New sight on the Strip: Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to open mid-December

The struggling economy in Las Vegas sent tourism officials into overdrive in 2009. The results: More hotels, more casinos and more entertainment options. The opening of Las Vegas CityCenter marked the first step in the city’s attempt to drive tourism dollars — a mini-city smack in the middle of the busiest street in the desert was sure to drive a new type of Sin City crowd. As CityCenter continues to roll the dice on the opening of new restaurants, hotels and residences, other hotel companies are placing their bets that a ‘newer’ Las Vegas will boost the ailing economy.

The newest headline on the marquee: the $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which is scheduled to open mid-December.

The new casino-resort hopes to attract more visitors to Vegas with its 13 restaurants, a spa, nightclub and 150,000 square feet of meeting space. It will feature a rooftop pool deck overlooking the Strip and a 3,800-space underground parking garage. The hotel will have a total 2,995 rooms (only partially open by December) and the decor is said to be elegant and, well, cosmopolitan. Each room at the Cosmopolitan has its own terrace and, for the thrill-seeker, a 40th-floor open-air balcony overlooking the Strip. While the scene is likely breathtaking, it’s not for the faint of heart. (A steel-enforced railing bar keeps you about two feet from the terraces’ edge.)

The purpose: to drive a newer, more modern clientele to the famous Strip. The problem: the city’s declining tourism rates.

According to the Department of Transportation statistics, Las Vegas still has a lot of catching up to do. In 2009, the city’s hotel rooms garnered 22 percent less per night than in 2008 – a steal for travelers; a black hole for the books. However, the billions of dollars poured into these new hotels and resort complexes are meant to inspire a new type of traveler looking for more than $5 bets and winning slot machines.

Cosmopolitan Chief Executive Officer John Unwin, a former Caesars Palace general manager, told the Associated Press the resort’s construction is fully funded and plans are firm to have all of Cosmopolitan’s rooms open by July 2011.