The Las Vegas Strip has finally reopened after being shut down for over two months due to the coronavirus.
With the reopening came the strategic reopening planning by casino companies, such as MGM Resorts International. To start, they’ve opened up three of their 10 Strip properties: The Bellagio, MGM Grand, and New York-New York. It’s also opened up its MGM Signature hotel.
The company chose those two specific properties because it offers flexibility in different traveler’s budgets.
When Bellagio reopened its doors at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 4, crowds of visitors cheered as they made their way through the doors. They were also greeted by Bill Hornbuckle, acting CEO of MGM Resorts, and other company executives who were anxiously awaiting the arrival of guests in the resort lobby.
The Bellagio Fountains also made their debut, after being shut off since March 17. It was one of the most exciting reopening scenes on the Las Vegas Strip, especially after COVID-19 turned it into something of a ghosttown for the first time in its history.
“It’s been amazing. I can remember the day this property opened … it felt the same (today),” Hornbuckle said.
The property originally opened back in 1998, so it’s incredible that the reopening feeling was on the same wavelength. While the excitement was similar, guests definitely walked into some key changes amid the property reopening during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Those “new standards,” as Hornbuckle refers to them, include thermal checks at the property’s entrance, employees decked out in face masks, the casino floor rearranged for social distancing, social distancing signage, hand-santizing stations and more.
MGM Resorts was thrilled to welcome back its staff members and guests, despite the new restrictions. Hornbuckle said the reopening experience has been emotional for everyone and that the company went through a lot during the COVID-19 shut down, like the furloughing of almost 63,000 workers.
Now, the company has its sights set on the next phase of reopenings.
Excalibur and Aria to Open Next
According to a hotel spokesman, MGM Resorts is preparing to reopen Excalibur on June 11. It comes at a good timing, as the hotel will be celebrating its 30th year anniversary one week later on June 19.
The goal for MGM is to have the area of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue covered on the Strip with its reopened properties.
The company says it’ll take a breather after reopening Excalibur, then plan to reopen Aria in City Center in time for the 4th of July weekend.
Excalibur’s entertainment sector, including popular Vegas shows like Thunder From Down Under and Australian Bee Gees, plan to return July 1st with tickets now on sale for that date.
Excalibur and Aria will reopen under the same model as Bellagio and New York-New York: Reduced capacity, select dining and bar options, and under stringent safety protocols.
“But again, it’s one step at a time,” Hornbuckle explained. “We’re going to be patient; it is about doing this correctly and doing it safely first and foremost.”
Large Demand from Southern California Visitors
At Bellagio’s reopening on Thursday, the crowd was a mix of locals, drive-in and fly-in guests. This was a good sign, as Las Vegas is leveraging more tourists with cheaper airfare and reduced room rates.
According to Hornbuckle however, the resort is seeing its largest demand from Southern California visitors who are driving in.
The drive-in traffic is a promising pattern, as Southern California guests make up a lot of business on the Strip, and because it’s easiest for these types of residents to enter into Las Vegas versus others who have to fly in.
Hornbuckle explained that the pent-up demand for guests to get back into play has been high, and he estimates that the next few weekends of June will see a good amount of volume because of that fact.
But while initial demand has been good, Hornbuckle doesn’t expect things to go back to normal right away. In fact, he says the tourism industry in the city has “a long way to go,” especially with the dependence on outside factors like airline industry success and the confidence of the public to return.
New Mobile Check-In, New Norm
With many of MGM’s properties having upwards of 4,000 rooms, mobile check-in is the new tool that’s been introduced to help guests avoid more lines, making the check-in process more seamless while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Guests can use QR codes and their mobile devices to check into their hotel room, without ever having to check-in with a live agent.
Which Bars and Restaurants Reopened on June 4?
The reopening of its three casinos also meant the reopening of many big-name restaurants and bars for MGM Resorts.
At Bellagio, Prime Steakhouse from Jean George Vongerichten and Lago by Julian Serrano has reopened for dinner nightly. The popular Mayfair Supper Club also plans to open on Wednesdays through Sunday.
Noodles, Palio, Gelato, and Snacks have also reopened at Bellagio. For bar options, Petrossian Bar, Baccarat Bar & Lounge, and the pool bar are now available.
At MGM Grand, Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Crush, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, and Avenue Café have reopened for dine-in service. Small restaurant options include Pieology and the walk-up Pool Café window.
For drink outlets, the Pool Bar, 32 Degrees, the Lobby Bar, the Casino Bar, and Starbucks are now open.
At the Signature at MGM Grand, Delights and Starbucks have reopened.
At New York-New York, Tom’s Urban, Gallagher’s Steakhouse, America, Chin Chin, Il Fornaio, NY Pizzeria, Nathan’s Famous, Haagen Dazs, and the food court all plan to reopen soon, with some dining options available now.
For beverage, Starbucks on the casino floor, Center Bar, NFL Bar, and the Pool Bar have reopened.
While coming to Vegas is a bet right now, as it always has been in other ways, resorts are doing their absolute due diligence to ensure guests are safe once they walk into their doors.
It’s comforting to know how hard they’ve been working to be able to provide fun and entertainment to Las Vegas visitors against, despite all of the concerns in the world right now.
Will you be returning to Las Vegas soon? Which one of MGM Resorts properties would you prefer to stay at?
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