The coronavirus has hit Las Vegas hard in terms of hotel and restaurant closures, but for fans of clean air, there is one interesting bit of good news coming as the city continues to reopen. The entire Park MGM casino resort complex will become permanently non-smoking, including its boutique NoMad hotel and all other facilities. This is the first major casino on the Strip to go non-smoking – something a vocal group of MGM customers had been asking for.
MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) operates more than a dozen hotels and casinos in the city, most famously the MGM Grand, the largest in Las Vegas, Aria, and Bellagio. Today the company announced that following the reopening of the Four Seasons Las Vegas, within the Mandalay Bay casino resort, on September 25, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas will reopen their doors as the Strip’s (aka Las Vegas Boulevard) first fully smoke-free casino resort on September 30. This is big news for non-smokers, but also for the hospitality industry, as this marks the last of of all MGM properties around the world to come back online following closures earlier this year amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Just to be clear, while this is important news for fans of Las Vegas and a big update of the city’s tourism offerings, I am not advocating travel to Las Vegas (or anyplace else for that matter) at this moment. Leisure travel in the current landscape is a very complex and personal decision, and I am certainly not going to Vegas in the near future.
Anton Nikodemus, President of MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas Portfolio, said in a release, “As we looked toward our reopening, we identified an opportunity to be responsive to recurring guest demand for a fully non-smoking casino resort on The Strip. With an expansive Las Vegas portfolio, MGM Resorts is able to offer an array of options for visitors, all within the MGM Resorts family.” This follows a longstanding tourism tradition of Las Vegas trying to be all things to all people: those who want to continue to smoke or simply don’t care will not suffer for choices and can still light it up at Aria, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, New York, New York, Excalibur and the other MGM properties as well as all major competitors including Caesars Palace, the Cosmopolitan, Wynn and the Venetian.
Fully open just two years ago, Park MGM is the company’s newest resort, a near total renovation of the former Monte Carlo casino resort, also an MGM property, in the same building. While Monte Carlo was an upper-mid level offering, Park MGM is positioned as more luxurious, especially with the Vegas outpost of New York’s hip NoMad boutique hotel (read my article about the New York NoMad here). Aside from the rooms, the biggest change for visitors was the opening of the city’s first (and only) Eataly, the popular Italian themed grocery store and restaurant chain. Eataly occupies the front of the hotel and is an integral part of the facade, and while many Las Vegas hotels have been designed to make access to the street difficulty, it is very easy to walk right off the sidewalk and into Eataly (and then into the resort). Eataly also solves another long time Vegas shortage – fast and easy to get food that is affordable and good, rather than fast food chain stands in food courts.
“Opening Park MGM and NoMad represent significant milestones, as they are the last of our properties to welcome back employees and guests alike,” said Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts CEO and President (via release). “The last six months have presented extraordinary challenges and I could not be prouder of the MGM Resorts team for the tireless effort required to get us here. There is much work ahead as we remain focused on the health and safety of our employees and guests, but this is an important moment for us.”
Upon reopening, Park MGM amenities will be limited initially, but things open will include Eataly, as well as Bavette’s Steakhouse, Primrose, and the pool complex, while the NoMad Las Vegas a more luxurious hotel-within-a-hotel, will also begin welcoming guests on September 30. Both will offer complimentary self-parking, while valet parking will not be operational yet.