Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas Sets Opening Date

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (Cosmo) set an official opening date for December of 2010.  Kinda.

The CEO of the new $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas casino says it will open in mid-December with about one-third of its rooms delayed until July 2011.

The Cosmo will open in December, but will keep some of its rooms closed.  CityCenter properties opened similarly.  All of this room capacity that goes unfilled should keep prices in check for a while.  So, Cosmo, thank you for opening.

You may be familiar with the Cosmo, but not aware that it exists.  It’s nestled between CityCenter and Bellagio and surrounding the Jockey Club. You can see the location on the awesome Vegas Today and Tomorrow map.

Because of location and look it can easily be confused for part of CityCenter.  The Cosmo website has very little information, but everything I’ve read makes it seem as if it will have an urban south beach feel to it with multiple restaurants, clubs, etc. with a fancy beach club in the air between both towers of the hotel.

I walked by the Cosmo on the way to CityCenter in December and it looked like it was almost ready to open.  I’ll check it out.  With it’s proximity to the strip, hopefully it will be inviting to me.

Thoughts on CityCenter

CityCenter are the huge hunks of steel in the middle of the Las Vegas strip and owned by MGM-Mirage that has been under construction for the past few years.  There are multiple buildings as part of the city and there were multiple grand openings for these properties.  The final building to open was Aria, the casino and hotel, which opened while I was in Vegas.

I waited for everything to have their grand openings before exploring CityCenter.  I walked over from the Bellagio where I had a wonderful cigar and Grey Goose and soda at the Petrossian Lounge.  I was treated to some Christmas songs on piano while enjoying a Sunday night.  This is one of my favorite spots at Bellagio.

I hate crowds and I didn’t need to worry about that when I headed over to CityCenter.  After walking through the construction I finally landed in Crystals mall.  This is a beautiful building, but the lack of opened stores was kind of depressing.  If it wasn’t brand new it would have felt like a mall on its last legs and about to close.

I hope this isn’t an omen for Crystals.  It could just be the bad economy.  Right now, I don’t think the market needs more high end shopping.  Of course, this wasn’t the case when CityCenter was being planned.  Similarly, The Shoppes at Palazzo had a similar feeling but at least there are restaurants to bring people in.

From Crystals I headed into Aria.  One of the cool things about both Crystals and Aria was the modern style and clean lines with interesting shapes and certainly not boring.  Modern style only remains modern for so long and it will be interesting to see how Aria develops in the future.  From the monorail station I felt as if I was looking at a building from the movie Tron.  Below is a sweet water wall outside the main entrance.

The interior of the casino was very dark and the ceilings felt low, even though they weren’t.  My iPhone couldn’t grab any interesting pictures due to the darkness.  This is in contrast to how bright everything was on the outside.

Everything inside the casino was new.  All new versions of my favorite slot machines – including a version of Top Dollar which I’ve never seen before that paid me $200.  All of the slot machines were very bright and showed well in the dark setting.

There was one odd finding at Aria.  There was a lack of ticket cashing machines.  I walked around for a few minutes before I could find one.  I only saw one in the entire casino.  I’m sure there were more, but there was poor signage throughout CityCenter and this was just another example.

There were not many people playing table games.  If I recall correctly all blackjack games under $25 use a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CMS).  I don’t like CMS, but it’s better than 6/5.

After my tour I searched around and around for the monorail to go back to Bellagio.  Since signage was poor it took a few minutes, but I found my way.  The monorail let me off in an area of Bellagio that I’ve never seen.  If I didn’t know what I was looking for there was no way I’d ever wander from Bellagio to CityCenter.

Overall, I have mixed first impressions on CityCenter.  Everything looked very cool and very clean with some innovation that we’ll see in future casinos.  I like the modern feel to everything, but that feeling was subdued by how cold and empty Crystals and Aria felt.  I have the feeling that would have been even deeper if I’d gone into the other buildings.

CityCenter is still so new that I have to reserve judgement.  After all, I hated Wynn after one trip and my December trip changed my mind.  I’m curious to see how the property develops this year.  I’m looking forward to seeing the difference when I visit later this year.

CityCenter Opens!

There has been much talk about CityCenter, and its parts, opening to the public.  After reading many articles and listening to a slew of podcasts my feelings are mixed.

I’m excited to look at the shiny new “city” of buildings but I’m also managing expectations because many flaws have been pointed out to me.

I want to share the pictures and articles that I’ve read over the past week.  There is plenty of eye candy and reading below.

Low Budget Megaplex in Las Vegas

In 2007 Boyd Gaming changed the Las Vegas strip.  They put an end to the Stardust and planned to replace it with a megaplex called Echelon Place.  Complex on the complex was flying last year as there were plans for multiple hotels, a theater, shopping and more.  The idea wasn’t too different than that of CityCenter.  As of last week it looks as if those plans are on hold temporarily or forever.

