Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Six-Point Cosmopolitan Overview, Finally

OK. I've been lax at writing up some more general opinions of Cosmopolitan, so this post is past due. We stayed at the resort last week for Miles' birthday and I've had many meals there by now. Lots and lots has been written already, so I figured I'd provide some points I don't think have been mulled. You can also read The Olds' reaction, our adventure with our dogs and my Flickr set. Also, Hunter Hillegas' photo set is terrific as well.

1. Layout/Orientation. The resort's compact layout of the building is quite convenient in ways that have not been fully noted. Yes, it creates a concentrated, urbanesque energy that the spread-out Aria/CityCenter aspires to but lacks. But, also, there are two tall, slim towers, so rooms are really never more than a moment's walk to an elevator and the elevators are generally surprisingly prompt. Because the second, third and fourth floors are parallel above the casino and consist of wide, usually empty halls for the convention area, it's incredibly easy to cross from one end of the resort to the other without having to bob and weave through the pedestrian traffic on the casino level. Another thing that impressed me is that I have often spotted workmen changing the directional signage at the elevator banks. Nothing has actually moved in the hotel, but they seem intent on tweaking and tweaking that as they figure out what visitors need to know to get where they're going. Smart.

2. Food. Plenty has been made of several Cosmo eateries -- and we've now over the course of the past month or so had sensational meals at Scarpetta and Jaleo and average-to-poor meals at The Henry and Holstein's. But the unheralded winner among them is ... The Wicked Spoon. Yes, the buffet. Just when you think there's nothing new left to do with this old Vegas staple, the Cosmo folks reinvent it anyway. How? Well, portion control, for one thing. They put most of the offerings in individual-sized metal bowls or dishes that say, "Take one and come back if you want another" instead of having you dump piles of food you will not eat on a plate. Here's how they mete out shrimp, for instance, in two or three to a dish to make you stop and say, "Do I really want/need 30?":

Portion-control shrimp cocktail at Wicked Spoon

Here are a couple of other shots (by Amy, whose set you can find here) of one round from the buffet and the pretty dessert section:

Individual portions also results in more interesting and seemingly fresher food, including an amazing chicken pot pie and an outstanding chili baked under cornbread.

One word of caution, regarding dessert. This green-and-orange thing is as vile as it appears...

A Vile Dessert At Wicked Spoon

...and the purple logs below taste like soap.

The purple ones taste like soap

Also smart and surprisingly novel is that each table automatically gets a large bottle of water. How did nobody think of that before? Oh, and, finally, a shout out to...

The Coolest Creamer Ever

...the cutest little creamer I've ever seen. The waiter said people steal 'em, and I'm not surprised.

3. Rooms. Yes, the rooms are sensational. And you can see many outstanding shots of them taken by Multiple-Trippie-Award-Winner Hunter Hillegas in his Flickr group. But it's the balconies and the spectacular views of neighbors that make the place work:

Bellagio Fountains From Floor 66

Planet Hollywood Marquee From Bed

One fun detail I really dug was this wallpaper in the bathroom:

Cool Bathroom Wallpaper

4. Parking. It's a small but genius thing -- and that's where Cosmo really distinguishes itself anyway, in the details -- but each parking space has a little light hanging over it. When it's red, it's occupied. When it's green, it's empty. See:

Self-Park garage

What does this mean? Well, you can now scan far into the distance and across the concrete jungle to find a spot. If you can't appreciate this, you've never spent gallons of gas roaming a massive parking structure for a space.

And on that topic, it is necessary to note that the horrific scenarios that Steve Wynn had predicted for the valet and parking areas here have not yet materialized. I've been in and out of Cosmo dozens of times now and I've never had a problem or seen a significant backup. I can see where the choke points might happen, but so far I've been lucky and, perhaps, so has the resort.

