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The Cosmopolitan Hotel Fiasco, Two Months Later

By Chuckmonster on Monday, 28th February 2011 8:50am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 39


Cosmopolitan: Incredibly Hip Turd Being Polished Inside

I'll be blunt. After my last stay at the Cosmopolitan, I had absolutely no interest in staying there again. I spent $350 to rent a room for a whopping 22 hours, five and a half of which I wasn't allowed inside. With prices for Cosmopolitan's lowest tier of accommodations - the dual queen, sans terrace City View Room - pricing in over Aria's finely appointed standard by 25%, I'm ready to send Jim Murren a half drunk bottle of apology scotch and jump head first back into the recently shifted Center of the City.

Six weeks and numerous different colored bottles of flavored liquid and therapy sessions later, the swelling went down. Simultaneously, as if by magic, my lovely wife booked a "no business" weekender at... you guessed it... The Cosmopolitan. She managed to flush out two nights in a Terrace Studio room for the going rate of $180/night, the same price point as the lowly City Room.... score! Of all the Cosmo related stuff I discussed with her post-opening, staying in a room with one of those luxurious terraces was the selling point. No terrace, no sale. She booked it and we quietly counted the days until our trip.

As the days approached, I was excited to go back to Cosmopolitan. In the ensuing months, I've been to eat at Jose Andres' "Bazaar" and Scott Conant's "Scarpetta" at home in L.A., and really looked forward to giving their Cosmo outposts a test drive. Mostly, I was happy to go to Vegas anonymously, tripping through a belated Valentines Day romantic weekend with my incredibly patient wife, leaving "Chuckmonster" and his multiple orbits of nonsense at home.

We arrived at Cosmopolitan and drove around a coupla levels of parking garage before finding a space adjacent to an elevator. Allow me to share with you the Cosmopolitan Parking Good As Gold Tip: skip the search and go right down to the bottom floor, thank me later.

We unloaded the junk, headed up the parking elevators and spilled out into the lobby where a decent sized rush was forming, right around 2:30pm. Compared to opening day, the scene at the check in area was chaotic. Gone are the host/hostess who greeted you "behind the line" and assisted in queueing up guests behind the red tables. It has now become a fight for your life situation. It appeared that a number of the people in all of the lines were checking out. Checking out? Does anybody actually go to the front desk to check out anymore? I don't think I have in 10 years. Does this mean that the check out via TV thing is broken? What about the back up option - phoning down to the front desk? The third option - just plain leaving, works mighty well also. That there was no rhyme or reason to the queue, no hostesses, no help, no nothing particularly at a brand new resort was a little disconcerting to Mrs. Mo, I did my best to reassure her that from the chaos would come order.

After waiting about for 15 minutes (first in line in our lane) we were called up to the red table to check in by two attendants. Immediately upon arrival, one attendant left and the other one said that she would be with us in just a moment after logging into the network. Small talk revealed that the front desk had been busy all day checking people in and out and that Cosmopolitan is now operating 1500 rooms. It was also mentioned that it often takes 5-7 minutes for the Agilysis hotel management system to load on these brand new Windows 7 machines and another 5 just to process employee log ins. I trust this story is true as the fatigue caused by these incompetent network solutions was written all over the face of the attendant checking us in. She tried to make small talk, apologized profusely, then flat out told us that these systems were exasperating. Instantly, I flashed back to sitting four feet from Cosmopolitan CEO John Unwin as he touted the flexibility and freedom that Cosmopolitan would enjoy since they were not built upon legacy systems, patched together through decades of acquisitions. We stood there and watched as the "loading" thing spun round and round and round at each successive screen.

After 10 or so minutes of loading screens and chit chat - our check in was apparently 'easy' - we were given keys to a room in the West Tower and pointed towards at the elevator banks behind us and sent off to enjoy our lovely romantic weekend at the Cosmopolitan. We hop on the elevator, press 34 and get off. The West tower doesn't look nearly as 'pickle jar' like as the East tower. Enroute to the room we are met in the hallway by an impish looking Igor of a man pushing a yellow mop bucket who asks us... "what room are you in?" We point and grunt and pass. Kinda creepy. Slide the key in the lock, *bleep bleep* and swing open the door to reveal a lowly City View Room, without a terrace. Instantly, I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of my heart as it sunk right into my stomach. Oh lord Jesus in heaven please not again. Please. Please pretty please.

