Published Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 | 5:28 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 | 1:23 a.m.
By the Numbers
- Opening: Dec. 15, 2010
- Groundbreaking: Oct. 25, 2005
- Initial cost estimate: $1.8 billion (Oct. 2005)
- Final Cost: $3.9 billion
- Land: 8.7 acres between CityCenter and Bellagio
- Strip frontage: 335 feet
- Permanent jobs: About 5,000
- Rooms: 2,995
- Rooms with terraces: About 2,200
- Casino size: 100,000 square feet
- Restaurants: 12
- Bars and lounges: Four
- Nightclubs: One
- Retail space: 36,000 square feet
- Convention space: 150,000 square feet
- Spa: 43,000 square feet
- Pools: Three
The $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opened its doors Wednesday night, giving the public its first glimpse inside the Strip’s newest resort — and the last to emerge from Las Vegas’ construction boom years.
Greeted by cheering employees and invited guests already inside, curious visitors poured into the Cosmopolitan from the Strip at 8 p.m. - right on schedule.
Crowds flooded the two pedestrian walkways leading into the Cosmopolitan and stretched past the neighboring Bellagio.
Inside, dealers were eager to pitch the first cards of the night, cocktail waitresses were ready to take their first drink orders and rows of slot machines were asking to be played.
Hotel guests — allowed to check in earlier Wednesday afternoon — were already seated at the gaming tables before the doors opened, ready to place the inaugural bets.
Joe Lombardo of Las Vegas found some opening night luck at a blackjack table near the front doors. The first hand of the night gave Lombardo a 17; the dealer busted and Lombardo decided to end his streak there.
“How many times do you have a chance to make the first bet at a Las Vegas Strip casino? It’s the only in the world like this,” Lombardo said.
Before the public opening, the Cosmopolitan hosted a private party for VIPs and other invited guests, who sampled the resort’s culinary offerings and took in its amenities. Las Vegas native and Killers frontman Brandon Flowers played a three-song set shortly after 6 p.m., followed by a longer performance at one of the resort’s pools late Wednesday night.
Cosmopolitan will host another opening bash on New Year’s Eve when the resort celebrates its grand opening with headliners Coldplay and Jay-Z.
Even executives from Cosmopolitan’s competitors, such as Wynn Resorts owner Steve Wynn, MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren and CityCenter President Bobby Baldwin, were on hand Wednesday to wish the resort well.
Other Las Vegas notables in the crowd included Mayor Oscar Goodman and his wife, Carolyn, Larry Ruvo and Elaine Wynn.
Cosmopolitan Chief Executive John Unwin, who cut the ribbon on the property at an opening ceremony Wednesday morning, spent the evening greeting hundreds of invited guests.
People jammed the casino floor, making it difficult to move through the new resort. Empty seats at the gaming tables and resort’s four bars and lounges were hard to come by. Upstairs in the Cosmopolitan’s restaurant area, visitors browsed menus and played pool in a common area - exactly how Cosmopolitan officials envisioned.
Since the casino broke ground in October 2005, locals and frequent tourists have tracked the evolution of Deutsche Bank’s Cosmopolitan, squeezed on 8.7 acres between MGM Resort International’s Bellagio and the multi-billion dollar CityCenter complex.
The resort continued to pique curiosity when it began a provocative TV ad campaign last month with its tagline: “Just the right amount of wrong.”
Unwin bills the Cosmopolitan as “polished without pretense,” a resort tailored to the “curious class” — a group of travelers who are creative, enjoy foreign foods, the arts and new experiences.
“We saw an opportunity to provide something to guests that hasn’t been in Las Vegas in the past,” Unwin said. “We know design is something customers are interested in when they visit other cities. It only makes sense that people would want to experience that when they come to a great destination like Las Vegas.”
Design and art are at the core of Cosmopolitan’s mission, with the works of creative minds such as Brad Friedmutter, David Rockwell and digital artist T.J. Wilcox around every corner.
In the resort lobby, guests are greeted by pillars of video boards playing video art by Digital Kitchen and David Rockwell Studio produced exclusively for the Cosmopolitan. Red Louis XIV-style registration desks replace the long check-in counters found in most hotels, a feature that Unwin says will add to a more personalized experience.
Visitors took notice of all of the design touches Wednesday, especially the Rockwell-designed Chandelier Bar at the center of the casino, a three-tiered bar dripping with 2 million glass beads.
Upstairs, guests discovered Cosmopolitan’s most unique feature in most of its 2,995 rooms - 6-foot-deep terraces that span the length of the room, a first at a modern Strip hotel.
The original condo plan of the Cosmopolitan has translated into a residential feel in its hotel rooms.
Also designed by Rockwell, the rooms feature kitchenettes, large bathrooms with soaking tubs overlooking the Strip and sitting areas with dark indigo couches and strategically mismatched pillows. Quirky accessories and coffee-table books on art pepper Cosmopolitan’s rooms, adding to the feel of a collected downtown apartment.
But some of the units are still involved in litigation from buyers who wanted to purchase condos at the resort. When Deutsche Bank took over the Cosmopolitan, the project had more than 1,800 units under contract, but developers settled with most buyers by refunding a portion of their security deposits.
Outside Wednesday night, disgruntled condo owners protested with signs saying “Cosmopolitan is a fraud” and “Why would you gamble here? They cheat!”
But aside from the handful of protesters, success seemed to be in Cosmopolitan’s grasp — at least on opening night.
Rachel and Frank Williams of Las Vegas took advantage of Cosmopolitan’s new rooms during one of the resort’s dress rehearsal days last weekend.
“Our room was so great because it had a view of the Bellagio fountains show and you could look down inside the conservatory,” Rachel Williams said.
Even though the Williams’ experienced the resort before its formal opening, the couple waited outside Wednesday night to see everything again.
Those who saw the doors swing open were part of an event that isn’t expected to happen for years to come. Analysts and gaming executives predict the Cosmopolitan will be the last Strip resort to open in the foreseeable future.
But Unwin doesn’t see Cosmopolitan as a bookend; he sees it as a game changer.
“I think we are at the beginning of something new. Las Vegas has a great history of reinventing itself,” Unwin said. “I don’t see this as an end to an era. I see this as a beginning of an era. People are going to stand up and recognize that we have something different to offer.
Warren Smith, who lives in Tampa, Fla., remembers a very different Strip when he lived in Las Vegas in the 1980s. As a professional musician, he worked at the Dunes, Sands, Stardust and Frontier casinos - all of which have been demolished to make room for towering glass structures like the Cosmopolitan.
“This whole block represents the rejuvenation of the city. From a personal point of view, I really root for these kind of places to succeed,” Smith said. “I know they are incredibly expensive. But when you look around and see all these people tonight, this is not only what Las Vegas used to be, it’s what it should be.”
Sun video journalist Katharine Euphrat contributed to this report.