82°F
weather icon Clear

MGM CEO plans for Aria reopening; new mobile check-in to stay

Updated June 4, 2020 - 2:04 pm

Dozens of guests flooded into Bellagio at 10 a.m. Thursday, cheering as they pushed through front doors that had been closed for more than two months.

As MGM Resorts International President and acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle took in the scene, he recalled the property’s original opening day in 1998.

“It’s been amazing. I can remember the day this property opened … it felt the same (today),” he said.

There were some key differences this time around, including thermal checks, face masks and social distancing reminders spread across the property.

Hornbuckle said some of the new standards — such as using QR codes and mobile devices to check in — are here to stay.

“We have 4,000 guest rooms here,” he said. “There’s no way from time to time to avoid lines. So our ability to help make that more efficient people for people who want to use (mobile check in), and I think they will … is very productive.”

Hornbuckle said he is excited MGM can welcome back employees and guests after having its Las Vegas casinos shuttered for 11 weeks.

“This has been emotional for everybody. We went through a lot (during the shutdown),” he said.

According to company regulatory filings, MGM had roughly 70,000 full-time and part-time domestic employees as of Dec. 31. The company has furloughed nearly 63,000 workers because of shutdowns.

The operator has called back “several thousand” employees, and Hornbuckle said he hopes to bring back 50 percent to 60 percent of hourly staff members by the end of summer.

“We’ll just have to see how the business ramps and go from there,” he said.

The company has started preparing for its next phase of reopenings: Excalibur is set for June 11, and Hornbuckle hopes to reopen Aria before Fourth of July weekend.

After that, Hornbuckle said, MGM will “take a deep breath” before continuing to roll out its remaining four Las Vegas properties — Park MGM, Luxor, The Mirage and Mandalay Bay — “hopefully” on a monthly or biweekly basis into the rest of the summer.

“But again, it’s one step at a time,” Hornbuckle warned. “We’re going to be patient; it is about doing this correctly and doing it safely first and foremost.”

The additional reopening announcements come as casino operators and experts have pointed to visitor demand surpassing initial expectations. At Bellagio, Thursday’s crowd featured a mix of locals, drive-in and fly-in guests.

Hornbuckle said the resort has seen “large demand” from Southern California drive-in traffic in particular.

“A great deal of our casino customers are just anxious to get back into play,” he said. “We know the first couple of weekends are going to be crowded in that context.”

While initial demand has “been good,” Hornbuckle said the city’s tourism industry still has a long way to go, with its resurgence dependent on factors such as the airlines’ success and its ability to bring back group business and large-scale events.

Until then, Hornbuckle said, he plans to take on reopenings one step at a time, with a focus on staff and guest safety.

“Coming to Las Vegas, it’s a bet to begin with, in terms of the very nature of what we do. I don’t want their safety to be a bet,” he said. “Done safely, it’s still Vegas, and I think they’ll enjoy it. … We think we can provide an amazing experience for all of our customers, and over time, we’ll bring Las Vegas back to life.”

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