96°F
weather icon Clear

Las Vegas resort pools packed with little fear of pandemic

Updated July 5, 2020 - 5:15 pm

Las Vegas resident Michael Davis said there’s a good chance he’ll wait for the pandemic to end before he visits local resort pools again.

Davis went to two pools over the past three weeks: one at Caesars Palace, the other at Bellagio. He said the experience wasn’t bad, but the new social distancing protocols could be confusing at times.

“We had servers (at Caesars Palace) scolding us in the pool to separate, even though we were in one group and had a cabana that fits 10,” he said. “I guess it’s OK to be close in the cabana, but in the pool you had to separate?”

He also said social distancing rules were often ignored.

Similar crowds have been seen at other Las Vegas resort pools. While some guests said they felt completely safe at resort pools, others say they were turned off by the new protocols.

“This was a really interesting experience. I’d say it wasn’t a great overall experience (for my friends in town),” Davis said. “It wasn’t as good as what I expected it to be.”

But others have said they had positive experiences in Las Vegas resort pools. Another local, Ariane Anderson, said she enjoyed her time at Green Valley Ranch pool in early June.

It was “very friendly, very welcoming, all staff (were) wearing masks,” she said, adding that she saw socially-distanced chairs and customers, as well as frequent cleaning and disinfecting by staff. She was also impressed by the pool’s QR-code food and drink menu.

“I felt completely safe and enjoyed my experience there,” she said.

‘I don’t want to return’

Phase two of Nevada’s reopening plan — which was recently extended — prohibits nightclubs and day clubs from reopening, but allows pools to operate. In turn, a number of Las Vegas’ former day clubs have reopened as pools.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, for instance, has opened The Pool Marquee, which had been operating as a club before the pandemic, along with its Boulevard Pool and Chelsea Pool.

The company said the pool is now reservation-only, with no general admission and dedicated socially-distanced seating areas.

But a number of Marquee employees told the Review-Journal that they regularly witness new health and safety guidelines being ignored. They have all been granted anonymity to protect their jobs.

A statement from the Cosmopolitan said guests and employees are required to stand at least six feet away from other groups, but one Marquee worker said guests often avoid social distancing. He added that the cabanas, which are supposed to have 10 people or fewer, often fit up to 15 or 20.

And while the hotel-casino said guests are required to wear a face covering while walking to and from their seats, within the bar areas, and while using the restrooms, workers said those rules are often ignored.

“Employees are very uncomfortable, and we don’t know what to do. … Everyone’s fed up with it,” said one employee. “Once (guests) come in the club, it’s like the virus doesn’t exist.”

Two other employees backed up his claims.

According to the Cosmopolitan, pool employees are required to wear masks at all times, while guests can remove face coverings while seated at the pool.

The company also said the venue is now considered a pool and not a day club because there is no dance floor, but employees say little else has changed.

“It’s just a day club without general admission,” said one employee.

A statement from the Cosmopolitan said cabanas, daybeds and lounge chairs are spaced to allow for social distancing, and each pool remains at or below 50 percent capacity at all times. Other new protocols include advanced cleaning and sanitizing and installing hand sanitizing stations.

COVID-19 risks at a pool

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website says there is no evidence that the virus can spread through the water in pools.

Brian Labus, an assistant professor in epidemiology and biostatistics at UNLV and a member of the medical team advising Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, said the risk of getting COVID-19 from pool water is unlikely, since the chlorine should inactivate the virus.

But there are risks when large crowds congregate inside or around the pools.

“The pool’s not the problem. A crowded pool is a problem, the locker room is a problem,” Labus said.

While being outside does reduce transmission, there are potential risks because patrons can’t wear masks when swimming.

The key to staying safe while at a pool is social distancing, Labus said.

“The more distance we can put between people, the better,” he said. “If (guests are) all standing on top of each other, that’s where the risk comes in.”

Company policies

Pool health and safety policies vary across properties.

A statement from Las Vegas Sands said its pools are monitored with access “strictly controlled.” The area is also thoroughly sanitized daily.

