Commitment and collaboration from many areas were needed to make Atlantic City’s new mega-resort a reality.
Some adversity is inevitable when dealing with a property designed to encompass 20 acres and 6.3 million square feet, but the obstacles and flat-out disasters the Revel project encountered almost from its outset transcended any of the usual snarls and snags.
Through it all, the spotlight was continuously shone on Kevin DeSanctis, and if the state trooper-turned-gaming executive ever got panicky about Revel’s fate, or questioned whether ground should have been broken in the first place, he never showed it.
In a calm and sort of stoic manner, DeSanctis always appeared under control and projected a positive outlook that somehow Atlantic City’s $2.4 billion mega-resort would find the resources, forge ahead, and come to fruition.
That happened on April 2 (see photo gallery from opening day). Revel opened a sizeable part of its entire operation to the public Monday, and while the CEO was again cautious to lay claim that it would be running at peak efficiency by Memorial Day weekend — several weeks ago stating that a property that size could take time to iron out any wrinkles — the state’s second tallest building is slated to be fully functional by May 25.
This all came about not just through the determination of any one person, but through dozens of small partnerships working together.
Revel first became a concept in 2006, employing roughly 10 architectural design and development partners under construction manager Tishman Corporation just to make the massive physical plant a possibility. Beyond that were several other associations in gaming, nightlife, dining, entertainment and retail, among them Angel Management Group, LDV Hospitality, Scéno Plus, Garces Restaurant Group, Michel Richard and others.
Coordinating crews on any construction site is common, but Revel went above and beyond the norm in assembling its dining, entertainment and hospitality package. That, says DeSanctis, has been in keeping with Revel’s business model since the outset.
“Our business model basically states that we curate experiences, we don’t create them, because we don’t think we’re particularly good at operating nightclubs, we don’t think we’re particularly good at operating restaurants, so we wanted to go out and find the people who were best at that,” he tells Atlantic City Weekly.
“Who are the folks out there who could really do a great job for us based upon the types of offerings we wanted to have here? And we went out and we researched that. From a nightlife and day-life perspective, Angel Management was the group we felt best aligned with our goals and our culture and our brand. And when we looked at the restaurant product, we did the same thing with all of our chefs and restaurateurs.”
The Las Vegas-based Angel Management Group brought to Revel The Social, a two-level entertainment complex in the middle of the gaming floor, the four-level HQ Nightclub, and a day-life concept called HQ Beach Club that was inspired by the ample success of Wet Republic at Vegas’ MGM Grand.
“I believe most CEOs might ask themselves: ‘Is this something we could do ourselves?’ If that answer is no, it’s something that Kevin would diligently find the right partners for, however far he had to travel to bring them to his project,” says Angel Management CEO Neill Moffitt (read in-depth interview with Moffitt here).
“The one thing that Kevin is very passionate about is delivering a category-A product with category-A operators, and his lack of ego allows him to reach out to others to make sure the customer experience is to a level of complete excellence.
“And he hasn’t dropped the ball in any areas. Some people don’t see it that way. It’s more a matter of not losing any of the economics with some, but Kevin is more interested in the success of customer experience in that market, which typifies his vision of where he wants to go with the property and their ability to succeed.
“Look at it this way,” adds Moffitt. “When people were making PCs, they didn’t own Intel [but] Intel made the best processor. So the majority of the PCs in the world were build with the best processor, which was Intel. Think of that business model. Where would we have been without Intel? That typifies Kevin — he wants the best operators, or the best pieces of the jigsaw, to make his overall product better than anybody else’s. And that, I think, is a person who lacks ego but is driven by the success of the product he’s trying to deliver.”
Even though Atlantic City gaming revenues were still on the rise in 2006 when the Revel concept was in its infancy, and there was still no major threat of gambling competition in other states or an economy in decline, Revel was somewhat prophetic in its approach to A.C. even then. Much of what it focused on was the entire destination package — “a cruise ship that never moved” is how it was once described — and along with amped-up nightlife options and headline acts, it conceived of such amenities as the Sky Garden and indoor/outdoor pool, a state-of-the-art spa and wellness center, and dining options second to none. It also became the first casino-resort in A.C. to willfully go completely smoke-free.
“When I look at Atlantic City, maybe I just see something different,” says DeSanctis. “What I see, when you go out on our Sky Garden or you go out on our deck, that’s sort of the Atlantic City that I think about. We have this incredible geographic location. We have 47 million people within a six-hour drive of this place, and when we think about options from a resort perspective in the Northeast, there really aren’t any.
