End to an era

Blackstone says final goodbye to Cosmopolitan employees with $27M in awards ahead of MGM sale

Employee appreciation event at The Cosmopolitan on Wednesday.
Reading time 2:49 min

Employees of luxury hotel and casino The Cosmopolitan, located on the Las Vegas Strip, were surprised on Wednesday by venue owner Blackstone Group with individual $5K bonuses. As many as 5,000 workers were honored with the special recognition, totaling $27 million, handed out ahead of Blackstone’s planned sale of the resort’s operations to MGM Resorts International.

In addition to the bonus surprise, more than 2,500 of The Cosmopolitan's employees were in attendance during an appreciation event held at the resort’s iconic music and entertainment venue, The Chelsea theater. This event kicked off with a video presentation that highlighted the resort’s “transformative journey” since Blackstone’s ownership seven years ago.

President and CEO of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Bill McBeath, took The Chelsea stage to thank employees (dubbed CoStars) for their “unwavering commitment in making The Cosmopolitan the leading luxury hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.”

"We have incredible partners in Blackstone. In just seven short years, we were able to transform every single facet of the resort" said McBeath. "But more importantly, it was you – the CoStars, the people, that breathe life and vitality into The Cosmopolitan that makes it [the most successful resort in Las Vegas]." 

The event comes as New York-based investment firm Blackstone finalizes its planned sale of The Cosmopolitan's operations to casino and hospitality giant MGM Resorts. The operator cleared a major regulatory hurdle toward completion of the deal last week, when the Nevada Gaming Control Board voted to recommend approval of a transfer of interest and licensing.

The transaction, valued at $5.65 billion, would make MGM owner of The Cosmopolitan's operations, a major luxury casino and hotel just south of the Bellagio that opened in December 2010 and was built for $3.9 billion.

The Nevada Gaming Commission is now set to consider final approval of the deal next week, on May 19. Under terms of the transaction, MGM would acquire the operations of the property for $1.6 billion, while the underlying real estate of the venue is to be sold for about $4 billion to a group of buyers that includes a Blackstone real estate investment trust.

"We are incredibly proud of what we accomplished at The Cosmopolitan under our ownership to create the most dynamic destination on the Las Vegas Strip,” Tyler Henritze, Head of Strategic Investments for Blackstone Real Estate, said at the Wednesday event. “We know that none of that would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the resort's amazing employees, and we are thrilled to recognize those contributions." 

At the celebratory event, McBeath handed out employee recognitions, building anticipation around the final award: Blackstone’s $5,000 grand prize bonus for every worker. The moment is described in a recap press release as “the culmination of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ unmatched success.”

The Blackstone era at the helm of the resort was marked by a number of major redevelopments, including 3,000+ revamped rooms and suites, the introduction of 20+ food and beverage concepts, and investments in state-of-the-art resort technology.

Throughout Blackstone’s reign, the resort donated more than $9 million to local Las Vegas charities and amassed a staggering 570+ awards, including USA Today’s Best Casino, Condé Nast Traveler's Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Hotel, and one of America's Best Employers by Forbes Magazine in 2020.

The luxury property has 3,027 rooms in two 603-foot towers -the Boulevard Tower and the Chelsea Tower-, a 110,000-square-foot casino floor, 300,000 square feet of retail and food and beverage outlets, a 3,200-seat theater, and 150,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.

Acquisition of its operations will grant MGM, which operates the neighboring CityCenter complex and Bellagio, control of all gaming along a two-mile stretch between Flamingo Road to the north and Russell Road to the south.

“It goes without saying, we are extremely excited by the acquisition,” MGM Chairman and CEO Bill Hornbuckle told regulators last week. As Blackstone says goodbye to its employees after seven years as the operator of The Cosmopolitan, MGM prepares for the beginning of a new era.

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