Mrs. Mo, gets on the phone and calls the front desk... "the number you are dialing is unavailable." I raise my head from its position staring at the carpet to see her looking at me with her mouth open. I return to staring at the carpet in disbelief. She calls again, gets put on hold... I grab my camera and start taking photos of the room (which I will post shortly.) The phone is answered by a young man named Devin, or maybe Daniel, or Donald... something with a D. He proceeds to tell us that the room we have is in the "same class" as the one we booked and there was no reason we should request a change. I parrot to Mrs. Mo that this is a City Room, we booked at Terrace Studio, they are different rooms. Devin Daniel Donald responds by putting us on hold. He returns to tell us that there is nothing he can do to change our room but he can put in a request to move us tomorrow. Mrs. Mo, looks at me and sternly said "Chuck" while handing the phone to me. "Just hang up" I responded and she did.

Mrs. Mo begins stomping around the room, listing off the litany of transgressions - operations, customer service and straight up plain honesty - that the Cosmopolitan has just hoisted upon us. She's pissed and I've got to figure out a plan... head off to the throne room to ruminate on the situation and form a counter attack. Cogitation and defecation often go hand in hand. I can't help but think - what are the odds that they'd fuck up my reservation again? If these guys knew what the hell they were doing, I'd say low. Based on previous encounters and the across the board nightmare that hotel operations was during opening week, I've got more than an inkling that the fucktard in charge of running this hotel is a complete buffoon. Fulfilling an agreed upon and paid for level of room offerings isn't the same as non/smoking or close to the elevator preference. Any hotel that accepts your money for a suite but sticks you in a standard isn't fudging the lines, they're ripping off their guests - even at identical pricing, they've thieved guests of value.

I left the throne room armed with a plan, I kissed my lovely wife on the cheek and headed off to the concierge to fix it, sincerely hoping that "Chuckmonster" isn't forced to make an appearance. The elevator stops two floors below mine and these two older ladies get on with their bags and long faces. Knowing the answer, I ask them "so how was your stay?" "We haven't checked in yet. We waited for a half hour on line then we get up to our room and there is already someone in it! I have no idea what to do now!" I tell the ladies that I am not an employee, but know a thing or two about a thing or two and would be happy to help them get their room sorted out. Together, the three of us arrive at the Concierge desk, a room I know oh so well from opening night. The guy at the door dickishly blocks me from entering, and asks me twenty questions about why I want to go in there. Despite being a jerk about it, he goes behind the check in desk and grabs the Resort Manager, ensuring safe passage into the Concierge desk for my new stranded friends. Out comes the Resort Manager, who listens as I explain to him what happened - "they dumped us in a City View dual queen room, not the Terrace Studio my wife booked... we're here to stay on the terrace and she's upset... put yourself in my shoes." He tells me to stay put where I am and vanishes back behind the front desk.

Two minutes later, two guys come up to me and say... "who is that guy you were talking to?" "The resort manager, you guys got a problem with your room?" "Yeah, we went up there to go in and someone is already staying in there... they came out to talk to us and now their keys don't work to get back in their room where all their stuff is and we don't have a room!" I point the guys in to the Concierge office where there are some comfy seats and some other of my newfound displaced friends.

What are the fucking odds?

No, I am not a magnet of Cosmopolitan failures. The Cosmopolitan hotel operations situation IS A FAILURE.

So I stood there for about 15 minutes, 15 yards away from the seat at Vesper I spent six hours at on opening night, waiting for Cosmopolitan to get their shit together hoping that this potential disaster could be solved before our entire weekend became a bummer. As a precaution, I fired up Aria's iPhone app, looking for a quick and easy way to check rates for today or get hotel reservations... unfortunately, the app - when needed in a pinch to make a sale - failed miserably. Why no "Call us" button? Why no "check rates" button? Make it easy. Simple. Easy enough for your grandma to figure out. If I found a button to call Aria easily, my discussion with Cosmo's resort manager would not have been about rustling up the room level we paid for, but rustling up a full refund of everything we paid so far back to our credit cards right at that very moment.

I honestly don't want to hate Cosmopolitan, but their amateurish hotel operations methodologies bring it out in me. They might have done a great, even stellar, job at corralling, molding and packaging their creative offerings, but Benjamins to beignets they have zero idea what they are doing on the hotel side. They've had two months of days, 60+ opportunities, to get shit straight and based on my experience they are in no better a position now than they were during their horrific opening week. Ok, perhaps a little better... housekeeping arrived on both days and cleaned our room.

Eventually, the Resort Manager Mr. Robert Coburn, arrived to tell me that he had procured a Terrace Studio room for us, the only hitch was that we had to run up there to make sure that nobody was occupying it at the moment. We did, they weren't, and I headed back to our room and moved our belongings to the new room. The rest of our weekend was mostly free of disaster, whether or not that is due to our spending it most of away from the Cosmopolitan is up for debate.

