The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa:
The Borgata opened in 2003 and was the first new hotel to open in AC since Trump's Taj Mahal opened in 1990. It's often referred to as the only Vegas-style casino in town, thanks in part to its sleek design, a coppery-gold exterior with gold windows and a location in the marina, far away from the older casinos on the boardwalk. Also, it's a Vegas-style casino thanks to the joint owners of the place---Boyd Gaming and MGM Mirage--who have several well-established casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard. In short, it doesn't really look like any of the casinos on the strip but it does have elements of the Italianate decor found in the Venetian, the Bellagio and Caesars. And in case you are curious, Borgata is Italian for village.
Much like Vegas casinos, the Borgata has a bewildering layout with many attractions and distractions, namely the card tables and slots. The first floor is where the action is--reception/check-in area, gambling, restaurants, bars, and lounges. The signage around the first floor is plentiful but its still confusing trying to navigate from the hotel elevators to the buffet. Staffers tell guests to "Follow the Marble" but you can wind up going around in a circle if you don't stop to ask for specific directions.
The second floor features the hotel's indoor pool, fitness center and spa. The third floor and up are all hotel rooms and suites, totaling about 2,000 rooms in total.
The Borgata also has its own Event Center where concerts are played (Cyndi Lauper's True Colors tour made a stop here while we were visiting) and an upscale food court below the casino called the Cafeteria. Think crystal chandeliers and white-leather booths.
We checked-in on Thursday at around 4pm. We counted 10 front desk agents working but the line still moved a little slow. Thankfully, there were only about 6 people in front of us, so it wasn't a torturous wait. Our front desk agent was very helpful, even arranging dinner reservations for the next night. But she did inform us that because we were on a press trip, we were to check into the VIP check in area, the Tesoro Lounge. This lounge is typically reserved for special invited guests and high rollers. Not even being a holder of a Borgata Black Label card can get you this check in. But it's really no different from a standard check-in except there were some comfy couches to sit on and snacks served.
We were given our keys to room 2243 and made our way through the hotel's living room to the elevator bank. The living room is only for hotel guests and has an abundance of couches, chairs and tables for guests to hang out. It also has free wireless internet. And it's nice place to sit and people-watch without actually having to hit the casino floor.
Our room was a standard room with a king bed and full of neutral colors--lots of whites and beige. No elaborate Italianate furniture here but instead simple functional furniture.
We liked how there was plenty of pillows on the bed, a spacious marble bathroom, plenty of space for clothes in the closet and dressers, large windows, and a fuss-free work area/desk.
We do wish there were a few more extra touches like bathrobes, flat-screen TVs, wireless internet (the rooms have ethernet) and drinks in the mini-bar. Yes, the hotel rooms have mini-bar refrigerators that are turned on and are functional but are completely empty. No bottled water or juice. No peanuts or candies. Just emptiness.
We're not sure why the hotel does this but we guess it's because they would rather you get out of your room and hit up the sundry store or a Starbucks. And while you're doing that, they hope you will drop some money in a slot machine or on blackjack.
Since we were on a press trip, our rooms were paid for by the Borgata. But we did have some very close friends staying at the hotel the same time as us (ok, it was our parents. Mortifyingly embarrassing we know, and a story for another day.) Our "friends" forked over $279 for Thursday night and $399 for Friday night. Not cheap. But the hotel has an occupancy rate in the 90 percentile range so people are willing to pay these prices.
Bottom Line, Part One:
Everyone we've talked to about the Borgata says it's the only decent place to go to in Atlantic City. Now, we know that there are some other cheaper options in AC that would not disappoint but the Borgata is new and clean and it has a ton of things to do there. We'll tease you by saying "Tequila Tasting." The full report on the fun stuff comes tomorrow.
DISCLAIMER: We were invited by the Borgata to spend two days at the casino hotel in Atlantic City the other week. We paid for our airfare from Los Angeles and other transportation to and from the hotel. They paid for the rooms. Thanks Borgata!
Also, since we are all about transparency here, we won $654 on a slot machine, and that is all ours.