Thoughts On Cosmopolitan

I wanted to share some thoughts now that Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has been opened for a couple weeks.  Let me say this, in general, as someone with a marketing background I usually try to avoid all of the grand opening hype.  Most people will report nothing but the good at that point.

I prefer to let other people break in a property for a few days before I grace it with my presence.  I did the same with CityCenter last year (which I need to look back at 1 year later).  I’ll have more thoughts moving forward, but I’ll break my thoughts on the Cosmo today down like this:

Tall, Skinny, Ugly on the outside but Pretty Inside

I’m not enamored by the way the building looks on the outside.  However, once I looked inside of the building I saw lots to like.  There are plenty of modern features and beautiful, shiny crystals and chromes.  The Cosmo is bright inside, but not in a bad way.  Think the opposite of Aria.

The furnishings are things I’d love in my house, but I can never seem to find affordable, comfortable modern furnishings.  I guess that’s what $4 billion can do.

The profile of the building(s) are very tall and very narrow.  Every time I’ve walked through the place looked and felt crowded.  There were a lot of people just looking around and not gambling or eating or shopping so I’ll look into this again in 6 months after the curious people are gone.

It would be great if Cosmo remains crowded but with people spending money.  She’s pretty today, but we’ll see what happens after a little wear and tear.

Casino and Sportsbook

As I mention above, the casino is narrow and feels crowded but upon further inspection those were just people looking.  Maybe the feeling of being crowded will lessen with time as people quit gawking and/or hit the tables.

Each visit I’ve seen the tables and machines have all been fairly quiet.  Maybe 1 player per table on average.  Tables are pretty good for a strip casino: blackjack minimums are as low as $10 with 3:2 payouts for blackjack on all except double deck games.  As per Vegas Tripping the video poker pay tables are slightly above other strip casinos.

The sportsbook is TINY.  I could never see myself hanging out watching games here.  It feels more like a lounge than a sportsbook.  Planet Hollywood has a tiny sportsbook, but at least they have Blondies and the PBR bars in the Miracle Mile shops for overflow.

They also have a stage in the sportsbook with free concerts, that’s pretty nice but it will definitely get in the way of the gamblers.  I’m stoked for the free shows, but I wonder how the two will work together.

I’ve walked by the sportsbook about 4 or 6 times and only noticed sports on the TV’s once.  I’m not sure that’s always the case, but that’s what I noticed.

Lastly, there is no poker room.  I’m pretty sure this will change in time.  There’s really no reason not to have one except for differentiation.

Restaurants & Shopping

The restaurants and shopping are on the second and third floors. There are a lot of restaurants that seem as if they’ll be good.  My first dining experience was great!

Some friends and I split a bunch of small plates & appetizers at Holsteins.  Everything was fantastic.  In fact, this was one of the best meals I’ve had in Vegas in a while!  The beer list was huge and the prices weren’t insane like most casino restaurants.  I cannot wait for a return trip.

On another trip I tried Comme Ca.  It was ok.  Not priced too bad for a casino, but there wasn’t anything amazing about my meal.  I’m looking forward to trying the others – specifically the pizza place, China Pablano and Scarpetta.

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Planet Hollywood Hollywood Hip Room

My last trip to Las Vegas was my longest and I split duty between Planet Hollywood and the Venetian.  Generally, I love staying at Planet Hollywood and this time was no different.  I love the casino and Miracle Mile Shops.  The rooms are OK.

My thoughts on the Venetian and room weren’t all that great, but I wasn’t totally disappointed.  This was opposite of my stay at Planet Hollywood where I got what I expected – a good time, but not mega-luxurious.  I was prepared for the worst as the last time I stayed at Planet Hollywood my Hollywood Hip was still a mess from the previous guests.  Kindly, I received an upgrade to a Resort room which was huge and awesome.  This time, I wouldn’t receive an upgrade beyond a nice view.

Inside the room was pretty awesome.  As I mentioned on Vegas Chatter I had a “Spaceballs” themed room.  That ruled as I love that movie!  The room was clean and plenty roomy, although the bathroom could be made a few feet smaller to make the main living space a little more roomy.

