By Andrew Checchia

During this period of quarantine and lockdown, people are facing unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety and general concern for the state of the world. According to the CDC, levels of depression and substance use have elevated significantly for people all around the country. While of course the pandemic itself might cause passive stress for us all, health care workers have borne the brunt of the psychological toll.

Fortunately, that struggle has not gone unrecognized. As average citizens band together for elaborate gestures of gratitude—from donated meals to skywriters—companies like Gila River Hotels & Casinos are extending special offers to the first responders to the current crisis. The casino/resort group is offering a 25% “hero” discount to its room rate at two locations, Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler and Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino in Laveen, available to health care workers with a valid form of ID.

“We kind of figured that this was the perfect time to say thank you to the first responders and health care workers,” says Teaya Vicente, the company’s public relations manager.

The promotion, running through December 30, aims to offer a much-needed break to those front-line workers. And with the easing restrictions on business operations around Arizona, guests can enjoy their stay both playing on the casino floor and dining in the recently reopened restaurants. Those restaurants include the luxury Shula’s Steakhouse and a casual cafe.

“We’ve been putting up plexiglass dividers between slot machines,” Vicente says as an example of the company’s myriad pandemic safety protocols.

For those workers especially passionate about sports in these trying times, Gila is also offering the discounted rate for its sports-themed rooms. These specialty stays highlight iconic Arizona teams, including the Diamondbacks, Coyotes and Cardinals, each one decked out with themed bedding, shower curtains and even autographed memorabilia.

“At the very beginning there was some hesitation, but now people are wanting to get out and do more stuff,” Vicente says of Gila River’s steady rise in reservations.

So, as we take time for ourselves trying to calm those terse COVID-19 nerves, health care workers can look to places around the Gila River for a dose of discount-fueled gratitude. To those first responders, we thank you. To the rest of us, don’t forget to take a vacation.

Gila River Hotels & Casinos, playatgila.com.

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