The impression many people have of Atlantic City — that it is already dead and half-buried in the sand — is based upon the scant knowledge provided by mainstream media of the four casino closures last year. But the lights are still on and the boardwalk hasn’t been rolled up and put away just yet.
The notion that the bigger they are, the harder they fall, isn’t far from wrong. There are a couple of fine gems in Atlantic City that apparently saw that change was in the cards. Consider Tropicana Casino and Resort and The Claridge Hotel — each smaller than most casino hotels fighting for the same dollars — which are both completing makeovers to all of the rooms and suites, with some nice additional features to draw in the curious.
The Claridge has not only restored the original glamour to the property in general, but upped the ante. A second Holtzman Gallery has opened on the first floor, with both lobby and street access. The gallery’s appeal is sure to lure in the people with extra walking-around money. On the sixth floor, The Claridge has created a fantastic dining experience called The Twenties, harkening back to when the hotel originally opened (see page 28).
But the big draw for now is Club 11, on the third floor. The newest gay bar, and one of the only, in Atlantic City opened with fanfare over Memorial Day Weekend, and the party has almost never stopped. The space includes ample comfy seating, two bars, a number of hot dancers who aren’t shy and a decent lighting and sound setup for dancing. Check out 11ac.club/ for details.
Over at Tropicana Casino and Resort, the improvements and additions continue into the summer, but the room makeovers are splendid. Located at the southern end of the boardwalk, Tropicana can be forgotten or ignored, but the views of the rest of the city from there are spectacular. Included in the changes is the launch of AtlantiCare LifeCenter Fitness Center, a great addition for those who need to hit the gym even when away.
Tropicana has also reworked its boardwalk façade, which now includes a 60-foot video screen and several smaller ones to put on a nightly light show on the half-hour starting at 9 p.m. If you go over July Fourth weekend, you’ll also be treated to fireworks.
These are just two examples of how reworking a casino hotel to find the broader appeal is working in Atlantic City.
Sand castles in the air
The annual Sand Blast party is again in Atlantic City this year, July 17-19, with dual host hotels The Claridge and Borgata Resort Casino and Spa. The former is the on-the-beach hotel for those who prefer fast access in and out, and the latter is considered the luxury hotel for those who prefer the upscale to the summer skin-fest. Special rates are available for a very limited time.
Sand Blast shuffled to A.C. last year after outgrowing Asbury Park and the event is still evolving and expanding. There are weekend discounts to be had before the early-bird deadline of May 30, so get online and get your blaster turned on and tuned up.
Some of the participating DJs this year include Philly’s own Barney, New York City’s Aron, Eddie Martinez and Moribito, Kidd Madonny from Miami and others. See sandblastweekend.com for all the details you could possibly need.