Offering a ‘luxury quarantine package’ would send precisely the wrong message By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports March 25, 2020 at 8:00 pm If ever there was a wrong way to promote a hotel stay in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a luxury quarantine package including a $500 coronavirus test provides the definition. As first reported by Bloomberg, USA Today and The Washington Post, Le Bijou Hotel & Resort in Zurich, Switzerland is advertising “quarantine apartments” on its COVID-19 service page. The 14-day package being offered through its website starts at $12,000 per day before the healthcare add-ons. For another $800, they’ll throw in a twice-daily health check from a nurse or physician with a coronavirus test costing an extra $500. Ah, the price of house calls. Unfortunately, quarantine marketing isn’t unique to Le Bijou, a group of converted apartments. Travel deal websites are reporting similar plans being marketed at a hotel in Thailand and Australia. I’m neither a doctor nor a hotel operator but think about it a moment: If the public health climate is so precarious that you need to offer a high-end quarantine package to attract visitors, maybe it’s still time to remain closed. Talk about sending the wrong message. This sort of thing might work for a boutique operation, but it would send precisely the wrong signal at a casino mega-resort. A room at the Le Bijou Hotel from its website Marketing to high-end customers is an important part of the business but promoting perquisites of class and wealth at a time the masses can’t get tests in a public health system that threatens to collapse under the weight of the pandemic creates an awful image. What’s next, the “Let Them Eat Cake” buffet? It’s hard to imagine it working even after the casinos reopen for business. Calming the fears and real concerns of the public will be an essential part of the recovery process in Las Vegas and elsewhere. As the virus spreads mainly from person to person, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it makes no sense to restart the Las Vegas machine until the medical experts give the all-clear. Meanwhile, Le Bijou is receiving a lot of press and an accolade by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on the houzz.com website. Staying at the converted apartments moved Wozniak to enthuse, “Le Bijou transforms apartments at top city locations in the hotel of the future” and adds that it’s “The MOST elegant, personalized, exclusive hotel in the world.” Sounds like a man who can afford as many coronavirus tests as he wants. Corporate casino chiefs have talked for many years about adding an element of concierge medicine to the Las Vegas tourism offering. It makes sense for customers who can afford it to combine some good times with their medical treatments. Such programs might also signal a change in the beleaguered and often undeserved reputation of the Las Vegas medical community. But that’s not what this is. American casinos exist because of the masses of visitors who gamble, play, and stay there in safety and comfort. And the masses remain in genuine peril amid the coronavirus pandemic. As long as they do, the industry shouldn’t take chances. With pun fully intended, concierge medicine has a future in Las Vegas, but the reeling casino industry should avoid this quarantine idea like the plague. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.