Despite local concerns surrounding the hotel’s performance, Revel was sold out this weekend for the Atlantic City Airshow. There was definitely a buzz throughout the property. The clubs were crowded, the casino energetic, the restaurants busy. Having only heard tales of struggle from the mouths of the media, I was happy to see Revel being enjoyed and fully utilized, standing tall with all it has to offer.
And I don’t care what the numbers say – anyone who tells you a $2.4 billion resort doesn’t have much to offer tourists is obviously sitting behind a desk somewhere, completely out of touch with the tangible options for travelers.
Here are a few features of Revel that I found pleasant during my stay as a weekend visitor:
Private Cabanas: The main pool at Revel overlooks the ocean but it is not that large, resulting in high competition for lounge chairs and leg room.
I didn’t have to deal with any of that on Friday, though, as the group of us tucked ourselves away and relaxed in a private cabana during the airshow. The word on Revel is that it’s more of a resort than a traditional Atlantic City casino, and I could certainly see and feel the Vegas/South Beach influence. Don’t think of a glorified tent – these babies are fully decked out with comfortable couches, wood-paneled walls, tile floors, semi-private pools, and artistic decorations (see photo).
The price tag for rentals ranges from $400-$2000 for the day depending on what’s going on, whether it’s a weekday or weekend. The nice thing about the rental is that your $2000 (or whatever) goes towards food and beverage – the cabana itself is free. The price for the day represents the minimum you must commit to eating and drinking, and you are allowed a maximum of ten people per cabana. Catch a cabana on one of the slower days, and you could end up with a nice bargain when traveling with a group.
Nightlife: Royal Jelly Burlesque Club is certainly a “change of pace” sort of evening, at least it was for me. I can’t say I’m a frequenter of strip clubs, so a night at the Royal Jelly was definitely one that stands out, even if the dancers didn’t lose all their clothes. It’s actually sort of a nice mix: About once an hour the club performs a 10-minute show – the rest of the time is yours. It’s small and ciruclar – the bar in the center with dancing platforms on top – and VIP areas are elevated above on three sides, the stage at about the same level on the fourth. The place was packed on Thursday night, seemingly with more women than men.
Restaurants: Robert Wiedmaier, the chef at Mussel Bar in Revel, put 75 beers from his homeland of Belgium on the menu, including Antigoon, a pale ale brewed exclusively for him in Belgium and one that is worth a visit to the bar in itself. They also have five kinds of mussels, including Mediterranean (Merguez Sausage, Goat Cheese, Cilantro) and Cave Aged Gruyère (Fingerling Potatoes, Pancetta Bacon Gremolata, Garlic and Leek Broth). Pull up a stool and take in the beautiful bar with a beer and a bowl of mussels.
Amada: This restaurant hails from its mothership in Old City Philadelphia, one of the more popular places for tapas in town. That same quality carries over to its Atlantic City location, serving sangria and Spanish tapas along the outer edge of the casino floor. I sampled Spanish charcuterie, cheeses, garlic shrimp, fish on a fried egg, fava bean salad, and a beef shortrib flatbread with horseradish, parmesan, and bacon, among others. If traveling with a group, you can literally order an entire pig called the Cochinillo Asado, a whole suckling pig brined and slowly roasted for a day and a half (must pre-order 48 hours in advance, $45/person). Sounds like a nice and affordable way to spice up a special-occasion weekend, for sure.
Centro: As you’ve seen, one of the great things about the restaurants at Revel is that most of them are all extensions of already established and respected places, led by chefs with a history of success. Centro’s Michel Richard has run restaurants in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Washington D.C., and the original Centro in our Nation’s Capitol earned a James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant in 2008. Richard’s signature Faux Gras is a spin off of Foie Gras, made with chicken liver instead of duck. It’s a delicious spread to go along with bread and charcuterie (I ate a lot of meat and cheese this weekend). The 72-hour short ribs, sea bass, and salmon with black bean sauce are all winners. Save room for dessert, especially the cheesecake, chocolate mousse, and flaky napoleon.
Those are just a few of the ten-plus eateries. Check out the other Revel restaurants, including a taco truck parked in the casino.
Property Position: One side looks out over the channel and the island of Brigantine to the north, and the other stares south down the boardwalk, providing a view of the Atlantic City skyline. The resort is located directly on the boardwalk at the beach, allowing guests walking access to the ocean, Steel Pier, the Pier shops at Caesars, and the many other casinos on the strip.