New Jersey Guide

Walking the Planks
The first boardwalk in the world was built in 1870 in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City
Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed bill S-11, which authorized the creation of the Atlantic City Tourism District. Through the measure, the state's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is now responsible for revitalizing the gaming destination's tourism and convention business. In October, John F. Palmieri became executive director of the CRDA, following previous work on revitalization projects in Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Hartford, Conn.; and Providence, R.I. It was last July that Gov. Christie called for the city's meeting and convention business to increase by 30 percent by 2014.

Development firm C Gateway has filed an application with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to build one of two new smaller casinos in Atlantic City with a minimum of 200 guest rooms that state lawmakers authorized earlier this year. The company plans to partner with Hard Rock International on the project, deemed a "boutique casino," to be built in phases on the southern end of the Boardwalk. With an estimated price tag of $275 million, the 850-room property is scheduled to open in spring 2014.

The eagerly anticipated Revel Casino Resort is slated to open in June 2012. The 1,090-room property, which sits on 20 prime beachfront acres, will have approximately 160,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space and 90,000 square feet of outdoor function space. An additional 800 guest rooms will gradually be phased in, and a second tower is planned, which will push Revel's total room count to 3,800

The 809-room Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort no longer is affiliated with Hilton Hotels & Resorts and is now known as ACH Casino Resort.

New Jersey's Casino Control Com­mission has approved MGM Resorts International's request for an additional 18 months to sell its 50 percent of the 2,000-room Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa  operation in Atlantic City. The extension, through March 24, 2013, is part of MGM's settlement with the state to leave the Atlantic City market because of concerns over the company's business partner in a casino in Macau, Pansy Ho, whose father is alleged to be connected to Asian organized crime.

In other news at the Borgata, the property recently completed a renovation of 300 suites. Now in the works is a refurbishment of the rest of its guest rooms and public areas. The project is targeted for completion sometime in summer 2012.

Revenues for Atlantic City's 11 casinos declined nearly 20 percent in August 2011 from August 2010 earnings, making it the biggest monthly plunge, year-over-year, in the city's history. The casino resorts were forced to shut their doors for three days on what is typically one of the busiest weekends of the year in late August due to Hurricane Irene; the overall loss in business due to the disaster is estimated at about $45 million.

The Atlantic City Convention & Vis­itors Authority  has launched a new mobile website featuring four main tabs to navigate events, accommodations and activities in the area, along with copious information about dining. Users who access from a smartphone automatically will be sent to the mobile site.

Resorts Casino Hotel at nightGomes Gaming Inc. purchased the 942-room Resorts Casino Hotel last year. The property, which has 100,000 square feet of gaming space and 45,000 square feet of meeting space, has hired a marketing director to target the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender market and has launched the city's first gay venue, the Pro Club.

Landry's, the parent company of Nevada's Golden Nugget Las Vegas and Golden Nugget Laughlin, has purchased the Trump Marina Hotel & Casino. The 728-room property has been rebranded as the Golden Nugget Atlantic City; a head-to-toe renovation is scheduled to be completed this month.

The 2,133-room Tropicana Atlantic City Casino & Resort, purchased by investor Carl Icahn last year, has been awarded an operating license by the Atlantic City Casino Control Commission. It was three years ago when the commission stripped the casino of its license following a massive employee layoff that left the property understaffed. The resort offers a variety of meeting spaces, including the 18,000-square-foot Royal Swan Ballroom and the 13,000-square-foot Grand Exhibition Center.

Construction of a new 75,000-square-foot federal inspection station currently is under way at Atlantic City International Airport. The facility will allow the airport to pursue international carriers and air-service routes. The project, expected to cost about $25 million, includes a customs and border patrol facility, an expanded baggage claim area that will provide space for customs to process international passengers, and the installation of new passenger boarding bridges. The project is slated for completion in 2012.

Seaview, a Dolce Re­sort, reopened this past March following a two-month renovation project. The work mainly involved freshening up all of the property's 297 guest rooms. Last year, this Galloway Township property was purchased by Richard Stockton College, which plans to use part of the resort for student housing. The school also has announced that it intends to develop a comprehensive hotel management program.

Meeting Hotels
Chart House at the Golden NuggetMeeting and incentive properties in Atlantic City include the 2,590-room Harrah's Resort Atlantic City; 2,133-room Tropicana Atlantic City Casino & Resort; 2,032-room Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel; 2,000-room Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa; 1,756-room Bally's Atlantic City; 1,331-room Showboat Casino Hotel; 1,140-room Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino; 942-room Resorts Casino Hotel; 904-room Trump Plaza; 809-room ACH Casino Resort; 800-room Water Club, a Signature Hotel by Borgata; 728-room Golden Nugget Atlantic City; 502-room Sheraton At­lantic City Convention Center Hotel, and 331-room The Chelsea.

