For well over 20 years, I had been jetting off to Fabulous Las Vegas no less than 9 times every year! I am not exaggerating. I prefer The Strip and I think I have stayed at every single hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard except maybe 2… Now that’s a LOT!
Prior to the pandemic, my last trip to Las Vegas was December 2019 at the MGM Grand. I had no idea of what was to come. The pandemic brought about a paradigm shift. I believe that Las Vegas has changed so much that if folks never visited Las Vegas prior to 2020, they will never experience that type of Vegas that many of us have enjoyed for many many years. Las Vegas is looking good in 2021 but Vegas is totally different now than prior to 2020.
My frequent jet-setting to Las Vegas came to an abrupt and complete stop in 2020 when the coronavirus arrived at Stateside. I had 3 Las Vegas flights and 3 separate stays booked, but sadly I had to cancel all of them due to the pandemic. Too much was changing, plus Las Vegas was a COVID “hot spot” and I did want to go into a 2-week quarantine on return home. So, I just sheltered-in-place and stayed safe for 18 months.
Conditions finally started to improved in 2021, I was fully vaccinated and ready to start using my MANY Southwest travel vouchers! Yippee! I booked 3 trips for 2021 for June, July and September. Plus, I got an offer I could not refuse, so I have booked an additional 4th trip for later in 2021. YES! Here are my succinct TRIPREPORTS based on my personal lived experience and direct observations. With each photo, I am including a descriptive caption.
June 2021 – Cosmopolitan
I was so thrilled to be back! I was totally geeked out for 3 full nights! I was nervous because so much had changed. I usually take shuttle buses from McCarran to my hotel. But, most shuttles remain suspended. So, I took the taxicab which was nice with no wait! Glad for taxicab flat rates instituted during the pandemic! Whew! Check-in at Cosmopolitan was okay, but I wish they had an app or online system for check in. This was my first time to ever use an electronic room keycard that was also needed to access the elevators. I opted out for housekeeping services as I preferred to simply limit contacts. No biggie for me. Lovely suite with fridge in my suite.
I did my casino hop to Cosmopolitan, Bellagio where I got a nice handpay, Planet Hollywood, Excalibur (yuck), Casino Royale, and practically every single casino in the middle section of The Strip. No Mandalay Bay this time as the Tram was not operationalized. I noticed that beverage service at the slots in all casinos where I played was horrible. Otherwise, I remained geeked-out, excited, thrilled and in total awe for my entire stay.
July 2021- MGM Grand
MGM Grand is my favorite property on Las Vegas Boulevard. MLife Resorts has a great app. I checked in 24 hours in advance, confirmed my arrival while at McCarran and my room was ready before I arrived at MGM Grand! I was surprised to have a room on one of the Stay Well floors!
This trip, I am NOW calm and very observant. I’m seeing stuff that I am not loving. Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken is now closed; very few Starbucks are opened… MGM Grand has about 4 but only the Starbuck’s in the lobby is open; many eating venues are closed; seems to be an increase in homeless and vagrant populations with many sleeping at the entrance of closed venues; homeless person camped at the entrance of Resorts World which just opened; a man was sitting in the dark at a Planet Hollywood slot machine.. not playing the slot machine, wearing shades with his cap atop his crotch; homeless woman at MGM Grand asked me for money while I was playing slots; and many locals going to slots seeking unclaimed vouchers.
I am used to early morning powerwalks on The Strip… but I noticed the usual joggers are no longer there… just homeless and vagrants who were aggressive about asking for money. Conference attendees and conventioneers are not yet back…those were the joggers. So, this was my last time to do morning powerwalks on The Strip for a while.
Beverage service still poor at slots but a bit better than back in June.
Overall, I am glad to have been observant and I still had fun!
September 2021- The Venetian
I’m feeling like an experienced Las Vegas jetsetter once again! Checked into Venetian 24 hours in advance. Suite ready shortly after arrival. I highly recommend folks check in online prior to arrival if possible. You’ll avoid the long lines at Registration. Very nice security at elevator lobby…. Guests must use room keycard to enter elevator banks. Very lovely suite!
Conditions have improved significantly! Glad to see more eating venues are now reopened. Mask Mandate in place for everyone and folks were pretty good. Be aware there are security kiosks at entrances to facilitate compliance and provide supplies.
I did my casino hop at Venetian, Palazzo, Wynn, Casino Royale and even Caesar’s Palace. I noticed plexiglass partitions at electronic games and even in some restrooms. I also noticed the presence of electronic games in some casinos. Maybe a new trend with gaming. Beverage service at slot machines is much better.