Like your luck, Atlantic City casinos' bet to win over the lucrative gay and lesbian traveler seems to turn as quickly as the roll of the dice. Last year, Trump Taj Mahal was wooing our community with a series of well-organized and even better advertised “Fun and ‘Gay’mes Weekends.” A possible game changer just arrived, Prohibition nightclub at Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City’s first gay casino nightclub right on the boardwalk, joining the area's two sole gay options (Club In or Out in nearby Hammonton and Westside Lounge in AC proper).
This summer, Borgata is trying a game of its own down the shore.
The Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa is placing its bets on the GLBT traveler that wants a mix of luxury, fun, and sophistication. Their strategy appears to focus on weekends with big name entertainers who have large followings in our community. Kicking off this season was Ricky Martin (April) followed by Gay Icon Kathy Griffin. Wanda Sykes is on tap in June.
The Water Club tower rooms and suites feature rain showers and a fully stocked mini-bar—a rarity in give-away-the-room-obsessed Atlantic City. Borgata passes the “how do you really know if you hotel is really gay friendly test”: it does offer (for a profit) adult in-room entertainment of interest to gay men. You would be surprised how many so-called gay-friendly hotels don’t do this. Of course, a weekend overnight stay at the Borgata Hotel does not come cheap but you can find deals mid-week all summer long starting around $150.
Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa takes its pools and spa seriously. The property has three pools—two outdoors and one indoor. The hotel is on the marina but the beach is a short drive away. Those looking for a perfect first date or a special occasion weekend should check in and spa! The men’s massage was a perfect beginning followed by a soak in the communal hot tub and swim in the top floor lap pool. Dining is an art here. The sushi and sake at Izakaya was among the very best.
Smart travelers will find that reward programs can be, well, rewarding. It is easy to sign up at many hotels like at the Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa. It takes less than a minute to sign up when you visit www.myborgata.com. You can redeem comps for food, rooms and other perks.
How to Get There—It can be confusing!
Driving is definitely the quickest and easiest way to get to Atlantic City. Finding the Borgata can be confusing from the Atlantic City Expressway. Be sure to take Exit 1. You can Valet Park, but if you are like me and take your ZipCar, you will have to self-park. Self-parking will cost you $5. Taking NJ Transit from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station or the ACES train from New York City. Air Tran and Spirt Airlines serve the Atlantic City International Airport. A warning, cabs in Atlantic City seem crazy expensive to me. Opt for the Jitney when you can.
Next for Atlantic City?
Atlantic City should have a gay beach! Perhaps we should “get our history straight,” and start returning to the original “Poodle Beach” in AC. And, our community also needs a collective welcome from the many resorts and casinos all year long to build loyalty and repeat visits. With the long-awaited Revel casino coming in 2012 combined, maybe we can reclaim our Playboy days at the many Resorts that Caesar himself would say is a Golden Nugget of an opportunity that is just about ready as shine bright as Harrah’s “welcome” signs to our community.
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Jeff Guaracino is a vice president for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) and the author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.” He has learned to how to find the best deals and travel resources out there for our community. Traveling locally, check out visitphilly.com/gay and friend us at visitgayphilly.com/facebook.