Toronto Star entertainment columnist and part-time travel writer Richard Ouzounian is in Las Vegas to check things out and to report on the recent opening of the Cosmpolitan Hotel in the City Center development. Here's his Thursday, Dec. 30 report. Thanks, Richard!
LAS VEGAS - Things are hot here right now, even if the mercury seems to be heading in the opposite direction. It’s a nippy 2 Celsisus at 8:30 AM as I write this and it’s not getting much warmer today. New Year’s Eve, one of the craziest nights of the year in this crazy town, is supposed to go below zero!
But everyone’s smiling, especially the people here who make their living in the tourism industry. My eyes tell me that I haven’t seen hotels, theatres, restaurants and shops this crowded in several years and Kathleen Kenna, the Star’s resident Vegas expert, is being told by some of the hoteliers that this is the busiest holiday season in 5 years.
A lot of the attention is focused on The Cosmopolitan, which is opening officially on New Year’s Eve and has already earned the nickname “the billion dollar baby” because of its $3.9 billion price-tag.
It’s easy to see where the money has gone. Touch-screen directories line the walls, holograms appear in the least likely places. (Are you ever ready for morphing faces of rock stars on your way to the men’s room?) and video panels filled with ever-changing images dot the mirrored elevators.
The spacious public areas are filled with whimsical sculptures, ranging from a quartet of watchful dogs to a 10-foot high red high-heeled shoe.
Best of all, you can enter the hotel, check in and head up to your room in the elevator without having gone through the casino. Everything is in its place here and despite 2,200 condo-hotel units and 800 conventional hotel rooms, the twin-towered giant actually seems cozy.
The major attraction for me here are the dozen high-end restaurants and I’ve already sampled two. China Poblano is a magic fusion of Asian and Mexican cuisine, which sounds strange but really works. And superstar chef Scott Conant has two restaurants here. I sampled his more casual D.O.C.G. (which are the letters the Italian wine industry puts on its highest end product) and was blown away by the rustic Italian food and the reasonable prices.
More detailed reports on these places will be coming in The Star very soon and I’ll get around to describing the hotel further tomorrow.
But right now, I have to go shopping with my wife Pam and son Michael for something cool enough to wear on New Year’s Eve. Why? Well The Cosmopolitan is ending the year with real style: their musical guests are Coldplay and Jay-Z, performing just for the hotel’s guests.
Jay-Z has booked 50 rooms for his posse and the rest of the VIP list currently includes. Beyoncé Knowles. Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Wahlberg and Kristin Davis.
Cool. And I don’t just mean the temperature.