by Andrea Doyle | February 02, 2015
Meetings and conventions have taken on added importance in Atlantic City as the destination reinvents itself after four of its 12 casinos -- the $2.4 billion Revel, the Atlantic Club, Showboat, and Trump Plaza -- closed in 2014.

Meet AC, a nonprofit tourism economic development agency, was created last June with a focus on meetings and conventions. James Wood, who previously served as president and CEO of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau in Kentucky and the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau in Rhode Island, was hired as Meet AC's president and CEO. (See page 52 for an interview with Wood).

Meetings and conferences will have a new facility to be housed within -- the $125.8 million Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, that is in the midst of being constructed. "With $16 billion being spent on meetings in the Northeast and Atlantic City only capturing one percent, this is exactly what the future of Atlantic City, the future of gaming, the future of Caesars Entertainment, is all about," says Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian. "This new conference center is a game changer -- it's where Atlantic City has to move."

Scheduled to open in August, the first corporate group will be meeting at the facility in September and there are more than 50 definite bookings and close to $12 million in projected revenue so far for Harrah's Waterfront Conference Center.

"When this is done, it will be the largest meetings facility from Baltimore to Boston," explains Michael Massari, vice president of meetings sales and operations-Las Vegas for Caesars Entertainment. "It has two 50,000-square-foot ballrooms that each divide into 29 individual sections -- over 300 separate meeting room accommodations. Combine that with 2,500 hotel rooms that exist here at Harrah's Atlantic City and it becomes the largest facility of its kind from Baltimore to Boston. There are so many Fortune 500 companies in the area that do large product launches and have national sales meetings and are forced to go to Dallas or Orlando or Las Vegas. These are all fine destinations but we want to see them be able to stay here at home in the fine state of New Jersey."

Also debuting this summer, Resorts Casino Hotel will unveil a new multifaceted convention and event center which will add 12,000 square feet of space and 11 additional conference rooms.

Part of the hotel's long-term property reinvestment plan, this project follows the opening of the new $35 million Jimmy Buffet-themed Margaritaville and nearly $70 million expansion and renovation of Resorts, under the ownership of Morris Bailey.

"This conference center expansion is the latest example of the company's reinvestment in the property and Atlantic City as a whole as we continue to strategize ways to revive and turn around this market," says Bailey. "From the growing demand for additional conference space from a new niche audience to the increasing popularity of Margaritaville, Resorts is showing a positive return on investment as a successful destination location on the East Coast."

When the renovation is complete, Resorts, along with Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, will have more than 64,000 square feet of meeting and event space, consisting of 27 conference and event rooms accommodating from 40 up to 1,350 guests.

Boasting a prime location spanning 11 acres at the northern end of the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk, the resort features 942 guest rooms and suites in two hotel towers, an 80,000-square-foot casino, two theaters, six restaurants, two VIP slot and table player lounges, a casino bar, indoor-outdoor swimming pool, health club and spa, salon, and retail shops. Resorts Casino Hotel also has the distinction of bringing gaming to Atlantic City in 1978. Mohegan Gaming Advisors assumed management of Resorts Casino Hotel in the fall of 2012.

Dining Destination
Celebrity chef-branded restaurants in the city include those from Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Guy Fieri. Add Gordon Ramsay to the list. The celebrated chef and television personality has opened his first restaurant in Atlantic City at Caesars. Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars in Atlantic City feature the chef's award-winning skills in a lively and approachable English pub-style setting, offering the finest casual food utilizing the freshest ingredients.

The menu at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars will consist of British pub fare. Classics such as bangers and mash, fish and chips, and roasted chicken, as well as some of Ramsay's favorites, like London broil prepared on a wood-burning grill, are part of a rustic menu that changes seasonally. Paying homage to a true pub, the new restaurant features a wide selection of craft and microbrews from around the world, offering beer enthusiasts more than 30 beers on tap. The 250-seat restaurant includes an impressive bar, a vintage-style lounge, and a series of casual dining rooms.

"With the announcement of Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars, Atlantic City continues to elevate itself as a culinary destination, one that features big television personalities, celebrity chefs, and now a Michelin-starred chef," says Kevin Ortzman, president of Caesars and Bally's Atlantic City. "Chef Ramsay is one of the world's most highly regarded chefs, as evidenced by his multiple culinary accolades, and we are honored to partner with him at Caesars."