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The Cosmopolitan Hotel Fiasco

By Chuckmonster on Thursday, 16th December 2010 5:51am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 43


When I was in 7th grade I fell head over heels in crush with a girl named Sharon. We would eat lunch together, hang out during recess together, make goo goo eyes at each other during orchestra class and talk on the phone for hours after school. One could say that we were definitely on the cusp of "going out."

After a few months of unofficial courtship, I decided that I would ask her to be my girlfriend at her upcoming birthday party. I was excited! And nerrrrvous and... a little bit scared! This is a big deal for a very dorky yet supremely cool 12 year old!

As my parents sped away after dropping me off, I rang the doorbell. Sharon answered the door, stepped outside and closed the door behind her, sealing off the sound of the ongoing teenager birthday hijinks emanating from within. "Chuck, I wanted to tell you that Sean asked me to be his girlfriend yesterday and I said yes."

I don't remember what my verbal response to her was, but I do remember my internal emotional one - I was crushed. For the next four hours I watched Sean and Sharon making out, occasionally unleashing my anger by throwing donuts at them. When my parents arrived, I darted to the car, climbed in the back seat and cried my eyes out all the way home.

Sometimes things just don't work out.

Today, the day of Cosmopolitan's grand soft opening, was another one of those days.

For the last ten months, VT has spent a considerable amount of time dissecting and deciphering every single shred of information we could uncover about the Cosmopolitan. In advance of the opening, we strategized a detailed plan would result in our providing some of the most comprehensive on the ground coverage of a casino opening we ever have. Today, I arrived at Cosmopolitan at 12:35pm, 25 minutes before I was told check-in would begin. At 1pm, I was told that check in would be delayed 15 minutes. No bigs. At 1:15, I was told that check in would start at 2pm. At 2pm, I was given keys to a room, but no room number and was told that the front desk would call with the room number shortly. Fine. Weird. But sure... this is the first day of operation, I'm more than willing to cut a whole huge gigantic bunch of slack. At 3pm I went to see if my "room was ready." It wasn't, so I went to the bar where I drank two ginger ales and shot the shit with Hunter, Dr. Dave and the rest of the VT crew. By 3:45pm, most of the other folks started hearing that their rooms were ready and vanished. 4pm comes and goes. 4:30 comes and some of the high level Cosmo execs who I met during the previous days' pre-opening events come by and ask how things are. When I tell them that I've still got no room, they all offer to escalate the issue so I can get my room ready. Respectfully, I decline their offers... it doesn't feel right to me that I should get special treatment in this scenario just because I write for some stupid website. I may have interviewed the CEO a week ago, but today, I'm Joe Shmo, casino tourist.

A half hour later, still no room. By now, I've spent so much time with the concierge staff, we're adding each other to Xmas card lists. Meanwhile back at the bar, one of the aforementioned Cosmo execs arrives with a waitress and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue - a scotch that was bottled during the Eisenhower administration 50 years ago - compliments of the house, for our troubles. A phenomenal gesture considering that JohnH was just rebuked by a bartender when he asked if said tipple was available for tasting during their pre-opening open bar. I still respectfully decline to let them expedite the room situation, but waiting just got a whole helluva lot easier. I got drunk before I got a room.

After five booze filled hours sitting in limbo with a dead phone and an empty stomach, I was nearing the point of complete physical and mental meltdown. By now, the property was filled with folks - Steve Wynn, Jim Murren, Bobby Baldwin, Tim Poster and Elaine Wynn were all walking the property along with thousands of other guests. Finally, shortly after 6pm, I stepped to the concierge desk once again, and after some furious typing, was handed the keys to my room... just over six hours after I was told to show up. I headed down to the parking garage to grab my bags, dragged them across the packed casino whereupon I ran into the VT posse, all of whom had spent the last three hours resting, showering, fucking, drinking, relaxing and getting themselves all dressed up in their luxurious Wraparound Suites.

And here I am once again, a 41 year old 12 year old boy, standing at the front door of a party that went south. Now, like then, I wanted nothing more than to dart out to car, climb in drive 300 miles straight home. If I wasn't drunk on 50 year old apology scotch, and didn't have responsibilities, I would've.

