Signs on the building at the north end of the Boardwalk claim that “something beautiful is coming,” and that’s just what the new owner of the former Revel hopes to show: something beautiful and better.
The new owner of Atlantic City’s long-troubled casino told the Associated Press this weekend that when the property reopens as Ocean Resort Casino this summer, it will do so looking to right the wrongs of its recent past.
Unraveling the Revel’s history
The Revel cost $2.4 billion to build in a construction process mired in financial issues and labor disputes. In fact, the scope of the project was scaled back and its opening delayed several times.
It did finally open its doors on April 2, 2012. However, it went bankrupt and shut down just 29 months later. The financial issues and labor disputes experienced during construction continued to haunt the project. Plus, public reaction to the high-end casino and resort project was largely negative.
In April 2015, Florida developer Glenn Straub bought Revel out of bankruptcy for $82 million. Straub made plans to reopen the property under the name TEN. However, he missed several reopening dates over the next two years while battling with state regulators over whether or not he needed a casino license.
Straub sold to AC Ocean Walk in January 2018 for $200 million. AC Ocean Walk immediately announced plans to rebrand as Ocean Resort Casino and reopen this summer.
Righting Revel’s wrongs
Now, Bruce Deifik, the Colorado developer behind AC Ocean Walk, tells the Associated Press he has carefully studied what went wrong with Revel. And he is aiming to fix those issues before reopening.
An opening date is not officially known, but when Ocean Resort Casino does launch, Deifik said visitors will find a lot of the issues they had with Revel are no longer there:
“The first thing we did is pay very close attention to what people said about this place, positive and negative. We will listen; that’s a difference-maker. Treat people with respect. Be glad they’re here, and treat them as family members. The main difference is a completely different attitude concerning service to our customer. I think there was a huge disconnect there.”
To that end, people will be able to smoke in areas they couldn’t before, eat at a buffet, take the bus to Ocean Resort Casino and find their way around much easier.
A two-night stay will no longer be required for all guests, plus the casino plans to do more to attract families. Revel focused solely on drawing high rollers, but Ocean Resort Casino aims to welcome gamblers of all levels.
Navigating Ocean Resort Casino
Complaints about Revel often surrounded how difficult it was to get in and around the property.
Now, the casino floor has undergone a reconfiguration aimed at making it easier to get around. New signage will help people navigate. Plus, Ocean Resort Casino employees will be posted at all entrances to greet and direct customers when they walk in.
Back in the Revel days, there was a wall blocking the casino off from access to the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk. Stairs welcoming foot traffic from the iconic tourist attraction will now replace it.
Glass safety panels have also been added to the escalator at the main entrance to make it more inviting and safer.
Leaving the sins of the past behind
However, Deifik said he expects the sins of Revel’s past to make Ocean Resort Casino’s future difficult, but not impossible:
“(Ocean Resort Casino) doesn’t have that luxury of being able to make a mistake without people saying, ‘Aha!’ I think everybody is looking to find fault; I’m going to make sure that’s not going to be the case.”
Ocean Resort Casino will ultimately feature a 138,000-square-foot casino and 1,399-room hotel. Hyatt Hotels Corporation will run the hotel as a part of its Unbound Collection.
Additionally, there will be food and beverage options from a number of premier restaurant groups including Garces Group and LDV Hospitality. Deifik tipped his hand to the AP regarding two of those options from popular actor Mark Wahlberg.
An outlet of his Wahlburgers burger restaurant will open on the property, as will a bar called Entourage, named after the popular HBO series Wahlberg produced.
Additionally, Deifik guaranteed Ocean Resort will reach a contract agreement with local casino unions. All of this is in an effort to leave Revel’s contentious relationship with local labor far behind it.