5. People = Animals. Cosmo decided to install user-friendly art and then put this on their come-on on the homepage:

And so they did. They came and they sat in the giant shoes, the pulled on the wall installations, they let their kids hang on the telescopes. And as a result, as Kristen Peterson wrote in the Las Vegas Weekly, there's been a lot of damage and now they've sometimes cordoned these pieces off:

I write "sometimes" because these ropes were there when Peterson did her piece, gone when Miles and I stayed and back again this week. Any which way, it's too bad. It's also completely predictable. But how THIS happened...

Broken Mirror

...I don't wanna know.

It's a little amazing, frankly, that nobody has taken a big-ass swing down the three-story chandelier. Clearly, there's a compulsion to interact with it:

Lady In Crystals

6. Problems.
Service and technology remain troublesome. Our Do-Not-Disturb sign went missing the night we arrived. It took three calls over the course of two hours to get someone to bring us a new one. Somewhere during that time, the TV also stopped working; it had been futzy since we arrived anyway. One call to the front desk yielded this odd answer: "Some of our guests have informed us that if you unplug the TV and plug it in again, sometimes that helps." It didn't. In a follow-up call, we learned the cable was on the blink for the whole tower. Huh. The TV did not resume working until the next morning. When checking out, the bell desk promised to send someone with a luggage cart at 12:45 p.m. He showed up at 1:15 p.m. At the valet desk, several guests found that the scan-your-own-valet-ticket thing didn't actually work when they asked why their cars hadn't arrived and learned the computer hadn't told anyone to get it.


Jeff Simpson said...

Good review.
Agree that the touchable art was nice but probably not sustainable.

Water at buffet tables is smart. High-end buffet strategy calls for giving customers excellent low-cost options to fill up on so that they'll have less room for higher-cost items (crab legs, sushi, steak, prime rib, etc.) Water's about as low cost as you can get, plus having it on the table reduces some labor once patrons are seated.

The TV issues you mentioned (no cable -- terrible!) seem to be an ongoing trend. They need to work on it immediately.

One of the items you mentioned has been previously "mulled" on Hunter's blog:

December 22, 2010 6:06 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Mungroo, I did briefly talk about my positive self-parking experience on Vegas Gang, but I'm happy to expand a bit. I like underground parking and the Cosmo's garage is excellent. The garage is well organized; like the property itself, it's long and relatively thin. It's not confusing (Flamingo), difficult to drive (IP), overcrowded (MGM Grand and Tropicana), too far away (MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, Flamingo, Harrah's, Circus Circus, Excalibur, Riviera and Las Vegas Hilton ), plagued by interior posts (IP) or suffering from a lack of elevators (Mandalay Bay). It doesn't have ramps that are too steep (Paris) or crazy tight circular ramps (Bill's). It seems big enough, but time will tell. There are floor-by-floor available space signs and green and red LED lights above every parking space, allowing drivers to make good decisions about whether to try for a closer spot.


Ahh - I didn't see that, but I'm glad I'm not the only one who appreciated the brilliant simplicity of that.

Michael said...

Very nice review, appreciate the good and bad points, well thought out and written.

Bob O. said...

Thanks for an excellent review. I will definately want to visit there to experience the good. But I will hold off a stay there till they work on the improvements.

Anonymous said...

Steve, great review. We too loved our four night stay in the Cosmo. We thought the buffet was outstanding also. Unlike our meal at STK. The balconies are just the finishing touch on a very, very nice, comfortable room. Now, if they can just get the TVs right. The bed was like sleeping on a cloud.
Valet worked great for us, both scanning myself, or handing over the ticket. And the 'secret' east tower valet on the Bellagio side is a gem. Service at valet, heck, throughout the property, was astoundingly great. I could expound more, but suffice it to say, I can't wait to stay there again on my next visit.

jsmeeker said...

I will be interesting to see what happens when they eventually open more rooms. Will the elevators be as prompt? Will the access issues that Steve Wynn predicted come to bear?

Anyway, thanks for the review, Steve. I'm really looking forward to checking out the place myself on my next trip to Las Vegas. Of course, I think one really needs to STAY at a place to get a true feel for it. Not sure when I'll be able to do that.