Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 | 6 p.m.
You want to talk to MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren, but he’s currently tied up with Larry Ruvo. You wait, and slicing through the thicket of partygoers assembled on the second level of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is Steve Wynn and his fiancee, Andrea Hissom.
You turn toward Wynn, but he’s being led through at a purposeful, unimpeded swift pace, a phalanx reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ party headed up by The Hells Angels being led to the stage at Altamont.
Milling nearby are a random assemblage of dignitaries, local celebs and newsmakers, among them attorney Ed Bernstein, Stephen Siegel and Michael Crandell of The Siegel Group, Corey Harrison of “Pawn Stars,” Elaine Wynn, Mayor Oscar Goodman (who took just two steps onto the casino floor before one of the ever-attentive Cosmopolitan staffers pushed a chilled martini toward him), Caesars Entertainment exec Rick Mazur and even Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval.
Sandoval’s was a chance meeting, as he was caught riding the “up” escalator (metaphorically and, in fact, actually) and responded to a shouted question about what he thought of the place by shouting, “It’s nice!”
So it is confirmed. But Murren is the one to talk to, as a year ago he helped open CityCenter in a similarly ostentatious gala at Aria. “Awesome!” was the consolidated review of the new multibillion-dollar project, which is now the curious neighbor of The Cosmopolitan.
Getting to Murren would not be easy. Ruvo had him for several minutes, and as he began to answer questions for a quickie interview, Clint Holmes and his wife, Kelly Clinton Holmes, poked in, and the trio shared in quite the mutual admiration exchange. By the end of it, I expected Holmes to be ensconced, permanently, in The Hollywood Theater.
Finally, Murren spoke to the topic at hand: Cosmopolitan and what it means to the neighborhood.
“I think they should be incredibly proud and excited that Cosmopolitan is opening in this way, and my opinion is so obvious and noncontroversial: It’s compelling. It’s excellent in every level of hospitality, entertainment, gaming, dining, everything,” he said. “That’s not to say they have anything better than what we have -- they don’t -- but it is another option, another flavor, of resort, and it’s very complementary to the neighborhood.
“I think it is very good for the neighborhood, actually, and we own the neighborhood.”
That was the feeling all around the $3.9 billion resort, with visitors all a-blush with praise for The Cosmopolitan’s cool-hip feel. Mazur lauded the lavish ceiling design effects. Siegel, the lord of Vegas boutique hotels, said it was his kind of place, grand in scope without seeming so. Certainly, to appeal to those diverse interests (Harrah's being a giant and The Siegel Group embracing small and chic), The Cosmopolitan is doing a lot of toggling as it opens at what might well be the end of The Great Recession. The hotel is attempting to exude Vintage Vegas while moving the city forward, appeal to the mature and young alike, contemporary and throwback demographics all at once.
Everyone is in style, it seems, at The Cosmopolitan -- within 10 feet, I saw two guys dressed in cowboy gear (with hats) pass by a pair of men dressed as extras in “Mad Men.” The hotel’s nightclub, Marquee, appeals to those who want to dance, converse or even read. The club has invested more than $4 million in the finest in lighting and sound technology, yet one of the great appeals of its speakeasy duck-in lounge, Library, are Vegas-centric books brought in from New York’s Strand Bookstore.
Appropriately, a person who fits modern-age Vegas while hinting toward The Rat Pack -- who himself is a Las Vegan -- opened the hotel from the Boulevard Pool stage. In the cool December air, Brandon Flowers played his solo hits, some stuff from The Killers and even a cover of Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes.” From the terrace of a 58th floor room, you could see him on the hotel’s marquee and hear him just fine, and watching the amoebic crowd far below, you remember something else Murren said in the blush of the party.
“Where else in the country can you have this type of crowd at a multibillion-dollar resort?” he asked, and answered his own question. “Nowhere. Only in Las Vegas, and it’s excellent.”
It’s true, and we said the same thing last year as we could still smell the wood polish at Aria. As someone else noted, later, let’s see how the crowd is on Jan. 10. Or in February. Or a year from now. We’ll know then how the neighborhood looks, but as The Cosmopolitan took the stage last night, she was beautiful.
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.