by Lisa A. Grimaldi | July 03, 2018

Two formerly shuttered casino resorts got a new lease on life last Thursday, when the 2,000-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and the 1,399-room Ocean Casino Resort, held their respective grand openings.

Following a $500 million extreme makeover, the Hard Rock (formerly the glitzy Trump Taj Mahal) is now a palace of neon lighting, high-energy soundtracks and, as expected, rock icon art and memorabilia. Among the offerings at the revitalized property are a casino with 2,200 slots and 120 table games; 150,000 square feet of meeting and event space; the Hard Rock Cafe, which relocated from its former Boardwalk setting; and several new restaurants including elegant Japanese eatery Kuro. A few elements of the original property remain, including Italian restaurant Il Mulino, and the Mark G. Etess Arena, which has been expanded to hold 7,700 attendees, enlarged from 5,200 seats.

During Hard Rock's opening festivities --  which featured the brand's signature guitar-smashing ceremony -- Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming, said, "We believe this project will create a new renaissance in the future for the expansion and excitement of Atlantic City."

Compared with the Hard Rock's complete remake, Ocean Resort Casino has undergone a minor touch-up. The property looks nearly identical to its former incarnation as Revel, which closed in 2014, with a few major additions including the not-yet-open Wahlburgers burger joint and a Topgolf swing suite, and a sports-betting area. Minor cosmetic tweaks are evident in the bright new casino flooring and the removal of the wall separating the property from the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Ocean has kept many of the same food-and-beverage outlets and venues, including Amada for find dining, HQ2 beach- and nightclub and Ivan Kane's Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub. The resort, now part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, offers approximately 120,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and a 32,000-square-foot branch of Exhale [], Hyatt's fitness and spa brand.

"I just want to tell everybody I'm not sure the boardwalk has ever been this busy on this side of town, but that's about to change," Ocean Resort chairman/owner Bruce Deifik remarked during his property's outdoor ribbon-cutting ceremony.