I'll be blunt. I doubt I'll stay at the Cosmopolitan ever again.

Tagged: cosmopolitan   


Comments & Discussion:

Ouch. Makes one wonder how all the "legacy" hotels keep things together at all. Sounds like technology is not a friend of the Vegas traveler right now.

This post just confirms for me what I've been worried about with The Cosmopolitan. I enjoy immensely the offerings all the way up to the fourth floor, but after experiencing December with the rest of you, I am absolutely terrified to stay there again.

That level of incompetence brings to mind conspiracy theories of rivals planting staff at Cosmo to sabotage the operation. No other reasonable explanation exists for how incredibly jacked up that situation is. It takes conscious effort to get that stoopid.
How the hell do you spend that much money building a hotel and implement a back-office tech system with less speed and accuracy than my niece's leapfrog? Network/server transactions for a hotel twice that size is a trivial problem to solve. It isn't the frickin NYSE. Call IBM, have them send in a solutions team and get it fixed. Should take about a week if you can keep them away from the hookers.

Chuck, glad you posted this. We're headed to Vegas on Thursday and we're booked at Cosmopolitan, but not for long. As soon as I hit "Post Comment" I am cancelling the reservation and seeing if Aria or Wynn might like to have us as guests instead!

Both the CIO and the VP of Hotel Operations have discreetly left the Cosmopolitan very recently. It's not clear if they quit or were fired, but either way I doubt it's any coincidence that these two areas have seemed to be Cosmo's ongoing weaknesses.


If they were fired this could be good news because they may have been responsible for some of the underlying issues, and Unwin was willing to roll their heads to try to start turning things around.

On the other hand if they quit, it could be bad news because it may mean they were abandoning a sinking ship, and the people left in charge now will have even less of a clue.

We have received an offer for two nights and a special draw and were toying with the idea of skipping the Hilton and staying at the Cosmo in May. Think we will wait until November.


I can't believe both the CIO and VP Hotel Operations left voluntarily. Certainly, Cosmo knows it has a problem. The question is, what are Unwin and others doing to fix it? Who has replaced the two who left, and what are they doing? Does Cosmo have a War Room where the focus, around the clock, is to get the ship righted?

The bright spot is that Chuckmonster's experience resulted in another wonderful read!

This might be the most appropriate use of the word "fucktard" that I've ever seen.

I'm heading to town this week and plan to check out Cosomo, but I am glad I am not staying there.

I haven't stayed there but I have spent a fair amount of time in the public areas and restaurants and I concluded that Cosmo is more style then substance, it's the hipster doofus in the polo shirt with the little alligator instead of a suit and a name tag cause it makes them appear different and trendy. Isn't the hotel portion being run by Mariott?? They should know how to run a hotel although this one may be a lot larger than they are used to (that's what she said!!)

Sorry to hear about another bad experience Chuck.

Unfortunately, it's been over 70 days now and I'm still having problems with people at Cosmo doing their job to resolve my situation. Evidently, 3 weeks to respond to an email is an acceptable level of efficiency at the Cosmo.

The black helicopters of Frankel & Frankel will be gassing up shortly!

I'm SO scared. I wish I would have seen this review earlier. I'm leaving this Thursday to stay at The Cosmo. It's my birthday and I made my boyfriend actually CHANGE our reservations from Vdara to Cosmo because I wanted to try it out. I'm so sick right now. It sounds like a total nightmare.

Even with all the SNAFU's I really think we're still staying there on our next trip. IF the price is right and only because I want one of the terrace rooms. I will throw a fit to if I book a terrace and get stuck in a city view room. The CityView rooms look like a damn cruise ship suite.

danarae - don't get too worked up. I stayed there in Jan during CES when the place was jammed. I had to wait a little while to get a room (I arrived well before check-in), but after that the only problem I had was one (there are two) of the TV's stopped working, which was fixed within 20 minutes. Maybe I was lucky or others are unlucky, but it really just depends. I think the place is great, but completely agree that after 70 days the place should be running much more smoothly.

Donny - I don't believe Marriott is managing the Cosmo, they are only a partner, and you can use your points and things there. I could be wrong though, Chuck is the expert, not me.

Moral of the story, Stay at Wynncore. :)

Thanks, Chuck. This is a particularly timely post as my dad just offered to give me two nights at Cosmopolitan to tack on the end of my April trip. I was just getting ready to check with the airline about changing our flights. Hrmmm. I think I may wait until I hear or read about a good lodging experience there. Thanks again.