Lounge chairs have been rearranged to allow for physical distancing, and guests must wear masks when entering the pool deck, receiving service from an employee, at the towel desk, cabana reception desk, pool bar and when walking the pool deck to locate a chair or go to the restroom.

The company has reopened The Venetian Pool Deck and The Palazzo Pool Deck for its resort guests, with availability subject to weather and capacity limits.

The Strat, which has its pool open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily with a 50 percent occupancy limit, said masks are required in the pool area when lounging. Guests don’t need to wear a mask while in the water, but must remain six feet apart. Staff — including lifeguards, pool managers and security — are in charge of monitoring and enforcing the new safety protocols.

“We have found that with consistent regulations throughout the Strip, people are more apt to follow these guidelines,” said Stephen Thayer, vice president and general manager of the Strat. “Our team members have done a fantastic job of consistently reminding our guests that masks are mandatory and we have had very few issues with guests.”

Wynn Las Vegas’ Tower Suites Pool, Resort Pool and Sunset Pool have reopened with a 50 percent occupancy limit, physically distanced seating and more frequent sanitation. Encore’s Resort Pool and Adult Pool and the Encore Beach Pool have reopened with the same policies. Jacuzzis remain closed.

Face coverings are required for guests not in the water, sitting at a lounge chair or walking to or from the water. Security, pool attendance and supervisors are on hand to remind guests of the new policies, according to spokeswoman Deanna Pettit-Irestone. Complimentary masks are available at pool bars and towel distribution areas.

MGM Resorts International’s new guidelines say lounge chairs will be placed with 6 feet between groups of guests, and every other cabana will be used, when applicable, to allow physical distancing. The company also does not allow cocktails in its pools, and has internal team remind people in the pool to socially distance, according to spokesman Brian Ahern.

Boyd Gaming Corp. spokesman David Strow referred to the company’s updated health and safety protocols, which say pool seating will be configured to allow for at least six feet of separation between groups of guests.

Company spokespeople at Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Station Casinos did not respond to requests for comment.

Station Casinos’ protocols say pool seating are reconfigured to comply with CDC and state and local requirements and to allow for appropriate distancing.

