Mr. John Unwin
The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino
3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
It is with great distress I write this. I consider you a friend and colleague, and you know I hold your food and beverage bona fides in the highest regard.
You also know how much I love what you have done with The Cosmopolitan — turning it from an almost financial disaster to the most talked about hotel in town…and maybe the country. The murderer’s row of restaurants you and your team assembled on the third floor puts any aggregation of great eats to shame — save for the Time Warner Center in New York City. Foodies from far and wide have flocked there, the national food press has been effusive in its praise, and, most importantly, you have developed a strong following of locals who consider dining there one of the great amenities of living in Las Vegas.
One of the small reasons people have been so excited about your food and beverage venues is because of the ease of ingress. The access that Costas Spiliadis, Scott Conant, and you, among others, bragged to me about a year ago when touting how easy it would be for locals to come, park in the convenient underground garage, and zip up to the third floor to bar hop, table hop, restaurant hop, nightclub or whatever. And how right you were. Your parking garage has been a breeze to navigate, a joy to park in, and within steps of an elevator to take you wherever you need to be in your fabulous hotel.
That is, until a couple of weeks ago.
What I discovered then and confirmed today was that someone in your hotel convinced someone to block direct entrance to the third floor from the garage (the one all the locals use to get into your hotel), in order to route everyone through the casino before they can eat or drink. If you park your car and take the elevator, it now only goes to the first (casino) floor, where they must then wander past banks of slots (and the Chandelier Bar) before they find their way to the escalators taking them to the second and third floors. (If anyone is foolish enough to actually try to find the elevator bank to take them up a couple of floors, they’re in for a wild goose chase/hike of the first order.)
As I write this, I’ve just received an official statement from the hotel telling me the change was made to “optimize circulation in the hotel.” Which is casino-speak for “get people to gamble more.”
To which I can only say: What is this, 1965? What are you trying to become, some kind of grind joint? How much does that traffic really mean to your bottom line, and what’s the sense in confusing and inconveniencing people who have made your restaurant floor so wildly popular?
Obviously, someone (we’re guessing your VP of Gaming Operations) convinced you that making a few thousand (hundred?) hungry and thirsty people wind through the casino for an extra few minutes every night is crucial to improving your daily drop….but I would be shocked if the avid foodies, winos, babes, dudes and hipsters who are eager to eat and drink in your top flight venues are all that interested in being diverted to, or distracted by, games of chance. All you are doing is creating needless annoyance because your casino is jealous of all the traffic your restaurants are generating. More to the point: How many people actually use the parking garage to by-pass the casino floor just to eat? And are their numbers so vast that routing them around the casino will make a difference to your bottom line?
This letter is being written to ask you to reconsider this seemingly small operational change in how your hotel operates. It was this easy access that was sold to locals. Many adopted it immediately and have been enthusiastic supporters of your hotel because of these not-so-little conveniences that demonstrated there was a sincere effort to cater to our needs. Tourists will always wander around aimlessly in hotels. That’s what they’re here to do. Give them the runaround and they don’t mind. The locals do mind and you’re going to lose them if you treat them like know-nothings who need to be herded around like sheep.
The people who gamble gamble. People who want to eat and drink eat and drink. In your hotel, I’d venture to say the confluence of the two groups less likely than in any other — mainly because your third floor has become a legitimate attraction in its own right. Someone other than a restaurant critic should have told you this. Someone other than me has to have noticed that the accessibility of all of your tasty attractions is part of their appeal. Someone needs to be accountable for damaging your brand — a brand I know you and others have worked mightily and successfully to establish.
Someone needs to be (figuratively) shot.