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September 17, 2014

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Cosmopolitan a new jewel on The Strip — especially that chandelier

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Steve Marcus

A view of the Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010.

Finally, we may have run out of ways to use chandeliers.

We’ve had them ringing ballrooms and hanging atop hotel entrances. They’ve been shaped as giant globes, slung thinly in strands across pool decks and hung by hooks over fancy nightclubs.

Inside the Cosmopolitan

Get an inside look at the last resort to open on The Strip for the next few years. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas seeks to appeal to "the curious class," from a "restaurant neighborhood" with a secret pizza joint to its unprecedented number of rooms with outdoor terraces. The Cosmopolitan opens its doors Dec. 15, 2010.

Outside Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is shown at sunset from the roof of Planet Hollywood on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Cosmopolitan Opening Ceremony

A view of the Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. Launch slideshow »

They have dropped from theater ceilings at The Phantom’s angry directive, and they have graced piano tops, too. They’ve even been made as jewelry, tiny but eye-catching accessories dripping from necks and earlobes of the rich and famous.

But at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, we party inside the chandelier. This is at a multi-deck bar called, fittingly enough, The Chandelier. This is a three-level imbibing and hobnobbing haven encased in an enormously audacious chandelier that is said to be strung with 2 million beaded crystals. We’ll take that claim at its word; who has the time to count?

It is awesome, and no matter your physical size, you instantly feel small when encountering the tri-decked bar space. Walking through The Chandelier, you feel like Dennis Quaid’s Tuck Pendleton from “Innerspace,” Tuck Pendleton if little Tuck were inhabiting a Bob Mackie-designed Cher costume.

At this writing, I am actually in a Cosmopolitan room on the 58th floor, and from below I hear Brandon Flowers’ sound check from the Boulevard Pool, where he’s scheduled to perform later as part of the official soft opening party. The song is “Bette Davis Eyes,” oddly enough, but Las Vegas’ favorite rock crooner is making it sing.

I’ve spent a good part of yesterday and some of today at The Cosmopolitan as it preps for its highly anticipated opening tonight. Through my eyes, here are some early high points:

A splashy entry: David Rockwell designed the images (in a place called his “video lab”) on the 10 video panel-covered pillars just off the registration desk. They glow hypnotically with images of sprouting flowers and an Octopus’ garden-style aquatic scene. At least, that’s what it looks like to me. Could well be paramecium mating, for all I know. I would not typically suggest that anyone take mind-altering hallucinogens, ever, but experiencing that condition would make these video displays extremely cool.

A Vegas appreciation, and an appreciation of women: Jonathan Segal opened his first U.S. restaurant in New York’s meatpacking district. That was four years ago. He says he’s finally ready to take on one of the “sacrosanct” American attractions, Las Vegas. “Las Vegas is the hospitality capital of the world,” says the chief executive of One Group, which owns STK, The Cosmopolitan’s upscale steakhouse. “Everybody has to be great.” Segal has embraced a wide-open design with a bar in the center, a nucleus radiating energy throughout the establishment. He’s also asked women to help craft a menu that has small, medium and large portions and supplanted such steakhouse staples as crab cakes with crab salad. “Women make 85 percent of household decisions,” Segal says. “(Men) like to think they make half of them, but women only make it seem like we do. And 75 percent of steakhouse guests are men. We have changed that.” STK uses more beige and purple, and its menu offers Li’l Big Macs in place of what Segal derisively refers to as “a whole dead cow on your plate.”

A skinny effect: Might seem obvious to anyone who has driven past The Cosmopolitan on The Strip, but this is a thin property. A lot of up-and-down, like a giant Jenga puzzle. You feel this verticality as you move around the hotel, a far more appealing prospect, feet-wise, than the horizontally expansive layouts of the more recent resorts that have opened in Las Vegas over the past decade. Friends will say, “Meet me on the third level,” more than, say, “Meet me across the casino at the giant lion.” The 8.7 acres is used to great effect. That alone makes The Cosmopolitan different from its more wide-sitting competition.

A fusion of sensibilities: Finally, a resort has recognized the dual appeal of sports and live music. At The Cosmopolitan, Book & Stage is a sports book by day and a live music venue by night. So it is possible to lay a bet on the Saints and Jeremy Shockey at 10 a.m., then take in a performance by Jeremy Cornwell at 10 p.m. Book & Stage offers In-Running wagering (the option of betting on games in progress with use of a hand-held unit that is not a snubbed pencil), and the music acts will be “emerging artists," such as Las Vegas’ Cornwell, whose first engagement is Dec. 22-25. Catch them while you can is the message.

The lure of audio entertainment: At the bar called Bond, music is designed to leak out of the venue and onto The Strip. The idea is to lure pedestrians into the club with a musical fishnet.

Vegas-tilted boutique activity: Beckley Boutique, a haven of women’s fashion from name brands and indie designers, is fronted by Melissa Richardson Akkaway, who returns to her Vegas underpinnings with her first boutique in her hometown. Akkaway helped open Mandalay Place at Mandalay Bay in 2002. Her family’s first shop in Las Vegas was located on Main Street and opened in 1908, which is about when The Great Recession started.

Why not eight? That’s too many! At Holstiens Steak & Buns, seven types of sausage are offered on the menu.

Greek to me: The great Greek restaurant Estiatorio Milos flies its seafood in fresh each day from the Mediterranean, and its floor is made of antique marble imported from Athens. The heavy clay urns at the entrance date to the 18th century.

Views from everywhere: Though it sits on a relatively small parcel, The Cosmopolitan offers some terrific views of The Strip. Even if you’ve seen The Strip from all existing vantage points, these new perspectives impress. The wrap-around terrace suites on the east tower look down into the Bellagio water show and north along The Strip and east toward Planet Hollywood and the Paris Las Vegas half-sized Eiffel Tower (of the 2,995 rooms, 2,200 feature terraces). The restaurants Scarpetta and Comme Ca also offer great Strip-side views.

Marquee is a club, maybe, for me: Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub seems to have effectively addressed one of the chief nightclub complaints in Las Vegas, which is, “What?!” We can’t hear in these places, too often, but one of the club’s operators, Louis Abin, says his crew has addressed that concern with an audio system installed by Sound Investment, an audio production company with offices in Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. As Abin stood in the middle of the club’s dance floor this week, he asked Sound Investment head Dan Agney to turn the music up to 90 percent. When the music was jacked up, the two men continued their conversation.

Marquee is another exercise in verticality, a four-level club boasting $4 million in audio/visual technology (video by V-Squared Labs of L.A., which has put on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ stage show, among others), a space called the Library where you can shoot pool and read Vegas-centric books, and a smaller offshoot called Boom Box, which also has a state-of-the-art sound system. In the main club, 20 of the nation’s top dancers gyrate and twirl about on a three-level dance platform. Occasionally, a drawbridge is lowered, and they dance on that, too.

In an understated way, of course. It’s nearly party time, and we’ll check back later.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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