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Wynn Resorts furloughing workers, cutting back midweek operations

Updated July 22, 2020 - 6:11 pm

Wynn Resorts Ltd. is set to place workers on furlough, effective this week, and shut down some operations on weekdays.

A June statement from the company said it had invested nearly $250 million to pay 15,000 employees their wages, tips, and benefits throughout the closures, which lasted 78-days in Nevada.

“Although we retained all of our people while we were closed, we now know how challenged business volumes in Las Vegas are and are staffing to the significantly reduced demand,” spokesman Michael Weaver said.

Weaver declined to say how many employees would be furloughed but said impacted workers will continue to receive health benefits through Oct. 31.

The announcement comes as foot traffic in Las Vegas is reported to be slowing since the initial casino reopenings in June, as COVID-19 cases increase.

In a video sent to staff Monday and obtained by the Review-Journal, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore president Marilyn Spiegel said business has been “very slow” at the properties, especially on weekdays.

“Let’s face it, COVID-19 is putting a damper on anyone’s travel plans,” she said. “We are trying our very best to encourage our guests to come back and visit, their concerns for their health and safety are overriding their desire to travel.”

Midweek closures

Spiegel discussed additional steps the business is taking as visitation numbers remain far below pre-pandemic levels.

Encore’s spa and salon will not open midweek, she said. Those services will still be available at the Wynn property those days.

Casual restaurants will also close during midweek to better match customer demand. For example, Spiegel said Charlie’s Bar + Grill will close Tuesdays through Thursdays, and the buffet will close Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Fine dining options will also be limited on weekdays.

“We are going to have a rolling schedule of closures by day of week,” she said. “You may see that one restaurant is closed four days a week, but it’s always going to be open on weekends, when we have the most demand. Another may be closed three days a week or two days a week.”

She added that there will still be “plenty of places” for guests to dine on those days.

Additionally, Wynn and Encore’s main valets will be closed completely. Valet services will remain open at Wynn Tower Suites and Encore Tower Suites to guests at those suites, private access members and VIP customers.

Other companies have taken similar steps in limiting midweek operations. Earlier this month, Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced that it would not accept midweek room reservations at the Palazzo hotel tower.

These actions are likely a bellwether for Las Vegas, and a sign that things “are not even close to normalized yet,” according to Nehme Abouzeid, president of consulting firm LaunchVegas LLC and a former marketing and entertainment executive at Wynn Resorts and The Venetian.

“These two companies are fiscally-responsible industry leaders with gorgeous properties and happy, long-tenured employees who deliver the best guest service in town,” he said. “The bigger worry to me is what will the (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry look like post-COVID and will we be able to reap the benefits of our recent investment in arenas and stadiums if social distancing remains in place long term.”

Cases on the rise

In the video, Spiegel said despite lowering room rates and sending out “lots and lots” of mail to encourage people to travel to Las Vegas, visitation rates midweek are still suffering as COVID-19 cases spike in certain states — including Nevada.

The Southern Nevada Health District reported more than 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 in the state on Wednesday, and a reported 28 deaths tied Tuesday’s count for the largest increase of daily reported deaths since the start of the pandemic.

As of Dec. 31, Wynn employed roughly 30,200 people across its operations in Massachusetts, Macao and Las Vegas, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. About 16,400 of those were based in the U.S.

Nevada casinos reopened June 4 and Encore Boston Harbor reopened July 12, bringing much of Wynn’s U.S. staff back to work.

The furloughs come despite top executives forgoing 33 percent to 100 percent of their salaries to offset ongoing employee payroll and other expenses. 

One Wynn employee, who was granted anonymity to protect the ability to remain employed, said while the furloughs are frustrating, they are also understandable.

“I was sad, (but) I know business needs dictate what they had to do,” the worker said, adding they appreciated the company paying employees during the shutdowns, “right through June 3.”

“A lot of places did not do that,” the worker said. “There’s a silver lining there.”

The worker did not know whether a furlough was on the horizon personally, but said it would not be surprising given the position held with the company.

“It would be difficult to say goodbye because Wynn Las Vegas has been good to me,” the worker said. “We’re all one big family (at work). It’s a nice feeling.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. 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.

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