When local Atlantic City merchants created the “Fall Frolic” in 1921 to promote additional business after Labor Day, little did they realize that the beauty contest would evolve into the highly successful, world-famous Miss America pageant, which helped put Atlantic City and The Boardwalk on the map of world-famous destinations.
Today, after another Atlantic City resurgence engineered by Meet AC, the convention and visitors bureau, professional meeting planners are discovering that Atlantic City offers the best of everything for their meetings and events.
For example, Jennifer Morganti, senior manager of regional marketing and corporate meeting planner at U.S. Foods, says, “Atlantic City has everything that a meeting planner would need for resources. There is great variety and availability of space, hotel rooms and activities that will fit any event type with any budget.”
“Embrace the charm of the city. And pool hop. There are some incredible pools at numerous properties — explore hosting an event at another property’s pool to change up the scenery.”
— Sarah Sebastian
Morganti is a fan of the variety of meeting spaces available in Atlantic City, too. “We like to go to Atlantic City because it affords us the functionality and the space that we require, which can sometimes be very specialized,” she says. Each year, U.S. Foods holds its annual Food Fanatics Live event, which features food service innovation, smart business practices and demonstrations. They usually hold the event in late spring or early summer.
Indeed, Atlantic City has something for everybody. It now has a combined room inventory of more than 16,000 rooms, spread out among eight major casino hotels and multiple non-gaming hotels. Each of the hotels and casino properties has unique meeting and banquet space to accommodate meetings and events of all sizes as well as incomparable water views from the bay to the beachfront.
The three largest include the Borgata Hotels Casino & Spa and the Water Club at Borgata at 2,800 rooms, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City at 2,587 rooms and Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City at 2,129 rooms.
Jim Wood, president and CEO of Meet AC, says, “Atlantic City is a unique destination with the world famous Boardwalk and beaches, dining, shopping, nightlife and entertainment. There is a plethora of options for everyone. Our meeting space is growing and that should express to the meeting/event planners that we want their business.
“The future is very bright for Atlantic City. We are seeing significant growth and demand from the meetings market. Plus the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is actively engaged in attracting and investing in non-gaming businesses including the soon-to-open Steel Pier Observation Wheel, which will add to the destination’s overall appeal.”
Karen Shackman agrees. As the founder of Shackman Associates, a leading destination management company based in New York City, she has coordinated many meetings and events in Atlantic City. “I completely believe that the future of Atlantic City is meetings, which explains why Harrah’s spent $134 million in building a spectacular conference center,” Shackman says. “The facility provides more than 250,000 sf of event space, with 125,000 sf reserved for meeting space. The center also features two ballrooms, each offering 50,000 sf of space.” Shackman also notes that the closed casino resorts were mostly older properties that did not have the modern amenities and décor that today’s corporate meeting attendee wants. They also did not have the event facilities that meet the business requirements of meeting planners.
“Meetings are a weekday business, which is huge for a market that relies on weekend business, especially in colder months,” Shackman says. “For meetings in warm weather, Atlantic City offers multiple venue options that are outside with beach and ocean views, and is in close proximity to amazing golf options within 30 minutes of any hotel.”
Sarah Sebastian, creative director and founder of Rose Gold Collective, an event design company based in Miami, says Atlantic City can be summed up in two simple words: beachfront casino.
“Where else can you find beachfront properties, a boardwalk and large, mega hotels with casinos? Nowhere,” Sebastian says. “Atlantic City offers a diverse offering for corporate gatherings from welcome receptions on the beach to large meeting rooms in many hotels. For a group located on the East Coast already, Atlantic City is an easy trip that is drivable, too.”
Atlantic City has a plethora of hotels that can handle large meeting and corporate gatherings.
“Embrace the charm of the city,” Sebastian says. “And pool hop. There are some incredible pools at numerous properties — explore hosting an event at another property’s pool to change up the scenery.”
The resorts and casino hotels that grace Atlantic City go above and beyond to cater to the meeting and events crowd. Just ask Donna Japczynski, meeting planner at Check Point Software Technologies, LTD in San Carlos, California. In September 2016, the company conducted their regional meetings at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to take advantage of their all-inclusive meeting package.
“The Resorts Hotel and entire staff achieved one simple benchmark: excellence,” Japczynski says. “We were thoroughly pleased and wholeheartedly recommend.”
Kyle Fernley, executive director at Fernley & Fernley Inc., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recently held an event for a client at the Tropicana Casino Resort in Atlantic City.
“It was huge for us as we had record attendance,” Fernley says. “Everyone enjoyed themselves, and the meeting space was easy to get to. Atlantic City is fun year round, and the city is what you make of it. It’s for all walks of life whether you are looking for entertainment or to hit the town with friends.”
When orchestrating a corporate incentive travel experience, it all comes down to the convention and visitors bureau — Meet AC. “They are so easy to work with and really work with you as a partner,” Fernley says. “It’s tough to find the best interest at heart these days. Anytime I am looking at Atlantic City, I always take into account not only what I need, but what my clients’ wants and needs are and the best location.”
