By Dan Daley, Special to AVIXA
When the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel and casino was conceived more than a decade ago, it was meant to bring a next-generation level of luxury to the Strip. It succeeded: The experience for guests and visitors to the $3.9 billion property’s iconic twin 600-foot-tall towers has earned it the title of “Best Hotel in the World” in 2013 by Gogobot. Its 3,041 rooms and 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space had Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List calling it one of the “Top Hotels in the World” in 2015.
But even as it was upping the ante on luxury, The Cosmopolitan was raising the bar on audiovisual technology — a never-ending pursuit in Las Vegas, where a bigger screen or a louder sound system is always just around the corner.
“If we have an overarching theme, it’s that we’re immersive and memorable,” says Gilbert Medina, AV Systems Manager at what Vegas regulars affectionately call the Cosmo.
There are many AV spaces at the Cosmo to dive into and remember. In the lobby, visitors are greeted by 408 46-inch displays, attached to eight structural support columns. The displays serve as an art installation, designed by the Rockwell Group and displaying what’s known as generative art — ambient, impressionistic visuals that turn the obligatory check-in process into a curated event.
In total, there are 681 displays located throughout the property (including two in each elevator) that act as digital signage, wayfinding and content-marketing conduits. The hotel’s race and sports book includes two huge Christie videowalls, supported by seven 98-inch NEC monitors and a slew of Samsung 65-inch displays scattered around the bar area, all integrated by gaming solution specialists CG Technology.
But for many, it’s the Cosmo’s event venues that are flat-out unforgettable. The Chelsea Theatre (pictured, top) covers 40,000 square feet on two levels and seats 3,200. Concerts and other music-heavy events use the venue’s installed d&b audiotechnik line array sound system. “It’s our biggest venue and the sound is incredible,” says Medina. “The touring acts that have used it have been very satisfied — they just hook up their console and they’re ready to go. It’s a very rider-friendly system and sonically it’s very well matched to the room.”
A portable d&b sound system is assigned to the Cosmo’s Boulevard Pool for events there. Much of what transpires in the pool area can be viewed on the hotel’s marquee signage system, which sends camera feeds to a display matrix whose centerpiece is a four-sided, 20-millimeter pylon display, with a second 20-millimeter corner sign below it. All exterior LED displays and strip accent lighting are coordinated from a centralized show control system. The Cosmopolitan recently began upgrades to enhance its exterior LED digital displays and will more than double their resolution. The project is scheduled to be completed in mid-September 2016.
Nearby is the Cosmo’s most intriguing venue — one that prompted USA Today to ponder, when it opened in 2014, “Is it a club? Is it a restaurant? Is it a show?” — Rose. Rabbit. Lie (pictured, bottom). Even its dot-com-style name is a bit of a mystery. The modern supper club was originally built for a rambling revue called Vegas Nocturne, but now hosts a wide array of events. The room has a Meyer Sound distributed-audio system, with Meyer UPJ speakers managed by the company’s D-Mitri multichannel processor. Rose. Rabbit. Lie. seats only about 200, but it’s the jewel in Cosmo’s event-production crown. “It’s intimate but can feel big,” Medina says, describing its sophisticated AV complement and a trick wall that opens the entire venue to the restaurant.
When events get even more intimate, there’s Suite 7078, the largest and plushest of the Cosmopolitan’s tower suites. A control system manages the 5.1-surround distributed sound and lighting systems, but what’s made this venue a favorite for tech-event clients like Twitter, MSN and Yahoo, is the Cuelight pool table, by Obscura Digital. A Christie projector mounted overhead uses an infrared tracking system to make it appear as though the billiard balls are trailing fire or illustrating Albert Einstein’s depiction of how gravity bends space and time.
Medina’s 15-member staff is capable and his budget enviable — the new lobby video displays cost an estimated $3.1 million — but AV at this scale needs resources. Medina gets them from a combination of service providers: PSAV, which is the hotel’s single largest AV vendor; PRG for touring concert and live-show support; 3G Audio for outdoor concerts; and 4Wall for lighting support.
“Which vendors we use depends on the nature and size of the event,” Medina explains. “Having a number of trusted vendors and their particular technical strengths to choose from allows us to give event clients the best fit of systems for each venue.”
That kind of support is critical, considering how much the AV staff is counted on to handle complex tasks, one of the most complicated of which was the recent consolidation of all AV management into the main control room above the casino. All content distribution and systems management has been centralized, a project Medina says they completed in just four months. For instance, the video switcher in the control room can direct content to any of the marquee screens, the digital signage or the suites’ video displays.
“It’s the hub of the entire AV infrastructure here now,” he says. “We had to jump through a lot of hoops with corporate IT, because it’s critical that the corporate and AV networks be kept separate.”
Not that the Cosmo’s guests would ever realize how intricate the AV back-of-house is. But if they ever did look behind the AV curtain, they’d see a show that’s as spectacular as any on the Strip.