Borgata may have forever altered the landscape of Atlantic City, but it’s also proved to be a wake-up call for other casinos in this gaming town and there’s no place better you can bet on than HARRAH’s.
If you booked a stay at Harrah’s a few years ago, the choices would have been limited: You could gamble, grab some buffet, go back and gamble. End of play.
But post-Borgata, if there is a resort in AC that’s taken the ‘non-gaming destination’ term to heart, it’s Harrah’s.
Not only is it the swankiest resort on the strip where friendly thank you smiles adorn like Russian roulettes on just about every employee’s face, Harrah’s now offers an experience like none other - uninterrupted nightlife at The Pool, state-of-the-art treatments at the Red Door Spa, afternoons with Ben & Jerry’s, and mile-high food stations at the brand-new Waterfront Buffet.
And did we mention the multi-million-dollar new digs in the Waterfront Tower? Not only are the views to die for, the plasma screens and the spectacular new baths in the rooms are a class apart and the best value for your slot wins.
Harrah’s went through a gigantic three-phase renovation and just this past February the last part of the redev was completed with the opening of the waterfront buffet and the retail shops (which offer an eclectic mix of men’s and women’s chic clothing and accoutrements).
The end result is sheer magic: The entertainment conglomerate has essentially created a new audience for itself literally overnight and what you see now are two kinds of customers at Harrah’s: The legacy clientele (read smokers and gamblers) - and the jet-set and post-DINK retirees (the ones you’ll see ordering sushi and other exotic hors d’oeuvres past eleven and the post-Martini crowd shaping up a storm in the cabanas at the Pool). Is this the new Vegas or what?
The atrium, where the indoor, UV-protected Pool is located, cost roughly $30 million to build and it’s by far the hottest place on the planet. During the day (from 7am-7pm), you can rest easy with the shades in one of the cabanas that can be rented for the hour or the day. The cabana comes equipped with a flat screen TV so you can check your stocks while sipping on endless martinis in your own private wet bar. If the scene mildly resembles an oceanview SoBe condo at high noon, it becomes a volcanic eruption post midnight when the entire poolside is converted into a nightclub where your only ticket in is your look and not who you hook. It’s the trendiest mini-bar outside of Manhattan and the feeling can be mutual even to a bystander with an AARP card on their way to oblivion.
What’s always been unique about staying at a property owned by Harrah’s Entertainment or Caesar’s Entertainment Group is that you get to enjoy life twice for the price of one. You can stay at Harrah’s and plunder the excitement there; and when you’re done you can hop into your car and hit other casinos around town owned by the gigantic gaming company and feel like you own the town. (Not to mention you pay only once to park anywhere).
One place that comes with the surf’n turf is SHOWBOAT (a sister property) and the plausibility of dining out at FOUNDATION ROOM, which is a karmic, after-life experience built on a culinary voyage at the HOUSE OF BLUES. The restaurant resembles a Vedantic cave and it offers a bounty-hunter of a menu and not only do the dishes create orgasmic sensations to the palate, the desserts are the jewel in the crown. Don’t forget to order the Mudslide Pie (we went for sloppy seconds) and for appetizers we would suggest the calamari. House of Blues, through the Foundation Room, has virtually redefined the private club experience by offering individuals an opportunity to support the education of young people while simultaneously supporting an upscale, full service membership club. Guests are treated to not only a visual feast, but a culinary one, as well. Memberships to the room help to support the programs of the International House of Blues Foundation, which was created to promote cultural understanding and creative expression through music & art.
There are four prayer rooms inside the Foundation Room and the restaurant is worth a visit. The prices are also quite reasonable.
In addition to the Foundation Room, and the House of Blues, make sure to pay homage to the restaurateur Stephen Starr. Who doesn’t know Starr? After all, he’s blessed this earth with Continental in Philly, and the Buddakan in NYC and AC.
At BUDDAKAN, Starr’s temple of modern Asian cuisine in AC, guests proceed through an enchanted Asian garden surrounded by multi-colored archways, 25-foot tall trees that appear to grow through the ceiling, rocks and foot bridges, to arrive at the awe inspiring restaurant’s main dining room. A twilight sky illuminated with state of the art lighting, reclaimed Douglas fir wood covered walls, and a facade of houses with clay tile roofs create the illusion of being inside the courtyard of an ancient Chinese village. A series of “opium den” style rooms provide guests with semi-private dining nooks while a gigantic golden Buddha watches over the entire restaurant from the head of a 24 foot long communal dining table that accommodates 22 guests. A mezzanine area overlooking the Chinese courtyard also provides guests with a private bar and private seating. The place is intimate and cozy and the night we were there a nearby couple had just finished dinner and the man proposed to the woman (thankfully, she accepted).
For starters, we tried the Edamame Ravioli (heavenly) and the Chicken & Ginger Dumplings. For our main courses, we dived into Pan Seared Sea Bass, Asian Barbecued Pork and Wasabi Crusted Filet Mignon. What stole the show was the side order of Crab Fried Rice which we couldn’t get enough of and we highly recommend. For dessert, what stuck out was the Sticky Coconut Rice Pudding.
But a trip to Harrah’s isn’t all fun and no play at the spa. For that there’s the unbeatable RED DOOR SPA. We were there practically every day of our stay, thanks to our hosts, the PR folks at Harrah’s (Did we mention how easy and hospitable they were to work with?).
Nothing goes better with exhilaration than relaxation – and nobody does relaxation like Red Door Spas. Recipient of 2007’s Best Day Spa Award from the Atlantic City Press and Philadelphia Magazine’s Best New Day Spa Award, this Atlantic City resort spa is a state of the art sanctuary featuring 23 spa treatment rooms and a distinct menu of Signature spa and salon services. Their diverse massage offerings include hot stone therapy, deep tissue massage, and aromatherapy techniques. The manicure and pedicure stations are graced by flat screen TVs and their poolside cabana massages are a must…but the jewel in the crown is the Red Door Suite Escape spa package, where partners are treated to a dual 80-minute couple massage, and a half hour of relaxation in a private luxury suite, complete with an in-room Jacuzzi and fireplace.
Guests who come through the Red Door at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City are lavished in the unparalleled pampering and professional expertise that can only be Elizabeth Arden.
Make sure to book appointments early - and often - as the spa is often booked in advance and the couple’s room is extremely hard to come by. Even though on one of our visits we were reserved for the couples suite we couldn’t get in - turned out the suite had been double booked. But the pleasant staff made up for it and offered us a double dose of happy treatments on the house. We left happy and relaxed.
That’s when it hit us: There’s no hurry to leave Harrah’s.
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