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Do escorts really frequent the Rosewood Hotel lobby bar in Menlo Park?

by various users on Quora

A persistent rumor is that prostitutes frequent the lobby bar at the Rosewood looking for wealthy aging Silicon Valley types. Is this just a Sand Hill Road myth?

Second question: why is Thursday night considered "Cougar Night" there?

Anon User, 2/1/12
My husband and I were on a date night there and he was hit on by multiple Eastern European hookers. They were definitely pretty hot stuff....and aggressive! Update: someone suggested that the transaction is made through that random jewelry store next to the bar. Buy some jewelry, hand it over, it is later exchanged for cash. What?
Anon User, 9/16/11
Don't know if they're escorts for certain, but there are a lot of wealthy older men who seem to have found arm candy very recently. I get a totally sketchy vibe while being there.

More recently, I've been minding my own business (waiting for my wife to finish up a meeting) and had two scantily clad women pull up on both sides of me to strike up a conversation. Not being a professional athlete, hollywood celebrity or even a local bigwig, this doesn't happen so often to me. After I showed no interest, they proceeded to find another similarly average guy to repeat the process with (and they had more luck).

This article originally appeared at: 221 words.

Rosewood Hotel Prostitution Sting Snares Top VCs

by Connie Nestlebush from The Silicon Valley Pasquinade on Aug. 3, 2012

The Rosewood Hotel Bar was prowling with excitement last night and not just for its unofficial weekly “Cougar Night.” Shortly after 11:00PM two undercover Palo Alto detectives flashed some leg then flashed their badges, taking into custody several patrons.

Eyewitnesses report that the undercover detectives were using Eastern European disguises and accents to solicit the would be Johns. The detectives were approached at the main bar and back patio bar by several prominent Sand Hill venture capital executives. One partner from Kleiner Perkins (already ensnared in a separate sexual harassment lawsuit) was apparently trying to close a Series B round of funding for a Sunnyvale mobile start-up by offering a night with both detectives.

Palo Alto Police Chief John Wiggins will hold a press conference Monday morning to report additional details of the sting operation. William Phelps, the General Manager at the Rosewood has not returned repeated calls from the Pasquinade seeking comment.

Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.

This article originally appeared at: 163 words.

Bogus report of venture capitalist vice arrest seems to have cooled off Rosewood's 'Cougar Night'

by Peter Delevett from Mercury News on Sep. 10, 2012

MENLO PARK -- The talk around Sand Hill Road last week was, "Who killed Cougar Night?"

For months, the five-star Rosewood Hotel in the heart of Silicon Valley's venture capital community has been the site of a Thursday night meat market, with hordes of women in split skirts and stilettos on the prowl for rich techies who are more than happy to oblige.

But a recent report that police had arrested several big-name venture capitalists for solicitation -- by all accounts, a false story on a satirical Web site -- seems to have helped chill the scene, at least for now.

The rumor's wildfire spread shows just how much Cougar Night has become part of the valley's startup lexicon. Explains a longtime venture capitalist who's seen colleagues from most of the leading venture firms consorting with pretty women on Thursday nights: "It's a target-rich environment."

By day, the Rosewood's Madera restaurant and lounge are ground zero for power in the valley. Top investors like Ron Conway and Marc Andreessen gather to do deals in a way perhaps not seen since the dot-com heyday of Buck's Woodside, where legend has it Hotmail and Yahoo (YHOO) were launched over pancakes.

Stanford University built the Rosewood in 2009 to compete with the Four Seasons Silicon Valley a few miles away. The hotel's valet parking lot is an open-air showroom for luxury cars; last Thursday, they included a Ferrari, an Aston Martin, a Rolls Royce and multiple Mercedes.

But on Thursday nights, the mood shifts. "I've had male clients tell me they won't come here anymore on Thursdays because the women are so aggressive," said Amy Andersen, who runs a pricey matchmaking and social network called Linx Dating. "They will literally be mauled like a piece of bloody meat."

Andersen -- whose business card bears the title "love concierge" -- says that while Cougar Night owes its name to the fiftysomething divorcees who show up to scout for boy toys, it's actually an all-ages crowd. "A lot of younger women will change from their work clothes, put on a cocktail dress and head over," she said. "They're looking for husbands here."

Last Thursday, though, roughly half the crowd were men wearing sport coats and vaguely uncomfortable smiles. Most looked like they'd be happy for a woman to maul them.

As late afternoon turned to dusk over the Santa Cruz Mountains, the action picked up moderately, but there were none of the fight-your-way-to-the-bar mobs that prior visitors had described.

One Madera employee said business had been off all week, in part due to the Labor Day holiday. A regular customer, on the other hand, blamed the bogus blog post for thinning the crowds.

According to the story, which appeared last month on a site called Silicon Valley Pasquinade, undercover Palo Alto detectives sporting fake Eastern European accents busted "several prominent Sand Hill venture capital executives." Many of the tech investors who've swapped the arrest story via e-mail seem not to have noticed that pasquinade means "satire" or "lampoon." It's unclear whether the story's author intended to bring down Cougar Night, but the blog -- which was registered through an Arizona company that keeps a Web site owner's identity private -- hasn't been updated since the prostitution "bust" was posted.

Palo Alto police chuckled at the report, considering that the city's vice cops would have no business making arrests in Menlo Park. And though the blog references "Police Chief John Wiggins," that's not the name of the top cop in either town.

For that matter, the Rosewood's general manager isn't William Phelps, as the blog claims; he's actually Michael Casey, and he firmly denies that his hotel is a hotbed for hookers.

"I work closely with Menlo Park police on any and all activities that might be illegal or immoral," he said in an interview. "This is a rumor that I can tell you cannot be substantiated. It's a suburban myth."

Still, while there were ample red flags that the story was a red herring -- other headlines on the site included, "Larry Page's Voice Found at Redwood City Bar" -- many readers said it had an air of truthiness. Eyewitnesses swear they've seen bevies of beauties streaming into the Rosewood parking lot on foot, fueling widespread rumors of Russian escorts bused in from the East Bay.

And the veteran VC told this newspaper about chatting with suspiciously out-of-place Eastern European women during prior trips to Madera, though another regular customer said the women weren't prostitutes.

The phenomenon even has sparked its own thread on question-and-answer site Quora ("Do escorts really frequent the Rosewood Hotel lobby bar in Menlo Park?").

Casey attributes the lounge's popularity to nothing more sinister than good food and drinks in a beautiful environment. He said Thursday has been the busiest day of the week since Madera opened three years ago, and the gatherings have grown each year. To help with crowd control, he recently rejiggered the seating and added "about $100,000 worth of kitchen equipment, so we can turn the food out faster."

Casey said last Thursday's extra breathing room was due to those changes, not to smaller turnout. But it remains to be seen whether the party has moved on, as it did from previous valley hotspots like Santana Row's VBar.

The owner of a Michelin-starred restaurant who was holding court on Madera's patio Thursday speculated that the arrest rumor would only draw in more clusters of the curious. Indeed, regulars said many in the crowd appeared to be newcomers.

Another local restaurateur -- Jamis MacNiven, who's owned Buck's for two decades -- said the cougar chatter and the phantom prostitution raid reflect two basic human needs: To gossip, and to connect. "In the end, people are looking for love," he said. "However they get it, congratulations."

This article originally appeared at: 1,007 words.

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