Arizona and Las Vegas in November, domestic travel during COVID.
The Airport & Flight: We flew United Airlines on this trip, as we have used American earlier this year so we could compare experiences.
O’Hare check-in was fast, easy, and safe. The UA Check-In facility has been renovated. Traditional agents behind Plexiglass and greatly expanded “contactless” Kiosks for baggage check-in and boarding passes. There were no lines and we breezed through. TSA Pre-Check was fast with no one in line.
There are a limited number of restaurants and shops open. Boarding was smooth with social distancing. Masks required and enforced. Foodservice is very limited with a sealed box of snacks. Cocktails were served in First Class, but not available for purchase in Economy. Pleasant flight experience, all things considered. Debarkation was announced by row and was relatively orderly – but old habits die slowly, and many people stood up the instant the seat belt light went off. Aircraft, seats, and AV were dated. We were aboard the 737-9. I do prefer American on all levels.
The Rental Experience: We rented with Hertz. All car rentals are off-site and accessed by airport buses, with precautions to limited riders for distancing. Hertz Gold Facility offers the option of selecting your car. We had a good choice of sedans, SUVS, Ford Mustangs, etc. Cars were very clean, and there was a seal on the door verifying cleanliness.
Scottsdale Arizona: We stayed in the Canyon Suites at The Phoenician. Large suites in an intimate setting with a pool exclusive to Canyon Suites guests. Buffet Breakfast is normally served in the Lobby and there is normally a bartender in the lobby during the evening hours. Minibar and snacks have all been emptied in every room due to safety, including all glassware. Only plastic glassware is available in the room. Buffet Breakfast has been canceled and replaced with Room Service or the option of dining in the main hotel restaurants. Room service breakfast was extremely basic. Decent selection: but everything served in cardboard boxes, paper bags, and disposable cutlery. The food was delivered at room temperature, since the normal service with a warming tray is not available, and the experience was very lackluster. Convenient to dine in or out of the suite, but underwhelming.
There is an Honor Bar in the Lobby with full bottles of wine and beer. Most services are open with a wide variety of restaurants, pools, spa, gym, golf, tennis, etc. The Hot Tubs were all closed. The Staff and Service were excellent under the circumstances. There were very few guests, but mostly we had the resort to ourselves. This is the second Marriott Brand luxury hotel we have stayed at recently. Marriott has done a good job with the Health and Safety aspects. Scottsdale was relatively busy. Restaurants and bars were open with a 50% capacity, with lots of outside seating. Masks were required everywhere in restaurants and the hotel.
The Spa at the Phoenician is exquisite with great staff and lovely relaxation rooms. The steamers were closed but saunas were open. You could sign up for 20-minute time slot to use the hot tub and cold plunge baths alone or with friend/family member. Services required a mask the entire time and required both staff and guest to wash hands before the service started.
Las Vegas, Nevada: We decided to drive to Las Vegas since it is a quick and easy 4-hour drive. We stopped for lunch in Wickenburg which was fun and a charming town. We stayed at the Four Season Las Vegas for two nights after a stay at my parents’ house for two nights. FS Las Vegas is operating at 50% room inventory. Most services are open with 2 restaurants, pools, spa (sort of), gym, golf, etc. Four Seasons has done a great job on health and safety. Comfortable and efficient temperature checks at entry.
Room Service breakfast was “normal”, and the mini bar is stocked, and real glassware was available. Staff was extremely attentive and appreciative of guests. Very few guests, and again, we felt as if we had the resort to ourselves.
The Casinos are strange and very few people and only a few tables open. The upbeat, partying, thrilling vibe is gone for now. Many of the Gaming Tables have been removed. There were about 6 Craps with 1 open. Craps players were all separated by plexiglass dividers, same on the Blackjack tables with 3 people per table separated by plexiglass. Security in the casinos, will approach everyone who was NOT wearing a mask and walking around to put a mask on or leave. They were very strict.
Return Flight: Very similar to the Chicago/O’Hare experience. Many shops and restaurants are not open, but the ones that were, seemed busy.