Should you go to Las Vegas now–in the age of corona? My wife and I decided we needed a spark. Sin City is open for business. Airlines are up and running, boasting of high-end circulation systems and in need of economic stimuli. Everything I researched indicated it was safe for us to fly, while masked and socially distanced.
Sheepishly but determined, we agreed that we should go to Las Vegas.
It’s not that visions of doltish passengers being dragged off airplanes for not wearing masks didn’t dance in our heads. We had those fears. However, the reality was that from October 6-9, I’ve never experienced a more friendly, courteous, “we’re all-in-this-together” ambiance during a visit to Las Vegas.
We fly on Southwest, where, at least through November, the airline is not selling middle seats. We board 10 at a time. Families can sit together. Otherwise it’s two people for every group of three seats. I didn’t witness a single complaint. And I noticed 100 percent compliance on mask wearing.
Note: no booze for sale in-flight. At least this dry flight from San Diego to Las Vegas is just one hour.
Be a Caesar
We picked Caesar’s Palace for a three-night getaway for a couple COVID-specific strategic reasons. Price was one. Rooms were offered at $99 per night. They’re even cheaper if you have a player’s card. Note: Resort fees slide the price back above where the advertised rates start.
With more than 4,000 rooms, the casino-resort is huge. We reasoned we could find lots of things to do (that would be open). The 636,000-square-foot Forum Shoppes attraction is also connected to Caesar’s, as are half a dozen pools.
Shows are shut down–so no Keith Urban or Sting for now. But alll cuisine categories of celebrity chefs are still on tap. There’s Gordan Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen and his more casual Pub & Grill, Pronto by Giada (De Laurentiis), Mesa Grill by Bobby Flay and a kettle full of other name-dropping eateries.
Searsucker is temporarily closed, and some eateries are only open on certain days. Check before you go.
Our COVID game plan
When asking the question: “Should I go to Las Vegas now?” you’ll be wise to devise a game plan. Sin City in the era of corona is not necesarily stay up all night, hugs-and-kisses, and a let-caution-fly-to-the-wind time.
Our plan for three days and evening includes slight variations on the theme: Eat, Pool, Eat, Poker, Eat, Retreat.
Keep in mind: I work from home as a freelance writer. My wife, Jules, is an essential worker at a highly respected grocery chain. After months of repetitive activity–that keeps a roof over our head–for us, Eat, Pool, Eat, Poker, Eat, Retreat was a 5-star spa getaway to…well, any exotic country that’s currently welcomes Americans.
(Stay tuned for an upcoming blog focusing completely on how we came, saw and conquored three savory days of breakfast lunch and dinner.)
Plenty of Room at the Pool
There was concern there wouldn’t be enough room at the pool. We stayed at the Palace Tower, just outside the six-pool complex entrance. Here’s what we knew: The pools open at 9 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Some pools are available only for reservations. A cabana will run you $300 for the day; daybeds a little less.
The whole area was only open to 50 percent capacity due to COVID concerns. We never saw a line and always got the chaise lounges we wanted at the Jupiter Pool. (FYI, the Jupiter Pool is heated and and also gets the best sun throught the day.)
Due to cornonavirus, masks are required at all times, unless you’re in the water. Yes, if you’re laying back and soaking up some sun on the deck, you will be compelled by a lifequard to cover your nose, mouth and chin. You’ll need to get creative to avoid the reverse-Homer Simpson tan line.
The Casino Floor
Pandemic or not, any time you ask yourself, Should I go to Las Vegas?, you’re thinking about spending time on the casino floor. During COVID, mask-wearing dealers have been ordered to take extra precautions.
At blackjack tables, which are sanitized regularly, only three players are permitted to play at the same time. If you have a friend who wants to watch you play, he or she must stand six feet back from the table. Again, everybody walking the casino floor must be wearing a mask.
I played poker a couple nights at the Ceasar’s Poker Room. Again, all dealers and players are required to wear masks. Before a player sits down at a chair, it’s sanitized by an employee. Each seat at the table is separated by a plastic partition. The partitions make it hard to hear what your neighbor is saying. But they also stop you from sharing breathed particles with your seatmates.
At Caesar’s they’re playing poker eight-handed. That number varies at other casinos.
(Stay tuned for an upcoming blog focusing completely on playing poker at Caesars during COVID.)
Should You Go to Las Vegas During COVID?
If you’re a no-masker who drinks too much and want’s to talk politics at the tables, you won’t enjoy Vegas at the moment. You’ll be a rarity. My trip to Ceasars revealed nothing but concientious guests staying aware of social distancing. And members of the hospitality industry were gracious and thankful, making us feel welcome while abiding by the rules.
Las Vegas is not currently an all-night, free-for-all baccanal scene. Should you go to Las Vegas now? It’s a highly developed tourism destination. You can have a fantastic time there during COVID–gaming, eating at restaurants, hanging pooside–if you play it safe and be smart. J&J