Fernley recommends meeting planners take advantage of all that Atlantic City has to offer because there is so much beyond the hotels and casinos, “the beach, The Boardwalk, outdoor bars and restaurants, golf and so much more,” he says. “It’s your one-stop shop to hold a conference.”
Just about a year since its grand opening and perched along the Atlantic City Boardwalk with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Resorts Casino Hotel offers a unique venue for events. Resorts’ conference center is an attractively designed, 12,000-sf, technologically advanced facility. It features 12 conference rooms where more than 500 meeting attendees can wirelessly connect devices simultaneously, while sharing screens with each other and even offsite colleagues in remote locations. Each conference room has built-in, 90-inch LED 1080P monitors, and most have cinema-quality DLP projection with oversized drop-down screens. Resorts also has two theaters, offering seating for 300 or 1,350, equipped with state-of-the-art sound and light technology along with four ballrooms of varying sizes.
To appeal to groups of all sizes, Resorts Casino Hotel recently underwent $100 million in renovations, including the $35 million Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville-themed entertainment complex, the Resorts Conference Center and, most recently, the completion of phase one of a larger $25 million room renovation project.
The Resorts Conference Center also boasts the Atlantic Ballroom, home to a spacious multiuse, prefunction area, natural lighting and four sets of operable and divisible walls. The new conference center brings the total meeting space to 64,000 sf with 24 meeting and function rooms.
Atlantic City’s reputation as a serious meetings mecca is growing. The resorts and hotels are improving meeting spaces and expanding to accommodate larger groups. The Tropicana boasts 122,000 sf of event space, which includes 50 individual function rooms, allowing them to accommodate meetings from 10 to 2,000 attendees and 113 8-by-10-foot exhibit booths in the Grand Exposition Center, which is fully carpeted and has an open ceiling, allowing for easy lighting. It boasts 20,000 sf and includes three separate areas that also can be used for parties and catered events. The Tropicana’s 18,000-sf, column-free ballroom includes new lighting, carpet, wall coverings and portable walls, and can accommodate a gala event for 1,200 guests or a meeting for 1,800 attendees.
The Top of the Trop, located on the 20th floor of the North Tower, has spectacular views of Atlantic City and is an ideal setting for a cocktail reception. Likewise, the 500-room Havana Tower features more than 37,000 sf of meeting space. The 68th floor offers four well-appointed boardrooms and four hospitality rooms, each affording spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The rooms in the Havana Tower are just an elevator ride from The Quarter, Tropicana’s vibrant dining, entertainment, retail and spa complex.
The Tropicana also offers 24 restaurants and eateries including both casual and gourmet restaurants. They have six restaurants onsite that cater to group events with private dining space, too.
Long celebrated for its lavishness and grandeur, Caesars Atlantic City has 28,000 sf of stunning meeting and event facilities that can accommodate groups of all sizes. The 17,135-sf Palladium Ballroom is an elegant venue with generous prefunction space. For more intimate engagements, the resort’s 10 individual meeting rooms range in size from 490 sf to 1,262 sf and can be combined to accommodate large meetings.
Harrah’s Atlantic City, a Caesars Entertainment Corporation resort, built the world-class Waterfront Conference Center, which is now the largest convention center-hotel complex from Baltimore to Boston. Featuring two, divisible 50,000-sf ballrooms, the center can accommodate up to 5,000 attendees. In addition, Harrah’s offers more than 2,500 hotel rooms directly accessible from the meeting space, making it the perfect year-round destination where attendees can eat, sleep and meet all in one location.
Harrah’s recently announced plans for a $30 million guest room and suite renovation set for completion in summer 2017. The room and suite upgrades are part of Caesars Entertainment’s total investment of $200 million into its Atlantic City casino resorts, which also includes future enhancements to Harrah’s premier nightlife destination, The Pool After Dark, the resort’s fitness center and its upscale food court.
The Atlantic City Convention Center provides 486,600 sf of contiguous exhibit space, as well as 45 meeting rooms featuring an extra 109,100 sf, ample prefunction space, and all the amenities you would expect in a high-end convention venue.
For a more historic convention experience, Atlantic City’s classic Boardwalk Hall, home to the annual Miss America pageant, is a multipurpose facility located on the iconic Boardwalk and features a 141,000-sf main arena with a capacity of 14,770 seats as well as the 23,100-sf Adrian Phillips Ballroom with a capacity of 3,200 guests.
For 85 years, Boardwalk Hall has been “wowing” guests with thousands of spectacular shows, concerts and events. In 2001, a $90 million restoration project was completed to transform the original convention hall into a modern special events arena for hosting concerts, sporting events and family shows.
