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March 9-11, 2020 - My last two days in Vegas before COVID struck.

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Farner, Apr 22, 2020.

  1. Farner

    Farner Low-Roller

    Jun 11, 2017
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    I had not planned to memorialize this trip, but in hindsight I may have experienced one of the first trips to Las Vegas in the times of COVID. I believe my experiences shed light on what is to come when Nevada attempts to open. I did expect some of the changes, but others were a surprise. I was especially not prepared for how much my own outlook and attitude would changed in light of the new circumstances.

    First, parking at BUR and all flight related issues were easy. Having almost no one travel makes finding a seat on SWA not very challenging. I think my March 9th early morning flight did not have anyone in the ‘C’ group, for example.

    At that time, in early March, only few on the plane had masks, but everyone was having the paranoid look and if there was someone coughing all eyes turned. Realizing how quickly you change from mindlessly chilling on a plane and using drink coupons, to a paranoid freak who wishes anyone with a cough to either drop dead or at least sit at the other end of the plane, was a surprise to me.

    Arriving at LAS I had to stand in line in the bathroom, nor for the stall, but for the hand washing after. If everyone washes for 20 seconds, things slow down quiet a bit.

    Walking onward, I noticed hand sanitizer stations every few feet, even the cabby had it on hand (pun). I arrived at Aria and would guess that about 10% of the people near the lobby wore masks. At 1pm the check-in area was deserted and three staff members offered to help me. I checked in and upgraded to a Tower Suite (Panorama) for $110 per night extra. This was half of the regular spread from my booking. I later learned that occupancy had dropped to below 30% during my stay. At least the staff treated the few guests who still showed up well. Since this trip I daydream about my time soaking in the tub with the best view at Aria and never regretted the extra $110 per night. Having the suite also made me naturally distance for most of the next two days. I would not learn the term socially distance until the end of that week.

    Once I had settled in, I realized that planning any activity in Vegas (pool, buffet, gym, gambling, club) came with a novel thought. Every step had a calculated risk associated. This is close to my 50th trip to Vegas and I knew all along of the regular dangers in town. I had food poising after a meal at Jaleo in 2017 and years ago lost my bankroll in the first hour of my trip. My main thought now was that someone could sneeze onto the dice and I might die two weeks later in a hospital, unable to breath. This kind of thought changes ones relaxation potential.

    So why make this trip into the pandemic abyss? I must admit, I was so eager to get away. This followed a rough patch at work and home (I now have another ex-girlfriend) that my focus was so much into the joy of vegas that I did not think about COVID too much. For me, Vegas has always been a safe haven. This is where my alter ego comes out to play. The one that is not trustworthy, reliable and hard working, but instead gets wasted at Omnia and stumbles home to his room with a girl he met over blackjack 8 hours earlier (not the ex either).

    I could not imagine my safe place with COVID. The flight, the purell and the constant news coverage of the stock market crash that Monday morning, made me wonder if I made a big mistake going.

    My early March self was slow on the uptake and went to the Aria Buffet next. The crowds there were small and the staff had reduced the food selection, but not the price. I still managed to chow down for 2 hours and rolled to the gym after. Needless to say, the following day I did not partake in buffeting any more.

    I used the Tower lounge for fruit, water, soda and coffee for the rest of my stay. For dinner I went to Noodle9 and Blossom. Both were well below regular capacity.

    On the first night I still tried to keep my regular Vegas routine. At this point, the 6 feet rule was not established and I walked to dinner at CP, prayer and 21 at Cromwell. Luckily the crowds were small and distancing was not too difficult. Table conditions were not better despite the small crowds. Being up $320 and still sober at 1am, I was more relaxed and walking through Cosmo, went to Marquee in the spur of the moment. I felt that it wasn’t the safest thing to do, but also consided (sober, but careless) that this may be one of my last club experiences in a while. The main DJ was pathetic, but the house DJ amazing and I was blissfully drunk and in bed by 4.

    I spent the next day (Tuesday 3/10) sobering up, hanging in the tub (amazing) and barely being able to partake in out-of-room activities until dinner time. Maybe the social isolation came natural to me, but I also didn’t want to push my luck at the buffet or pool that day.

    At night Blossom is one of my absolute favorites for dinner alone. The service, ambience and seating for solo diners is top notch. After dinner, I lost $20 at NYNY over 2 hours ($5 BJ with the worst rules on the strip), won $125 at MGM (single deck $25) and called it a night after partying at Aria with a group of brits playing roulette. I love hanging out with jet-lagged Europeans during my late gambling sessions and play roulette when my mind is not longer sharp enough for games requiring skill.