Echelon Rendering
Echelon Rendering

When Boyd Gaming reported earnings on October 27 they mentioned that Echelon, which had already had construction suspended, would be on hold for 3-5 years.  At the same time they said that they still remained interested in buying all or part of Station Casinos’ assets.

The economy may turn around, but it will likely take more than a few years for it to get back to where it was two years ago.  If Boyd ends up obtaining some or all of Station’s casinos then I don’t know that there will be a desire to have a brand new, upscale asset as part of their portfolio.  If they do complete it they may have to find different partners to be involved.

I just had a fun mental picture of what a low budget megaplex may include if Boyd decides to built the complex, but switch focus.  I’m not an artist, but here’s my rendering since I can’t upload the file for some reason.

For a full timeline of events with Echelon, head over to Vegas Today and Tomorrow.

CityCenter A Go Go

The hoopla continues as we get closer to CityCenter opening in December.  Day by day, my excitement is actually building.  I didn’t think that would happen, but it is.  Rather than try to encapsulate what I’ve been reading, I’ll just pass the links on so you can read directly from the sources.

Vegas Tripping
A Look Inside Aria
New CityCenter Photos
Aria Flip Book
A Look at Aria’s Casino Layout

Rate Vegas
Thoughts on the Inside of Aria

Las Vegas Sun
Comparing CityCenter room prices with the rest of the strip
CityCenter value slashed 31% by MGM-Mirage

CityCenter Opening Details

CityCenter opening details have emerged.  The mega complex will open in four parts and supposedly be bigger than any other hotel opening(s) on the Las Vegas strip.  The more I look at pictures of the complex the less I like the look of it.  At the same time the more I hear about it the more in awe I am of its magnitude and I can’t wait to visit.  Details below from KVBC in Las Vegas.  Thanks to Vegas Tripping for the tip about the video.

CityCenter Opening Nears

The buzz surrounding CityCenter’s opening has been slowly growing for a couple of weeks.  You may know CityCenter as the mass of construction in the middle of the Las Vegas strip.  The property is being built by MGM-Mirage and will consist of multiple hotels, condos, casinos and retail space.  The project has had its up’s and downs, but the end of the long construction is nearing and the world will get to see for themselves soon.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.

To help feed the buzz, CityCenter started a youtube page and has been releasing teaser videos for the last week.  To keep up to speed on CityCenter check the youtube page regularly.  I’ll share information as I receive it.  Here are the first three videos of, and for, CityCenter.

THREE more videos after the jump

Continue reading “CityCenter Opening Nears”

Air Curtains to Protect Dealers at Aria

Aria and CityCenter haven’t opened yet, but the casino is taking measures to protects it’s dealers against smokers.  Aria blackjack tables will be equipped with an “air curtain.”  An air curtain is, essentially, air shooting straight up from the table and will block most second hand smoke from the dealer.

That’s the next-to-best thing Aria could do to protect dealers’ health, aside from not allowing smoking in the casino, said Cindy Ortega, senior vice president of energy and environmental services for MGM Mirage, an owner of CityCenter.

“I can take three matches, light up the matches, blow them out, and I put the match right there and the smoke goes right straight up,” she said. “The air curtain is there to protect the dealer from the smoke. Now, it’s not 100 percent (as good) as a nonsmoker, but I think we’ve taken such giant leaps. I think it’s really great.”

Second hand smoke has long been an issue for dealers, so it’s nice to see MGM-Mirage being proactive.  I only wish that I could have an air wall around me so I didn’t stink of smoke after every night I’m in Las Vegas.  I hate the smell and now travel with fabreeze.

Supply & Demand is Your Friend in Las Vegas

The recession has hit Las Vegas hard as most readers of ECG know.  The economy may turn around next year, but that may not change things much in the casinos of Las Vegas.  With all of the building in Las Vegas over the past few years there should be a deluge of hotel rooms on the market next year.

In their reports, debt analysts at Deutsche Bank and CreditSights zeroed in on the impending flood of new hotel rooms on and near the Las Vegas Strip — a market struggling with an oversupply of rooms, slot machines and gaming tables.

“The challenge for the casinos will be to maintain hotel occupancy even as new supply is brought on over the next 14 months,” CreditSights said in its report.

Even without taking into account the 3,815 rooms at the stalled and bankrupt Fontainebleau resort, analysts say new rooms coming online at CityCenter and elsewhere will pressure the Las Vegas industry.

CreditSights noted that lower room rates are helping to fill Las Vegas hotels, but sales of condominium units on and near the Strip have come to a near standstill with 2,200 vacant units on the market.

Simple economics says that if supply is greater than demand then prices will fall until demand increases.  Las Vegas isn’t like the rest of the world.  Casinos can offer a variety of different comps to keep room rates relatively stable, but in general if you search for a cheap room in Las Vegas this year and next you should find it.

I typically try to treat myself to a little luxury when I take trips to Las Vegas.  I’m curious to see how this effects the higher end hotels.

Chalk one up for the consumers!