I scampered up to my room, angry, tired, drunk and hungry. I stumbled through a shower, fat fingered getting all dressed up, picked up the shattered pieces of a fucked up waste of a day and dove back into a throng of punters flooding the casino floor. The rest isn't important and was mostly forgettable. I hope to forget as much of it as I can when I pack my car and go home.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is a two minute egg... it isn't done yet and under certain circumstances can make you incredibly sick. The place looks great, in particularly the art. The staff are incredibly friendly and eagerly willing to help, if only they knew what they were doing. The hotel operation is a nightmarish disaster of epic proportions. My suggestion to you is to come and take a look, but until they get this mess sorted, book somewhere else.

I realized shortly after the birthday party incident that Sharon was mostly using me to make this Sean guy jealous as they had "dated" previously. If she had only massaged my preteen heartbreak with a bottle of Pepsi Clear, I might have accepted her Facebook friend request.

Tagged: cosmopolitan   


Comments & Discussion:

I'm looking at this from 2,500 miles away and definitely see a bright side. If your experience had been better, we never would have had the pleasure of reading your prose. God, you're a great writer.

I'm not sure any property has a smooth first day, and Cosmopolitan is no different. Guests arriving a month from now should have a totally different welcome---I would hope.

In a way, Cosmopolitan's embrace of Twitter and Unwin's openness to all sorts of interviews added to the expectations that THIS property would be different. I guess I still believe the hype that Cosmopolitan wants to be different and bring personality back to the Strip. Now, they'd better get to work and pull it off.

PS: You're better off without Sharon.

Wow, I feel terrible about your experience, but it made for a terrific blog post.

Wow, that is some brilliantly poignant imagery. I have a stone in my gut right now, picturing your evening. Jesus.

(Maybe it's because it brings back memories of my own junior high school party I desperately, desperately wanted to escape from. Anyone else have one of those?)

Chuck, I sure hope you get some rest and some laughs with your mates and dull the sting a bit.

I commend you on refusing the Cosmo exec's offer to expedite your room. I realize that you did so at your own detriment in order to accurately demonstrate what an average Joe might have experienced on opening night at Cosmopolitan. That could not have been easy, under the circumstances you've described. A lesser man would've folded. Good show.

Who is the idiot that didn't make sure all the rooms were ready by the 14th, one day early? You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Sorry to hear that. I wondered why you were so quiet on Twitter yesterday. Also, as the stories of rooming delays were rolling out, Mrs. Hoss and I wondered why they didn't have all the rooms ready. They know who is coming and they know when the guests are going to get there. I think having low service expectations just because it is the first day doesn't make sense. It should be the easiest day to get things right.

Loved the piece and the last line was a killer.
After months and months of anticipation, those first hours are incredibly important. You spent six in the middle of a fiasco and it seemed that the night sunk like a "lead balloon", to quote Keith Moon.
I hope that there will be some Good Times mixed in with those Bad Times.

Fuck Sharon, if only you could have drowned your sorrows then in JW Blue. Oh wait, sorry, your post caused a flashback of my own.

That sucks on the Cosmo experience. I'd admire your integrity in not having them escalate the issue, although I'd have taken advantage of it and still written that in order for me to get my room, they had to intervene, so the question I'd pose in the article is what would have happened to Joe Schmo. However, that's me nowadays after too many Sharon's of the world walked over me like some cheap rug. I kid actually as I'd have probably endured it as well, as I have a poet's mentality as well, and if I'm not distressed by something, sometimes the world doesn't feel right.

I will affirm that he is better off without Sharon. I bet anything she would not be making him homemade onion soup for his return from this exhausting trip.

and they only opened 300 rooms... hard to keep hope alive at this point.

There was a rumor they only opened with 300 rooms last night. If true, this is even sadder.

CityCenter still luvs you.
hugz hugz kiss kiss

But really, there is something very wrong there. I've had an experience like that one time, but it was at Caesars in 2003. In the meantime, I guess people finally have a good reason to stay at Aria. Just think of Cosmo like a CC art piece: Best enjoyed at a short distance.

1) All hotels have big time issues when they first open. Ironing out the faults takes a lot of time. Exhibit A: Aria.

