As COVID-19 restrictions are eased on the Las Vegas Strip, we are inching our way toward normalcy.
That includes the return of nightlife, but nightclubs will look a lot different.
For years, a typical night out for many on the Las Vegas Strip involved partying at nightclubs at various properties, but that trend is changing.
Experts tell 8 News Now, especially following COVID-19, nightclubs might never be the same again.
Lorenzo Doumani has something majestic in mind for this dirt lot near the Las Vegas Strip. Just feet away from the convention center expansion is where he’s building the “Majestic Las Vegas” — a non-gaming, non-smoking resort.
It will have a new form of nightlife.
“We wanted to do something very different here,” Doumani said. “No DJs allowed.”
The majestic will not have a nightclub. Instead, there will be live entertainment near the pool area.
Doumani tells 8 News Now tastes are transforming, and COVID-19 has sped up that process.
“I think behaviors are going to change to a more physically safer and healthier environment,” Doumani said. “Do you really think people anymore want to be crammed in a room with two or three thousand 20-something-year olds?”
For more and more people, the answer to that question is “no” — even prior to the pandemic.
According to data from the Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitors Authority, only 2 percent of visitors surveyed in 2019 said they had been to a hotel nightclub that charged a cover fee. That number has been dropping for the last four years.
Meanwhile, 21 percent of visitors said they went to a freestanding bar or lounge with no cover. That is up from 2018.
So, are nightclubs dead?
UNLV hospitality expert David Schwartz says over the past 20 years Vegas’ nightclub scene has adapted to many changes, and he expects that will happen now, too.
“You always want to be careful about giving something last rights,” Schwartz said. “It’s a little bit hard to imagine what a socially-distanced dance floor would look like, but I think they might want to experiment with different ways of configuring the rooms and different kinds of programming, just to see what people do react to in the post-pandemic environment.”
First up to bat is the Omnia nightclub at Caesars Palace, which resumes operations in March.
Only the terrace area will be open, and safety is a top priority. Hakassan Group says it is implementing touchless menu systems and rigorous cleaning plans.
Anthony Curtis, with the tourism newsletter “Las Vegas Advisor,” anticipates long-term alterations because of the economic hit nightclubs took from coronavirus closures.
“When things get tougher, you’ve got to give a little,” Curtis said. “What we’ve seen in the past I don’t think is ever going to come back. You’re not going to see the DJs making the kind of money they make. You’re not going to see them spending the money going after these high-priced people, these high-priced effects.”
Doumani recognizes club culture won’t disappear, but as he prepares to break ground on the Majestic Las Vegas this fall, he hopes his luxury lounges offer a different option.
“I’ve always thought it’s something that’s kind of sorely missing from Vegas,” Doumani said.
Experts stress that despite our evolving party scene, companies need to create a balance, because there will always be a market for traditional nightclubs.