The Ocean Resort casino in Atlantic City may be housed in the same $2.4 billion facility as the failed Revel casino when it opens this summer, but developers say the customer experience between the two resorts will be totally different.
Sort of like an anti-Revel.
Bruce Deifik, the principal developer of Ocean Resort, told the Associated Press that he has carefully studied what went wrong at Revel casino and is moving to offer a different approach to customers.
For example, when the property re-opens—expected in late June, but no official date has been named—guest will be able to smoke, eat at a buffet, take bus trips to the property and find their way around the place much easier. Revel banned smoking property wide and did not include a buffet, for example.
Also, the property’s huge escalator at its main entrance will now have glass safety panels on either side and customers will no longer be required to book a two-night stay. Also, a wall blocking the casino off from easy Boardwalk access is being replaced by stairs. The casino also will offer more things for kids and families to do and gamblers of all levels will be welcomed.
All of these developments represent reactions to criticisms of Revel, which ended up bankrupt after only two years in operation. Deifik and his partners bought the property in January for $220 million.
Deifik, has been living at the Tropicana casino for the past nine months as work on the Ocean Resort proceeded and recently detailed his plans for the property to the AP.
“The first thing we did is pay very close attention to what people said about this place, positive and negative,” he said. “We will listen. That’s a difference-maker. Treat people with respect. Be glad they’re here and treat them as family members. The main difference is a completely different attitude concerning service to our customer. I think there was a huge disconnect there.”
While there were many complaints about Revel when it was in operation—including a general feeling that the property was only interested in high rollers and not ordinary gamblers—the fact that the property was smoke free drew constant complaints.
“I’m a non-smoker, but there are groups of people out there that are smokers and you have to be respectful to those people when they come,” Deifik said.
Other changes underway at the property include a reconfiguration of the casino floor, which many patrons found confusing. The popular HQ outdoor pool and dance club will return and as previously announced Topgolf will offer virtual golf and other sports. The property will also offer a Wahlburgers burger restaurant, and a new bar called “Entourage,” Deifik said.
Family friendly attractions include a large candy store, as well as “Cereal Town” an eatery “where you can go and have cereal for dinner, every kind of cereal from around the globe,” Deifik said.
Though there has been speculation that Ocean Resort officials want to open the property by the end of June to coincide with the opening of the neighboring Hard Rock Atlantic City, Deifik said Ocean Resort will not open until it is ready.
“She doesn’t have that luxury of being able to make a mistake without people saying, ‘Aha!’” Deifik said of the property. “I think everybody is looking to find fault. I’m going to make sure that’s not going to be the case.”
Ocean Resort would also have to receive a number of regulatory approvals from state and local regulators, including being granted a casino license by the state Casino Control Commission. Ocean Resort officials have applied for the license, which is being vetted by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.
In a related story, the developers of $85 million housing project near the site of the Ocean Resort and Hard Rock say the 250-luxury unit complex at 600 North Beach will open this summer.
The project represents the first major new housing project in Atlantic City in nearly five years and is seen as a key factor in redeveloping the city’s South Inlet area.
According to the Press of Atlantic City, the project consists of three buildings—one with 80 units and the other two with 85—set around a courtyard that features a raised pool and community space just blocks from the ocean.
Also in the area, the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has granted the Absecon Lighthouse $50,000 to conduct repairs on the 161-year-old lighthouse, the Press reported.
The lighthouse is popular attraction in the inlet area.
Jean Muchanic, executive director of the lighthouse, said the funds will be used to repair the roof of the Keeper’s Cottage, cracks in the drywall, rusted light posts around the property and weathered window screens.
Some of the money will also be used to offset a budget deficit the lighthouse has been operating under for the last two years, Muchanic said.