Honestly, I really don't see these issues as deal breakers in Vegas. Out of many trips in the last 3 years, I have only had quick, efficient, accurate and trouble-free check-in experiences a few times. Now I had a similarly dismal time checking in on my Cosmopolitan trip, which took over an hour and several trips to the desk. I got the impression that they were undertrained (I had to explain to the clerk how to use the website to get the rate that I wanted) and the IT systems were ridiculously inefficient forcing the clerks to muddle through the process and causing lots of undue stress.

But once that was over, the experience was very positive overall! You only check in once, and I can't tell you how many times I've had shitty check-in experiences. Caesars, the Mirage, Aria, Palazzo and even Encore once come to mind. Basically, I'm used to the hassle and prepare my travel companions for it if they are new to Vegas. Yes, we may have to wait in a long-ass line and/or change rooms a few times, but then the vacation starts and it's all worth it!

They do need to get their act together, but its too early to be expecting a Tower Suites/MO standard of service.

Ow, who knew a hotel named after a girly drink, or a girly magazine would have such issues? This is why I let my boyfriend do all my booking for me. Thanks DonnyMac for being so thoughtful and running up great hotel credit at places that sorta know what they are doing!!

Well Mr. Monster at least it's a big city with lots of places that do like you

If you ever need to dial any Vegas hotel, Vegas Mate has one-tap calling for every single property - no need to fuss with the lame-o Aria app!

^^ That's why it's really great!

I'm thinking of booking one night in late May, just to see how the Check in process is close to the six month mark of being opened. I have a reservation at the Trop... but that damn Terrance view is making me wanna stay at the Cosmo.

@donnymac The hotel is operated by 3700 Associates / unit of DB. The partnerships with hotel chains is just for marketing purposes.

Damn, it's almost like a VT convention in Vegas this week/weekend. Jinx73 is currently out there and I'm headed out there late Wednesday afternoon. I'm going to check out Cosmo my last two days I'm in town (I'll be staying on the Strip my last two days and will be close by.) and will be eating at The Henry one night and Holsteins the next.

The fact that two months in Cosmo is still having issues with the hotel side of things is troubling. It does make one wonder if there are folks working on the inside to bring the place down if they're still screwing up over two months after opening. Having some high level executives leave under mysterious circumstances isn't good either. If this level of disorder continues, something will have to give, like perhaps making the hotel staff more like hotel staff instead of hotel staff looking like guests.

Chuck, I had a similar clusterfuck of an experiance during my 4 day stay a few weekends ago. All the shortcomings you identified here and in your original review were in full force. The casino and reasturant portion of the resort is nice but the hotel is an unbelievable failure. I spent nearly 3 hours of my stay either waiting in line at the front desk or talking to someone who didnt know what they were doing. Its unreal they have gotten nowhere in 60 days. I wrote a few letters hoping that someone who gives a fuck makes some changes there... not for me because I will never stay there again but for all the other people who end up getting suckered in.

I will qualify my earlier statement by saying how much I have enjoyed some of the restaurants and bars. But the resort as a whole still comes off as trying to hard to portray them selves as hip, trendy and different as opposed to just providing great timely knowledgeable top tier service. There is no way that after almost 3 months the issues people have had their couldn't be addressed and corrected.

Booked three nights in June through Marriott, using MR points. Reservation is for a Terrace Studio. However, if they can't get a handle on this situation within the next couple of months, I will seriously consider making a change.

BTW, I heard that the CIO definitely was fired. Not sure about the VP of Hotel Ops, but it certainly sounds like he deserved the boot, too.

It sounds to me like if they just implode everything over the 4th floor Cosmo will be a winner. Seriously, there is a pattern. Older properties are more reliable to stay in -- it's rare to see complaints about places like Bellagio, Golden Nuggett or the new Tropicana BUT the newer places like Cosmo, Aria -- even the Palms are the most fun to hang out in. The solution is simple, stay with the old reliables but spend time at the glitzy newcomers.

I've been hoping the Cosmopolitan would get it together enough that I'd feel reasonably comfortable booking yet this spring. I think my last shreds of optimism died while reading this.... in a good way. Now I can completely focus my attention to another choice.

Someone should come up with new, Cosmo-themed lyrics to Cee Lo's "Fuck You."

I think you have properly identified the crux of the problem. They went with new software that was unproven and never had a chance to get it debugged. As a result, they have no idea what rooms are clean and available on any given night. It also affects identity, but otherwise the gaming systems seem to be working. They must fix this soon or all the positive buzz will be for naught.

