63°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Cosmo hoping to hook high rollers with latest upgrades

Updated May 11, 2017 - 5:19 pm

From a new penthouse on the 71st floor of Boulevard Tower of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, nearly all of Las Vegas can be seen.

The balcony, about 100 feet long, wraps around the hotel, giving a 270-degree span, including a bird’s-eye view of the Bellagio fountain some 500 feet below.

This two-bedroom, 3,200-square-foot penthouse, decorated by designer Adam Tihany, is one of six on the floor.

Down the hallway, decorated with a Marilyn Monroe portrait, is The Reserve, a 2,300-square-foot room with textured wood wall panels designed in a style reminiscent of a men’s club from the 1920s-1930s.

Featuring two gaming parlors separated by a movable wall and a bar offering Macallan M single malt whisky and Louis XIII Black Pearl Cognac, it has the feel of a movie setting for a James Bond film.

Players entering The Reserve will likely be wagering seven figures. Accompanied by a manager, they are buzzed in by security to the exclusive room. They can sign financial documents transported in seconds from the main floor by an pneumatic air tube.

Just 18 months ago, The Reserve and the 21 penthouses located on the 71st through 75th floors were bare walls.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has spent millions hiring designers and outfitting The Reserve and penthouses with high-end materials and art work to woo the wealthy and boost gaming revenue.

Solving a persistent problem

Management is hoping it will solve a problem that has dogged the ritzy establishment since it opened in December, 2010: weak casino earnings, especially from VIP clients. The Cosmopolitan posted its first quarterly profit only in 2015.

Prior to the opening of the Boulevard Towers penthouses, The Cosmopolitan had just four rooms for top clients.

“We didn’t have enough of this type of product to compete for high-end players,’’ said Brian Benowitz, senior vice president of gaming operations, as he showed off the penthouse. “Now we are seeing a dramatic increase in our luxury, high-end players. People that sometimes played a few hours and then left are now staying overnight with us.’’

The Cosmopolitan has just hired a new president of Far East marketing, who will soon be flying to meet high rollers in Asia armed with newly printed photo books of the penthouses and The Reserve to promote business.

“The Far East is always going to be the region that wags the dog’s tail,” said Benowitz, referring to the VIP segment.

The launch of the VIP penthouses is just the latest upgrade at The Cosmopolitan since private equity group Blackstone bought the luxury resort in 2014 for $1.73 billion from Deutsche Bank.

Chief Executive Officer Bill McBeath, who was hired by Blackstone in 2015, has been revamping large swaths of the casino floor with the help of Brian Benowitz and Kevin Sweet, vice president of slot operations. Sweet previously worked with McBeath at Aria.

Among the first changes was moving the 65 high-limit slots out of a room with gaming tables into their own lounge and adding more popular games like pinball, said Sweet.

“Creating the space was one of the most important things we could do,” said Sweet, who has been overseeing slot operations for about a decade. “The previous space did not allow us to provide the luxury slot player with the type of service and amenities that they expect.”

Sweet has also changed nearly 50 percent of the 1,300 slots on the floor, adding Asian-themed titles and iterations of the popular Buffalo game.

“The customer wants new and exciting products and we have the ability to get capital to buy new machines.”

The Cosmopolitan didn’t disclose how much it has invested in upgrading its facilities since McBeath took over or how casino revenue and profit has been performing. McBeath told the Review-Journal in 2015 that Blackstone signed off on $200 million in investments over three years.

New gaming machines cost about $13,000, according to Las Vegas-based brokerage Union Gaming, implying that The Cosmopolitan may have spent just shy of $10 million on new slot machines over the past two years.

Sportsbook and Talon revamp

Benowitz and Sweet removed 160 slots in a corner area near the Strip to make way for a new sports and racing area with curved screens and a bar that debuted in February 2016.

“It didn’t have the vibe,” said Benowitz of the slot area. Regardless of what games were put in that area, they under-performed, he said.

Now, the 23 games on the bar counter generate about as much gaming revenue as the 160 slots, the two executives said, without disclosing numbers.

The Talon Club, a high-stakes table game area where high rollers can store their own scotch in lockers, was expanded at the same time, boosting the number of table games to 20 from 15.

A few months later, the high-limit table game area was reopened with 17 games. The Cosmopolitan has a total of 124 table games.

“We couldn’t change the building, but we could carve out spots that our guests could enjoy,” said Benowitz, referring to the the building’s original plans as a luxury condominium.

New chairs, expanded retail

Management has not limited their refurbishment project to games on the casino floor.

Nearly 2,000 chairs were upgraded at $700 a piece while 40 chandeliers were removed to give the main area a more spacious feel.

A new loyalty desk was opened in a higher-traffic area. The Cosmopolitan is very focused on boosting members of its loyalty program, offering 5 percent rebates, the executives said.

The old loyalty desk will become part of the adjacent retail store, which will offer more Cosmopolitan-branded gear.

“People want to take a piece of The Cosmopolitan home, whether it is a cap or a shirt,” said Benowitz. “There is a lot of opportunity there.”

Contact Todd Prince at tprince@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Lucky Dragon’s foreign investors demand refund

The Lucky Dragon’s developers and prior management are facing lawsuits from Chinese investors, the project’s main lender and a Canadian high-roller who paid a $400,000 deposit to lease the casino just one month before it abruptly closed.