The sultry, exotic side of Havana is making its way to the Atlantic City Boardwalk in the form of a $245 million, grand-scale dining, entertainment, retail, and spa complex called The Quarter at Tropicana Casino and Resort. The largest such complex in the city, it will try to recreate the sophisticated and romantic ambience of Old Havana, and house an eclectic mix of handpicked tenants, who were revealed at a gala ceremony this week emceed by boxing announcer Michael Buffer.

Among them: Carmine’s, a popular Italian restaurant making its first foray outside of Manhattan, as will the Palm Restaurant, Brooks Brothers, and the city’s first IMAX theater. The new Tropicana tower will also include 502 guestrooms, giving the hotel the coveted title of New Jersey’s largest hotel once again. It is the largest non-gaming expansion in the history of Atlantic City.

Built with the needs of corporate groups in mind, the tower will include 45,000 square feet of new meeting space and each guest room will have high-speed Internet hookup, safes, and refrigerators. Already a popular spot for meetings, the Tropicana hosts approximately 350 meetings a year, representing 50,000 room nights. When the new tower opens in March of 2004, James Ziereis, CHME, CMP, assistant vice president of hotel sales, says he hopes that number will increase to 85,000 room nights.

When the expansion is complete, the entire Tropicana will cover 14 acres with a total of 2,127 rooms and 122,000 square feet of meeting space.

With three times more dining, entertainment, retail and spa outlets than any other casino in Atlantic City, the expanded Tropicana will feature many of the most well known and successful brands in their categories. Regional restaurants include Philadelphia's Cuba Libre and Las Vegas' Red Square, which will join well-known national restaurants P.F. Chang's China Bistro. Murray Bros. Caddyshackwill debut in Atlantic City in The Quarter.

Entertainment venues will include The Sound of Philadelphia nightclub and restaurant, Ri-Ra Irish Pub music club and restaurant, The Comedy Stop Cafe & Cabaret, and the Planet Rose karaoke club.