2) Hype has a tendency to do this. Aria was said to be 'revolutionizing Vegas'... and it certainly is a new aesthetic. But beyond aesthetics and technology it wasn't a radical shift whatsoever. Combined with the usual New Hotel Issues, the place suffered monumental hype backlash. Cosmo is probably going to deal with the same... people will call it "pretentious" and claim it "looks down on people for having tastes that aren't sufficiently SoHo" or "makes me feel bad because I'm not one for experimental and novelty."

3) Cosmo obviously is an innovative resort both culturally and aesthetically. It just needs more time to iron things out. The Harmon was originally going to be a boutique hotel... I think Cosmo will do what the Harmon won't. But, emphasis, this will take time.

4) With all the above said, its extremely unfortunate that the opening was disastrous. EXTREMELY unfortunate. I do, however, think it is the standard new-hotel-issues and not some Omen Of Perpetual Disastrousness.

Does Cosmo have all of the gigs that Aria does? The automatic drapes...all of the technology...drapes opening when you walk in, air setting itself on the right temp?

This is where MGM could have stepped up to the plate. Once their insiders found out people were having problems checking in, a quick vinyl print of "Having trouble checking into your room? Ours are already ready." stuck onto the side of Harmon would have been hilarious.

I got slammed for posting the Vdara Death Ray Conspiracy Theory a while back, but here goes another. Steve Wynn has the Cosmo front desk on the take. Stevie paid them to screw up Chuck's room knowing that Chuck would blast Cosmo on Vegas Tripping. Think about it...wouldn't seem so crazy if we all saw it in a movie. Maybe Steve is getting a little jealous that Cosmo has been getting so much favorable attention lately.
On a totally different note, what is surprising to me is that even though Chuck turned down the Cosmo exec's offer to escalate the issue, is that they didn't go ahead and escalate it anyway. If I’m a smart exec, I intervene and take care of Chuck on the down low, even if Chuck asked me not to.

Well written Chuck.

This is very disappointing and one can only hope they get their act together. Like previous posters have said they accepted the reservations, knew how many to expect today, didnt have any previous guests, and didnt communicate there was any delay. They had to have an idea the day before that the rooms wernt going to be ready and could have let people know and offered compensation. First impressions are important and Cosmopolitan underestimated that importance by not having these rooms ready. Somebody fucked up, period. I gave Aria two chances to win me over and they failed both times. I plan on giving Cosmo one in Feb then I am back to Wynncore, that said I am still rooting for Cosmo.

Great post Chuck. I was among the throngs that poured in shortly after 8 pm. It was interesting to me that tables were quite empty, while you literally couldn't move through the casino with all the onlookers. Doesn't bode well for actual revenue...onlookers don't pay the $4 billion mortgage. In the high limit room, I also saw that many of the high rollers were playing with promo chips - provided free to them in order to get them in the door. One guy had $10K worth of them.

It seems the place is also cursed, at least for me. I lost my first 12 blackjack hands in a row in that place. Then I won 1 hand. Then I lost another 6 in a row. Then I picked up and left, $5,000 poorer. At least they did send over a casino host, and he seems pretty competent.

I have a reservation to stay there tonight (Thursday the 16th) in a Terrace suite. We'll see how the second day goes...I am praying I don't have the same problems checking in that you did.

First off, Sharon, you are a dirty, dirty whore. You probably went to college and flirted with guys so they'd help you with homework and let you cheat off them. But now that you're over 40 and the makeup doesn't hide the neon glow of a life of using people and being used by them, I hope you enjoy the Applebees hostess job.

Chuck, that's an absolutely horrible experience, and I hope they continue to try to make it up to you through tasty comp offers and maybe even special deals only for Trippers (hint, hint, if you're listening, Cosmo). But in that six hours of resort purgatory did any Cosmo brass take the time to explain the little-dogs commercial I keep seeing?

The perils of opening a new resort. I remember going through a similar check-in nightmare at Bellagio not long after they opened in 2000. A bottle of JW Blue would have been nice compensation for that nightmare. Hopefully Cosmo can learn from this major screwup and spare the rest of us a similar experience in the future.

My favorite part is that you threw donuts at the girl and her new/old BF.

These parallel stories bring to mind an Elvis song. Heartbreak Hotel tells of my baby leaving me and finding a new place to dwell. Perhaps the Elvis show next door would sooth these pains. With months to prepare, do you think they could have some rooms ready when they say they would? I guess one of the world's great jobs (Chuckmonster's) comes with its problems too.