“I just look at Atlantic City as having an incredible amount of potential. We’ve never really achieved that potential, and part of it was due to a lack of capital investment in the town. When you look at the capital investment that’s been made in this town over, say, the last 10 or 15 years I think we pale in comparison to some other places, and I think the reason is because we didn’t need it. But now things have changed a little bit and I think, with our location, and with our critical mass of dining and entertainment — and I’m talking as a city — I think that Revel adds another element to that.
“Almost anywhere in the world, if you have a beachfront location you have a great place to start,” adds DeSanctis. “I don’t know of anybody who doesn’t love to visit the ocean, so all we did was position ourselves to take advantage of [a] great location and lots of stuff to do. It’s really not much more complicated than that. ... Is [Revel] a game changer? I don’t really think it’s a game changer; I think we’re playing a different game.”
The target audience Revel seeks, says DeSanctis, is primarily those who may have ruled out ever visiting Atlantic City in the past.
“Our goal was basically not to compete in the market place for the existing customers, because if all we do is steal market share from everybody else then that probably hasn’t been a great result for everybody. But if we can sort of introduce Atlantic City to folks who otherwise would not have come here, then I think we’ve done a good thing. And if people want to call that a game changer, I’m OK with that.”
Revel encompasses 6.3 million square feet on 20 acres of oceanfront property. It includes 1,898 guest rooms and suites, all with ocean views. It debuted 500 rooms during its April 2 soft opening, and will be fully functional — including all rooms and suites, 14 restaurants, 55,000 square feet of retail shops (The Row), 130,000 square feet of gaming floor and a 32,000 square-foot spa — by its premiere opening date of May 25. It also includes three nightclubs (the two-level Social, the four-level HQ Nightclub, and Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub), a day-life venue (the 45,000 square-foot HQ Beach Club), 10 pools, Ovation Hall (with seating for up to 5,500), 160,000 feet of meeting/conference room space, and multiple entertainment levels including two acres of outdoor space highlighted by the Sky Garden and the In-Out Pool. The entire property is smoke-free.
Rooms and Suites
Guest-room designs features tone-on-tone shades of grey with polished dark walnut woods. Guest-room amenities include a 46-inch flat screen TV and entertainment system, a full mini-bar, an office space with desk, and an in-room seven-inch Android tablet to control temperature, window shades and room lighting. Guests can also access a digital hotel directory and Internet browser, touch-key room entry and in-room dining from the tablet.
Guests room options include: Ocean Room — Revel’s standard hotel room offers a selection of king or queen beds. Rates start at $239. Ocean Suite — Revel’s junior suite offers a selection of king or queen beds and an in-room lounge area with a sofa and coffee table. Rates start at $359. View Suite — Revel’s one-bedroom suite offers a selection of king or queen beds and a separate living room with lounge area. Rates start at $479.
Meetings and Events
The Think Tank is Revel’s 160,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space. It includes 90,000 square feet of outdoor event and function space, a 70,000 square-foot Event Center with ballroom/banquet seating up to 1,800, and conference-room seating ranging from 300 to 609 seats.
(read related article: Revel - Spanning the Culinary Gamut)
Revel will feature 14 restaurants overseen by award-winning chefs and concepts from New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. They currently include three restaurants from chef Jose Garces — Amada, an Andalusian tapas bar; Village Whiskey, serving spirits and crafted cocktails with American dishes; and Distrito Cantina, a margarita bar with modern Mexican food served take-out window style. Three restaurants from chef Michel Richard — Central Michel Richard, a modern bistro featuring American cuisine with a French accent; O Bistro and Wine Bar, a 25-seat circular bar serving small plates as well as main and signature dishes; and O Bistro Dining Room, offering a seated à la carte menu and grab-and-go options. American Cut from chef Marc Forgione, a modern American steakhouse. The Mussel Bar from chef Robert Wiedmaier, a gastro-pub with inspiration from an old-world Belgian roadhouse. Azure by Allegretti from chef Alain Allegretti, an “approachable and energetic seafood restaurant.” Lugo Caffe by LDV Hospitality, which “exudes the charms of an Italian café,” and One, a high-energy American-cuisine restaurant with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe.
As the weather starts to warm up, so will the lineup for weekly entertainment nightlife at Revel’s award-winning The Social this spring.