I was right across from the Cosmopolitan, which is almost finished being built.  Please excuse the filthy windows.  Apparently, Planet Hollywood doesn’t wash their windows on the outside.  Click to view larger images.

Bellagio and Paris were just to the right.  I had a nice view of the water show at Bellagio.

The bathroom was pretty nice, but overall I would rather have some of that room to lounge in as I mentioned above.  The vanity was huge, marble and because I’m sloppy covered with a wash cloth.  There’s also a giant mirror so you can always see yourself.  I’m not so into that.

Like most rooms, there are separate showers, tubs and a water closet for the toilet.

This room must have been bigger than my last trip because there was plenty of room between the work station and the very comfortable bed.

I’m not sure what happened to the rest of the pictures from this trip, but I’m missing the ample room for the work station and sitting area.

Overall, this room seems bigger than the last Hollywood Hip room I had.  I was extremely comfortable with everything and always had a smile with the “Spaceballs” theme.  I’m curious how this room will feel with queen beds and I’ll find that out on my next trip to Las Vegas because I plan on staying at Planet Hollywood again.

Venetian Suite Review – Meh

I’ve stayed at the Palazzo for my past two trips to Las Vegas and enjoyed the suites both times I stayed.  This time I figured I’d stay with (Enrico) Palazzo’s sister (whoa) the Venetian.  Poor girl’s insides haven’t aged very well.

The Palazzo is still relatively new, so I was expecting a little wear and tear on the Venetian suite, but there was a little more than I expected.  Fortunately, the bathroom was still in excellent shape.  The shower and tube were spotless and cleaned daily.

The vanities both had marble tops and gold fixtures.

Unlike the Bally’s room I had in Atlantic City there was nothing gaudy about anything in the bathroom.

Unlike the Palazzo suites, the door to the water closet does not shut automatically.  That’s a good thing.

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My Vegas Vacation – Eating at the Grand Lux Cafe

I love a good meal, but I like sharing good eats with friends.  As I mentioned last year in a guest blog at Solo Friendly when I travel alone I usually eat more casually.  If I’m hungry, I’ll eat what’s nearby as opposed to planning my meals.

The Palazzo was my home casino so I mostly ate there.  The restaurant with the best variety at the Palazzo/Venetian complex is easily the Grand Lux Cafe.

I had to catch up with a little work when I sat down for my first bite in Las Vegas.  I really just wanted a beer, but I knew I had a full night of drinking ahead of me so I made sure I had something in my stomach.

I was the only person in the bar area and the lone waitress was VERY attentive to me.  She came over about 5 times while I was on a call to take my order.  The fifth time she came over I felt bad for not ordering and just asked for the best burger on the menu because there were so many to choose from.  Of course, no tomatoes please.  Half a beer later this monster came out!

I don’t recall the name and don’t see it on the menu, but it was braised short rib on a bacon cheeseburger.  Whoowee!  This was overload, but it wasn’t bad.  It was very salty and I didn’t finish the whole thing.  Any more I would have gone to my room to nap.

I don’t think I’d ever order anything like this, but it wasn’t bad and I’m happy to have had something different.  Later that evening I started heavy drinking at BNBLV.

For years I’ve told friends that the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian has the best steak and eggs in Vegas.  I still haven’t found any better.  This is the best breakfast after a night of drinking.

The steak is seasoned pretty heavily with salt and pepper.  Most breakfast steaks are pretty bland.  I think that’s what makes it so good after a night of drinking too much.

After a night of less drinking I tried a more traditional breakfast at Grand Lux of bacon and eggs.  The bacon was nice and crisp and this made for another winner.  4 cups of coffee didn’t hurt.

Sitting “outside” at cafe at the Venetian Grand Lux is a nice place to people watch.  They sit most single diners outside, so it’s not awkward if you’re alone.

