ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- On July 2, the Borgata's massive,
golden-glass tower opened to the public for the first time. Crowds
swarmed onto the white, marble floors of a spacious lobby with
Italian-style arches above and a colorful glass sculpture by Dan
Chihuli hanging from the ceiling.
A row of 18 check-in desks sprang into action, set to serve
customers ready to experience Atlantic City's first new
casino-hotel in 13 years.
The Borgata is the 13th casino to open here, but the city is
seeing its arrival as a great stroke of luck. Even the Borgata's
competitors are seeing it as a benefit -- a property that will
attract additional attention to what officials are calling an
Viva Atlantic City
Now dominating the Atlantic City landscape, the $1 billion,
2,002-room joint venture of Boyd Gaming and MGM Mirage is a new
kind of casino for Atlantic City, built on the model of the new
generation of Las Vegas hotels.
Borgata CEO Bob Boughner called it a "Las Vegas-style property -- I
mean the Las Vegas associated with the hotels built in the last
Boughner said he set out to create a property that was "fun,
upscale, entertaining, sensual and international. We selected a
design approach that would reflect that sensibility."
The Borgata's monolithic, all-glass exterior is reminiscent of
the MGM Grand, but once inside, the tasteful aesthetics and classic
architecture draw comparisons to the Bellagio.
Alan Feldman, vice president of public affairs of MGM Mirage,
said, "[Boughner] and his team synthesized the lessons learned in
the last 15 years and did an outstanding job of creating a new
market leader and defining the market differently -- just as the
Mirage redefined what a Las Vegas hotel should be and changed that
market forever. And that's what we're witnessing in Atlantic
Although that's a public relations official talking, his views
are widely held here, and the city's boosters are euphoric.
Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford said, "The Borgata has
raised the bar as to where future casino developers may want to go.
Its addition to the Atlantic City market bodes well for us in that
it gives prospective tourists additional options."
The buzz at the opening was that Boughner achieved his goal "to
provide the trade-up destination for the current Atlantic City
visitor and, at the same time, provide a welcome opportunity for
the Atlantic City rejecter."
Atlantic City Council President Craig Callaway predicted the
Borgata will expand the market.
"We've been getting the same 4 or 5 million people who come
several times a year," he said. "We think the Borgata will enable
us to penetrate the larger market we haven't been able to reach,
the 25 or 26 million people in this area."
A popular driving destination, Atlantic City is one of the few
destinations that has seen an improvement in business since 9/11.
Borgata sales director Bob Franklin said the Borgata will also
increase opportunities for travel agents.
"In the past, Atlantic City has been seen as a one-dimensional
destination," he said. "Now the rooms, amenities, restaurants,
performances and spa are all reasons for people to come."
Other casino operators already are busy meeting the Borgata's
challenge. The Tropicana is building a $225 million hotel and
retail complex called "The Quarter" that includes a 502-room tower,
scheduled for completion in the spring.
Resorts Atlantic City is building a 500-room tower for an
opening in early 2004, and the Trump Taj Mahal is nearing
completion of a $15 million renovation to its guest rooms,
restaurants and service areas.
Jeff Vassar, executive director of the Atlantic City Convention
and Visitors Authority, said the Borgata brings an additional 2,002
rooms to a hotel market that had 95% occupancy in 2002. "Right off
the bat, that gives us more room for all those people," he
Counting recent or coming additions in Harrah's, Showboat,
Tropicana and Resorts Atlantic City, 4,000 new rooms are becoming
available in the space of a year.
"What we think Borgata is going to do is bring in a class of
visitor that either has never been here or had never considered it
because of a negative
impression," said Vassar. "Borgata has raised the bar, and other
hoteliers in town are raising theirs to meet that challenge."
Borgata's lucky numbers
• 2,002 guest rooms and suites
• 125,000-square-foot casino
• 145 gaming tables
• 3,650 slot machines
• 11 specialty retail shops
• 50,000-square-foot spa/salon
• 2,400-seat events center
• 1,000-seat performance center
• 7,100 parking spaces
• (866) 692-674282(MY-BORGATA) Reservations