Transformation complete and every bit as brilliant as promised, the Golden Nugget is hosting a weekend-long series of events to celebrate.
One is a sprawling giant on the Boardwalk built from the ground up and the topic of varied conversation for about the past six years. The other is a much smaller Marina District property purchased about a year ago and rebuilt while still a fully functioning casino hotel.
But any notion that the Golden Nugget intended to sit back in the shadows and allow Revel to bask in the limelight alone is one that will be thoroughly dispelled this weekend.
Starting with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, April 26 (see "Curtain Call," and sidebar below for full schedule), the property will follow with three days of red-carpet events and celebrity appearances Friday through Sunday, April 27-29.
Earlier in the week, Golden Nugget hosted media tours of what entrepreneur and Landry’s Inc. CEO Tillman Fertitta got for his $188 million investment (a $38 million purchase price in Feb. 2011 and about $150 million in upgrades).
The end result — much enhanced if you can recall what the property looked like before the purchase — is on scale-of-magnificence par with the 164-foot yacht (Boardwalk) Fertitta has parked out back at Farley State Marina. Suites and standard guest rooms appear to have been stripped down to the wall studs and refurbished with all new carpeting, tile, fixtures and amenities, all with water views of the bays, inlet and/or ocean.
“These are completely renovated rooms — I prefer to call it ‘brand new’ because it looks nothing like it looked when it was Trump Marina,” says Amy Chasey, Golden Nugget vice president of marketing. “When you walk into the property, you won’t recognize anything as being like it was before. The Atrium, chandeliers, front desk and check-in areas, the spa, retail shops and restaurants — it’s just a really welcoming feel now. Our new retail area makes you feel like you’re not even in a casino. You feel more like you’re in a high-end shopping mall.”
The latest restaurant to debut, joining the Chart House, Vic and Anthony’s, The Grotto and Michael Patrick’s Brasserie, is an Asian concept called Lilly’s.
The Spa on the mezzanine level is a full-service wellness center and retail shop that exceeds in size its sister property in Las Vegas.
“The Las Vegas hotel has four towers and many more rooms [the A.C. property has 740 guest rooms], but the Las Vegas property is a downtown casino so you’re really limited on space,” says Chasey. “Everything was remodeled about six years ago, but it’s much more compact and we did the best we could with what we had to work with. This property is sprawling, and we had more space than we knew what to do with, so we had the opportunity to build the spa from scratch. I suspect once Vegas becomes aware of how nice Atlantic City’s spa is, they’re going to want to renovate theirs again.”
An interesting concept that A.C. borrowed from its sister property, and something found in few properties anywhere in the world, is the Gold-to-Go ATM. The machine is always online and updates gold prices every 10 minutes based on market fluctuations. Along with gold bars ranging in weight from a gram to an ounce, the vending machine also sells traditional gold coins and Golden Nugget souvenir pieces.
Also unique is the Ronnie Wood Art Gallery on the mezzanine level — an exhibition of nearly 30 paintings, drawings and limited-edition prints dating from 1983 that Wood (best known as a member of the Rolling Stones, and twice inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame) created and agreed to put on display at the A.C. Golden Nugget. All are available for purchase. Subjects include self-portraits, family, friends and fellow musicians like Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones as a group and individually, Jack Nicholson, Mike Tyson and others.
PICTURED: Ronnie Wood and Tilman Fertitta at the opening of Wood’s ‘Faces, Time and Places’ gallery
exhibition at the Golden Nugget April 20.
(Photo courtesy of Golden Nugget)
(Wood performed his first-ever solo show at the Golden Nugget Atlantic City April 21, and appeared with his girlfriend, Sally Humphreys, and bandmates at a private opening reception of the gallery the night before. Click here for show review, here for interview with Wood and here for photos from his art gallery opening.)
The H2O Pool & Bar includes an outdoor pool, hot tubs, fire pits, day beds and outdoor furniture on the property’s rooftop overlooking the marina and Gardner’s Basin. It is adjacent to the Event Lawn, which used to be tennis courts and is now a wide-open, artificially turfed special-event area that can accomodate about 4,000 people. It is the spot where the weekend fireworks will be launched from as well as several other grand-opening ceremonies, and may be used for outdoor concerts and special events during the summer.
What was once conference-room space has been converted to Wine & Wi-Fi — a casual lounge and wine bar where guests have free wi-fi access or access to the property’s computers.
“You don’t necessarily have to be a hotel guest to come and enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and use the free wi-fi,” says Chasey. “If you do want to use the computers, though, you’d need to be a hotel guest, but if you bring your own laptop or iPad or whatever, wi-fi Internet access here is free.”
Golden Nugget also debuted a poker room that guarantees a $10,000 prize-pool Texas Hold ‘em Tournament ($120 buy-in per player) every Saturday, and a $2,012 prize pool ($50 buy-in) tournament every Sunday. The poker room will also be giving away one ounce of real gold to the first-place winner of both tournaments April 28 and 29.
“This is a complete resort destination with all the amenities you’d expect to find at any world-class resort,” says Chasey.
Golden Nugget Grand Opening Events
Golden Nugget partners with Paulaner, an ancient European brewery and originator of Germany’s Oktoberfest, for this year’s Craft Beer Festival.
If there is any one quality that defines great cooking, it just might be courage. Restaurateurs are largely by nature risk-takers, willing to push and prod their enterprises forward.
Comedy impressionist Gordie Brown doesn’t do the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia in his fast-paced, one-man variety show. But he should probably consider adding the late front man to his repertoire, if only for one line from one song.
Atlantic City’s newest, biggest and richest cheerleader is a 54-year-old native Texan with the requisite drawl, who refers to his guests as “y’all” and apologized, with a sheepish, aw-shucks grin, for being underdressed at the grand opening of his Golden Nugget casino last week.
Some of the qualities that allowed Tilman Fertitta to reach the apex of the business world, and transform Landry’s Restaurants Inc. into a conglomerate worth nearly $4 billion, he seems to carry around like a set of car keys.
In what they hope will be a sweetheart deal announced on Valentine Day yesterday, Tilman J. Fertitta, Chairman, President, CEO and owner of Landry’s, Inc., parent company to the Golden Nugget Las Vegas and Laughlin, announced that Landry’s has agreed to buy the Trump Marina Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
Golden Nugget encouraged its guests, through a variety of construction-related promotions, to be part of the sweeping makeover that actually began a few weeks before the casino’s parent company, hospitality industry giant Landry’s Inc., purchased the former Trump Marina for $38 million.
A one-off U.S. concert, Wood's first-ever solo show in the United States, smoked from start to finish Saturday night in Atlantic City.
How does it feel — to be a Rolling Stone? “Feels great,” says Wood. “It’s an unbelievable thing that’s been going on for this length of time and we’re certainly covering new ground by being the first rock and roll band to be 50 years old.”
Ever since Tilman Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s Inc., took over the former Trump Marina last May and brought back the Golden Nugget brand to Atlantic City, the casino’s slogan has been, “Watch the Transformation.” Now the transformation is complete, and the Golden Nugget is throwing a four-day party April 26-29 to celebrate with its official Grand Opening Kick-Off Weekend.
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