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Something completely different: a (relatively) sober weekend at Cosmopolitan

Last edit: socalduck on Wednesday, 15th February 2012 3:55 pm
Last response by brt374 18th February 5:14pm

At long last, I finally got around to finishing this trip report! For reasons I still don’t fully understand, I made the decision back in June (just after my last trip to Vegas) to compete in the Rock and Roll Half-Marathon on December 4. Partly, I think I just wanted an excuse to go back to Vegas, but my wife is convinced I may be suffering from a mild mid-life crisis. She is smarter than I am, so that is a distinct possibility.

Since it first opened, I’ve held and then cancelled reservations at Cosmopolitan twice. This time, I was committed to finally giving the Cosmo a try. Booking through the Marriott website, I burned 70,000 MR points for a two-night stay in a Terrace studio. With published rates that weekend pushing past $300/night, it was a decent use of points.

Arrival & check-in process:

We arrived around 2pm on Saturday, December 3rd. Although there were quite a few people checking in, we only had about a ten minute wait, short by Vegas standards. Having heard many of the horror stories about lost or incorrect reservations, I was holding my breath as I handed over my credit card. Happily, all the information was correct: award e-certificate had processed, and the room was ready to go. The efficient, professional desk clerk handed me my packet and sent us off towards the West Tower elevators in under 4 minutes.

Rather than having security check room keys at the elevator lobby like many casinos, Cosmo requires you to insert your key into a reader before you can select your floor. Since any key can access any floor, I don’t really see where it adds much in the way of security, particularly since anytime there are more than a few people in the elevator, it gets too crowded for everyone to swipe their own keys, invariably leading to one or two guys punching floors for multiple people. Like the TSA or those “sanitized for your protection” labels, this simply provides the illusion of security.

The room:

While I still think Encore has the nicest guest rooms of any casino hotel in town, first impression of my 56th floor Cosmo Terrace studio was quite positive. No question it is the terrace that really makes these rooms unique, though. No view of Bellagio, but my south-facing view across City Center towards the South Strip and airport was stunning nonetheless. Happily, all of the in-room technology worked as advertised and was reasonably easy to figure out. I particularly liked the availability of XM radio.

Housekeeping:

Housekeeping definitely still needs some fine-tuning. Much to my surprise, there was a roll-away bed sitting in the room, even though I never asked for it. In the bathroom, I found that they had not left any washcloths, nor were any included with the towels provided with the roll-away. The worst offense by far was the big clump of hair in the shower drain. While this is not a deal-breaker for me, it is the kind of thing that would send my wife through the roof (and potentially out the door to Wynn). Otherwise, the room was clean and in excellent condition.

Food and beverage:

The F&B department is really where Cosmopolitan shines. This was also the most challenging portion of the trip for me. Fully aware that I was going to be running in less than twenty-four hours, I had to show an uncharacteristic amount of restraint.

That is not to say I deprived myself, however. While watching college football at Book and Stage, I was able to enjoy a couple perfect Stoli Elite martinis, along with some of the best French fries and calamari I’ve had in a long time. Dinner at Jaleo was also quite good, although the one thing I figured would be spectacular (a duck paella), was merely ok.

Race day and it was brunch at Wicked Spoon. Arriving at 10am, I was surprised that it was only a 5 minute before being seated. This is one great buffet! It was also a huge challenge to my willpower. As my last meal prior to the race, I had to forgo much of what I normally would have loaded up with (e.g., sausages, meat, pastries) and stick with the healthier options, while pocketing a couple of pieces of fruit for later in the afternoon. Overall, this was a fantastic spread, and well worth the price.

Post-race, after an arduous journey back to Cosmo from the finish line at Mandalay Bay (more on that in a moment), we ended up having dinner at STK. In retrospect, this was a misSTK (sorry!) for a couple of reasons. First, as it was close to 9:30pm by the time we were seated, the restaurant was already transitioning into club mode, which meant really loud DJ music. While the steak and sides were quite good, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more in a more relaxed environment. Second, dinner for two, a couple of cocktails (for her, lots of water for me), and a bottle of wine set us back about $400 after tip. To be honest, after running a half-marathon, a burger at The Henry would have been much more satisfying, and way cheaper. Lesson learned for next year.

Monday morning, and our last meal was breakfast at The Henry. After a great night’s sleep, I was hungry for a big, Vegas breakfast. The Henry did not disappoint. My ham and cheddar omelet, side of sausage, and sourdough toast were spot-on. Great coffee, fresh squeezed OJ, and excellent service rounded out what was one of the better breakfasts I’ve had in Vegas in a long time.

