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The hardest reservation to book in Vegas right now might be the buffet

June 19, 2020
4 min read
Wynn Las Vegas atrium
The hardest reservation to book in Vegas right now might be the buffet
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Right now, reservations for The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas are fully booked until 8:45 p.m. — tomorrow. The story was the same yesterday, June 18, when the buffet reopened to unexpected demand.

Despite it being a blisteringly hot June day in Nevada, with no conventions, conferences or major events to speak of, one of the hardest reservations to book in town might well be a seat at the newly reopened buffet. It's just the latest example of how vacationers this summer should expect to plan their fun far in advance.

Related: As travel resumes, sticker shock and overwhelming demand follows for some destinations

Wynn's buffet is the first to reopen on the Strip, but instead of diners filing into a buffet line and filling their plate with Alaskan king crab legs, they must grab a seat at a table and order "well-portioned" dishes from a waiter.

If that sounds like, well, a normal restaurant, you're not wrong, though travelers will be able to order an unlimited number of plates from a menu featuring more than 90 items. You can order as much as you can consume within two hours. Reservations are not technically required, but they are suggested.

The buffet interior at Wynn Las Vegas
The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas. (Photo by Barbara Kraft)

Related: Getting to Las Vegas on points and miles

Diners can choose from a chili-marinated lamb T-bone with spicy cilantro sauce; seafood paella with tiger shrimp, crawfish, scallops and pork chorizo; prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and nearly two dozen desserts. Yes, even the chilled crab legs with drawn butter and lemon are back on the table. The dinner buffet costs $59.99 per person on weekdays and $65.99 on weekends, not including alcoholic beverages or gratuities.

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The brunch "buffet" is also back for $39.99 per person on weekdays and $48.99 on the weekend (think: lobster eggs Benedict, lemon-ricotta cheese blintzes and congee with pork and preserved egg).

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Related: The best times to visit Las Vegas

In addition to table service, guests will notice other changes at Wynn's buffet, such as more space between tables, waiters wearing masks and disposable menus. And while you can still stuff yourself silly, that undeniable thrill of judgment-free plate-piling at the self-serve buffet is gone, at least for now.

"Half the fun of a buffet is pacing back and forth, glancing at all your options," said TPG's executive editorial director, Scott Mayerowitz, who has made 19 trips to Vegas in his life — plus countless refills at most of the big-name buffets on the Strip.

And while that might be a necessary sacrifice to restore consumer confidence in the concept of buffets in a post-pandemic era, it's a big change.

“In a focus group about dining, several of the people mentioned they no longer feel comfortable going to buffets,” Henry H. Harteveldt, an airline, hotel and travel industry analyst, told TPG in March. “They don’t feel comfortable in the current environment that the hygiene is as safe as it needs to be ... The question is: Once health conditions return to a more normal state, will people feel more comfortable going to buffets in the future, or will these concerns be longer lasting?”

Related: Las Vegas hotel deals starting at just $10

Elsewhere, at airport lounges and hotel restaurants, buffets are taking on all different forms. Some are relying on prepackaged, grab-and-go meals, while others are switching to cafeteria-style dining. And even if a more traditional buffet service returns, travelers should expect to see staff members serving food, plenty of plexiglass and single-serve condiments.

The good news? When you need to order by the plate from a waiter, it may be easier than ever to visit a buffet without completely overdoing it.

Feature photo of The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas by Barbara Kraft.

Featured image by The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas. Photo by Barbara Kraft

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees