Just got back from a great Society of American Travel Writers conference in Atlantic City and wanted to share a few casino highlights. I’m not a gambler, but there’s so much more going on at these resorts including burlesque shows, spas, great restaurants and shopping.
Best Room Value: The Golden Nugget’s Hollywood-style uber spacious suites. The former Trump Marina Hotel Casino has gone through a $150 million renovation and the rooms are gorgeous: floor-to-ceiling windows, double bathrooms and enough floor space to go bowling.
Best Architecture: Revel Casino-Hotel feels like a $2.4 billion South Beach transplant, with huge airy lobby, billowing white curtains, indoor/outdoor pool and exquisite sky garden with ocean views. Atlantic City’s newest casino resort, Revel has 14 restaurants helmed by award-winning chefs and was launched last year with a sizzling performance by Beyonce.
Best Shopping: Tropicana’s Quarter is a 200,000 square-foot complex with dining, entertainment and retail and the Marketplace is 21,000 square feet of the same. You’ll find 24 shops in these two areas that carry everything from handicrafts to designer labels. Retail includes Chico’s, Erwin Pearl, Francesca’s Collections, Godiva Chocolatier, the Hat Emporium, Old Farmer’s Almanac General Store, Swarovski and Talk of the Walk, a family owned and operated chain that opened its doors on Atlantic City’s boardwalk in 1951 (check out their in-season markdowns!). www.tropicana.net
Best Glam: Sophisticated and sleek, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa lobby wows visitors with a magnificent Dale Chihuly chandelier, the retail shops are top shelf (Hugo Boss, Misura, and Just Cavalli), and the spa features full-sized indoor pool, a Jacuzzi that could fit 40, and treatment rooms with million dollar views. Dinner is a fine diner’s dream with restaurants by Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Geoffrey Zakarian and Michael Schulson and the burlesque show is a must see, cheeky, sexy and full of adult fun. The juggler alone is worth the price of admission. www.borgata.com
Best Jazz Brunch: The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel’s Ono Chinese Bistro serves up superb Chinese dishes and sushi and on Sundays the ocean-view room hums with the live jazz tunes of local favorites. If you’re feeling lucky, try the casino slots, deemed the loosest in New Jersey by Casino Player and Strictly Slots magazines.
Best Crab Cakes: You wouldn’t necessarily think a place specializing in red meat would do justice to crustaceans, but think again. Robert’s Steakhouse, at the Trump Taj Majal Casino Resort serves the most mouth-watering crab cakes in town. Succulent meat is packed together with no binders or unnecessary flavour enhancers except for a creamy red pepper aioli. Heavenly!
Best Pool Party: Harrah’s huge indoor pool, under a glass dome is a big draw for Jersey Shore partiers. After sunset, the chic, palm-filled space becomes The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Resort with cover charge, DJ and lots and lots of room to mingle.