With a $7 billion renaissance transforming Atlantic City from a gaming town into a diverse destination resort, the city is actively courting. The Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority (ACC&VA) has implemented "AC Meetings Express," a program that provides available hotel dates and rates in less than 48 hours. The ACC&VA is also contacting more than 1,000 corporate planners twice a month with hotel updates and space availability.
hotel news * Resorts Casino Hotel is undergoing a $30 million renovation that will include redevelopment of all public spaces, the casino floor, and all 498 guest rooms in its main tower. The renovation is scheduled to be complete in July 1999.
* In June, Caesars Atlantic City officially opened its new porte cochere, expanded casino floor, Rotunda restaurant, and Bacchus Bar to culminate three years of design and construction. The $280 million expansion also includes the 620-room, 26-story Centurion Tower, the 18,000-square-foot Palladium Ballroom, and four new meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 75 each. The tower brings the total room inventory to 1,144 and meeting space to 45,000 square feet.
* Caesars, which bought the Ocean One Mall several years ago, is planning on spending $250 million to make it over into a Roman-style city replete with hotel rooms, a casino, restaurants, entertainment venues, and retail outlets. The company is now in the formal application phase acquiring the necessary permits for the project.
* The Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort opened a $60 million addition in fall 1997, with a 300-room tower increasing the total room count to 804.
* Bally's Park Place opened a $100 million Wild Wild West Casino in July 1997.
* Harrah's Atlantic City completed a $80.7 million expansion last June that added a new 16-floor, 416-room hotel tower, bringing its total guest rooms to 1,174.
* Stephen A. Wynn, chief executive of Mirage Resorts, plans to build a resort in Atlantic City, as well a resort owned by Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Co. The two side-by-side resorts will cost more than $750 million. Wynn's Le Jardin Hotel & Casino will have 2,000 rooms and a year-round springtime concept. The Boyd property, as yet unnamed, will have meeting and convention space, five to seven restaurants, major retail outlets, and approximately 1,200 guest rooms. The two projects are scheduled to break ground in the fall of 1999 and be complete in 2002.
* MGM Grand plans to spend at least $700 million to build a casino resort on 35 acres next to the Showboat Casino Hotel. The resort will have 2,000 hotel rooms but it has not been announced when construction will begin.
* Garden Pier juts out into the ocean from the boardwalk and is home to the Atlantic City Art Center and the Atlantic City Historical Museum and Cultural Center. The museum has a hall that accommodates up to 150 people, and meeting executives can arrange to erect a tent on the pier for larger events. For more information, call the Historical Museum and Cultural Center at (609) 347-5839.
* For a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the Boardwalk and casinos, bring your group to the oldest working winery in the United States, the Renault Winery, less than a half hour outside of the city. The winery dates back to 1864, and the grounds include over 1,400 acres of vineyards and gardens and streams for spectacular outdoor functions. Indoors, banquet facilities can accommodate up to 300. Construction is slated to begin in the spring of 1999 on a hotel with meeting facilities and a golf course. (609) 965-2111.
When Nabisco was searching for a destination for a high-level meeting it held last June, Atlantic City's affordability is what attracted this consumer food company. "We found it to be relatively inexpensive with all the necessary services in place," says Peggy Grow, senior meeting planner for East Hanover, N.J.-based Nabisco.
It was also centrally located, since the majority of the group of 110 was coming from New Jersey. A chartered bus picked up the New Jersey-based employees at Nabisco's two locations in East Hanover and Parsippany, saving the company a great deal in transportation costs.
Although most of the time the group was together was in meetings at Caesars, where they were staying, they did have one evening social activity when they all went to see the magician David Copperfield, who was performing at the resort.
"Overall, Atlantic City suited our needs. It was a good location for us and easily accessible," says Grow. The meeting ended on a Friday and many of the attendees extended their stay to take advantage of summer at the New Jersey shore.