The dimensions of a typical gaming barge used to constrain the amount of activity, but BR changed the rules by creating a hybrid of floating platform and permanent structure much larger than a typical barge, and added nearly twice the rooms of its largest competitor, the 1,088-room Imperial Palace. BR also tried to be the first Southern outpost of Cirque du Soleil, but while the Coast's visitor demographic—much smaller than Vegas or Orlando—failed to sustain a Cirque troupe, a hunger developed for sophisticated, "Cirque-like" entertainment, which has since been nurtured by local production companies that develop unusual and intriguing shows like Ezuru, a variety program that featured amazing Chinese acrobats, clowns from the Moscow Circus, and high-wire performers. At the invitation of BR, I attended the premiere of Ezuru and its afterglow party, where the performers mingled amid a bevy of international food stations. (From the look of a camera-wielding Muscovite, we seemed as exotic to them as they to us.)
The next day, I checked in at the recently renovated spa for a massage and what appeared to an indestructible manicure. That evening, I met Wendy Priesand, assistant director of sales, at the fine-dining Port House (where the decor includes four 10,000-gallon saltwater aquariums that require three marine biologists to maintain). We spoke of Fallen Oaks, the $30-million Tom Fazio golf course opening soon; the show, and the spa, and BR's undeveloped acreage held for future projects (which, among the rumors, includes more conference space). With all the other development coming on line elsewhere, the Coast continues to offer much—and for one of the lowest price points in the U.S.