enculturating las vegas into the next millennium... art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater, history, nature and everything else that enriches the lives of those who live and visit southern nevada... Since 2003...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Cosmopolitan... Part One...

Everybody knows that I was born and raised in Las Vegas, actually I wear it proudly on my sleeve. As such I have a keen understanding about the city that I grew up in, while at the same time having a strong opinion about it. An opinion that I tend to keep to myself or share with those very close to me. So when it comes to new resort developments on the Strip I get as excited about them as going to a dentist. Therefore allow me to opine.

Interestingly enough over the last few months all the hype surrounding the Cosmopolitan has caught my attention, which by the way is no easy task. The Cosmopolitan is the last project of The Great Resort Era (1989-2010) that began more than 20 years ago with the opening of the Mirage. Its location on barely eight acres of land, sandwiched between the Bellagio and City Center, the fact that it was curiously built around the Jockey Club and its focus on the "Curious Class" tells me that this maybe a place worth visiting. It is also, by its very nature, a survivor like it's neighbor to the South. Honestly neither resort should be even standing considering the economic downturn, but through the thick-and-thin they both are here and are ready to serve the world.

Me with a Shepard
With all this said, this past Saturday myself and a few close friends decided to go ahead and visit the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino. I almost cancelled at the last minute because I was worried that I wouldn't  find parking and that the place would be a mad house; stereotypical local who does not go to the Strip because of all the hassle. But to my surprise it was quite easy to get into the resort and traffic was manageable for a Saturday night. Parking was made easy thanks to a red or green light above each space informing drivers if it's available, a first for Las Vegas. So after parking our transport-devices we meandered to the "lift" to take us up to the casino. As we turned the corner toward the elevators we were greeted by spectacular murals by Shepard Fairey, the very artist who created the iconic two-toned Obama posters emblazoned with the word HOPE. After spending a few minutes musing and taking photos with these wonderful works of art we couldn't wait to see what awaited us upstairs. Heck if the parking garage looked like this who knows, right?

As we exited the elevator we were welcomed by a casino appointed in rich colors, textures and lighting that created an aura of intimacy that was just enough to comfort the eyes. The casino floor was surprisingly sheik, with a touch of contemporary elegance that actually made it exceptionally inviting. The space is narrow yet wide enough that you do not feel claustrophobic and considering the relatively small footprint of the resort itself, the space was simply delightful.

Chandelier Bar
Meandering through the casino, not really knowing which way we were going, we came across the Pièce de résistance, the objet itself, the very heart of the Cosmopolitan, the Chandelier Bar. As someone who knows chandeliers from my time at Liberace's Rhinestone Ritz I was definitely shocked and absolutely amazed at what stood before me. The "Chandelier" rises several stories before you and is literally dripping in millions, if not tens of millions of crystals, each one sparkling brighter than the Cullinan diamond. The chandelier is actually a two story lounge and bar that gives the casino the touch of modern elegance that is done so perfectly that you are easily astounded by its beauty. Looking around at others who gazed upon it demonstrated to me that the Cosmopolitan created a winner.

After walking around the Chandelier we ascended to the second floor that is easily accessed by the escalators next to the bar. Upon arriving on the mezzanine, we were drawn to the most curious exhibition of antique Singer Sewing machines. The sewing machines basically make up the outside wall of a boutique; there is something to be said when you are greeted by several hundred sewing machines. After taking a few pics of the whimsical display we continued to the bar where we sat down to have a cocktail. Our bartender Derek served me a delightful libation called the "Sage 75", a beautifully mixed cocktail that was earthy, refreshing and a nice welcome to Las Vegas's newest hotel. I do want to mention that while we stood at the bar, Mr. John Unwin the Cosmopolitan's CEO walked through the space with a giant smile on his face. You could tell he was one happy man and deservedly so, heck we were quite happy ourselves...

Stay tuned for Part Two... The art collection and other treasures of the Cosmopolitan...

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

posted by Brian Paco Alvarez, Curator and Chronicler of Culture at


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