It’s déjà vu all over again at Atlantic City’s newest resort
- Last Updated: 11:30 PM, April 9, 2012
- Posted: 5:09 PM, April 9, 2012
Anyone driving into Atlantic City these days is greeted by a beautiful black-and-white billboard of a particularly buxom-looking Beyoncé, who will perform at the grand opening of the city’s newest resort on May 25. The billboard stands out for its simplicity, a breeze of civility in a forest of crass come-ons for things like Cage Fury Fighting Championships at Borgata, or off-price rooms at the flailing Trump Taj Mahal.
The newest resort is Revel, situated on the historic Atlantic City boardwalk. On paper, Revel sounds fantastic. Clean, modern design, a hotel with an almost Zen-like ethos, restaurants from high-profile chefs up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Washington DC’s Michel Richard. Philadelphia’s own Iron Chef, Jose Garces. New York’s Marc Forgione (also an Iron Chef) and Alain Allegretti. Nightlife, a pool club and talent booking are in the hands of Las Vegas powerhouse Angel Management Group. Revel, we are being told, heralds the dawn of a brand-new day for Atlantic City.
In other words, that old tune. For years now, Atlantic City has promised us that it wants to and is going to change. It’s going to clean itself up and be everything we always wanted it to be. Back in 2003, when Borgata opened out in the remote Marina District, similar promises were made. And with a few tweaks, Borgata could have passed for something on a respectable stretch of the Las Vegas strip. Soon after, Tropicana unveiled the Quarter, which was supposed to bring a big-deal restaurant and nightlife scene to the Boardwalk. It didn’t. Then there was the Water Club, Borgata’s non-gaming tower. Caesars promised us Vegas-level stores, dining and fun with its Pier Shops. Harrah’s launched a nightlife program around its famous domed pool. The now de-flagged Hilton brought in celebrity chef Kerry Simon. The Chelsea boutique hotel partnered up with Philadelphia restaurant mogul Stephen Starr for — you guessed it — a whole new kind of Atlantic City experience. Starr later leaving the Chelsea was just one of Atlantic City's many flameouts. As was the canceled ACES train, which was supposed to bring young scenesters to town. Except that young scenesters didn't want to come to town.
Who wanted to come to town? People in pajama jeans, clutching bus tickets and clamoring for their slot credits. In other words, the same people who have always been coming. The same people who you now see at Borgata much of the time. At Caesars. At Harrah’s. At, well, everywhere in town.
What makes Revel think it can succeed where everyone else has tried and barely succeeded, if not flat-out failed? Who knows. But after the completion of one of the largest government make-work projects New Jersey has ever seen, here it is, open to the public for an eight-week preview.