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Vegas Perseveres During The Pandemic

We came to Las Vegas from our overnight at the Grand Canyon. Our view of Las Vegas on our return from Arizona was a bit different than our last visit. Both stops were mostly to access our storage box. This time we decided to act like tourists, too.

Very Little Traffic On The Strip

Our destination was Vdara on The Strip because our usual housing has changed. Google’s guidance was intended to skip the usual congestion on Las Vegas Boulevard, but we wound up on The Strip anyway. No problem. There was almost no traffic at all! Welcome to the new Las Vegas.

Easier To Get A Reservation

Conventions are the bread-and-butter of the hospitality industry in Las Vegas. COVID has brought all that business to a standstill. 43,000 convention workers have been furloughed, and the Consumer Electronics Show For 2021 is going virtual. That removes 170k+ visitors from the hotels, restaurants, and bars for the coming January.

Some hotels have responded by offering great rates on rooms. You do have to pay attention to the total price though because hotels are still charging resort fees (cough… extortion). The fees can cost more than the room. Even when many of said amenities are closed, such as the pool at Vdara.

I should note most of the attractions and all the shows in town are closed for now. It is worth considering how you will spend your time under current circumstances.

Vdara Pool And Bar

We found a great deal on a studio at Vdara. It is a condo-hotel next to Aria and The Cosmopolitan in the center of The Strip. “Next to” on The Strip means it was only a half-mile walk to get to dinner next door. The location for your stay is key.

We stayed mid-week, so the bar and pool were closed, even though they still charged us extortion for their use. We were told we could use the pool and bars “next door” at Aria. Again, only a quarter-mile wrapped-in-a-wet-towel walk away. We chose not to partake.

Safety Protocols

The tourists on the streets of Las Vegas were less compliant about wearing masks than I had seen in Arizona. I’m not sure what that says about the LV clientele. A desire to escape COVID confinement likely brought some people to LV. Perhaps they thought masks should be optional while on vacation.

Mask enforcement was much stronger inside the casinos and restaurants. Most people complied. I think the casinos understood they might be shut down if their compliance was too lax.

We noticed many empty card tables and slot machines as we walked to dinner. Light occupancy is clearly impacting the take on the gambling side, too. Many of the blackjack tables had plexiglass dividers between players as well as the dealer. This makes sense to me as winning or losing a lot of money can evoke uncontrolled screaming.

Dining Scene

We passed several “dark” restaurants as we walked to dinner on Monday and Tuesday nights. Some were open for takeout only, some were closed because it was a slow night to be open and others just seemed closed. I recommend a reservation as there are fewer tables, to follow distancing requirements.

We chose to eat at David Chang’s Momofuku “next door” in The Cosmopolitan on Monday night. We’ve been watching some of Ugly Delicious on Netflix and wanted to see what he offered. As my friend Joe said to a related FB post: “Best Pork Belly Ever!!!” Great food and great service.

We made it to Jose Andres’ Jaleo on Tuesday night. It was also at Cosmo. Diana really enjoyed the small bites from this tapas place. Me, too. The Paella Del Dia was chicken and mushroom and well worth a visit for this alone. During their Sangria Hour from 5:30-7:00, they serve smaller portions of their most popular tapas and drink specials at good prices. We look forward to hitting both of these places next time we are in town.

What are your favorite ways to spend your days in Las Vegas?

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