Yeah what was that Cosmo exec thinking? Bad decision, letting you swing in the breeze like that, whether you wanted expedited help or not. All in a first-night clusterfark I guess. Here's hoping they get up and running fast.

The Sun says they opened 2,000 rooms last night, not 300.

2,008 rooms was the plan, but didnt hunter say he was told 300? havent been paying attention, so my memory is vague.

then 968 rooms by july and 19 rooms after that.

a recent article said up to 200 condo residences will end up closing too. is that subtracted out of the 968/19? wild stuff.

and remember they were "sold out"

doubtful they sold 2,008

I could never throw a doughnut. Hell, I don't even like to share my doughnuts.

Does this count as an early Festivus airing of grievances? Chin up brother, you've got a room ready in LA with some onion soup. Life is looking up for you now. :)

Cheer up, Chuckmonster. We trippers love ya' and appreciate all that you do - especially when that means taking one for the team. Thank God you married missmonkay instead of that witch.

If I was CEO of Cosmopolitan, I'd offer you a comp stay in a wraparound terrace suite to change the public's impression of my resort. That's just smart business.

This story immediately brought to mind some quotes about the hiring and training process from Cosmopolitan chief strategy officer Sherry Harris in Seven magazine (http://weeklyseven.com/news/2010/december/09/catering-curious-class)
“We’ll offer our co-stars techniques, but we won’t give them a rule book"
“It wasn’t so much about the skills that people brought with them, but their attitude. We can teach you the systems..."

That kind of approach, in combination with the decision to use new technology, can and does produce a very undesirable side-effect in the short term - staff who can quote "We're polished without pretense!" like a mantra, but who aren't very efficient at actually running the operation.

No matter how much you love the vibe of a place, there comes a certain point where you'd gladly trade your front desk agent from a cute 23 year old girl with dark eyeliner and a nose ring who published her own book of poetry last year - for a socially awkward guy who dresses poorly and watches a lot of South Park, but who can also figure out how to get the "non-legacy" tech to give you a room in 34 minutes as opposed to 340 minutes.

It does suck when you essentially get forgotten about like that. While we all know that opening day/night of a new hotel (or even a new hotel tower at an existing property) cannot be 100% perfect. No matter how prepared the staff is, stuff happens, people drop the ball at some point. Based on Chuck's story, as well other reports circulating the Vegas blogosphere, the ball got dropped quite a few times yesterday.

I'm looking at staying there at some point next year, and I would fully expect that any shortcomings that cropped up yesterday will have long been addressed. When you consider that there is a rather sizable pool of applicants they can pull from, if folks aren't making the grade, there are plenty of others that would jump at the chance.

Based on the tweets on-site yesterday, they were still putting the finishing on a number of elements even with folks in the building. If the place is supposed to open on a set date, everything needs to be in place and setup at least 24-48 hours beforehand. If that means paying a little more to hire more crews, then so be it. Last year, I experienced some of this when I stayed at the Golden Nugget's Rush Tower. There was evidence in my room of things being rushed (no pun intended) to get all of the rooms online for the opening date. My suspicions were confirmed when talking to some members of the maintenance staff when I had an issue with the in-room safe.

While it looks like on the surface, the evening was a success, it was far from it. Unfortunately, the local fishwrappers won't cover that too in-depth beyond that of the group protesting the property as the result of an issue with them over condos.

OMG, you had to wait a few hours in a bar with a free bottle of scotch? I hope the AP picks this story up so that cancer patients and burn victims can know true suffering.

Awesome patience,your ability to endure with out complaint is comendable! I felt the scenario. Pepsi Clear....cool.

I feel your pain. It is bad enough when that kind of stuff happens at dinner (I left a $0.00 tip at a restaurant two weeks ago for horrendous service, missing food, etc). You went through far worse.To have it happen at a place you've been so excited about and done so much to promote is a kick in the balls. I can't imagine how pissed I'd be.

If it makes you feel any better...

After a long, long line of being on A or B-list (including for Encore [the multi-day stay], M, CityCenter and a zillion other more run-of-the-mill events yearly, we were pretty much dissed by Cosmo. Only the press release touting the media tours and then a phone call Monday imploring us to show up at the media event. (I didn't pick it up or return it).