Thanks Chuck. After your two wonderful writeups about what a nightmare the Cosmo is, we too will never stay there. There are just too many other choices in Vegas. Some of the MGM Signature rooms have small terraces, and they are nice suites as well. You do have to walk a mile to get to back to the casino, but it is good exercise.

OMG..they made you run up to your NEW room to see if anyone was in it?? Why don't THEY get up off their dead asses and do it?
We toyed with staying there in March, but we know two other couples who have stayed there and they said it was nothing short of night-marish. One couple said it was as if every member of the staff they encountered had no hotel experience at all.
No thanks. It sounds like Vdara or Mandarin for us!

@PartyGirl, my girfriend and I said the exact same thing yesterday when I was venting about our stay again (thanks for making me relive it chuck!). It almost seemed like this was everyone's first job...

@ girlygirl Good point! I did not even think about that.

Spend a night at Cosmo last week with my wife. Booked the wrap-a-round suite. Great view, friendly employees, but we also experienced a number of operational issues:

1. Upon check-in none of the computers were working so we had to wait. Eventually just signed for the room outside of the handy iPad method they tried to design.

2. Computers in the retail shop next to check-in were also down. Had to either pay cash or keep moving...luckily had cash handy to made our purchases.

3. Identity card system was not working properly when my wife made here large spa purchases, as such we did not get credit for these dollars on our card.

4. Upon check-out my wife waited for over an hour for the bell man to assist with her luggage. She finally gave-up and took them down herself.

Summary: Nice Casino, good restaurants, but the operation side leaves too many variables to stay here for our next trip in April.

Wrap-a-round suite is AMAZING!!!

Still, six weeks after my MLK weekend stay, I still don't know if I got the identity points for my room. At least now, https://www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/membership/full-activation.aspx has a "account activation for Identity is temporarily unavailable" message, instead of taunting me with an 8-character field for a 10-digit card number.

Here's a couple things I find interesting. First, if you have problems with an Agilysys product (most likely LMS), then YOU have a problem. Good luck getting help from Agilysys, they are notorious for horrible customer service and an inability to fix their own products. Here's a high-profile, brand-new property, and they can't get it right.

Secondly, it points to the general incompetence of CIO's and other IT execs in this industry, they are willing to accept the status quo and stick with familiar vendors no matter how limited and frustrating their products can be for line staff (and ultimately the customer). Collectively the execs have put themselves in a position of relying on a small group of vendors, because they continue to stick with what they know, rather than demand innovation or consider systems from alternative vendors. Oh, and don't forget the kickbacks.

The original CIO Mr. Andrew had months/years of lead time to choose, prep, integrate, install and test all the systems -- his replacement will now be expected to get it all working on the fly at an always-on 24/7 resort? Good luck. I'm not expecting a whole lot of improvement over there anytime soon.

Let's not single out the Cosmopolitan. Aria had tons of problems when it opened, and it's IGT sbX (server-based gaming) still doesn't really work (on my last visit I tried to make a reservation via the slot service window but that's not a supported function). Very few technology breakdowns make the news or are necessarily noticeable by patrons, but they exist all over the place. The CIO's are the battered wives -- the vendors treat them like crap over and over, except when a product release or upgrade is ready then the vendors play nice and promise all the bad stuff is behind them, the check is signed, ultimately the shiny new thing doesn't work either, and the cycle continues...

@LightsOut, good point it sucks they are at the mercy of the vendors but I see this in my industry as well. They either dump the system for a different one (which has its own risks) or work with the existing vendor to slowly address all the problems. Neither solution is quick or painless.

I'm not going against the very valid opinion that front desk operations are problematic, especially at check-in. But I still encourage people to stay there.

It's like they say in the travel guides - don't judge a trip to the United States by your airport experience. Well, don't judge a $4 billion integrated destination resort by the check-in experience either. Put any frustration you experience into a polite letter to the management and enjoy the rest of your stay - it will probably be fantastic.

This would almost be funny if it were in a movie, but in real life? Not so much. I'm so horrified and sorry that this happened to you again. It boggles the mind that they haven't been able to figure out how to run the hotel smoothly in 2 months. I have to agree, though, it sounds like this is primarily a systems/technology issue. It may feel as though people are incompetent, but if they're reliant on the technology to make things happen, and the technology is failing consistently, they're being made to look bad, and that's bound to fluster and frustrate them as well as you.

that truly does suck on your experience and I agree that it's absolutely unacceptable for a resort to still be experiencing these issues.

While they resolved it I find it even more ludicrous that they had you go up to the suite and verify it's occupancy. Unbelievable.

I did like the public areas on my visit, but that's a whole different experience from staying and paying for a room and I think you've put it out there pretty fairly given your two experiences.

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