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It's starting to look like a bummer summer for Atlantic City.
First, came the news that the Revel Hotel, a brand new, gorgeously modern resort and casino could shutter as soon as next month if it didn't find a new buyer. Now, comes news that weathered Trump Plaza, located next to Caesars Atlantic City, could also close in September due to low revenues. Unless Trump can find a buyer or get an injection of money from somewhere, then the casino will shut down and roughly 1,000 workers will be laid off.
Despite having an excellent location in the center of the boardwalk across from the beach, the Trump Plaza has seen better days. There might be Chihuly (or Chihuly-inspired chandeliers) found on the casino floor, but overall, the property is in bad condition. We were shocked at the level of disrepair we saw last year in the public spaces. And the room photos on the website have us scared. It looks like nothing has been updated since the 1980s.
Whoa. The Revel Resort in Atlantic City, home to an expensive taco truck, sent out a letter to employees recently saying that if the resort couldn't find a buyer before August 18, it would close down. Did you catch that? REVEL COULD CLOSE.
But it's not surprising. Revel has had drama from the start when its groundbreaking coincided with the global financial collapse of 2008. After finally receiving the funds to finish the construction job, the resort was open, and losing money, for just six months before Hurricane Sandy walloped the Jersey Shore. Then in early February, Revel filed for bankruptcy. But despite picking up new owners and having a ton of debt removed, the resort is still struggling.
Now, Revel is asking interested buyers for about $300 million. But we're not so sure there are many folks out there who want to buy a resort that's losing even more money than when it first opened. (Gothamist pointed out that Revel lost $130 million last year versus $110 in its first six months open.)
So, with all these money woes at Revel, perhaps room rates will be cheap? Think again.
It's that time of year again: the 2013 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
Usually, picking the year's Anti-View "winner" is not that hard. The room's view is so clearly awful, that it stands out amongst the rest. But this year, we had a tough time deciding which was worse, so we called it a tie. Here are the views that have us so torn (and also so relieved we don't have to revisit them in person):
At Caesars in Atlantic City, we were given this room in the Temple Tower which had a lone window that looked out over the casino hotel's lobby and atrium. Worse, we had to keep the shade down while we were getting dressed as other rooms across the way could totally see into our room. We also had to keep the shade down at night if we wanted a decent sleep which left us a little disoriented when we woke up at 9am and it was pitch-black. Meanwhile, rooms across the hall had real views with sunlight and everything.
Down in Miami at The Surfcomber, we were impressed with everything at the hotel, from the last-minute wallet-friendly room rate to the morning iced coffee and the friendly service from the staff. But our room had this depressing anti-view. Here we are just steps from the beach, and we're looking out onto another building. Then again, this room will let the sunshine in (barely, but it's something.)
And that's why we couldn't decide which was worse--a room view of an atrium with absolutely no sunlight or privacy but lots of people-watching or a room view of the building next door with some sunlight and some privacy? Tell us which view you think is the worst in comments below!
[Photos: Juliana for HotelChatter]
On a recent jaunt to Portugal, we discovered what we thought was a great split-hotel package that allowed guests to experience two sides of the country: A few days in Lisbon and a few days on the south coast soaking up rays. For travelers who are adventurous but still desire structure, the concept takes out a lot of the planning but still leaves you more independence than, say, a full-on "put your bags outside the door before you go to sleep" tour operator type of thing.
Since being introduced to the idea last month, we've been thinking about where this "best of both worlds" partnership might be a good fit in the States. Despite driving distances and train services being what they are in our country in general, we were able to come up with a bunch of places where this type of package could go over well (some of which have tried it at times in the past). Think San Francisco with Napa or Sonoma, Denver with Breckenridge, Park City with Salt Lake, New York City with the Finger Lakes/Hamptons, or Philly with Atlantic City.
We focus on the latter in this column for two reasons: 1) While visitors to San Fran or Denver most likely already have their sights set on wine country and the mountains, we're not sure many realize how close Philly is to the shore and 2) Atlantic City could certainly use a little love these days, and a package that gave city dwellers the chance to check out Atlantic City, a place they've certainly heard about given all the press Revel has attracted the past two years, could help boost tourism.
We know we gave you 9 Killer Hotel Views to fantasize about experiencing in person one day so hopefully you'll forgive us for what we're about to post now--a serious anti-view from Caesars Atlantic City.
Yes, this room in the Temple Tower here has an atrium view of the casino and check-in desk below as well as into other rooms that also have atrium views. So it's best to keep those shades drawn when you're walking around naked (and we know you are.) The rest of the deluxe room was quite nice--super comfy bed, big flat-screen TV and a room service menu of epic entrees.
And fortunately, Atlantic City is not necessarily a place where you go to relax in your room. Usually, you're at the tables, at the bars or people-watching on the boardwalk. Still, if you want a room with a view when staying at Caesars, make sure to request it at check-in. Slipping a $20 probably won't hurt either. Rooms this weekend start at about $150 on Friday night and a whopping $450 on Saturday night.
We found this pizza delivery menu right by the door, on the inside, of our room. We actually didn't take the pizza place up on their offer but hey, good to know. And also, way cheaper than room service. And hopefully better than Pizza Hut which is what the Rio in Las Vegas uses. But still, it's not as good as the pizza button.
Rates at Caesars start at $309 this weekend.
Have you ever ordered pizza to your hotel room? Not from the hotel restaurant downstairs? Share your slice in comments below!
The opening comes on the heels of the city's decision to allow strip clubs in the hotels and casinos for the first time in AC's gambling history. No doubt, the decision was made in hopes of boosting profits and revenues for the city's businesses.
