Resorts Casino spending $60M to restyle itself as Margaritaville

Mark Giannantonio, the new president of Resorts Casino Hotel, discusses on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. Wendesday Jan. 2, 2013, the $60 million in renovations and expansion the Atlantic City N.J. casino will undertake in the first six months of 2013. Behind him on the Boardwalk is where the Jimmy Buffett-themed Margaritaville entertainment complex is being built. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
Mark Giannantonio, the new president of Resorts Casino Hotel, discusses on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. Wendesday Jan. 2, 2013, the $60 million in renovations and expansion the Atlantic City N.J. casino will undertake in the first six months of 2013. Behind him on the Boardwalk is where the Jimmy Buffett-themed Margaritaville entertainment complex is being built. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry) (AP)
Posted: January 03, 2013

With its big reveal slated for Memorial Day weekend, Resorts Casino Hotel has $60 million in renovations under way, including its Margarita-themed entertainment complex.

In addition to the $35 million Jimmy Buffett-themed venue, the casino announced today that it is spending $25 million to renovate hotel rooms. It will also recarpet the entire casino floor, regut 259 bathrooms at the Ocean Tower, add a food court, redo the parking garage and the entrance onto the main floor from the parking garage.

In addition, two new VIP player clubs for highrollers will debut next Thursday.

Gary Van Hettinga, president of Mohegan Gaming Advisors, the management company which is under a management contract to operate Resorts, said recommendations for the renovations were made after the change in ownership last fall.

"We're going to be improving our position within the market and repositioning the property for the entire Margaritaville reveal in May," Van Hettinga said Wednesday in a phone interview. "The Boardwalk here has been alive and well. The beach and the Boardwalk are in very good shape (post-Hurricane Sandy).

"Sandy definitely slowed business down substantially," he said. "A lot of our customers were hurting as a result of the storm. ... But we are going to have a very good product to reveal here in the summer."

Resorts hired former Tropicana boss Mark Giannantonio as vice president of hotel operations in early October. Van Hettinga said on Monday, Giannantonio becomes president and CEO and will report directly to him.

Van Hettinga said Mohegan Gaming Advisors is the management company under the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which owns Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. In early August, Resorts announced a new partnership with the Native American tribe.

In addition to its flagship Connecticut property, the tribe also owns Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs - a racetrack with a casino - in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The renovations at Resorts are the latest in a string of changes over the past year. As one of Atlantic City's smallest gambling halls, the casino has struggled amid fierce internal and regional competition.

Resorts finished 10th among the dozen A.C. casinos in November with $7.2 million in casino revenue - a 34.6 percent decline from a year ago. Table games revenue was particularly hurt that month, down 54.4 percent.

Casino operators, including Resorts, attributed the declines mainly to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, which lowered business volumes significantly. The A.C. casinos began reopening on Nov. 2, with all of them fully operating by Nov. 5.

December revenue figures come out next Thursday from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority took over the operations of Resorts in October, becoming the first tribe to have a presence in Atlantic City, and ending speculation about Resorts' future after the sudden death of its former CEO and veteran Atlantic City operator, Dennis Gomes last February.

The tribe took over the administrative, marketing and accounting, among other functions at the casino under a management agreement with Mohegan Gaming Advisors.

The Margaritaville-themed complex will include a restaurant, bar, and surf shop on the site of the former Steeplechase Pier overlooking the beach and ocean.

Planned is a 400-seat Margaritaville Cafe inside Resorts, with 40 additional seats on the Boardwalk. The complex also is to include a LandShark Bar & Grill on the beach, a year-round venue; a Five O'Clock Somewhere Bar on the casino floor; Margaritaville restaurant, retail shops, and coffee shop along Resorts' Boardwalk facade.

Van Hettinga said the project had displaced two VIP player clubs, which were relocated and rebuilt in a slots area of the casino, and will open next week.


Contact Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2855 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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