5 construction and opening updates for Las Vegas

Contrary to the popular expression, what happens in Las Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay there, especially if that thing is news about long awaited projects and attractions — and there’s a lot to share on that front lately.

Casino operators and developers have recently been reversing course on a lot of the decisions they made earlier in the pandemic. Resorts that have been shuttering midweek plan to go back to full-time operation, attractions have opened up for tourists for the first time and the finish line is in sight for long awaited projects.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Sin City.

1. MGM Resorts to resume midweek operations

MGM Resorts International announced Wednesday, Feb. 17, that it would resume 24/7 hotel operations beginning March 3 at its properties that had been closing midweek, including Mandalay Bay, Park MGM and The Mirage.

Those properties had been closing as travel waned due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but MGM Resorts’ CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle said in the news release that the company was beginning to see “positive signs” about the public’s interest in traveling.

That increased interest, coupled with progress on vaccinations and decreasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, made resuming full-week operations an important step for the company, according to Hornbuckle.

2. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas announces planned opening

After pushing back its planned Jan. 15 opening date because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas now plans to open on Thursday, March 25, according to a news release from JC Hospitality, the company that owns the property.

Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of JC Hospitality, said in a statement that confidently announcing a new opening date has been a journey.

“Today we are not only celebrating the fact that we finally get to welcome back guests to the most exciting resort to open in Las Vegas in years, but we also get to bring our team members back to work,” the statement from Bosworth said.

The property will have 1,505 rooms, a five-acre pool area, event lawn and a theater that can fit 4,500 people.

It will also have the first tribally operated casino in the city with Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, according to a news release. The 60,000-square-foot casino will have slots, table games, high-limit areas and a race and sports book.

3. Sin City’s newest art installation

A supermarket-themed art exhibition featuring installation-filled rooms and more than 250 unique art projects opened for the first time to the public on Thursday, Feb. 18.

Omega Mart, which bills itself as “America’s Most Exceptional Grocery Store,” opened in AREA15, an arts and entertainment district located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. It’s the second permanent installation from Meow Wolf, a Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment company. More than 300 artists helped create the attraction, according to the news release.

Pictures of the space have already made their way to Instagram. Some parts of the exhibit seemed to be supermarket-themed, with surreal artworks filling mock store shelves. Other parts of the exhibit had an otherworldly kind of feel with glowing hallways and geometric structures rising to the ceiling.

Pandemic-related safety precautions were in place at the exhibit, including keeping ticket sales exclusively online, limiting capacity to 25% and requiring visits to wear face masks, get their temperature checked and maintain social distancing.

Tickets were $45 general admission (with discounts available for children, seniors, military and Nevada residents) and could be purchased by visiting the attraction’s website.

  • A new permanent art exhibition, Omega Mart, opened minutes from the Las Vegas strip on Thursday, Feb. 18. (Courtesy of Meow Wolf)

  • Omega Mart is a new art exhibition that opened near Las Vegas on Thursday. Feb. 18. (Courtesy of Meow Wolf)

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    The gallery will resume inseconds

  • The Strat Hotel, Casino & SkyPod recently celebrated the opening of a new high limit lounge and the beginning of Lunar New Year with a traditional lion dance on Feb. 14. (Courtesy of The Strat Hotel, Casino & SkyPod)

4. Brian Christopher expands his influence

When it comes to casino slot machines, influencer Brian Christopher has become a well-recognized authority. His YouTube channel has amassed more than 330,000 followers and Christopher even has his own dedicated fan club. Now his brand is expanding.

The Plaza Hotel & Casino debuted the new “Brian Christopher Slots at the Plaza” gaming area late last month. The new area features some of Christopher’s favorite slot machines, including Cleopatra II, Dollar Storm, Lightning Zap, Huff N Puff and others.

The area started with 16 machines when it debuted, but more were expected to be added, according to a news release.

5. The Strat opens new High Limit Room

The Strat Hotel, Casino & SkyPod celebrated the opening of a new high limit lounge and the beginning of Lunar New Year with a traditional lion dance on Feb. 14.

The 3,600-square-foot lounge has eight table games, an on-site casino host, tea service and five high-definition TVs around its center columns, according to a resort news release.

Table games include two double-deck blackjack games, one six-deck blackjack table where the dealer stands on soft 17 and five baccarat tables.

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