Outside the city proper is the 297-room Seaview in Galloway.

Convention Center
Atlantic City Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 486,600 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 45; (888) 222-3683

Airport Transit
Atlantic City International Airport, about 10 miles northwest of the Board­walk. Transfer cost by airport shuttle, $13; by taxi, $25-$35

Luxury tax, 9%; sales tax, 4%; occupancy fee, 1%; tourism promotion fee, $2 per room for casino hotels, $1 per room for others; total tax on hotel rooms, 14%, plus tourism promotion fee

Group Venues
Let attendees get their groove on at Mur.mur at The Borgata, one of the hottest nightclubs in the city. The venue has about 8,300 square feet of space and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems; groups of up to 600 guests are accommodated. (609) 317-1000

At The Chelsea, a nongaming property, the fifth-floor Cabana Club accommodates private events for up to 400 people. For larger groups (of up to 800), the 331-room hotel offers C5, an event space with a 1970s London glam-rock décor and a small stage. (800) 548-3030

Among the many area courses that host groups are the Atlantic City Coun­try Club (609-236-4400), Blue Heron Pines (609-965-1800), Harbor Pines Golf Club (609-927-0006), The Links at Brigantine Beach (609-266-1388), Mays Landing Golf Club (609-641-4411), McCullough's Emerald Links (609-926-3900), Sand Barrens Golf Club (609-465-3555), Seaview Pines Course and Bay Course (609-652-1800), Shore Gate Golf Club (609-624-8337) and Twisted Dune Golf Club (609-653-8019).

Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, (888) 228-4748

Birth of a Pastime
The first organized baseball game was played in Hoboken in 1846.

North Jersey
The Garden State will host Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014 at the new MetLife Stadium, which debuted last fall as part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

Rev up your engines: Formula One, the London-based car racing organization, has announced that the Formula One Grand Prix of America will take place in June 2013. The course will run between the North Jersey towns of Weehawken and West New York along the Hudson River, against a dramatic backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.

The American Dream recreation and entertainment complex, formerly known as Xanadu, is coming closer to becoming a reality. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority approved plans in October for indoor water and amusement parks and a racetrack in the Meadowlands area. The measure allows Triple Five, the owner and developer of Minnesota's Mall of America, to obtain permits to build and complete construction.

The Newark Liberty Interna­tional Air­­port Marriott is getting a $164 million makeover for the 2014 Super Bowl. The 585-room property will add a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, bringing its total meeting space to approximately 23,000 square feet.

A 150-room Courtyard by Marriott will open in downtown Newark next year at the 18,000-seat Prudential Center arena. The property will include 14,000 square feet of retail space for restaurants and shops.

The Hornblower Hybrid cruiseThe Hornblower Hybrid, which bills itself as the United States' first vessel to be powered by diesel, hydrogen, batteries, wind and solar energy, debuted in October. The vessel accommodates up to 600 guests and is available for private events. The Hybrid is part of Hornblower Cruises and Events' new four-vessel fleet, which sails out of New York City and Northern New Jersey.

The 370-room Sheraton Parsippany Hotel is undergoing a $15 million refurbishment. Included in the project is a renovation of all guest rooms, the club lounge and the lobby. The work is scheduled to be completed by April 2012.

Meeting Hotels
 In Secaucus, properties include the 305-room Crowne Plaza Hotel & Exhibition Center Meadowlands/Secaucus, 261-room Embassy Suites Secaucus, 167-room Courtyard by Marriott, 151-room La Quinta Inn & Suites and 82-room Candlewood Suites.

Other hotels in the region include the 429-room Westin Jersey City Newport, 427-room Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel and Conference Center in East Rutherford, 347-room Sheraton Suites on the Hudson in Weehawken and 225-room W Hoboken.

Among the properties at Newark Liberty International Airport are the 585-room Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott, 504-room Sheraton Newark Airport Hotel and 372-room Hilton Newark Airport.

Convention Center
The Meadowlands Exposition Center (Secaucus); exhibit space, 61,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, five. (201) 330-7773

Airport Transit
Newark Liberty International Airport, 10 miles from downtown Secaucus. Transfer cost by taxi, $30-$35

Secaucus: room tax, 15%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15%

Group VenuesEncore Event Center in Freehold
A castle in Lyndhurst is the setting for the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, where groups of 15 to 1,400 can enjoy 11th-century-style jousting and hearty victuals such as chicken and ribs served in an indoor arena-like setting. (866) 543-9637

Groups gathering in Jersey have a stylish new option for special events. The Encore Event Center in Freehold, which debuted last month, can accommodate private functions for up to 1,200. (732) 577-0495

Meadowlands Liberty Convention & Visitors Bureau, (877) 652-8287