On the strength of a comprehensive renovation and repositioning, as well as a resurgent Atlantic City market, ownership of the soon-to-open Ocean Resort Casino certainly likes the property’s odds for long-term success.
Success proved to be elusive for the previous owners of the property, which was formerly known as the Revel Casino Hotel and closed in September of 2014 after only two-plus years of operations. AC Ocean Walk—an affiliate of Integrated Properties, Inc.—officially acquired the property from Glenn Straub on Jan 4.
Representing the tallest structure in Atlantic City, NJ, with some 60 floors, Ocean Resort Casino is expected to officially open next week following a six-month renovation and is now part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection. The 6.4 million sq. ft. luxury resort will feature 1,399 guest rooms; a 138,000 sq. ft. luxury casino; 160,000 sq. feet of meeting and convention space; 90,000 sq. feet of flexible outdoor event space; 16 on-site restaurants; and six swimming pools.
Bruce Deifik, founder, president and CEO of Integrated Properties, described the overhaul. “The property was in immaculate condition to begin with and we’ve just made it better. What we focused on really are the changes structurally that meant something to the customer when they were here,” he said.
Deifik detailed some of those changes, which included creating full access to the hotel from the boardwalk with a grand staircase. He further added that the company changed the “complete alignment and flow of the casino” and activated the lobby with the addition of an “incredible” fish tank, which Deifik described as a “Kodak moment.” In addition, glass wings were added to the escalator, carpet was changed out and signage was replaced.
“Those are the kinds of things that we’ve done to make sure the next time a customer comes through the door it’s the first day of the resort’s history,” he said, later adding, “summer is going to be very busy and that’s perfect because she’s ready to go and we’re very excited about that.”
Other amenities the newly revamped resort will offer include an onsite kids center called Goldfish From Pluto; Topgolf Swing Suite, which offers a virtual putting green and interactive multi-sport games; an on-site retail district; a 32,000 sq. ft spa under Hyatt’s exhale brand; and HQ2, a bar and nightclub.
While Deifik expects leisure travelers, and families in particular, to drive a good portion of the resort’s volume he stressed that group business will be a “big focus” for the resort.
“We want lots of group and convention [business] and we’re already booking groups going into August, September, and October,” he said. Deifik added that being the sixth property to join Hyatt’s soft brand, the Unbound Collection, should boost those numbers as well. “They’re going to do a very good job helping us,” he stated.
Another reason for Deifik’s optimism about the resort has been the resurgence of the Atlantic City market in recent years following a handful of casino closings, including the Revel.
“I believe Atlantic City troughed two-and-a-half or three years ago and I believe that Atlantic City is on the comeback trail,” he said. Deifik specifically referenced the expansion of both nearby Stockton University and the medical center as well as a large residential mixed-use project that’s in development. “More and more people are coming into the town,” he noted.
As further evidence, Deifik noted that a number of Atlantic City resorts have seen significant revenue increases in recent years, including the nearby Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which drove its EBITDA from $230 million to $300 million.
In addition, the market will see the addition of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, which is also slated to open in the coming weeks. However, Deifik remains bullish on growth prospects. “Do I think it will have an impact in the short term? Naturally, but in the long term I think a rising tide lifts all boats,” he said, further adding the company has already hired some 3,200 team members.
Deifik pointed out that Atlantic City attracts nearly 25 million visitors annually. As a point of comparison, Las Vegas attracts some 43 million. However, he noted the recent decision by the Supreme Court regarding sports betting could help narrow that gap and he praised New Jersey for “getting ahead of the curve.”
The casino at the new property will be able to accommodate sports betting, according to Deifik, who further touted the benefits. “It’s not so much sports betting from a monetary standpoint for properties like this and Atlantic City. It’s really people coming here and saying ‘hey, why would we get on a plane and fly five hours to go anywhere else if we can go somewhere that has a beach, a boardwalk and an ocean?’” he said.
Deifik reiterated his optimism for the long-term success of the property as it gets ready to open its doors. “I think that it’s a great time for Atlantic City. I think people are going to kick themselves, because I think this is one of the great opportunities for a coastal property in the U.S. We made a big bet on this on behalf of my family and I’m very happy that we did it,” he concluded.