Sameer Reddy discovers a little glamour on the Jersey Shore.
As Boardwalk Empire fans already know, Atlantic City was once toasted as “The World’s Playground,” where the madding crowd went to carouse and gamble all night long, escaping the buzzkill that was Prohibition. Today, Atlantic City is more likely to bring to mind all-you-can-eat seafood buffets populated by blue-haired ladies of a certain age—not exactly the picture of glamour—and the majority of casinos have seen their revenues plummet, as gamblers flock to other cities that have legalized gaming. But a new, $2.4 billion resort named Revel aims to change all that by offering a seaside pleasure palace to compete with the world’s sleekest five star hotels.
Everything about Revel lends itself to a big impression—set on 20 beachfront acres along the Boardwalk, the resort is 47 stories tall, with 6.3 million interior square feet, over 1,800 guest rooms, a 32,000 square foot spa, a 130,000 square foot casino, 14 restaurants and two theaters. But the creative minds behind the project understand that aesthetics are as important as size, and they’ve engineered an experience that manages to embrace both class and the masses. The mirrored glass-clad, sculptural facade is designed to merge with the coastal landscape, and it floods much of the interior with natural light, breaking one of the conventions of casino design. Many public areas offer panoramic ocean views and a gracious sense of space – unlike the cattle call that greets you at many casino hotels. Guest rooms and suites opt for a tonal scheme of shades of grey offset by rich walnut, and the only nod to an over-the-top Vegas vibe comes courtesy of luxury gadgets like 46-inch flat screen televisions, and an Android tablet that controls climate, lighting and window shades. And the entire resort is smoke-free, which means that you won’t end your weekend smelling like an ashtray.
Gambling fanatics can easily get their fix on the casino floor, but in between rounds of roulette there are more virtuous diversions to hold your interest. You could start with a treatment in the Bask spa—the flow massage is a standout, but there’s an entire menu of holistic treatments as well, including acupuncture, craniosacral therapy and tui na massage—or purchase a day pass and make use of the mineral pools and magical Salt Room, which is encased in bricks of Himalayan salt and helps you to breathe easier. The wellness angle extends outside to the Sky Garden, where pines, marsh grasses and seasonal plants are set 114 feet above sea level, and an InOut pool allows guests to enter and exit the building without leaving the water.
Foodies will find their fill in the resort’s 14 restaurants, most of which are tied to award-winning chefs. Options span casually high-end spots like Robert Wiedmaier’s Mussel Bar, a Belgian gastro-pub and Michel Richard’s Central, a chic bistro, as well as fine dining offerings from award-winning chefs, like Alain Allegretti’s Azure, which serves refined Mediterranean fare. Nightlife is a notch above the typical casino offering—a gargantuan, oceanfront 3-floor club is under construction—but the most interesting option for sophisticates is Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly, a modern-day burlesque that slyly nods to the city’s naughty past.
If you’re a fan of the sleek style of Vegas hotspots like the Wynn or CityCenter, but you don’t feel like flying so far for a long weekend, then Revel’s an ideal destination. Beyonce’s performances over Memorial Day weekend are a good time to check out the property, but if you aren’t able to snag tickets, upcoming shows include the Black Keys and Maroon 5.