[ON LOCATION] LAUREL HERMAN
A recent visit to Atlantic City showcased an ever-growing number of meetings and events venues, many of which are new or coming off fresh renovations or expansions. And it’s not just about more rooms; we’re talking new fun spaces—from culinary options to new environments.
“Development in Atlantic City, a destination gem along the Atlantic Ocean, is really booming with all properties investing millions of dollars into new projects and offerings for planners in 2023,” says Larry Sieg, president & CEO, Visit Atlantic City.
With an investment of $400 million in its three Atlantic City properties, Caesars Entertainment has upped the ante and planners are sure to delight in the new options and refreshes.
At Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, a total spend of $200 million included guest room refurbishments in two towers, and contruction on a Nobu hotel begins this year. For the latter, the three top floors of Caesars’ Centurion Tower are being redesigned to reflect a modern Japanese-inspired decor (you can find the famed Nobu Atlantic City restaurant on the hotel’s casino floor). Last fall, the resort saw the debut of the 200-seat Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, where the menu includes signature classics like beef Wellington and lobster risotto.
“We try to put groups in the Centurion Tower since it is the closest tower to the Palladium Ballroom, which has been recently painted and sports new carpeting,” says Jim Marota, director of sales, Atlantic City region, Caesars Entertainment Meetings and Events. “The ballroom,” he adds, “is 20,000 sf and then there are 10 breakout rooms for groups.”
In addition to an outdoor rooftop pool experience with ocean views that opened at Qua Baths and Spa this past summer, further renovations are in the works, including in the lobby area where a new Starbucks is coming this February, in the valet area and on the casino floor.
Over at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, with 2,590 rooms and 100,000 sf of meeting space at its Waterfront Conference Center, 960 rooms in the Waterfront Tower were renovated this past fall.
At the 2,300+-room Tropicana Atlantic City, located directly on the Boardwalk, there is 122,000 sf of meeting space including two ballrooms and the Tropicana Showroom, which can accommodate up to 2,000 attendees for entertainment, presentations and keynotes. The hotel has also opened eight new restaurants, the most recent being Ossu Japanese Tavern, where we dined on scrumptious Japanese food with a modern twist. With its colorful urban-inspired murals, lit signs and DJ, the space gives off a cool Tokyo hangout vibe and is a great buyout spot for groups.
Also completed late last year, and supporting all three properties, is a solar project that will propel Caesars forward in its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100 percent before 2050.
Located right on the Boardwalk, the oceanfront, 1,250-room Bally’s Atlantic City just finished a $100 million renovation. There are now 750 new rooms and suites in the Bally Tower, a new lobby area, including a 360-degree Carousel Bar that can be secured for group events, and five new restaurants that were introduced in 2021, all set within a newly designed atrium area that is conveniently located next to the hotel’s meeting space.
Another area that was recently added to the hotel’s total 100,000 sf of meeting and banquet space is The Yard, an indoor/outdoor venue with live entertainment serving local and American craft brews, cocktails, and gastro-pub cuisine. It can hold up to 1,400 people, says Peter Ciccone, regional VP of sales at Bally’s Atlantic City, who adds that it’s heated in the winter and can thus serve groups year-round.
Michael Levine, director of sales and marketing for Showboat Atlantic City, says, “Our new 100,000-sf Island Waterpark, replete with a retractable glass roof for year-round opportunities and sporting pools, bars, lazy rivers and an exclusive lounge area, will open summer 2023.” There can be buyouts of the entire waterpark and it’s perfect for associations with family, he adds, also noting that Showboat is home to 45 unique venues that can host meetings and events.
Showboat has three hotel towers with a total of 1,100 rooms, and Bourbon Tower, located above the meeting space and the primary accommodation area used for groups, will be renovated in the coming year, says Levine. Showboat offers 100,000 sf of conventional meeting space plus its famous Lucky Snake Arcade & Sports Bar with 100,000 sf of games—making it one of the biggest arcades on the East Coast—and an electric go-kart course, Raceway at Lucky Snake. Our group tried the course and had loads of fun—it’s definitely a unique teambuilding opportunity.
MGM’s Borgata Hotel & Casino, with 24 venues that can accommodate 10 to 3,500 attendees, recently opened the American Bar & Grille, a beautifully designed restaurant that’s a stunner for group events. Here, the food is cooked with fresh, local ingredients and groups can order a range of delicious dishes as well as handcrafted cocktails such as pear martinis.
For intimate groups of up to 30 recommend Bar 32. This hip space creates chocolate-infused cocktails and desserts, making it ideal for an after-dinner drinks and dessert experience accompanied by the classic sounds of Janis Joplin, The Beatles, Prince and more.
For oceanfront teambuilding there’s the new 18-hole North Beach Mini Golf, where attendees can also grab a bike and explore the Boardwalk. Another alfresco option is a tour of some of the 70-plus murals painted on walls throughout the city’s 48 blocks. Many of the murals portray people and/or some aspect of the city’s history. The 48 Blocks Mural Tour, created through the Atlantic City Arts Foundation, can be booked by contacting Visit Atlantic City.”
“Meeting planners want to leave the destination just a little better than they found it,” says Sieg, “and we have great nonprofits to choose from.” During our visit, we headed to MudGirls Studio, a nonprofit organization for disadvantaged women that empowers women to change their lives through their creations and sales of artistic clay objects. Groups can meet at the studio in small groups or have more space and opportunity by arranging for a CSR event at one of the hotels.
visitatlanticcity.com; ceasarsmeansbusiness.com; ballysatlanticcity.com; showboathotelac.com; borgata.mgmresorts.com/en/meetings-groups.html; bar32chocolate.com; northebeachminigolf.com; mudgirslstudios.org