On the horizon: A new
for Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun,
part of the Project Horizon expansion
If there’s such a
thing as a sure bet in the gaming industry, investors seem
to believe it’s the profitability of combining upscale hotels and
resorts with casinos.
“There is an unusual flow of capital
into the gaming industry globally today,” says Eugene Christiansen,
CEO of New York City-based Christiansen Capital Advisors LLC.
Indeed, it’s an “unusual flow” to the tune of $50 billion of
development in Las Vegas and Macau alone.
Following is a roundup of development
news at different gaming destinations around the world as tracked
by M&C’s editors and contributors. Most of these
projects have been developed to cater to meeting groups.
Long perceived as mostly geared toward
vacationers, Atlantic City is making great strides at welcoming
meeting planners. Six months ago, Trump Entertainment Resorts hired
Gregg Caren away from convention facility manager SMG with the goal
of bringing in more group business, which traditionally has been
“relegated to nonsummer, midweek” dates, Caren says. Now, however,
“we’ve pretty much kicked the door open to summer and weekend, much
like Vegas,” he adds.
The Trump Taj Mahal is
adding an 800-room tower
to its Atlantic City property,
scheduled to open next fall.
Partly to make it more enticing for
planners to bring in business, the three Trump properties (Taj
Mahal, Marina, Plaza) are in the midst of a combined three-year,
$500 million renovation and expansion. Half of that is funding an
800-room tower at the Trump Taj Mahal, to open in
The Puck stops here:
The Borgata in Atlantic City
has added a number of
new restaurants, including this
from Wolfgang Puck, and plans
to open an 800-room tower with
18,000 square feet of
meeting space next year.
The Borgata, the hotel
that more than any other has defined the future of Atlantic City,
completed last year an expansion of its amenities, adding more
space to the casino, retail and dining areas. Wolfgang Puck, Bobby
Flay and Michael Mina all opened restaurants there. Opening early
next year will be The Water Club at Borgata, a $400 million,
800-room tower with 18,000 square feet of meeting space along with
a 36,000-square-foot spa.
Not wanting to be left behind,
Harrah’s Atlantic City is adding a tower of its
own, with 964 rooms, bringing the total to 2,600. The tower opens
in mid-2008; in the meantime, opening this year at Harrah’s will be
a Red Door Spa with 24 treatment rooms.
As if all those towers weren’t enough,
three new casinos are on the drawing boards. To begin with,
Atlantic City-based freshman gaming company Revel Entertainment is
designing one that will be financed by Morgan Stanley, to go up
next to the Showboat casino (timeline still to come). Second, the
area just south of the Atlantic City Hilton, itself poised for a
major expansion, has been purchased by Wallace Barr, former CEO of
Caesars Entertainment, and Curtis Bashaw, former executive director
of the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
The third project is a redevelopment of
the Sands Casino, which is now closed. Pinnacle Entertainment will
demolish the building and rebuild it from scratch, a process that
will take at least four or five years. Rumor has it that Steve Wynn
is considering building a casino in Atlantic City as well.
The 804-room Atlantic City
Hilton is charting a $1 billion expansion. A spokesperson
for the hotel declined to offer details of the project because, at
press time, the hotel’s owner, Los Angeles-based Colony Capital,
had not yet approved the plans. According to local news reports,
initial plans outline the addition of a 1,000-room tower and a
3,500-seat meeting room, and the doubling of the casino floor to
120,000 square feet.
The casinos, along with the Development
Authority, are funding an express New Jersey Transit train between
New York City and Atlantic City, which will make the trip in about
two and a half hours. The service is slated to begin later this
Lastly, this gaming mecca is coming
into its own as a major shopping destination. Atlantic City
Outlets, The Walk, has proved so popular that The Cordish Company
is expanding the outdoor outlet mall by five blocks; the first of
about 40 stores opened earlier this year. Also, The Pier Shops at
Caesars, an impressive collection of luxury boutiques built on the
old Ocean One/Million Dollar Pier, debuted last year. Included are
a number of noteworthy restaurants by Philadelphia celebrity
restaurateur Stephen Starr. -- JONATHAN VATNER