Like you, Atlantic City casinos bet to win — only now, they are attempting to win over the lucrative gay and lesbian traveler, and their bets change as quickly as the roll of the dice.
Last April, I wrote about Trump Taj Mahal wooing our community with a series of well-organized and even better-advertised “Fun and ‘Gay’mes Weekends.” Earlier this year, Atlantic City once again hosted the Miss’d America Pageant, sponsored by Resorts, Tropicana, Harrah’s and Trump. And a possible game changer just arrived: Prohibition at Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City’s first gay casino nightclub.
This summer, Borgata is trying a game of its own down the shore. The Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa is placing its bets on the LGBT traveler who wants a mix of luxury, fun and sophistication. The strategy appears to focus on weekends with big-name entertainers who have large followings in our community. Kicking off this season in April was Ricky Martin, followed by gay icon Kathy Griffin and Wanda Sykes on tap in June.
The Water Club tower rooms and suites feature rain showers and a fully stocked mini-bar — a rarity in give-away-the-room-obsessed Atlantic City. Borgata passes the “how do you really know if your hotel is really gay-friendly test:” It offers (for a fee) adult in-room entertainment of interest to gay men, aka gay porn. (You’d be surprised how many so-called gay-friendly hotels don’t do this.) Of course, a weekend overnight stay at the Borgata doesn’t come cheap, but you can find deals midweek all summer long starting around $150.
Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa takes its pools and spa seriously. The property has three pools — two outdoors and one indoor. The hotel is on the marina and the beach is a short drive away. Those looking for a perfect first date or a special-occasion weekend should check in and visit the spa! The men’s massage was a perfect beginning, followed by a soak in the communal hot tub and swim in the top-floor lap pool. Dining is an art here. The sushi and sake at Izakaya are among the very best.
Smart travelers will find that reward programs can be, well, rewarding. It is easy to sign up at many hotels such as the Borgata. It takes less than a minute to sign up when you visit www.myborgata.com. You can redeem comps for food, rooms and other perks.
How to get there — it can be confusing!
Driving is definitely the quickest and easiest way to get from Philly to Atlantic City. Finding the Borgata can be tricky from the Atlantic City Expressway: Be sure to take Exit 1. You can valet park, but if you are like me and take your ZipCar, you will have to self-park, which will cost you $5. Taking New Jersey Transit from 30th Street Station is an inexpensive way to make the hour-and-a-half trip. A warning: Cabs in Atlantic City seem crazy expensive to me, but shouldn’t be over $13 to go anywhere. Opt for the Jitney when you can.
Next for Atlantic City?
Atlantic City should have a gay beach! Perhaps we should “get our history straight” and return to the original Poodle Beach in A.C. Our community also needs a collective welcome from the many resorts and casinos all year long to build loyalty and repeat visits. With the long-awaited Revel casino coming in 2012, maybe we can reclaim our Playboy days at the many Resorts that Caesar himself would say is a Golden Nugget of an opportunity that is just about ready to shine as bright as Harrah’s “welcome” signs to our community.
Local gay trips
Don’t forget you can vacation close to home. We are lucky to live in a gorgeous area of the country with so much to do. Spend a weekend in Bucks, Delaware, Chester or Montgomery counties. Remember, travel is an opportunity you’ve earned.
Jeff Guaracino is a vice president for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.” He has learned how to find the best deals and travel resources for the LGBT community. When traveling locally, check out visitphilly.com/gay and friend visitgayphilly.com/facebook.