Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas - Wow!

I have been traveling to Las Vegas for over 20 years. I have spent time in all types of properties – big, small, expensive, inexpensive, casinos that don’t exist any more – you name it. One of the reasons I continue to visit Las Vegas is that I’ve had great experiences regardless of the price point of the hotel/casino I’ve visited.

As I continue to write my travel guide, Simplifying Las Vegas, and the upcoming SLV App (stay tuned!), it will always be endorsement-free. I don’t want any property or company to influence what I write or how I present the content for my audience, average folks who want to make the most out of their Vegas vacation.

Ok – so disclaimers out of the way. I have to tell you how impressed I was with my recent visit to the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. I got married over Labor Day weekend and spent a great deal of time at the Cosmo, especially in our wrap-around terrace suite. Getting married in Las Vegas is a wonderful experience, and having a view of the Strip enhances it of course. So you might be thinking, “sure, anyone would be impressed in this circumstance.” But a wedding involves a lot of planning, a great deal of moving parts that must come together in a specific way, and a lot of help and reliance on people you don’t even know.

The Cosmo came through and then some. Before the wedding, I spent a good deal of time on the phone, speaking with everyone from the concierge desk to the kitchen to the hospitality manager. Everyone was pleasant, helpful, and insistent that we were happy and that our experience would be amazing. Once we arrived, we were impressed with everything, and everyone was extremely hospitable, even folks who did not know we were getting married. Bartenders, restaurant hostesses, pool attendants and valets were pleasant and provided an extremely high level of service.

As a boutique hotel, the Cosmo is on the upper end of the price scale. I have found with similar hotels, the old saying is true; “you get what you pay for,” but with the Cosmo, you get more. When you are on vacation, you don’t want to have to think about the little things that make a difference. You want everyone to smile and feel like your experience is the only one that matters. At the Cosmo, that was exactly how we felt.

Check in at the hotel was easy, although they need to guide people a little better on which line to stand it by the front desk. The front desk associate was extremely nice and helpful and quickly assessed our situation. We were a little early, and our suite was not quite ready, but they texted us as soon as it was, and we had our keys, which would be activated as soon as they sent the text. This meant we didn’t have to go back to the desk to get the keys – a nice convenience that meant I could put down some (losing) baseball bets before our room was ready.

The layout of the Cosmo makes it easy to get from point A to point B, and in Las Vegas this is a nice feature. The property was built on a smaller plot of land than most resorts, and it is much more vertical than others, so you don’t have to spend three days getting from your room to anywhere else you need to go. Restaurants, bars, the casino, the pools and everything else is within a quick walk or elevator ride. It is much, much easier finding your way around the Cosmo than other properties. Overall, the property is extremely clean, less smoky, and the right touch of modern and classic to make it visually appealing.

The food we had for our reception at our suite was fantastic and beautifully prepared. We even had a few leftovers that tasted yummy the next day! The day after our wedding, we spent some time at a cabana at the Boulevard Pool. It is really a fantastic space, and they were exteremly accomodating to all our requests.

My only real beef? The parking lot. You drive down to find more spaces, and each floor displays the number of available spaces, which are also indicated by little green lights above the space. However, a green light does not necessarily mean an open space, and it is difficult to navigate. However, after Labor Day, there were many more open spaces, and I got used to the lay of the land, so it was not much a problem after the first few times into the depths of the garage.

It takes a lot to make me write about an experience, either good or bad. I feel like I had to mention what a wonderful time we had at the Cosmo, how great the property is and how everyone seems to go out of their way to go the extra mile. I’d like to say “thank you” specifically to these kind folks who went above and beyond to help us:

  • Holly Myers - Hospitality and Room Service Manager
  • Kelly Zymanek - Manager- Room Service & Hospitalities
  • Nichole Lafreniere - Senior Reservations Host, The Pool District
  • Kennon Wolff - Senior Guest Services Manager

Thank you for making our stay incredible and for helping to ensure our wedding week was unforgettable!!

We’ll be back.

Viva,

Mike

Please DO NOT Play 6:5 Blackjack

There is a growing trend in Las Vegas that is driving me crazy. As gaming revenue continues to decline, the games get worse. I urge you to ensure that you play at 3:2 blackjack tables when you visit Las Vegas.

For those of you unfamiliar with blackjack rules, I'll elaborate a bit. When you get a blackjack at a table, you should be paid 3 dollars for every 2 dollars you bet. So if you bet $10, your reward should be $15. If you play at a 6:5 table, you are only getting $12. That might not seem like much, but over time you are giving more of your entertainment dollars to the casino.

What's the difference, you might ask? In the long run, you lose about 8 times more money playing at a table with 6:5 blackjack. And that just stinks. And, my friends, it does not have to be that way.

When you walk up to a blackjack table, if the blackjack payout is not on the felt (and many times it is not) or anywhere else on the table, ask! If it is 6:5, ask if the casino has 3:2 blackjack. Dealers will either point you to the tables that have 3:2 blackjack, or you should play somewhere else.

Many times, casinos will offer 6:5 blackjack on single or double-deck blackjack games, or they will offer 6:5 blackjack games with lower minimums (like a $5 table). Sometimes, they will also offer goofy games (like Fun 21 or Spanish 21 or something similar) where the blackjack payout is 6:5 or, even worse, even money. Please stay away from these.

Blackjack is hard enough to win without having bad rules. There are plenty of casinos that offer good blackjack play at low minimums, including Treasure Island (TI), Stratosphere, most MGM properties, most downtown casinos and most off-strip casinos.

The higher the minimum at the table, the better the rules for the player (such as dealer stays on soft 17, resplitting aces, etc.). Also, the higher the number of decks, typically the better the rules. They are trying to thwart advantage payers, so they figure if the rules are bad at 1-2 deck games, it will keep card counters away.

For a good list of current casino rules and the house edge, check out this site: http://wizardofvegas.com/guides/blackjack-survey/

At the very least, please, please do not play at a 6:5 table. You will save yourself some money and some entertainment fun in the long run!

Viva, Mike