So... ho, hum. I arrived at midnight and stayed for a couple hours. I think the light gaming was due to most of the people browsing and partying. I also don't think that opening night is a fair representation of a property and will be back in the middle of next week to see how things are really going.

I opted to skip the 1 AM meetup simply for the following: I had just finished working and figured you guys had been partying for hours. Nothing like being the sober guy showing up at the end of a raging party. Chuck, I'll DM you soon with the invite that next time you are in town, drinks are on me. I may even see if I have an old Iron Maiden shirt around. (Previous meetups this week could not be made due to obligations that had been set for a number of weeks).

I started on third floor and worked my day down. I was very impressed by pretty much everything. The layout was great for the footprint. I like the quick access to The Strip. The energy was very high, but that might have just been opening night. Staff from security to bar staff to cocktail waitresses (I started drinking and playing later) was awesome. Interviewed a few people after anonymous initial contact and they all are hell-bent on making the experience awesome.

Overall, they have stolen from the Palms and Hard Rock and have done so successfully.

I'll be parking there often (as a replacement to my previous fave parking spot at Boardwalk). If you dive down a few levels at the east end, they are virtually empty and I expect them to stay that way as Cosmo won't be tops in people's minds on places to park. The east elevator dumps you damn near The Strip for great access to everything in that area.

Oh, cocktail babes outfits: BORING, BORING, BORING. (Big yawn). Looking at their edgy TV commercials, I would have expected them to push the envelope with them. Oh... and the casino looks like it was designed for chicks. Entering the men's room by Vesper bar (about as feminine of a bar as I've ever seen), I had to double-check the sign. I felt like I was walking into the ladies room. I'm a bit at a loss on that one.

We'll have that drink if you want, Chuck. We can drink to betting pissed on by the Cosmo.

PS Living well is the best revenge. I laugh my ass off when the "Sharons" from my past find out what I'm doing now and suddenly want to get back in touch. You are doing opening nights at casinos. They are sitting home watching reruns on TV.

Bummer you had such a bad experience getting your room in a timely manner. You mentioned other VT staffers already had theirs by the time you got yours. Was your experience common, or were you the unfortunate outlier?

I too am a little surprised the execs didn't disregard your request and simply escalate your situation, even if it meant doing it on the QT. Would have been simple to say "Chuckmosnter gets the next room", but simply setting it up in the computer and not sending anyone over to you so that the next time you checked yourself, it was magically ready.

Anyway, I am eager to read the rest of your thoughts on the other aspects of the hotel.

And here I thought the story would end with Chuck finally getting his room and walking in to the waiting Sharon...

So the Cosmo knew they had a certain number of rooms reserved, and didn't have them ready on the first night. Sorry, that is inexcusable. They should have greeted guests and comped them dinner or something plus promised a call with updates. First impressions are lasting impressions. A bottle of scotch only temporarily erases those memories.

a $225.00 bottle of scotch? Did you ever get an explanation as to why it took so long?

Sorry the opening sucked for you Chuckmonster but I wish I could still get a bottle of Pepsi Clear. That stuff was great.

Jsmeeker makes a good point, and one I would have expected as well. If they took the time to offer it face to face and provide a bottle of scotch, then it really shouldn't have taken much to get the request expedited regardless of your desire for it to happen (behind the scenes of course). That is unless they knew that expediting would be a futile attempt as well at that point, perhaps?

To me there is an underlying rule to service that they should have in fact done this. No different then a manager walking the property and saying to a random customer, "Hello, how is your stay" and then being told of all the problems and then doing nothing.

C'mon VT team. We know at least four of you went in and lived to tell the tale. The C-Day landing may have been hell, but if you made it off the beach alive you MUST report in with details. Those of us in the next wave depend on you.

...Dammit this is no time to go wobbly!

Well I for one am looking forward to the Grand Reopenings of the Plazableau and Lady Luck. Three cheers for low expectations!

@drake yesterday was travel day. home now, rested and sorting out all the STUFF. the guys are on their way back today as well. we got hosed on opening day thanks to the above factors, but the deluge is on its way.

For the record... a Cosmopolitician told ME directly that they were "expecting 300 arrivals" on opening day. This is not a rumor.

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