Tropicana's Marketplace start of somethin' big


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Like most of the dozen hotel-casino properties here, the Tropicana Casino & Resort was in need of a little sprucing up, I found during my visit in mid-May.

Time and the tide of visitors to this Jersey Shore gaming city -- 34 million per year, according to the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority -- were beginning to take their toll. Atlantic City had not seen a new hotel-casino in 13 years.

Enter the Borgata, the $1 billion joint venture project of MGM-Mirage and Boyd Gaming Co. that opened July 2.

The mere mention of the proposed Las Vegas-style property was enough to send officials at most of the other gaming properties back to the drawing board.

At the Tropicana, which had been the city's largest casino-hotel property, with 1,624 rooms, until the 2,002-room Borgata debuted, the to-do list included construction of a $225 million hotel tower with 502 guest rooms, and the Quarter, a 200,000-square-foot, old Havana-themed retail, dining and entertainment complex set to open next March.

The project also will include the construction of a 2,400-space parking garage and a 25-room conference center.

Although looking at things under construction doesn't do much for me, exploring the Marketplace at the Boardwalk, located on the first floor of the south tower, was another story.

My stay occurred just before all of the outlets in the new, 21,000-square-foot area officially opened. Corky's Ribs & B.B.Q., however, lured me in one Friday night with its laid-back atmosphere and live blues and jazz.

FYI: Diners who are guests at the Tropicana cannot charge their meal to their room.

Now open at the Marketplace, besides Corky's, are Hooters; James' Salt Water Taffy; a deli featuring homemade soups, salads and sandwiches; Starbucks; Boardwalk Favorites (hot dogs and hot caramel corn); and Firewaters nightclub, known for its 101 varieties of beer. Street performers lend a festive air.

The Marketplace also offers a gaming area with slot machines and an animated show, the Amazing Cash Contraption, that kicks off every 15 minutes with random jackpots worth anywhere from $5 to $10,000.

My lodging for the weekend was a one-bedroom corner suite with a partial view of the ocean that I found to be a little worn yet quite comfortable.

My only complaint had to do with room service. An order placed after midnight on a Friday called for at least a one-hour wait. The next night, my order for room service came after a 40-minute wait. The next morning, I called for breakfast at 9 a.m. and was told to expect a two-hour wait.

As frustrating as the room service issue was, the check-in and checkout process was smooth. Checkout at noon on a Sunday took less than five minutes.

The Tropicana has a variety of packages for all seasons. For more information, agents can call (800) THE-TROP or log on to

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For more details on this article, see Keeping up with Borgata.

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