Industry insiders have said for years that for Atlantic City to be successful, there needs to be a compelling reason for visitors beyond gaming -- and AC has heeded this advice. First-rate retail shopping, dining, golf and entertainment (this summer the city played host to big names like Cher, Toby Keith and Stevie Wonder) are among the attractions for groups visiting Atlantic City -- not to mention top-notch meeting facilities.
Two of this summer's most significant developments were the opening of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino. Add to that legal sports betting, which was signed into law in June.
"There is renewed energy in Atlantic City," says Karen Shackman, president of New York City--based DMC Shackman Associates. "With the opening of the two new casino hotels and legalized sports betting in New Jersey, there is an overall feeling that Atlantic City is at the beginning of something big. For corporate incentive or meeting planners who wish to include an experiential sporting component like March Madness or even pre-meeting Sunday options, Atlantic City is a great destination to consider."
The 2,000-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which invested $500 million to make over the former Trump Taj Mahal, opened in June with more than 20 restaurants and lounges, and entertainment options including Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena, the beachside Sound Waves, and Howie Mandel's Comedy Club. The hotel and casino also features the Hard Rock Cafe, overlooking the Atlantic City Boardwalk, with a new state-of-the-art stage. Other features include the brand's signature full-service Rock Spa and Salon with 31 treatment rooms, and 150,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Hard Rock isn't the only luxury resort pumping excitement into Atlantic City. At the end of June, the Ocean Resort Casino opened in the complex that was formerly Revel. The resort offers ocean views from all of its 1,399 guest rooms, as well as six swimming pools, a cabana-filled sun deck, numerous dining and entertainment venues, and 160,000 square feet of indoor meeting and convention space and 90,000 square feet of outdoor areas. Part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt Portfolio, there is also a 40,000-square-foot exhale spa, with 31 treatment rooms, and a 3,000-square-foot bathhouse with heated pools, a salt grotto, steam rooms and bar.
In 2003, the $1.1 billion shimmering Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa opened, a golden 43-story monolith with 2,002 guest rooms, 70,000 square feet of meeting space, 11 gourmet restaurants and a breathtaking 50,000-square-foot spa. Italian for "village," Borgata is a Las Vegas--inspired destination resort, a first for Atlantic City. The opening was followed by a $200 million expansion, "Borgata Amplified," featuring dining, casino floor space and a second nightclub. The second phase of Borgata's two-part expansion includes its second hotel, The Water Club at Borgata, with 800 guest rooms and suites, three residences, a two-story, 36,000-square-foot spa in the sky, 18,000 square feet of meeting space, and six retail shops.
Then, last May, Borgata unveiled its 18,000-square-foot Central Conference Center with two stories of highly customizable event space including five meeting rooms, a boardroom, and an office on the lower level. There is also a 6,500-square-foot clear-span ballroom on the upper level.
The addition allows Borgata to devote over 106,000 square feet to meeting, event and convention space among its three unique venues while also offering a wide array of group dining from world-renowned chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Michael Schulson, Geoffrey Zakarian and restaurateurs Greg and Marc Sherry.
Meeting professionals have plenty of options when meeting in a Caesars property in Atlantic City as there is a multitude of dining venues, with four new ones that came online in time for the summer.
On the heels of completing $200 million in resort enhancements over the last three years at Bally's, Caesars, and Harrah's Resort, four new dining concepts were unveiled: Gordon Ramsay Steak in Harrah's Resort; 2100 Bar & Lounge and Beachside Bar in Caesars; and The Crafty Crab in Bally's.
In addition to new dining concepts, the recently enhanced Harrah's Resort also offers a $3 million top-to-bottom restoration of its pool and party spot, The Pool After Dark at Harrah's Resort. The popular nightclub features a glass-enclosed heated dome, upgraded cabanas and bungalows, a new DJ booth, and enhanced LED screens for celebrity performances.
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This article appears in the September 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.