It’s just about a year since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Nevada. A lot has happened since that time. Most Las Vegas casinos have reopened. Unfortunately, a few remain closed.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak is helping to open more Las Vegas casinos, bars and restaurants via relaxed capacity limits. The month started with 35% capacity limits and will increase to 50% on March 15. Coincidentally, that’s just in time for March Madness parties.
Additionally, pool season is here! Yes, Las Vegas is slowly returning to the place so many people have come to love. And now that things are starting to rebound, the proof is in: people still love coming to Vegas and are doing so in droves (at least drive-in and regional guests are — have you seen the traffic getting back to California on a Sunday afternoon?).
There’s a ton of Las Vegas news circulating, getting people excited about what’s to come in a city that’s always changing. Here’s what’s happening now in Las Vegas and possibly some things that may occur down the line.
Sands Sells The Venetian
Las Vegas Sands sold The Venetian and all of its parts (The Palazzo and Sands Convention Center) for approximately $6.25 billion in early March.
The deal should close in a couple of months so don’t expect to see any changes in the near future.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas got the message: travelers hate fees
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will open its doors on March 25. The big news is that the hotel won’t charge a resort fee. This will be one of the few Las Vegas hotels that don’t charge a mandatory fee for all guests.
Virgin is in the upper-middle-class when comparing prices with other Las Vegas casino-resorts. It’s less expensive than Aria and other luxury properties like Wynn. It’s more expensive than MGM Grand and similar hotels. Mohegan Sun will operate the casino inside of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
In addition to no resort fees, Virgin isn’t charging for self-parking or use of WiFi. Just these three freebies alone can make a huge difference in a final hotel bill. It’s a smart move by Virgin and I predict it will attract a lot of guests.
Las Vegas pool clubs and dayclubs have been scaled down
Pool season in Las Vegas is here. The season started during the first weekend of March. Just about every pool in Las Vegas will be open before March is over. Dayclubs, beach clubs and pool parties are back as well. This is largely because all these venues are outdoors and no one has to be elbow to elbow. Still, the capacity cap is 35%. This could rise to 50% as of March 15.
But as expected, things aren’t entirely the way visitors may have remembered them on past trips, as dayclubs are more scaled-down because of COVID. It’s not like you will see the entire pool at Wet Republic packed to the gills crowd surfing while Steve Aoki works the turntables. There will be music but with 6-foot distancing of lounge chairs, cabanas, daybeds and bungalows. Guests will likely hang with their crews in and around the pool.
All guests must wear a face mask while at the pool when not drinking or eating – that could make for some fun tan lines – but this rule could change in the coming months. The big-name DJs and musicians won’t be performing.
Perhaps to make up for the more muted experience, some pool parties are serving more expansive food options or even amped up menus so visitors can have a sweet outdoor brunch with some beats in the background to still have a fun atmosphere. And praise be: bottle service will still be offered.
Here are a few of our top picks if you want a more elevated experience than a typical, all-ages hotel pool. All of the below are for guests 21 and up and all will have social distancing and capacity limits in place.
- Wet Republic: While visiting Wet Republic Ultra Pool at MGM Grand will be a more tame experience than it’s known for, still expect a high-end, luxurious experience — just sans A-list DJs. It’s operating as an extension of MGM’s main pool, and reservations are required for both hotel and non-hotel guests.
- Liquid Pool Lounge: Aria’s pool club is operating as an extension of the hotel’s main pool, but with the same protocols in place as other pool clubs. Reservations are recommended.
- Daylight Beach: This Mandalay Bay pool club is operated separately from the hotel pool. While it would normally be a traditional dayclub, it is currently operating as a calmer – but still high-end – experience. Night swimming parties (with DJs!) begin April 30. Reservations are required.
- Encore Beach Club Pool: Similarly, expect live music, Wynn and Encore’s signature service and style — just without 1,000 people being packed in the pool at once.
- Stadium Swim: Vegas’ newest, shiniest beacon, Circa Resort & Casino in downtown, is the only hotel in Vegas where guests have to be 21 and up, period. The same goes for its absolutely massive, three-story pool complex. Its crown jewel is a 143-foot HD screen.
- Pool Marquee: While Cosmopolitan’s Marquee Nightclub is still closed, its sister party venue is allowed to operate, given that it’s outdoors. The press release states it’s offering “an amplified, more mature pool experience for guests 21 years or older with reservations.” It looks like Marquee will have live music as well.
- Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis: Caesars Palace’s expansive pool complex means you have options for every vibe, from areas with swim-up blackjack, bottle service at Bacchus Pool or the adults-only Venus Pool.
Las Vegas nightclubs are operating as lounges
Though true nightclub experiences are not yet allowed to open will probably be one of the last to fully come back, nightclubs in Las Vegas are getting creative. Most are operating as bars or lounges on a reservation-only basis and permitting dancing in the area of one’s table. Here are a few recommendations:
OMNIA‘s famous outdoor terrace is open for a pared-down lounge vibe.
Hakkasan at MGM Grand remains closed for now.
XS at Wynn Las Vegas is open as a lounge, with both indoor and outdoor tables to reserve.
Tao‘s nightclub is on the second floor of its restaurant at The Venetian. While you can still eat at the restaurant, a more lounge-driven experience called Tao Late Night is offered on Saturdays.
Also worth noting are Electra Cocktail Club and the Dorsey, both at Palazzo. The setting is not exactly like a nightclub but more of an ultra lounge with gorgeous ambiance.
Is Broadway spectacular Hamilton coming to the Vegas Strip?
The touring production of Hamilton will return to The Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas in 2022 for a short run. That’s cool and all but that’s mainly a theater for Las Vegas residents. Visitors usually prefer to see shows on the Vegas Strip.
The rumor mill is swirling that Hamilton will get the Las Vegas residency treatment. If you’ll remember, Vegas had a Broadway boom about a decade ago, where Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Jersey Boys and more welcomed sold-out audiences for years. If the rumor is true, Hamilton will take the stage inside the theater at Paris Las Vegas. The last successful major theatrical production show for Paris was “Jersey Boys.”
If true, the touring production and the Las Vegas show should have different casts. Stay tuned!