Dining. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa offers a wide array of group dining from world-renowned chefs, including Wolfgang Puck (Wolfgang Puck American Grille), Bobby Flay (Bobby Flay Steak), Michael Schulson (Izakaya Modern Japanese Pub), Geoffrey Zakarian (The Water Club), and restaurateurs Greg and Marc Sherry (Old Homestead Steak House). Now that the Borgata has announced the unveiling of its 18,000-sf Central Conference Center debuting in May, the project will provide an exclusive meeting experience as well as an expanded culinary program helmed by executive chef Tom Biglan (Borgata Buffet, The Metropolitan, Bread + Butter, Noodles of The World) along with pastry chef Thaddeus DuBois (Borgata Baking Company, Borgata Buffet, The Metropolitan, Bread + Butter) who will oversee the pastry program.
Non-Gaming Activities. While casino activities offer a wealth of entertainment options, hosting a meeting at many of the hotels and casinos within Atlantic City offers attendees who aren’t interested in gaming so much more to do after a long day of meetings.
For instance, Tropicana Atlantic City offers a plethora of non-gaming amenities including the state-of-the-art AtlantiCare LifeCenter Fitness, which is a great way to start the day. In addition, the resort’s Escape AC is a 60-minute, live action, team-based game that guests always enjoy. Essentially it is where Clue meets Beat-the-Clock in this live action, team-based game that challenges groups of two to 10 people to “escape” a designated room in 60 minutes. Each game room provides a thrilling, yet challenging experience that requires attention to detail, critical thinking, communication and teamwork. Executives can watch and assess through the corporate viewing room to see how their group members work together in their attempt to escape the room.
The Steel Pier is currently under construction developing a 200-foot-high observation wheel, which will offer riders sweeping views of the ocean and the Atlantic City skyline from inside the climate-controlled gondolas. This $14 million project is scheduled to open in mid-2017.
Stimulating Your Senses. Additionally, five new and improved multimedia light and sound shows have debuted on The Boardwalk, playing nightly every half hour beginning at dusk. And Tropicana is taking their multimedia light and sound show to a whole new level by partnering with the world-famous Moment Factory. The result is an even more immersive experience featuring sound and lighting and mind-blowing visuals. These free, daily high-energy shows begin at dusk.
Shop ‘Til You Drop. In the heart of Atlantic City’s tourism district is the premier outlet shopping — Tanger Outlets – The Walk, which consists of more than 100 retail stores. Best of all, Atlantic City offers shoppers tax-free shopping on clothing and shoes. In addition, The Playground shopping and entertainment complex includes exclusive retail shops such as Gucci, Apple, L’Occitane and Burberry.
Arts & Culture. Atlantic City also has a growing arts and culture scene including numerous festivals and events during the year including Big Name Beach Concerts, Atlantic City Cider Social, Atlantic City Seafood Festival, Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, Insane Inflatable 5k, The Color Run and The Annual Atlantic City Airshow.
Whether you are looking for a glamorous high-end hotel or a more relaxed venue that caters to groups of all sizes, Atlantic City offers a wealth of hotel and venue options. What’s more, the historic city is constantly reinventing itself with updates and upgrades aplenty.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa announced the unveiling of its new 18,000-sf Central Conference Center coming this May.
The addition gives Borgata more than 106,000 sf of meeting, event and convention space among its three unique venues: The Event Center at 70,000 sf, The Water Club at 18,000 sf and the new Central Conference Center at18,000 sf. The Central Conference Center features two stories of customizable event space including five meeting rooms, a boardroom and an office on the lower level; as well as a 6,500-sf clear-span ballroom on the upper level.
The bi-level venue boasts the latest in technology, offering HD digital projection, TV and internet system capabilities paired with all-digital distributed sound systems. Touch panel controls and décor lighting allow for made-to-order services that can be uniquely individualized to fit any need.
Additional new projects include an outdoor pool and beer garden and a new eatery, which debuted in summer 2016. The 3,200-sf pool can be used for swimming during the day and as an entertainment gathering spot at night. The Borgata’s projects also include Premier, a new nightclub that was designed as “a theatrical experience for partygoers” and competes against blockbuster clubs in Las Vegas, New York and Miami. Tiered booths tilt toward a DJ station, stage and “digital proscenium.” Carved-stone bars flank the main room, with a horseshoe-shaped mezzanine and a huge digitally programmable chandelier overhead. In addition, celebrity chef Michael Symon’s new restaurant Angeline is set to open in spring 2017.
In other news, The Claridge hotel reopened in 2014 as a fully restored historic hotel with 483 renovated guest rooms. Now a Radisson hotel, The Claridge debuted additional conference space, adding 15,000 sf to meet the growing demand for conference space throughout Atlantic City. This brings Claridge’s conference space to 100,000 sf, including a 6,400-sf room perfect for general sessions or small trade shows and four smaller conference and board rooms.
Another historic Boardwalk venue the Showboat Atlantic City underwent a dramatic renovation and now offers 872 spacious, well-appointed guest rooms and suites, three restaurants, and convenient access to all the best attractions that Atlantic City has to offer.
And the former casino hotel Revel, now named TEN, will be celebrating its grand reopening in 2017. The newly rebranded and renovated property, situated on the beach, will feature 13 restaurants, a 32,000-sf spa, 55,000 sf of retail space and a parking garage with more than 7,000 spaces. C&IT