Vegas history. It included a huge sculpture called “Demon With Bowl” by Damien Hirst in the pool area, and other Hirst works, including two bull sharks suspended inside a tank filled with formaldehyde.
“Palms is currently undecided whether we are going to open it right now,” CEO Frank Fertitta said in an early August earnings call. Much of the resort’s large collection of pricey artwork is on loan from the Fertitta family.
If you haven’t seen “Le Reve,” the Cirque-like, water-themed show at Wynn Las Vegas, it’s too late. The cast and crew totaling 275 people were told late last week the show would not reopen and their jobs would be cut.
In a statement, Wynn officials blamed “the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent physical distancing requirements for which an end date cannot be predicted ….” Since 2005, the show has been performed 6,000 times.
“‘Le Reve’ is a barometer for similarly scaled shows,” said John Katsilometes, an entertainment columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I think that’s gotten a lot of people nervous in Las Vegas.”
Katsilometes said it was unclear when there would again be a market for high-end entertainment such as “Le Reve” and Cirque du Soleil. He does, however, expect Cirque’s shows to slowly reopen. “We’re still dealing with a kind of value customer in Las Vegas right now, the drive-in crowd who are looking for a bargain,” he said.
More than a million people visited Las Vegas in June, according to the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. That is down more than 70% from the same month last year.
Since resorts and attractions started reopening June 4, most visitors come on weekends. Various hotels are offering deals to encourage people to come midweek.
Flamingo, for example, is offering three nights midweek for $87, plus resort fees. Use code “STAY3” when making a reservation. Wynn is inviting guests to enjoy a complimentary third night. Details are online. Both offers are good for stays into late December, but must be booked by Aug. 31.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours was created a few years ago to lead small groups of people on tasting visits to various restaurants. Since the pandemic, founder Don Contursi added self-guided tours. “I don’t want to see people sitting around saying, ‘Why did we come to Las Vegas? There’s nothing to do,’” he said.
The new tours send guests on visits to downtown eateries in Fremont East and the Arts District. The third takes people to Chinatown along a stretch of Spring Mountain Road known for restaurants featuring cuisines from around the world. “The Chinatown tour is a tour of the hottest, off-Strip restaurants,” Contursi said. “Chefs are opening up [there] because it’s close to The Strip.”
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