The last major Las Vegas hotel that shut down during the pandemic is finally set to reopen, and it’s got a brand new owner.
The Palms Casino Resort has been closed for a little more than 2 years, but the doors will swing open April 27 for gaming and April 28 for hotel guests.
“From our locals to guests visiting from near and far, our goal is simple – to deliver a truly distinctive experience that makes you feel at home while you are in Las Vegas,” Cynthia Kiser Murphey, the resort’s new general manager, said in a release.
During the shutdown, the Palms underwent an ownership change, which led to the delay in reopening. The Palms is now operated by the San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority, making it the first major Las Vegas property owned and operated by a Native American tribe.
Guests won’t notice a lot of changes to the hotel, which is located on Flamingo Road about a mile west of the Strip. The hotel had undergone an approximately $600 million renovation in late 2019 with the upgrades revealed just before the pandemic hit, forcing its closure in March 2020.
Among the changes the new owners have made are a refreshed gaming floor, a new sportsbook, and a number of new slot machines. Most of the 766 rooms have remained as they were.
The restaurants Scotch 80 Prime and Mabel’s BBQ will return, with casual dining options including Send Noodles and the new Serrano Vista Cafe among the choices.
The Palms’ signature pool area will remain a focal point of the hotel. The multi-level, 73,000-square-foot pool area features 39 cabanas, oversized day beds, and poolside lounge chairs.
“We’re going to have relaxed days, and we’re going to have days where we have a little vibe and a little more fun going (with DJs),” Murphey told USA Today about the pool. “I think another element of that will be some kind of poolside brunches. We’re working on all that right now.”
Theater Not Yet Open
While the hotel and casino have their reopening dates, one is not yet announced for the 2,500-seat Pearl Theater, previously one of the top concert venues in the city. At the time of the shutdown, the Pearl Theater was just days away from launching a residency by Lady A.
“It’s an honor and a privilege for us to welcome everyone back to Palms Casino Resort Las Vegas,” said San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority Chairwoman Latisha Casas. “We look forward to introducing our guests to our rich history, culture and signature hospitality. We can’t wait to make history together.”
The hotel is opening during a special event in Las Vegas, but not one tied to the Palms. The NFL is holding its annual draft over the three days of the same weekend, bringing thousands of people to the Strip and causing street closures and other issues.
Draft activities will take place at the Bellagio Fountains and in and around the Caesars Forum and Linq Hotel, just a few blocks from the Palms.
Murphy isn’t worried about the commotion that will be taking place that weekend.
“We know it’s more challenging to open when it’s really, really busy,” Murphey told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I think the most important thing for us was to get people back to work. We balanced knowing that the draft was going to be in town against the idea that we really needed to get open.”
The Palms has hired more than 900 people to prepare for the reopening and will continue to grow the staff as more parts of the hotel open and expand.
Whether the Palms can recapture the cachet that it had in the early 2000s and draw visitors could be challenging, experts said, especially with more hotels like Resorts World and Circa having opened along the Strip and downtown during the time the Palms was closed.
“It will remain to be seen if the Palms itself is still enough of a draw for consumers,” Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor at the Harrah’s College of Hospitality at UNLV, told the Review-Journal. “As a storied property, there will definitely be an interest in seeing what has been done to the property, especially by locals, but they will have to create a new identity for the property in order to be successful.”