After crashing to an all-time low, Atlantic City’s gaming industry is once again on the ascent. And the remaining casinos along The Boardwalk and in the Marina District want to keep the momentum going.
Caesars focusing capital reinvestment on Harrah’s
Despite dealing with bankruptcy restructuring, Caesars has spent some $200 million in renovations and upgrades to its three Atlantic City properties during the past three years. But the bankruptcy restructuring has taken its toll, forcing Caesars to play favorites among those sites.
Most of the recent updates and upgrades have been to Harrah’s, one of the largest and best-performing New Jersey casinos. According to the Press of AC, since 2008, Caesars has spent more money on capital improvements to Harrah’s ($215 million) than to its eponymous casino and Bally’s combined ($176 million).
With Caesars’ bankruptcy reorganization now approved by the Casino Control Commission, the state is hoping the Harrah’s upgrade spirit will spread to the company’s other two properties.
The Press of AC reports that an attorney general’s filing on the bankruptcy reorganization states:
“The relatively low level of capital expenditures is, in the division’s view, one reason that the net revenues from Caesars AC and Bally’s remain well below historical levels. In the Division opinion, the projected capital expenditures for 2017 and 2018 would not be sufficient to address past deficiencies and provide a much-needed boost to their competitive positions.”
For an idea of what the parent company might have planned for Caesars and Bally’s, one simply needs to look at what Caesars has been doing across town at Harrah’s.
What’s new at Harrah’s Casino NJ?
In its latest round of enhancements, Caesars spent $30 million on the following:
- Several new restaurants;
- An overhaul its pool and nightclub, which has been rebranded as The Pool After Dark;
- Renovations and upgrades to 450 hotel rooms.
The $30 million of improvements are in addition to the $125 million Caesars spent on updating and increasing the size of the Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center. The company completed the conference center project in late 2015. It doubled the property’s meeting space, giving Harrah’s the city’s largest conference space (in a casino).
Explained Bally’s and Caesars President Kevin Ortzman and Harrah’s Regional President Rick Mazer in a joint statement:
“Building on the highly-successful openings of the Wild Wild West at Bally’s and our $125 million Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s Resort, we are excited to complete our master-plan enhancement project just in time for summer, and debut our finely-appointed Bayview rooms and suites, three world-class dining experiences and an upgraded nightlife experience at Harrah’s Resort.
“Atlantic City, with its iconic beach and world-famous Boardwalk, has been a mainstay summer destination for decades, and our resorts – Bally’s, Caesars and Harrah’s – are committed to offering guests first-class, Vegas-style experiences – without the flight.”
The latest updates included adding several new dining options.
- C. Burger Co., which offers a modern take on classic and signature burgers and also features an extensive craft beer menu and creative, one-of-a-kind “adult” milkshakes;
- Coastal Craft Kitchen + Bar, designed to encourage the ultimate social experience with shared plates and a lively, weekend boozy-brunch scene;
- Veracruz, a restaurant inspired by Mexican and Spanish street fare. It includes classic Spanish paellas, tuna tartare nachos, and a wide variety of margaritas, sangrias, and Spanish and Latin American wines; and
- Guy’s Sammich Joint, a first-of-its-kind, quick-service concept created by Food Network personality, restaurateur, and author Guy Fieri.
New pool area
Another integral part of the project was an overhaul of the Harrah’s pool-by-day and club-by-night.
According to a press release from Caesars, the pool area now features:
“… a glass-enclosed heated dome, upgraded cabanas and bungalows, a new elevated stage and DJ area, dance floor, and massive LED walls for celebrity performances.
The venue’s second floor balcony offers first-class cocktail service and gaming paired with energetic cage dancers, all with 180-degree aerial views of electric scene below. Recent A-list celebrity appearances include Paris Hilton, DJ Pauly D, Nick Cannon, Amber Rose, and countless others.”
The Pool After Dark is the fourth bar/lounge/club at Harrah’s and joins the existing:
- #BarWithNoName at Harrah’s Resort, a new lobby bar. It offers a relaxed, casual environment for hotel guests to grab a specialty drink or classic cocktail;
- Eden Lounge at Harrah’s Resort, revealing a laid-back side of Atlantic City nightlife. It features daily live entertainment with no cover charge; and
- X Bar at Harrah’s Resort, located in the middle of all the action on the casino floor.
Caesars also renovated and updated 450 rooms in the Bayview Tower.
Caesars hired the Las Vegas-based design firm Marnell Companies to re-design the 600-square-foot rooms.
According to the press release, “Bayview rooms… now feature rich hues of lavender and blue accent colors, contrasting white and gray tones, and contemporary furniture — including a vanity dressing area.”
“Freshly-appointed, modern bathrooms offer oversized showers, while select rooms also include luxurious baths and signature amenities,” the release noted.
Author’s note: I attended a conference at Harrah’s, stayed in one of the renovated Bayview rooms, attended a function at the pool, and ate several of the restaurants in May. I was impressed all around, specifically with the room and the meeting facility.[i15-table tableid=4289]