As a travel professional, I always want to experience what my client will experience before I make a recommendation. Having relationships at resorts, understanding the product, being able to provide accurate descriptions and knowing what to expect is a key reason why you would use Travel by Beth in the first place! Our agents provide a safety net, so to speak. Instead of combing through articles and reviews, and scouring for the latest information yourself, you can trust us as experts to assist you with decisions about travel. I felt it was important to travel as the world begins to open to tourism once again. I recently had the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas and to Cancun, Mexico and I’m eager to share my experiences with you.
The purpose of this article is not to tell you that everything is fine or influence you to travel. We are in the wake of a pandemic and the decision to travel and when is completely personal. Rather, I want to express what it was like to travel under current conditions to these destinations, to give you an impression and convey my personal experience. Having “boots on the ground” is the only way to understand what our clients will experience so I found this research invaluable.
In June I traveled to Las Vegas. I flew on Spirit Air, which in general is not my favorite carrier. Spirit is a low cost carrier and as such they charge additional fees for nearly everything. But the air tickets were $35 roundtrip from Chicago O’Hare to Las Vegas with decent flight times.
I was pleasantly surprised by this experience. First, they require masks for travel. I also liked that the seats did not have a seat back pocket in front of you or large tray tables in front; considered a high touch surface and harbor for germs. The middle seats were not left empty. We took the first flight of the day and the aircraft had been fogged with hospital grade disinfectant. Many others and I came prepared with disinfectant wipes as well. The aircraft had also been equipped with HEPA filters and the flight attendants encouraged us to open the vents to allow the HEPA filter to do its job. Everyone was to keep masks on unless they were eating or drinking. Spirit did have snacks and drinks for sale, but most did not take advantage of that service. I noticed most passengers stayed firmly planted in their seats during the flight with few milling about or using the facilities. At the airports, guidelines were in place for social distancing and mask wearing and the majority of travelers adhered to them. There were people who wore their masks incorrectly. We avoided them.
To dispel misinformation, airplanes do not spread COVID as previously thought. Due to mandatory mask requirements, efficient air filters and social distancing they are cleaner than many other locations. Millions have flown on aircraft since March and there is just one documented instance of a group getting ill. One.
We used a combination of Ubers and taxis when going from place to place in Las Vegas. Masks were required and the cars were very clean. We used wash stations and hand sanitizer before and after these services. We also witnessed each taxi and Uber service using sanitizer to clean their vehicles before and after riding in them.
I love staying on the strip in Las Vegas, but for this stay we opted for a Hilton property located behind the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. I wasn’t sure exactly what the pandemic experience would be like in the hotel casinos and wanted a closer look prior to recommending them to my clients. The Hilton Grand Vacation Club does not offer a casino on site. I found the two-bedroom suite to be exceptionally clean and actually “sealed” upon entry stating that it had been cleaned according to a variety of measures to prevent the spread of Covid. There were hand sanitizing stations everywhere on site as well.
As we toured hotels and casinos we found that some fared better than others at encouraging social distancing and masks. Some were far more crowded than others as well. We were impressed with the Bellagio and Caesars Palace with portable hand washing stations and free masks but less so with others we found a bit too crowded for comfort, likely due to low room rates. Most tourists did not wear masks out of doors but did keep their distance if not wearing a mask. I found that masks were typically in place while gaming but social distancing was not.
I toured the Mob Museum while in Las Vegas and found staff to be very diligent with safety protocols, providing branded masks, temperature checks and contact tracing. They were not allowing locker usage at the time because of COVID. The museum was a great experience and a must-see. Check out the authentic speakeasy and distillery in the basement too, where they manufacture their own hand sanitizer!
Restaurants in Las Vegas implemented many protocols that were comforting like QR codes for menus, reduced capacity with tables at least 6 feet apart. Many restaurant bars were not operating. All staff and patrons wore masks unless they were seated at their table. Silverware was also sealed.
Pools in Las Vegas were busy, as expected, but clearly not as busy as is typical in June. At both the Flamingo and the MGM family pools we found patrons did not social distance very well. We opted to rent our own cabanas for pool days so that we could distance ourselves from others. Our servers in the cabanas followed all reasonable protocols including masks.
The experience in Las Vegas was a positive one, but I felt that I needed to be very conscious of safety and take extra measures to follow protocols when others weren’t adhering to them as strictly. Hotels, which had anywhere from 2500 – 6000 rooms are allowed to be booked up to 50% occupancy.
Even more comfortable than the Las Vegas experience was a very impressive trip to Cancun, Mexico this July. Check out my blog on the Cancun trip.