On Wednesday, March 13, it was announced that Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis had been replaced by interim CEO Jeffrey Hartmann.
Pending approval by New Jersey casino regulators, the Meruelo Group of Downey, California, will purchase Trump Plaza for $20 million, and plans to close the deal by the end of May.
"I’m very rarely in the studio, only when I have tracks I feel need special attention, but usually I’m on the tour bus with a laptop and headphones. "
Joe Perry: “I would have been fine doing the project [without Tyler]. It would have been quite exciting, but we never got that far and we’re still Aerosmith, which is where I would rather be.”
With a stellar lineup slated for this weekend, Nov. 9-11, the club, in collaboration with associates Angel Management Group, the EMM Group and Revel, will be utilizing the performances from all three nights, and the revenue they generate, as an opportunity to reach out to a local community in dire need.
Revel, the glittering jewel at the north end of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, has had a rough beginning on the gaming side of the ledger since it opened in late spring. However, on the entertainment side, it has delivered positive vibrations and national headlines.
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Atlantic City’s newest casino may have ranked eighth out of the 12 in terms of gaming revenue in May and June, but gaming was from the start only part of the total package the property proposed to bring to an Atlantic City entertainment environment yearning to become more diversified.
Emporium was created exclusively for Revel, and is a 10,000-square-foot “shop-in-shop” concept that showcases a a carefully curated mix of contemporary and luxury brands.
Amazingly, Atlantic City’s golden age of dining just keeps getting better.
“The club is built vertically, which, from all my years of experience and all the nightclubs I’ve viewed globally, I’ve never seen such a vertical build. "
Revel has released a behind-the-scenes video on the making of Beyonce's "Back to Business" show, which will be the singer's first performance since giving birth in early January.
Between Friday and Monday, Atlantic City will experience the single biggest weekend of entertainment the town has ever seen, and with the most demographically diverse collection of artists, too. Few cities anywhere can match the quality, quantity and calibre of shows this weekend, if ever.
“We’re just pleased that people have responded to what we do,” Carney says. “It’s a lot different than when we started out.”
On this evening, Azure offered East Coast varietal Wellfleet and another from Washington state. The Wellfleet’s were dense, meaty and creamy while their Pacific relatives, smaller but deeply cupped in shells, offered a smooth, salty hint of their briny home.
With all the complexities of opening a brand new destination resort in Atlantic City, the executives at Revel already had a lot on their plate. However, those same executives decided to put some great food on the plates of visitors, by presenting the inaugural Taste of Revel, presented by Food & Wine and created in partnership with Travel + Leisure. This three-day epicurean extravaganza from May 18-20, will feature exclusive experiences developed specifically for the 6.3-million-square-foot beachfront destination.
The catalyst behind Revel’s ambitious nightlife and entertainment options is the Las Vegas-based Angel Management Group (AMG), which brings three unique nightlife concepts to the property and southern New Jersey.
Mitch Gorshin’s arrival in Atlantic City nearly two years ago could probably be summed up with the most quoted line from author Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
To usher in the historic first day for Revel, the property has booked the band The Raveonettes to perform a free show at 9pm at The Social, located near Revel's imaginative casino floor.
Just as Atlantic City Weekly columnist David Spatz suggested back in February, Maroon 5 has been booked to perform at Revel’s Ovation Hall on Friday, May 18, 8pm.
Akron, Ohio rockers The Black Keys have been booked for Revel.
Wiedmaier’s room won’t be the only place to grab a steak at Revel. Chef Marc Forgione, one of Revel’s two TV Food Network “Iron Chefs” (Philly-based Jose Garces is the other) will be opening American Cut, which he described as his spin on a “classic steakhouse.”
"It was a little bit of a culture shock coming from Las Vegas, as you can imagine. But then when I actually spent some time [in Atlantic City] and spent some time in competitors' casinos, I was pleasantly surprised and I feel that, you know, being involved in Revel is a very exciting piece of history for Atlantic City and I think will change how people look and perceive the market."
Monday, April 2, was announced as the starting date of an eight-week preview to Atlantic City’s forthcoming $2.4-billion beachfront destination, Revel
Revel continues to back up its claim that the property will be a mega-casino complex with the announcement that Food Network Iron Chef Jose Garces, acclaimed chef and owner of eight restaurants in Philadelphia, and four more in Chicago and Scottsdale, Ariz. is set to open the doors to three highly anticipated restaurants at Revel.
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