Scores will open at 7pm on Thursday, although it's normal working girl hours will be 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Below, is a photo gallery of some of the boardwalk hotels, including the Taj, followed by a list of all the different elements that Scores will include. Get your dollar bills ready!
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As the grand finale to cocktail week here's a round-up of some of the nifty things we see going on in the world of hotel bars and bevvies. What do you see goin’ on out there? Let us know!
A salad in every sip: Complementing the trend we told you about in our What’s Out, What’s In column where the drink IS the meal, we’re finding that crafty mixologists are making our drinks a wee bit healthier and sneaking veggies into them to make sure that we’re getting all of our daily recommended vitamins.
Splashes at Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach has a VegGin’ on the Rocks made with Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, agave nectar (which is said to have a low glycemic index, BTW, which means your blood sugar won’t spike), lime juice, and baby arugula–-all muddled together and topped with house made soda water. You can really taste the goodness.
The Fairmont Chicago’s Green Goose Cocktail features a trio of super foods: kale, celery and granny smith apples. The juiced greens are mixed with Grey Goose, fresh lime juice, chartreuse, and simple syrup for a nutrient-filled flavor explosion.
The appropriately-named Salad Cocktail from the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto is a heart-healthy concoction of juiced celery, spinach, beet, apple and pear combined with 1.5 oz of gin. To top it off, it’s garnished with sherry vinaigrette soaked raspberries and sous vide beets and crisp romaine leaves. We’re getting into the realm of “drink as dinner” with this one.
At Caesars Entertainment Resorts and Casinos in Atlantic City you can find the savoury Red Pepper Margarita–-a mix of red pepper juice, jalapeno rings, five-spice simple syrup and tequila with a smoked salt rimmed glass. Next trend below!
When you put a food truck into the middle of a hotel-casino, you probably should expect higher prices than the average food truck that dishes out tacos and hot dogs. But at the Distrito Cantina and its funky Distrito Taco Truck at Revel in Atlantic City, we paid way more than we would at our local Mexican restaurant here in LA.
The Distrito Taco Truck is located on the second floor of Revel (or rather, the third floor, since the second floor is the gaming area.) We dined at Chef Jose Garces' Distrito restaurant at The Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale last year and loved it. So when we saw the taco truck--an actual truck that's been placed inside the casino hotel--we had to sit down at one of the festively decorated picnic benches and try it.
We all know that early check-ins at hotels are elusive. It all depends on a few things--how full the hotel was the night before, how fast the other guests get their belongings together and out the door and how quickly housekeeping can get in there and turn over the room.
We typically have good luck with early check-ins during the week and at huge hotels that don't always sell out like the big casino hotels in Las Vegas (mid-week of course, definitely not on a Friday or a Sunday.) But if that doesn't work, then we have to find ways to kill time in the hotel lobby, or the nearby area, for a few hours until the 3pm check-in time. Unless we want to pay extra for it with an early check-in fee.
We first noticed early check-in fees back in 2011 when we compared hotels to airlines, thanks to all the extra fees they were tacking onto hotel stays. But we've never actually seen them in the wild.
But at Caesars Atlantic City we saw this sign at check-in.
It's Sunday morning in Atlantic City and if you aren't too sick from all the drinking or the late-nite eats on the boardwalk, then you're ready to chow down. A lot. It might be a situation.
Over at Caesars Atlantic City, smack dab in the middle of the boardwalk, your best option to get fed well is to do Sunday brunch at the Nero's from 10am to 2pm. Here, with views out to the ocean and retro photographs of the Rat Pack and Marilyn Monroe on the walls, you will find every sort of breakfast station you could ever dream of--omelette, prime rib, waffle, seafood, bagels (so Jersey!), sushi and dessert. Don't forget, bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys. Brunch costs $59 person ($55 for Total Rewards members) and you can make your reservations by calling 1-800- 223-7277.
If you can't bear to shower and get reasonably dressed to make your way downstairs to Nero's, never fret. That's what room service is for. Aside from offering several hair of the dog drinks, the room service menu has a ton of food options. It might be one of the most comprehensive room service menus we've seen in a while. (We love that someone circled the bagel and cream cheese option on our menu.) They even offer On-The-Go boxes which you can take out to the beach or bring for the car ride home. There is a $4 delivery charge added for all orders but gratuity is not included. So you have to decide whether it's worth the extra bucks to eat in the comfort of your room.
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If you're gambling in AC this weekend and you get hungry, you're about to get lucky. Atlantic City kicked off its fifth annual Food and Wine Festival last night with a pool party at the Harrah's Resort hosted by Food Network star Rocco DiSpirito.
While the pool party gave guests samples of the culinary delights in AC (it goes beyond salt water taffy and funnel cakes), the rest of the weekend will see tastings and talks from culinary experts and TV personalities such as Robert Irvine, the host of "Restaurant Impossible",: the lovable Neelys and expert wino, Laurie Foster. The entire event is being held across all four Caesars Entertainment properties--Caesars, Harrah's Resort, Showboat and Bally's--giving guests access to all four hotels during the event. Well, not guest room access but festival access.
And while the main focus is obviously food (lots of it) and wine (plus cocktails), the festival did take a brief time out during last night's party to donate $7,000 to Architecture for Humanity's Restore the Shore efforts.
Tickets are still open for several events this weekend, which you can buy online here, but room rates are extremely pricey--ranging from $459 at Harrah's to $619 at Caesars. The same is true for other hotels in AC not connected with the events. Looks like people are making good use of the few remaining Shore weekends left in the summer.