Updated June 12, 2020 - 11:02 am
Vowing to be at once the safest and brightest resort in the city, Westgate Las Vegas is reopening noon June 18.
The iconic property, which opened as the International in July 1969, is offering designed “mask-required” tables over half of its casino floor. The hotel is also offering mask-required elevators.
Resort owner David Siegel, COO Mark Waltrip and General Manager Cami Christensen are accepting a possible financial shortfall by setting up several mask-mandatory tables. In the early stage of COVID-19 reopenings, casino customers who have not shown a widespread appreciation for face covers, and might bolt from the casino to play elsewhere. The Westgate staff has made protecting its employees (some of whom have been with the hotel for decades) a high priority, as Vegas resort staffers have expressed concern that they are at risk in the city’s reopening.
But Siegel made it clear he wants guests and staff to feel confident in returning to the property. Asked in a text Thursday afternoon how he felt about welcoming guests back, he said, “We will be the safest resort in Vegas!” The extensive Westgate Cares safety protocols are on the hotel’s official website.
Christensen, who has been with the property since 2001, said in a statement, “We are so excited to welcome back our team members and guests, and provide them with a safe environment.”
Westgate employees are required to wear masks, too. But because guests can’t tell what these people look like, exactly, all the staffers are wearing portraits of themselves smiling — beginning with the GM, who wears a Las Vegas Raiders mask.
The most detectable upgrades across Westgate as the hotel reopens are at its famous Superbook. The entire 240-by-20 foot, 4,488-square foot HD video layout is being swapped out. The screens are said to be 25-percent brighter than the original model.
Evidently, it’s possible to make those screens even brighter. But such a move is seen as optic overkill. The ticker at the bottom of those screen is bigger, too.
Westgate is also revamping the former Sid’s Cafe space, which is boarded up and is to be a new restaurant concept. The wedding chapel, most retail shops, pool, food court, Fortuna coffee annex, Superbook bar, and iBar at the hotel’s main entrance are among the amenities reopening. Valet service is not yet reopen.
The International Theater’s iconic anchor, Barry Manilow, has announced what now seems an ambitious return schedule Sept. 17-19. He’s also back in 2021.
The Westgate Cabaret lineup of comic George Wallace, Jennifer Romas’s “Sexxy” adult revue, and magician Jen Kramer are on hold pending the state’s phase three directives for ticketed entertainment. The iBar stage will present live performers on weekend nights, and also on the night of the reopening. The rock band Dollface is set to pay the opening event at noon Thursday. If it kills, they’ll play through the weekend.
On that opening day, guests can sign a temporary wall in the lobby to mark the hotel’s reopening. That’s next to the big heart Christensen had placed at the entrance, where she and a few staffers wrote the names of all 2,200 employees sidelined by the COVID-19 shutdown.
And, the topper: The hotel’s canine mascot, Sir Winston of Westgate, is set to arrive in one of the hotel’s limos. Sir Winston’s marketing blitz is said to be one of the hotel’s … pet projects.
Return of the good man
Oscar’s Steakhouse reopens at the Plaza on June 18, but Oscar Goodman is waiting until his 81st birthday (which is July 26) to return to his namesake restaurant.
“It’s going to be big, and it’s going to be crowded,” Goodman said in a phone chat Thursday afternoon. “I’ve been getting calls from everyone — old Raiders, old mobsters — and it’s going to be a party.” We count on a healthy return.
He is Lucky
O’Sheas Casino, Irish-themed tavern, gambling pit and beer-pong center, is reopening Friday. This means the happy return of Brian Thomas as Lucky the Leprechaun. Thomas took that role in 2005, at the since-shuttered O’Sheas next to where the tavern sits today. That place closed in 2013, returning to its current location, and the green-jacketed Lucky lives on.
A favorite Vegas memory: I once led a video project centered on a day with Thomas at the original O’Sheas. The clip ended with him walking down the casino’s service alley and kicking up his heels. That alley was later renovated as Linq Promenade, where Thomas works today.
Cool Hang Alert
This is a Cool Hang, for real. Trapeze Las Vegas is putting on a circus-styled show from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday at its Trapeze Las Vegas Circus Lot at 121. E. Sunset Road. Find all the apparatus south of the former Las Vegas All-America Sports Park building and east of Las Vegas Golf Center.
When the COVID-19 shutdown was ordered, the school was forced to move its training space outside to allow for safe distancing.
A total of 20 performers, ages 9-up, from the Trapeze Las Vegas gymnastic school are taking part. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids. Acts include flying trapeze, juggling, hand balancing, partner acrobatics, aerial performances and the Wheel of Death.
This event is BYOB (Bring Your Own Buick). Spectators are asked to bring their own chairs and sit in marked circles so families can hang at a six-foot distance.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.