Sometimes in Vegas I’ll forget to eat if I don’t have plans.  My last night was a night like that.  I was having a good time at the sportsbook and lost track of time and after a losing session of blackjack I realized that it was late and I was hungry.  I rolled up to the bar at the Grand Lux once again and grabbed another quick bite.

The waiter recommended something that the restaurant was out of so I ended up trying the pot roast.  This was another experiment for me.  I can’t remember the last time I had pot roast.

The pot roast was ready for me in just a few minutes.  It was very pretty to look at and it wasn’t bad at all.  It probably isn’t something I’d order again, but it did the trick and I was back out for some more blackjack in no time.

The food at both the Venetian and the Palazzo Grand Lux Cafe’s were both good.  The breakfast was fantastic.  The service was excellent.  The only “complaint” I had was a waitress trying to serve me while I was on the phone.  That’s not a bad thing.

I ate more meals at the Grand Lux Cafe than anywhere else.  This is a good option to have at a casino in place of the traditional coffee shop.  The Atlantic City casinos could use a restaurant like this.

Planet Hollywood – A Tale of Two Rooms (Part 2)

As I mentioned yesterday my stay at Planet Hollywood was a tale of two rooms.  After walking around and taking pictures of dirty room 1, I went back downstairs to check in to inform them about the room.  Without question and before I could list off all of the dirty items I had a new room.  I think the old man in the scooter yelling about his stay helped me get a nice room. 🙂

I’m pretty sure I was upgraded to a resort room, which I’ll call “Room 2.”  This room was MUCH larger and thankfully cleaner.  There was ample room and options for me to charge my iPhone.  I chose the work area as my charging station.

You can see how big the room is by turning around from the work area.  The TV and wall unit was on the opposite wall with the bed set to the right.  This was a slightly awkward angle to watch TV, but it wasn’t too bad.

There were two big comfy chairs and a table to the left side of the room.  I spent most of my time in the room in one of the chairs.

I may have passed out in the chair after my 3rd tall Grey Goose and Soda, which was proceeded by two drinks in the Diamond Lounge.

Pictures and more after the jump

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Planet Hollywood – A Tale of Two Rooms (Part 1)

In addition to my stay at Palazzo, I took a night to explore Planet Hollywood.  I love the casino, but haven’t stayed there in a few years.  I had similar offers to stay at each casino but after your votes I decided to make my home at Palazzo.

My stay at Planet Hollywood was a tale of two rooms.  Check in was packed.  It’s a small area, but there seemed to be hundreds of people.  Luckily for me there was a fast quiet room for diamond total rewards members to check in.

In minutes I received my keys to my first room.  I’m going to guess I had a basic “Hollywood Hip” room, but I’m not sure so I’ll just call it “Room 1.”

Room one wasn’t cleaned from the previous guests and the TV didn’t work.  Additionally, the room was one of the smallest I’ve seen in Vegas.  I can’t imagine how two queen beds could fit in this space and I don’t know that I want to find out.  Of course, I love the casino so I’ll fight with myself about this in the future.

My trusty iPhone charger was the only item that made the trip down the strip with me.  I figured that I’d wake up and head right over to Palazzo whenever I woke up the next day.

Unfortunately, the way the room was laid out there was no obvious place to set my phone for a charge outside of the bathroom.  The work space was a little tight and just about up against the bed.  It’s not easy to see, but there’s a half finished iced coffee by the lamp.

One nice feature is that each room had a newspaper delivered each morning.  The night/morning I stayed at Planet Hollywood I ran into delivery.

The bed itself looked nice.  The bed had cream coverings with dark trim.  I didn’t bother trying out the mattress or coverings, but at least it looked good.

I was standing next to an awkwardly placed chair when I took the picture above.  This was pretty much the only place there was room for a sitting area in the room.  This was the only place someone could sit and watch TV if the TV worked.  The TV didn’t work.  Leftover item #2, a Mountain Dew bottle, is to the left of the TV.

Looking the other direction from the chair was the view outside.  The room had a nice view of the pool.  The pool area isn’t very big, but it looks nice.

