Things are looking up for Atlantic City this year, with new meetings offerings and improvements to old favorites. Two of the biggest developments are the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City -- formerly the Taj Mahal -- and the sale of the former Revel casino hotel to Colorado developer Bruce Deifik, both projects slated to open this summer. Ocean Resort Casino is the new name of the former Revel, which includes 1,399 hotel rooms, 160,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, and a gambling area.
The $500 million renovation of the former Taj Mahal will see an entirely redesigned hotel and casino with new food and beverage outlets, 2,200 slots, and 125 table games. Two separate venues will offer more than 8,000 seats for meetings, conferences, live music, and sporting events. Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City will move to a new 400-seat venue, including an improved stage and a central location within the property boasting beach access. All 1,978 guest rooms and suites will undergo a complete renovation, as will the 155,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City's location is hard to beat, ideally situated along 17 acres of prime Boardwalk real estate with vast views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean.
Hotel features include a full-service spa and Hard Rock's signature Sound of Your Stay music amenity program, which offers guests complimentary in-room use of Fender guitars. Hard Rock's design will feature its iconic collection of music memorabilia, with an emphasis on contemporary musicians and artists who call New Jersey home.
Another new attraction being celebrated is a $14 million Observation Wheel on Steel Pier, an attractive option for group activities. The 227-foot wheel, purchased in Italy, includes 40 heated, enclosed cars that seat a total of 240 passengers.
Growing Meetings Business
"Atlantic City continues to diversify its mix of business through the growth of the meetings and convention business," says Jim Wood, president and CEO of Meet AC. "Over the past four years, our casino resorts and hotel properties have placed a much greater emphasis on the attraction of the meeting and convention market and we are realizing significant gains year-over-year."
An example is Harrah's Waterfront Conference Center, which came onto the scene in 2015 with 100,000 square feet of space, comprising two 50,000-square-foot pillar-less ballrooms that can be configured more than 60 different ways. It is part of a complex that includes 2,590-room Harrah's Atlantic City. Building on the success of the Waterfront Conference Center, Harrah's Atlantic City underwent a $30 million guest room and suite renovation, part of Caesars Entertainment's total investment of $200 million into its Atlantic City casino resorts.
Harrah's is not the only Atlantic City resort that has added to its meetings offerings. In May, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa unveiled its $11 million, 18,000-square-foot Central Conference Center. It features two stories of highly customizable event space including five meeting rooms, a boardroom, and an office on the lower level, as well as a 6,500-square-foot ballroom on the upper level.
The addition allows Borgata to offer more than 106,000 square feet of meeting, event, and convention space among its three venues -- the 70,000-square-foot Event Center, the 18,000-square-foot Water Club, and the 18,000-square-foot Central Conference Center -- while also offering a wide array of group dining offerings from world-renowned chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Michael Schulson, Geoffrey Zakarian, and restaurateurs Greg and Marc Sherry.
Another property that has recently added conference space is the 480-room Claridge, a Radisson Hotel. This Atlantic City landmark stands at the center of the Boardwalk. With an additional 15,000 square feet of space, the Claridge now offers 100,000 square feet, including a 6,400-square-foot room designed for general sessions or small trade shows and four smaller conference and board rooms. At the end of the summer of 2016, the Claridge opened Atlantic City's first rooftop bar, VUE, with expansive views from the 23rd floor.
Atlantic City and the beach go hand-in-hand, and 14 of Resorts Casino Hotel's 24 meeting and function rooms include natural light and ocean views. Its Atlantic Ballroom offers 6,500 square feet and in total there is 64,000 square feet of space.
It is hard to miss Tropicana Atlantic City, with its attention-grabbing Multimedia Light and Sound Show. Tropicana features more than 120,000 square feet of meeting space and (after buying the Chelsea Hotel across the street this summer) 2,369 rooms, making it one of New Jersey's largest hotels. A walkway connecting the properties is currently under construction.
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This article appears in the February 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.