I recently enjoyed my first Vegas vacation in more than a year. Living in the Las Vegas suburbs can only offer so much fun. Prior to this vacation, visiting casinos was either to work in a room or just to check out the scene. This was the first trip that involved no work and only fun. This was a vacation for eating, drinking, and gambling in various casinos like the good ole days! The experience was different but still as much fun as I remember.
I’ve changed over the past year and so have a lot of my habits and hobbies. Gambling in a casino has been possible for a while but it wasn’t the experience I wanted. Even though I started staying at casinos again last year, I didn’t spend much time out of the room. We shared the first work from Vegas experience.
This year, I’ve been enjoying great offers from Cosmopolitan and have stayed at the hotel every month. In fact, this first vacation was mostly based out of the Cosmopolitan. A funny thing happened over the past year. I’ve come to enjoy my time inside of the hotel rooms more than in the past. That has a lot to do with staying in complementary and discounted suites with large living spaces to go along with the bed(s).
Staying in the room so much and searching for restaurants with outdoor seating over the past year might be something that sticks. These aren’t new to my life but now that I’ve been thinking about this so frequently over the past year, finding fresh air options and hotels with ample will likely be a part of my life moving forward.
That said, I’m happy to report that I still love gambling! We played slots, video poker at the bars, and a few table games. I’m betting on sports much less than in previous years but that’s more of a personal issue. As a recreational bettor, I like to watch what I bet on. The sports viewing experience is getting back to a place I enjoy so this will increase soon enough.
Overall, the Vegas vacation experience was pretty close to normal again. The main differences inside the casino were occasionally wearing a mask and washing my hands often. We spent time eating and drinking both inside and outside of the rooms. One of the best things I noticed is that people are more respectful of personal space than ever. More on that later.
My friend and I had a blast and I can’t wait for more people to visit. Enough about me, here are some things to be aware of on your next Vegas vacation.
Tips for visiting Las Vegas again for the first time
This vacation felt like I was visiting Las Vegas for the first time in a very long time. There are still some things to get used to that weren’t always necessary.
Las Vegas is busy
Be prepared to see a lot of people when you visit Las Vegas. Some places are busier than others. The Cosmopolitan was busy everywhere. The casino and bars at Paris Las Vegas weren’t too busy. However, the restaurants at Paris were packed. Just be ready for large crowds at the more popular destinations in Las Vegas.
Higher table game limits
Last year casinos bumped the table game limits higher since there were fewer people playing. Those limits may still be high at some casinos – especially the busier casinos on the Vegas Strip.
The lowest limits at Bally’s and Paris were $25 for traditional games like Blackjack. The cheapest bet was $10/$15 for carny games like 3 Card Poker. Cosmopolitan bumped its table limits to $50 some nights.
It appears as though limits are coming down after Memorial Day but this is something to keep in mind when planning a trip. Some of the newer and shinier casinos may be out of budget.
Prior to COVID-19, gambling made up somewhere between 30% and 50% of revenue for casinos. It looks as though that percentage will be even lower as many visitors appear to be spending their money elsewhere when visiting Las Vegas.
There’s demand for everything. However, the places and things visitors can’t enjoy at home will be busier than usual. Make reservations for restaurants, bars, clubs, shows, and anything else to make sure there’s room for you. Heads up – some restaurants with outdoor seating may not allow for outdoor reservations. That can be requested when checking in.
Businesses all over the country are understaffed. Las Vegas is no different. Servers at bars and restaurants are hustling but there may not be enough people on hand to deliver the amazing service Las Vegas is famous for. There are lines just about everywhere.
Similarly, rideshares are limited so there could be delays and/or surge pricing. We had four Uber rides cancel before finally getting a ride that actually picked us up. This could change now that surge prices are back and drivers can get paid more. At the same time, these rides might be crazy expensive.
Limited and digital menus are still a thing
During peak COVID times, many restaurants and bars reduced the size of the menus. Some are back and some aren’t. There are also restaurants and bars that are still using QR codes instead of physical menus.
The smaller menus may mean your favorite dishes aren’t available. Check restaurant websites before visiting to make sure your favorite food is available.
People are respectful (who knew?!)
Mask or no mask, everyone was respectful of one another’s space. It was a pleasant surprise to see people waiting for empty elevators instead of just packing them as tight as can be. Likewise, there were more people politely blowing smoke to the side or stepping away from the tables for a quick smoke break.
Las Vegas is still clean(ish). Nothing is perfect but it’s been great to see casinos, bars, and restaurants keep up with cleaning as more customers are visiting. Again this was a pleasant surprise.
Last but not least, I didn’t see judgy faces or side-eyes thrown towards anyone wearing or not wearing a mask. People were just doing whatever they’re comfortable with. It was a nice surprise to see everyone be so cordial.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.