Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | 2 a.m.
With its iconic dancing fountains, colorful Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, acclaimed restaurant collection and one-of-a-kind theater built to host Cirque du Soleil’s “O,” Bellagio is one of the most recognizable casino resorts in the history of Las Vegas. It will be one of the first to reopen at 10 a.m. June 4 after the Strip was shut down with the Governor’s order on March 15 to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“O” won’t be in production as live entertainment and showrooms are not part of Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan, but the fountains will come back to life at 9:15 a.m. Thursday. The aquatic spectacular will include three songs to commemorate Las Vegas’ reopening: “Simple Gifts,” “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Viva Las Vegas.”
When the resort’s doors open at 10 a.m., visitors and guests can look forward to dining at several different restaurants, stopping at bars and lounges for a drink, gambling at slot machines and table games and visiting a brand-new conservatory exhibit, “Japan Journey: Magic of Kansai.” A new traffic pattern and social distancing protocols will provide conservatory observers the same photo opportunities as they stroll through the Japanese temples and a massive statue of Hello Kitty, an exhibit consisting of more than 100,000 preserved flowers, 20,000 fresh cut flowers and 30,000 potted flowers.
At a pre-opening tour of several resort features on Monday, Executive Director of Horticulture Jerry Bowlen said it should take between five and 15 minutes to tour the conservatory “depending on how photo happy you are.”
“The main thing was we wanted to make sure our guests get the whole experience of the whole room,” he said. “We’ll have a line outside the conservatory and we have social distancing stickers throughout. There’s one egress in and you’ll be able to see 80 to 90 percent of the room to get that experience, and you’ll have time to stop and take pictures.”
MGM Resorts has released plenty of information in addition to its Seven Point Safety Plan explaining guiding the operations of its many Las Vegas megaresorts. The company is set to open the New York-New York and MGM Grand properties on Thursday at 11 a.m.
At Bellagio on Monday, MGM officials demonstrated and explained how they’ve reassembled the many diverse operation methods at the resort to account for these complicated new circumstances.
All employees are required to wear masks while guests will be strongly encouraged to do so, and in some cases, such as participating in casino games craps or roulette, players will be required to wear a mask and provided with one. New hand-washing stations have been built on the casino floor for employees and guests to use. And a six-foot physical distancing policy will be implemented throughout the resort, with additional staff members in the casino to help remind guests to stay safe — while maintaining the fun Vegas atmosphere everyone will be expecting.
“That’s big. Vegas safely is still Vegas,” said MGM Resorts Vice President of Administration John Flynn, who has been leading the company’s health and safety programs. “We’re all in this together and … there’s some personal accountability that goes with that. We’re going to provide [guests] with all the safety mechanisms to have that same wonderful experience they’ve had in the past and ask them for a couple of things we them to abide by, and knowing our guests, they’re loyal and they’re going to comply. We look forward to it.”
At Bellagio restaurants such as Prime, Lago, Sadelle’s and Mayfair Supper Club, guests will be encouraged to make reservations but if they don’t, they’ll be able avoid standing in line thanks to a virtual queue program that will send a text message when the table is ready. Diners can browse the menu on their phone after scanning a QR code, or look over a paper menu that will be discarded after use.
Like the hotel resorts, restaurants are limited to 50 percent capacity. At Sadelle’s, that meant removing approximately 30 tables and adding plexiglass partitions between booths in the rear dining room. There might be a small cloth pouch in which to place your mask while you eat. And you can still hit the bar inside a restaurant or on the casino floor, but you’ll need to have a seat to drink and play. Standing at bartops is not allowed.
“You might see us open more restaurants at our resorts depending on the demand, but still keeping the occupancy at 50%,” said MGM Resorts Senior Vice President of Food & Beverage Strategy. “The health and safety of our employees and our guests are the top priority, but what is also very important to us is to continue to create unique experiences.”
It all starts at hotel check-in in the lobby, unless it doesn’t. Bellagio will offer a contactless check-in experience via mobile app, allowing guests to download the app, enter their reservation information and payment information, communicate arrival time and get access to their hotel room without even stopping in the lobby. A digital room key can be scanned at your room, unlocking the door.
“Guests who are not familiar or don’t feel comfortable using the app or that technology and want to check in the traditional way will still be able to do that, but that will be done in a more touchless way,” said Bellagio Vice President of Hotel Operations Andy Meese. “A lot of our [staff] that typically work behind a desk will be out here in the lobby interacting with guests and assisting the process. It’s more about spreading out the team and assisting guests in all areas of the property.”
Bellagio will be conducting non-contact temperature checks with hotel guests who physically check-in or seek additional services in the lobby but not screening all visitors that enter the building. The Nevada Gaming Control Board is governing all casino reopening protocols and is not requiring properties to install thermal cameras for temperature checks, however the board is recommending such screenings for hotel guests.
“When we look at all the different things put in place, there’s no one size fits all solution,” said Flynn. “For our guests that are checking in, we are going to do that. If you look at the safety plan it reinforces the notion that we’re all in this together. If you’re not feeling well, seek out medical help appropriately. Bring a thermometer with you and take your temperature every day up in your room. Answer those questions the way our employees do every day. Those are all things we’re doing that we’re going to continue to reinforce, and we do think our guests are going to do it.”