    Some of my happiest memories from this trip were the moments of drunken gambling, talking premier league and flirting with British girls. I was never quiet sure how all the brits in this group were related and if I was hitting on one of the dudes’ wives/gf they did not let up.

    These were just such amazing, and formerly normal, Vegas times. I feel blessed that I had one of these experiences literally days before all shut down. Now knowing that the path to ‘normal’ is so uncertain, I am happy to have made this trip despite some of the angst in the moment.

    One last scare happened on the flight home on Wednesday (3/11). SWA canceled 2 BUR flights to get enough passengers so they could cramp us into one plane. Being in a middle seat, I had One person next to me who coughed at least 50 times on this short trip. The more I looked at him, the more I was certain he was ill and leaving the plane, I was sure that this was the time when the virus would hit me. The next 3-4 days were not fun, and I usually don’t even have anxiety. Needless to say, I did not get sick from this trip and the memories of it may have to carry me for while.

    Now over a month later, just as many of you, I guess, I am unable to move on from my Vegas obsession. For my part, I am contributing to the Wynn and MGM recovery fund by loaning both companies considerable funds to hold my reservations starting June onward.
    • Like Like x 7
  2. RedRiverRose

    RedRiverRose VIP Whale

    Apr 13, 2011
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Wow. This report is interesting. It's hard to imagine Vegas not packed. The plane thing would have freaked me completely out. Pretty scary. I am so ready to go back but it's hard to imagine what to expect. Thanks for the report.
  3. Ally Vegas

    Ally Vegas Tourist

    Oct 6, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for taking the time for this well written account.

    I have taken a hiatus from Vegas, as my first trip as a non-smoker was not as fun and didn't feel the same, as before I quit.

    I feel, smoking me would have gone in a heartbeat, but non-smoking would have been filled with regret and anxiety.

    Now, I am READY to return...When, it is safe to do so. I want to tip cocktail waitresses. Hug strangers. Stumble up my room "certain" I have my key. Breathe second hand smoke. Play video poker games with terrible odds at great bars...

    I am sure smoking won't cross my mind and the fact that we made it out the other side of this mess and it's time to celebrate will reign.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  4. Ten_On_The_End

    Ten_On_The_End High-Roller

    May 15, 2018
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the trip report. I left Vegas on March 9th, the day you arrived. I barely noticed anything different and we went to the Bellagio buffet on the 8th and still serving the same. Amazing how much things changed in just a few days. Plane was packed on the way home.
    • Wow! Wow! x 1
  5. JSR1968

    JSR1968 Low-Roller

    Jul 10, 2009
    San Diego, California
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I was there the weekend after you and it was pretty empty but still some people around. Things drastically changed 3-4 days after I left...
  6. gr8whitenorth

    gr8whitenorth High-Roller

    Jul 6, 2018
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the TR. This definitely helps confirm the fact that I am somewhat happy that I did move our trip forward a week which eventually got canceled. I wouldn't want anything 'outside' on our minds when we are in our happy place.
  7. Astribling

    Astribling Alice In Casinoland

    Oct 3, 2017
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the report! I've watched a few vlogs from people there until the last day and it was so surreal.

    Glad to hear you are still healthy!
    Postponed Rudies Weekend + Girls Getaway Trip
  8. Drewm1972

    Drewm1972 VIP Whale

    Jul 3, 2016
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for TR .. despite negatively sounds like you had good time which is very important ... I was there 3/11-3/16 I left right in the middle of shutting down... and feeling was such unease; these uncertainties came from mostly workers at casino talking about getting laid off etc. anyhow can’t wait till go back ... it will be sometime before I go back. Too many unknown.
  9. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Jan 21, 2013
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Nice report!
  10. Sparky4

    Sparky4 High-Roller

    Jan 1, 2016
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I was there from the 13th through 16th. My fight out was less than half full. Friday night Bally’s crowd was about 3/4 of what it normally was for a Friday night. The crowds dwindled as the days passed. Sunday night they had already turned off every other machine. Late Monday morning as I waited for my ride to the airport I sat at the Lobby Bar talking to James the bartender. The casino had a weird vibe.

    My next trip is supposed to be May 15 but even I Caesar’s reopens by then, I’m not sure that I will still go quite that soon. We do have a 4th of July trip booked that I feel comfortable taking. I’m afraid I’ll have serious withdrawals if I’m not able to go in July.

    Thanks for your report.
    Mustangs Take Las Vegas V
    The 3 week after we were supposed to go for my birthday trip!