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NJ's Revel casino breaks rules opening to ocean

By Wayne Parry

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 19 2012 2:31 p.m. MDT

Worker Flor De Jesus prepares a room at Revel in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday, March 19, 2012. Revel, the casino-resort opening April 2, breaks all the old casino rules. The smoke-free resort embraces the ocean rather than turning its back on it.

Mel Evans, Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Think of a casino and chances are, what comes to mind is a dark, low-ceilinged warehouse of slot machines and card tables, bathed in cigarette smoke.

Revel, the casino-resort opening April 2 in Atlantic City, breaks all the old casino rules. The smoke-free resort embraces the ocean rather than turning its back on it, the way many of its competitors do.

It makes more use of sunlight and sweeping views of the beach and ocean than the other eight Boardwalk casinos, which were designed to keep gamblers fixated on, well, gambling. Thoughts of wandering outside to smell the salt air were left to those whose money was gone.

But at Revel, you can see the ocean from a good part of the casino floor, a no-no in other places. And Revel lets guests go right to their rooms without crossing the casino floor.

"We're looking for people to look at this as a resort first," said Kevin DeSanctis, Revel's CEO and a veteran casino executive in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, having worked for Donald Trump, Steve Wynn, as well as running Penn National Gaming. "If you're thinking of a two or three-day getaway in the northeast without getting on a plane, this is the place I want you to think of first."

Gambling is only part of the $2.4 billion resort; it also has a luxurious spa, 14 restaurants, 10 pools, and a theater with 5,050 seats that will host BeyoncÉ on Memorial Day weekend.

Located at the extreme northern end of the Boardwalk, next to the Showboat Casino Hotel, Revel is Atlantic City's 12th casino, and the first to open since its main rival, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, debuted in 2003. With its angular slanted roof and its giant white light-up ball atop the 47-story structure — the second-tallest in New Jersey at 710 feet — Revel is already an iconic presence in the nation's second-largest gambling market.

Its sleek reflective glass bathes the beach in shards of brilliant light, and even the contours of its foundations were designed to appear as if they had been sculpted by waves.

Walking through the Boardwalk-level main entrance, visitors enter an airy atrium dominated by two massive escalators that carry them through the open space to the casino level. On the way, they pass an artwork called "Arrivals" that consists of 19,700 shiny gold circles suspended on 650 steel cables that catch the sunlight and dazzle the unsuspecting.

Spreading out atop a bright red carpet, the casino has 2,400 slot machines and 160 table games, arrayed in an oval pattern; there are few, if any, corners in the public spaces of Revel. The lighting of the casino and public spaces is constantly changing, programmed to vary with the time of day and day of the week, said Valerie Pageau, Revel's artistic director with the Montreal firm Sceno Plus.

"You come in here in the morning, and we don't want you to feel like it's midnight," she said. "We'll go with yellows, bright, light colors. At happy hour, we'll use oranges and reds. Around midnight, it's dark colors."

It's all designed to prevent guests from having the same experience over and over again, said Michael Prifti, of Philadelphia-based BLTa, one of Revel's main architects, and part of a team of 65 separate design firms that had a hand in creating the resort.

"No other place on the Boardwalk lets so much light in," he said. "The public spaces are all focused on the ocean. They frame your view."

Revel will have 1,898 hotel rooms, each of which has a 46-inch flat screen LCD TV and a walk-in shower in which "several" people can fit comfortably, DeSanctis said, and fully stocked mini-bars. These rooms will rent for just under $400 on weekend nights. A step up is an ocean Suite, which goes for about $550 on the weekend; there are 160 of them.

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