Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa amps up the luxury with private jets and top chefs.
By Anne Kim-Dannibale
Since 2012’s Hurricane Sandy swept through the Northeast, Atlantic City officials have been working to set the record straight after misperceptions about the extent of the super storm’s damage to the Jersey Shore hit the airwaves. Along with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign and local boosters in the months following the hurricane, local businesses are doing what they can to attract tourists to the East Coast’s answer to Las Vegas and recover lost revenue.
Opened in 2003 with 2,000 guest rooms, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is one of two truly luxury hotels in Atlantic City, along with nearby Revel, and it’s pushing high-end features to attract guests. Its $400 million boutique concept the Water Club — located within the Borgata — offers top-notch entertainment in the intimate Music Box auditorium, celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Geoffrey Zakarian (interview here) and even private jets to whisk Washington gamers to the property in an hour.
We spent a recent weekend soaking up the Water Club, tempting Lady Luck and indulging in some seriously good food in the name of research. Here’s the lowdown.
The more sophisticated sister to the Borgata’s Vegas-inspired property connected via an internal corridor lined with high-end shops. In contrast to the Borgata’s acres of chattering games, the Water Club’s waterfalls and abundant pools give the lobby a spa-like air that speaks to its boutique hotel aspirations, though groups of young revelers looking for an affordable weekend jaunt abound.
With 43 stories and 800 guest rooms in a mix of styles from suites, residences and “Club Rooms,” guests have plenty to choose from. Rooms feel spacious — especially those with ocean views — and feature high-end flourishes including 40-inch flat-panel TVs, Egyptian cotton sheets, stereo systems with iPod docks, and his-and-her bathrobes and slippers, among other familiar amenities. Bathrooms are stocked with organic Lather brand bath products, though in travel size, and come with granite countertops and roomy Italian marble showers equipped with Rain Dome showerheads. At press time, September and October rates were $109 to $429. November rates were $89 to $429.
When in season, you can’t go wrong with the Borgata’s private beach. Located about 15 minutes to the north, sun worshippers take a shuttle from the front of the Borgata departing every few minutes to Brigantine Island to a pleasant strip of powdery sand off a residential street. A personable and efficient crew organizes umbrellas ($10) and chaise longues ($7 each), while keeping tabs on guests’ needs. A full-service restaurant located steps away serves as a good spot for beach cocktails, burgers and crab cakes.
Those less interested in sun and surf can stay close at one of five pools (it is called the Water Club after all). Revelers who can’t get enough of the Borgata’s nightclubs may be drawn to the outdoor pool and its deejay, which fills up well before noon. Those who enjoy poolside conversation will likely find the indoor oasis-like facilities with hot tubs more amenable. A 25-foot infinity lap pool located on the 32nd-floor Immersion Spa with its panoramic ocean view provides another excellent option, if you book a spa treatment as well.
Both the Borgata and the Water Club offer several dining options that tout celebrity chef ties. Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck and Geoffrey Zakarian are all present, as are New York favorites like Old Homestead. But Zakarian’s refined white-tablecloth touch sets the Water Club apart. As the hotel’s “Culinary Lifestyle Consultant,” the New York chef and newest “Iron Chef” designed the menu for all of the club’s many dining options from the room-service menu to the Sunroom, a particularly lovely option for pre- and post-dinner cocktails and charcuterie. Zakarian has also participated in the hotel’s culinary series, a lively event that brings celebrity chefs into the hotel’s auditorium for an up-close-and-personal cooking demonstration.
Upon arrival, we were surprised to find a few things curiously amiss, mainly the minibar that remained bare throughout our two-night stay and slippers that had gone astray. We were also disappointed with the pillows, which were flat and uncomfortable. All minor issues easily corrected with a phone call, but details that shouldn’t be overlooked at an upscale hotel.
GETTING THERE: Fly Borgata
Amtrak’s Acela and Washington’s airports can certainly take you there, but Borgata’s new private jet program offers an enticing luxury alternative that has you boots down in about 40 minutes. VIP gaming regulars have access to this exclusive program flying out of 15 cities on the East Coast, including Dulles (Landmarc Aviation terminal) and BWI (Signature Flight Support terminal). The service includes seats on Dornier 328 jets, and pre-registered hotel rooms for two nights without the security hassles and baggage fees of regular airlines. The jets — run by Ultimate JetCharters — feature 30 leather seats, a flight attendant and complimentary refreshments.
The program currently flies monthly:
Fri. 9/27 through Sun. 9/29
Sat. 10/19 through Sun. 10/20
Fri. 10/25 through Sun. 10/27
Sat. 11/16 through Sun. 11/17
Fri. 11/22 through Sun. 11/24
Sat. 12/14 through Sun. 12/15
Fri. 12/27 through Sun. 12/29
Fri. 10/11 through Sun. 10/13
Fri. 11/8 through Sun. 11/10
Fri. 12/6 through Sun. 12/8