Las Vegas Showing Signs of Life

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The Digital Signage Expo last week at the Las Vegas Convention Center drew a record number of exhibitors and likely attendees, but seeing the new Cosmopolitan gave me as much confidence, if not more, the city was on its way to recovery.

The Digital Signage Expo drew more than 3,500 attendees to the Las Vegas Convention Center and 195 exhibitors filled more than 60,000 square feet of space. It was good to see an event thriving, and even though it was the last panel on the last day, the session I moderated had 25 engaged audience members. Although what I witnessed was only anecdotal, it does seem to validate the recent numbers showing the return of the meetings and convention business to Sin City.

Just two miles away, the new Cosmopolitan was also bustling with business and its different approach was a breath of fresh air. The resort opened in December, after $3.9 billion and five years of delays and doubts. The resort now owned by lender Deutsche Bank is built on just 8.7 acres, almost 60 less than its neighbor CityCenter, and features 2,995 rooms in two 50-story towers.

The vertical design is obviously different from its counterparts, but the simplicity of it is surprising. Guests can navigate the casino floor without a map, and easily access the meeting space, retail and restaurant outlets on the second, third and fourth floors without walking miles.

Both the Strip and property were quiet early in the week, but on Thursday the Cosmopolitan came to life. The casino floor was packed, bubbling with activity and live music was playing at both ends of the property.

Many have said the Cosmo would be the last of the decades-long surge in mega-resort developments on the Strip, but Cosmopolitan CEO John Unwin told me he thought it would actually be the beginning of the next wave.

Either way, it was good to see some new life in Las Vegas.

For more on the property and the city's return, check out the April issue of Lodging Hospitality.

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