Caesars’ safety plan says cabanas and lounge chairs are arranged for social distancing. Seating is cleaned and disinfected between guest use, and hand sanitizer is available throughout the area.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Sahara Las Vegas sues blogger over closure rumor - VIDEO
Sahara Las Vegas has filed a defamation lawsuit against Scott Roeben, the man behind vitalvegas.com, for reporting a rumor that the Las Vegas Strip property would close in September.
MGM Resorts announces “Viva Las Office” program - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International announced its new “Viva Las Office” program that encourages business travelers to work remotely from the Bellagio or Aria.
Las Vegas housing market sees record prices despite pandemic
Las Vegas’ housing market is “on fire” despite the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating effect on the economy, as sales totals surged and prices hit another all-time high last month. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sahara Las Vegas gets COVID-19 regulatory complaint - VIDEO
Sahara Las Vegas is the first property on the Las Vegas Strip — and the first in Southern Nevada — to receive a regulatory complaint related to coronavirus safety protocols. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CEO unsure if Palms will reopen - VIDEO
Frank Fertitta III, chairman and CEO of Red Rock Resorts, said the company doesn't know if or when the Palms or three other Station Casinos properties will reopen. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two Las Vegas visitors win mega progressive jackpots - VIDEO
Two visitors to the Las Vegas Strip won mega progressive jackpots on table games Friday - one at Caesars Palace and another at the Flamingo. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
D Las Vegas pulls back on dress code policy - Video
The policy barred people with face and neck tattoos from entering the downtown Las Vegas hotel-casino. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Amazon warehouse safety measures
Safety measures have been set up at the Amazon warehouse in North Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Stadium hits substantial completion milestone
Nine-hundred-and-ninety-three days after the groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 13 2017 on what was then a 62-acre lot of dirt, the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium, home of the Raiders, now holds its own in the Las Vegas skyline.
Tropicana hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip up for sale - VIDEO
Gaming and Leisure Properties, landlord of the 35-acre Tropicana, is looking to sell the Las Vegas property and rent it back or sell it outright.
Circa Sports bets big on NFL handicapping contests - Video
A little more than six weeks before the NFL’s scheduled season opener, the Circa sportsbook is staring at a potential multimillion-dollar loss. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak: Bars in four counties to stay closed - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said bars in four counties, including Clark County, will remain closed to help fight COVID-19. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa CEO comments on minor construction flaw
Circa CEO Derek Stevens, who also owns D Las Vegas and Golden Gate, said he had originally planned to fix a misplaced glass panel, but it may be here to stay.
Circa Las Vegas casino gets 1st six-ton exterior sign - Video
The under-construction Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas gets its first exterior sign bearing its name Thursday morning. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wynn Resorts Ltd. to place workers on furlough - VIDEO
Wynn Resorts Ltd. will put workers at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore on furlough, effective this week. This comes after paying its Las Vegas employees throughout the 78-day Nevada casino shutdown. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Switch, Capital Dynamics break ground on developments - Video
The project, Gigawatt 1®, includes the largest behind-the-meter solar plus battery project in the world. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small crew removes scaffolding, shoring from MSG Sphere project - Video
The MSG Sphere at The Venetian has a skeleton crew on the job site to keep watch on the project, but workers recently removed scaffolding and shoring from the site. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Amid the pandemic, Southern Nevadans are falling behind on mortgages - Video
As Nevada’s foreclosure moratorium ends, homeowners must figure out how to pay off any missed mortgage payments. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Casino foot traffic slows as COVID-19 cases rise - VIDEO
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Las Vegas casino foot traffic is starting to slow, according to a J.P. Morgan analyst.
Las Vegas entrepreneur Andrew Fonfa dies at 68 - VIDEO
Andrew Fonfa, a developer of the Lucky Dragon hotel-casino just off the Las Vegas Strip, died at age 68.
Las Vegas casinos modify smoking policies - VIDEO
On June 18, Las Vegas Sands Corp. updated its health and safety plan to ask table game players and spectators to refrain from smoking or vaping.
Tourists compare pre-pandemic Vegas to today's restrictions - VIDEO
We spoke with tourists walking up and down Las Vegas Boulevard about their experience so far amid pandemic restrictions, and how it compares to their last time in pre-pandemic Vegas. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Boyd Gaming Corp. has laid off at least 2,500 Nevada employees - Video
On May 22, the casino operator issued letters warning of possible impending layoffs . affecting anywhere between 25 and 60 percent of employees. The company had approximately 10,000 employees in Nevada.
Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas gives notice of potential layoffs - VIDEO
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas sent the state notice of potential layoffs at the 3,000-room property on the Las Vegas Strip.
Is Nevada the ‘gold standard’ for casino coronavirus response? - Video
Whenever experts begin comparing gaming jurisdictions, you’re bound to hear the phrase “gold standard” dropped in the conversation. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resorts World Las Vegas activates 100,000-square-foot LED screen - VIDEO
Resorts World Las Vegas activated its 100,000-square-foot LED screen on its west tower on Independence Day, showing a digital fireworks display. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Station Casinos president dies in watercraft accident - VIDEO
Richard Haskins, president of Red Rock Resorts Inc. and Station Casinos, died Saturday in a watercraft accident in Michigan, according to a statement released by the company. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hockey arena opponents erred in ballot initiative - Video
Opponents of a minor league hockey arena in Henderson collected enough verified signatures to put the disputed project on the November ballot, but then a problem emerged: A procedural error on the petition.
Layoffs at 'The Drew' force staff to sue owner
Rj Business reporter Eli Segall talks about the lawsuit and the future of the unfinished hotel and casino.
Vegas tourists react to mask mandate - VIDEO
Governor Steve Sisolak announced on Wednesday a mandate to wear face masks starting Friday. Down on the Las Vegas Strip tourists reacted on camera to the news. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST