Chuck Darrow 2017-08-17 05:34:16
THE BORGATA: Still Atlantic City’s Gold Standard There are two absolutes governing Atlantic City’s casino scene: 1) In the long run, the house always wins. 2) The Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa has been the city’s gold standard since it opened its doors late in the evening of July 3, 2003. From the moment the glittering, bayside pleasure dome debuted that long-ago Independence Day Eve, targeting what former CEO Bob Boughner described as “Atlantic City rejecters,” Borgata has never ceded its market-leading position. Not when the double-whammy of the Great Recession and legalized Pennsylvania casinos began decimating the city’s gambling industry in 2006. Not when the epically unsuccessful Revel opened in 2012 with the stated goal of out-Borgata-ing Borgata. And not two years later, when the first of five doomed gaming halls shut its doors for good. Not surprisingly, that has been by design, not simple good fortune. Borgata has kept its front-runner status by never resting on its laurels. For years, it has had had an annual, $50 million capital-improvement fund that keeps the property filled with new attractions as well as maintained in terms of its overall upkeep and appearance. According to Michael Woodside, the casino’s vice-president of marketing, that stipend has paid for such recent upgrades as Premier, a new, state-ofthe- art dance club; Angeline, a highend (and highly recommended) Italian dining room from super-chef Michael Symon; the Borgata Beer & Outdoor Pool area; and expanded meeting space in the Central Conference Center. But a stay at “The Big B” offers even more. One of the main building’s greatest assets is its user-friendly layout. Other than the Event Center and its auxiliary conference rooms, which sit on the second level, the sprawling Spa Toccare complex on the third level and the food court and private players’ lounge that are both situated on the lower level, all public spaces (restaurants, shops, bars, nightclubs, racing book and poker room, front desk, etc.) are located on the perimeter of the casino floor. This makes Borgata one of the easiest gambling dens -- in or outside of Atlantic City -- to navigate. Standard hotel rooms -- in the original tower and the 9-year-old Water Club - - are spacious, modern, and richly appointed. And when it comes to amenities, Borgata can stand with any rival, local or national. Dining has always been one of the legs upon which the Borgata stool rests. In addition to Angeline, fine-dining options include outposts from two other celeb-u-chefs, Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck; a branch of New York City’s venerable Old Homestead Steak House; and Izakaya, Philly-based chefrestaurateur Michael Schulson’s take on classic Japanese street food. More informally, the hungry can check out The Metropolitan, Borgata’s version of a standard casual-dining space; Bread + Butter, a 24-hour spot specializing in sandwiches, breakfast items and desserts; and The Marketplace Eatery, a seven-station operation offering pizza, burgers, salads, and other grab-and-go items. Borgata has, since its opening, set the town’s entertainment pace with a year-round schedule that likely equals more shows than the other six AyCee properties combined offer. The 3,200-seat Event Center has hosted such superstar acts as Stevie Wonder, The Eagles, David Bowie, Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, and Jerry Seinfeld. And while it’s called the “Music Box,” the 1,000-seat space actually specializes in standup comedy: It’s the home-away-from-home of such funny folks as Lewis Black and Sebastian Maniscalco (who has done a dozen sold-out shows there so far this year). Sunday through Wednesday (through Oct. 26), The Music Box hosts the Borgata Comedy Club, which presents a mix of up-and-coming and veteran comics. And every Thursday through Oct. 26, the hall presents “The Burlesque Show,” a four-year-old revue that pays homage to the golden age of burlesque with a winning blend of naughty-but-nice sensuality and belly laugh-inducing comedy (both the Comedy Club and “Burlesque Show” are for the 21-and-older crowd). On the pure-indulgence front, Spa Toccare offers luxurious men’s and women’s facilities (featuring the best hot tub setup we’ve ever encountered in a casino), a wide variety of massage and facial treatments, a women’s salon and, perhaps coolest of all, a full-service barber shop featuring oldschool, straight-razor shaves (try the $75 “The Whole Nine Yards” workout, which includes a shave, applications of facial creams and potions, hot- and cold-towel applications, a haircut and manicure). Those courting Lady Luck can do so in the 160,000-square-foot casino. The 85-table card parlor is generally acknowledged as the capital of East Coast poker, and a place where you can frequently test your skills against major-tournament winners. Recently, MGM Resorts, which always held a 50-percent stake in Borgata, became its managing entity. As such, the casino is now part of the company’s vast “M life Rewards” program which puts the property in great shape going forward, according to marketing veep Woodside. “The ability to offer our devoted customers a connection from Borgata to sister properties in Las Vegas and throughout the country (including MGM National Harbor in Maryland) with the integration of the M life Rewards loyalty program is an invaluable asset and something that we are extremely excited to be a part of,” he says. “Add to the reality that MGM is also a world-wide leader in entertainment, and Borgata will have the opportunity to benefit from additional performers who have a relationship with our parent company, effectively growing our already notable entertainment product.” Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City; 609-317-1000, theborgata.com. Marquee Sting 8 p.m. Sept. 3; Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City; $199- $139; 866-900-4849; theborgata.com. Tom Jones 8 p.m. Sept. 12; MGM National Harbor, 101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md., $189- $63.18; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band 8 p.m. Sept. 16; Mohegan Sun, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville, Conn.; $620-$550; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com. Katy Perry 8 p.m. Sept. 21; Mohegan Sun, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville, Conn.; $875-$157; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com. Arsenio Hall 9 p.m. Sept. 23; Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, 777 Harrah’s Blvd.; $194-$19.50800- 745-3000, ticketmaster.com. Mariah Carey 8 p.m. Oct. 14; Foxwoods Resort Casino, 350 Trolley Line Blvd., Mashantucket, Conn., $500-$175; 800-369-9663, foxwoods.com. Chris Rock 8 p.m. Oct. 18-20, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21; MGM National Harbor, 101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Md., $395-$62; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.
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