More pictures and room information after the jump

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Return to The Palazzo

This was a return to Palazzo for me.  Even though I spent one night at Planet Hollywood my main home casino this trip was Palazzo.

I had a good time at Palazzo in December and wanted to relax a little on this trip.  The casino at Palazzo never got too crazy and the environment, in general, was pretty chill so it would make for a nice place to stay.

I also had an offer I couldn’t refuse of three comp nights.  It would be hard to say no.  The rooms are large and comfortable.  Perfect to get away in.

Once again my room/suite didn’t disappoint.  It was clean when I arrived and cleaned daily.  All furnishings were in tip top condition.

I tried the “$20 trick” for the first time and was treated to a high room, near the elevator, with a nice view of the strip.  I’m not normally one to sit by a window and look at the view, but it was nice.  I was more happy to be by the elevator.

more pics on my flickr page

Walking into the room I saw one of my favorite features in the suite – the Master Light Switch.  This controls lights in the bathroom, sleeping and living areas.  It just lessens the amount of lights to turn off/on.  This is a big room!  Not a big deal, but it’s nice to have.

I had the same type of suite as I did in December so I didn’t take many pictures.  You can look at the old flickr gallery to see more.  Having said that, into the bathroom we go.  There was a powerful shower and tub to the left.

The water closet (toilet) is to the right of the bathroom.  I don’t love the high throne and hate that the door automatically slams shut.  I was not sticking my foot in the picture so you could see the toilet. 🙂

The bathroom is huge and set up very nicely.  The only negative is that the water closet door slams shut.

Next up is the sleeping area with huge 42″ HDTV and cool underlit dresser.  Bottle of water not included.

The sleeping area also has a big, comfortable chair to relax and watch TV from.

There are lots more pictures and Palazzo room info after the jump.

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Carne Vino Take 2

I visited Carne Vino on my spring trip to Las Vegas and had a fantastic steak dinner.  I loved it and spoke so highly of it that my friends wanted a return visit.  I shared this video with people all year around.  Excitement was HIGH.

Our table was in a little room off the main entrance.  The table was a huge square.  The privacy was fantastic, especially when one member of the party gets the giggles.  There was a beautiful chandelier high above the table.

The waiter was fantastic.  He knew the menu very well and was able to answer every question and help guide us on a tour of flavors which was a great tour.

Generally, Carne Vino is an expensive restaurant but I found a way around that this trip.  The table shared an appetizer and  salad.  This worked nicely as we treated the appetizer like the tease it is supposed to be.  The Prosciutto Di Parma and Insalata Romana went very well together.

I was with 5 others and sharing a bottle of wine and appetizers was a great way to start the meal.  The vino may have been the star of the night…but it was time for the main course…

While the wine may have been the star of the meal, but steak should have been the co-star.  Unlike my last time at Carne Vino the steak was not the highlight of the meal.

The steak you see in the video above is the steak that I shared both times I’ve been to Carne Vino – the Dry Aged Bone In Rib Eye.  The steak was cooked a perfect medium and drizzled with sea salt, pepper and olive oil.

Sounds pretty good.  The steak was good.  It just wasn’t great like it was the last time.  The steak was a little dry this time.  When I sit down for a $100/person meal I want perfection.  The rest of the table experimented with non-steak main courses and thoroughly enjoyed everything.  The sides were also very good.

Everyone at the table had enough food and didn’t need or want dessert.  The waiter treated us to some kind of nougat like dessert and an after dinner liquor.  I’m not sure what I was drank, but it was a nice sipping drink and a nice way to cap off a good meal.

Overall, this time a Carne Vino was good – not great.  The service was fantastic and most of dinner was very good, but the main course left a little to be desired.  Having experienced a fantastic meal at Carne Vino before I think I might hold off on a return trip.  There are so many great steakhouses in Las Vegas that there’s no reason to limit myself.  I’d still recommend Carne Vino because the service, atmosphere and most of the food are all fantastic.

Casa Di Amore

On most trips to Las Vegas I like to take in at least one dinner from a locals type restaurant.  This trip I ended up at Casa Di Amore which had great recommendations on both Yelp and the Las Vegas Trip Advisor Forum.