The Casino:

After about three hours of craps on Saturday evening and another two hours on Sunday, plus a few short seasons of blackjack on both days, I was able to draw a few impressions about the casino:

• Table games dealers and pit critters are very friendly and professional. The crew working the craps pit on Saturday night was especially good. However, it seemed there were few “serious” gamblers at the table. A lot of young guys would helicopter in, throw a wad of crumbled $5s and $10s on the table, last three or four roles, and then disappear. So while the table was busy most of the night, there were only about four of us that were playing (and tipping) consistently.

• The slot floor was a virtual ghost town, regardless of the time of day. Big crowds of people walking around, but no one playing.

• Identity, so far, seems to be a joke. The floorman working the craps pit set me up with a card immediately after my initial buy-in, so they were at least making the effort to get me in the system. While I did not give them the requisite four hours per day, with an average bet of $130-$150 for five hours over two days, I expected at least to see a mailer with a discounted room rate (or maybe even a comped night), and some free play. So far, all I have seen is an offer for $5 of free play if I give them my email address. C’mon, seriously? I get offers from Wynn every month, and Mlife is sending stuff almost daily. I even got something from Planet Hollywood recently, and I haven’t placed a bet in that joint since they had a giant genie lamp in the casino. Give me a decent offer, I will be back. Otherwise, I am more than happy to stay at Wynn or Aria.

The Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half-Marathon

This was my first half-marathon, so I had zero idea what to expect. For me, it was a largely enjoyable, especially the truly amazing experience of running down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard. From the Excalibur, through downtown, and back to the Strip, the route is mostly along darkened, somewhat seedy streets; the route missed the Fremont Street area by a couple blocks, which was a disappointment. However, the finish stretch back down the South Strip was great.

While my experience was positive, the organizers and Mandalay Bay really have to work on crowd control. Post-race, getting out of Mandalay Bay was a nightmare, with race competitors, show goers, and convention attendees all converging on the corridor from the Events Center to the casino at the same time. The resulting human grid lock was both unpleasant (especially when thousands of us are dripping in sweat), and potentially dangerous.

Overall, I could probably be arm-twisted to doing the race again. Next time though, I take an extra day afterwards to R&R in the proper, booze-soaked Vegas manner that I enjoy most.

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 wpsteel66 responded on Wednesday, 15th February 2012

you are the first runner i heard/read that had a good running experience.
Although the post-race situation sounded to be a nightmare.

I will give them a few more years to work out the night-run issues/bugs before running that race.

Look at one bright thing: at least temp was not below 20 degrees like this past weekend for the Mercedes-Benz marathon.

 socalduck replied on Thursday, 16th February 2012

Congrats on the M-B Marathon! Having never participated in one of these races, I had no reference point, so it was only when I started hearing the stories afterwards about contaminated water on course, missing t-shirts, etc., that I became aware not everyone had a great experience. Hopefully they work out the kinks, as I could definitely see doing the race again this year.

 parchedearth responded on Wednesday, 15th February 2012

I also ran the half marathon and definitely share some of your sentiments. I delayed my arrival until Sat afternoon but restraining myself from partying until after the race Sunday evening was torture. The race itself was fine, but waiting until afterwards went against everything I want to do when I am in Vegas. Fortunately, I stayed at THEhotel in anticipation that there might be an issue getting back to other properties. That night I had dinner at RM Seafood then property hopped until dawn; eventually ending up having breakfast at The Henry. Much to my dismay, The Henry has somehow become my go to breakfast place even though it doesn't have very good food. STK is pretty much a nightmare trying to eat a nice steak dinner in a club atmosphere. I also had a hard time getting offers from Cosmo, but after several visits (and 6 months of waiting) I now receive good ones about every 2 months.

 BoyItalia responded on Wednesday, 15th February 2012

Congrats on the half marathon. If ever back at the Cosmo I suggest getting a burger at Holsteins and not The Henry. Great call on having breakfast there though.

 brt374 responded on Saturday, 18th February 2012

Nice review of both the Cosmo and the race. You had much more understanding and patience than I did when I stayed at Cosmo, and that was on a severely discounted Jetsetter rate *and* not running a race (and I ran cross-country in high school, so I felt your pain running that race in Vegas, of all places). Things have to shape up, or they're going to lose all their biz once the newness and luster wears off. I feel like everyone's giving them the benefit of the doubt, but they need to prove themselves to warrant that.