Casa Di Amore is located about 15 minutes from the strip (on Tropicana) and since I didn’t have a car the offer of a free limo ride was enticing and helped seal the deal for this being a dinner selection.  The limo was an older, (very) worn and essentially an extended town car.  The free ride was nice as my group would have needed two cabs, so we saved a few bucks there.

As we drove up into the strip mall I knew this place was going to either be awesome or awful.  The restaurant was next door too a gun shop, so this kind of set the tone.  I don’t think the insides have been updated in about 30 years and I think that was by design.  The restaurant had photographs of the old Las Vegas casinos and performers.

The photo above is where the 2-man band performed holiday and cover songs.  We were treated to a couple of sets by George Bugatti.  Normally I hate live music when I’m trying to eat, but the volume wasn’t too intrusive and the selections were fun enough not too bother me.

If you couldn’t guess by the name Casa Di Amore is an Italian restaurant.  Everything tasted as if it was made by a friends mother.  For my main course I shared a fantastic Chicken Piccata and Gnocci Bolognese.  Sharing is not only fun, but it’s a good way to sample the flavors and not to overeat – something that happens a bit too often.

Casa Di Amore was a very wholesome type dinner.  It’s another nice off the beaten path Italian restaurant in Vegas.  The last time I went a little out of the way for Italian was to Nora’s, which was phenomenal.  Nora’s is pretty popular and crowded since it’s been featured on the Travel Channel.

If you’ve been there and done that and want another local Italian joint Casa Di Amore is another good option.  The food was very good, but not the best ever.  The decor was nothing fancy, but everything was good and fun.  I’d rate this above average but not great.

Room Service!

Rooming alone and not being able to sleep normal hours leads to a lot of things.  In this case, it lead me to ordering room service a couple of times when I stayed at Palazzo.

I enjoyed both breakfast and lunch in my room.  A couple of general notes about room service.  Both meals were delivered in less than 30 minutes and were both hot.  The servers were both very cordial and set everything up pretty quickly in the dining area.

BREAKFAST


I ordered a very simple breakfast one morning:  Scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast, orange juice and coffee.

As I mentioned in my coffee blog the brew was Starbucks and tasted fine enough for me to finish off the pot.  I don’t drink orange juice very often but I was in the mood for it and it was perfect for the morning.  It wasn’t the best OJ I’ve had, but it was above average.

Scrambled eggs are not always the easiest thing to have prepared for room service since they get cold quickly and can easily be cooked too much or too little.  These eggs were on point and still warm.  I was very happy about this.  The bacon was nice and crisp which made me very happy.  I’m not a big home fry guy and I don’t even remember them.  I had sourdough toast which was luke warm, but tasty.  I find that sourdough is always better out west then back east.

Overall, breakfast was excellent, but unspectacular and I’m fine with that.

LUNCH

I was beat up one morning and afternoon and needed to sit in the room, breathe and eat some greasy food.  I also gave a light hair of the dog beer a chance to fix me and it worked.  My lunch order was simple:

Bacon Cheeseburger (cheddar cheese), french fries and Coors light.  As you see above the burger was accompanied by a handful of onion rings, veggies and condiments.

The food was still warm when it arrived and the beer was on ice so it was obviously cold.  Much like scrambled eggs, it’s easy to over or under cook and mess up a room service burger.  Thankfully my burger was prepared medium as I asked for it.  Much like the breakfast the bacon was crisp and tasty.

I ate pretty slowly and only nibbled on the fries and onion rings.  Both were starting to get cold when I got around to them, but tasted fine.  Again, nothing spectacular but everything was good.

The real winner of my room service lunch was the Coors Light!  All in all lunch was perfect and got me settled and up and out of the room.

Unlike my trip to Caesars in Atlantic City mid last year there was nothing spectacular about my room service orders but everything was good and warm and did the job.  I would not be afraid to order room service at Palazzo again in the future.  That’s good for a lazy guy that likes to drink too much sometimes.