Atlantic City, NJ has been a summer fun destination for decades.
However, in 2020 the unprecedented circumstances brought by the coronavirus laid groundwork for perhaps the greatest threat to the city’s business stability to date. Back in mid-March the closure of all casinos was ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy. With this, online gambling became the only way to gamble, and the hefty blow to casino stocks was inevitable. Casinos were on their heels, and it only hurt more that people would be hesitant to travel for some time because of obvious hygiene reasons.
As the uncontrollable ran its course, the titan casinos quickly dialed focus on developing ideal sanitary protocols to rebound as soon as time permitted. Case reports in New Jersey simmered by late June, giving casinos the green light to gradually ease back into things by early July.
Borgata’s team of staff spent months working with state officials and medical experts to develop a comprehensive “Seven-Point Safety Plan,” which touches base on a range of concerns from air quality to employee screening. In addition to addressing new guidelines and safety measures, they established a plan for utilizing digital innovations to curate a contactless guest experience. Following the Governor’s directive to postpone indoor dining, Borgata put aside time to revisit their reopening plan to guarantee their signature world-class experience would be delivered with safety at the forefront.
Caesar’s health initiative was equally intense; they partnered with a renowned epidemiologist and enforced over 150 new health protocols at each property. A new clean team was employed and comprised of members who shared the responsibility of verifying the cleanliness of frequently touched areas. Lastly, its highly encouraged 24/7 that guests keep up with proactive habits like hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing.
Thanks to the extensive efforts, when July 3rd hit casinos were granted the ability to re-open at 25% capacity. Betting tables were geared with plastic screens around each seat to minimize contact, and food/drinks were prohibited on the gambling floor. On top of that, indoor dining remained off-limits.
These harsh but necessary restrictions surely made an impact on the overall experience, but the hotels did an excellent job on improvising and resiliently working around that matter. In lieu of indoor dining, Borgata introduced two new outdoor dining experiences.
Sunbar at The Water Club offers al fresco dining alongside the hotel’s two outdoor infinity pools, while Borgata Street Eats Food & Beer Truck presents a convenient menu with adjacent tented seating. Their signature outdoor dining concept Borgata Beer Garden is open as well, along with a full-service canopied bar.
Outdoor dining was clearly the optimal alternative for a few months. At Harrah’s resort, Gordon Ramsay Steak “Under The Stars” was stationed on the pool deck. The setting provided a beautiful view with colorful lights reflecting off the enormous glass panels of the building. Over at Caesars, Nero’s Italian Steakhouse offered a spectacular starlight, poolside dining experience from the Qua Baths & Spa rooftop. The change of locations for these restaurants did hinder the menu selections, but certainly not the quality of the meals or the ambience.
For the future, things are only looking brighter. Just recently, Harrah’s brought back live concerts to Atlantic City with their Friday night series – Bayside Rock Live – featuring the country’s top tribute bands. The return of indoor dining is also in conversation, but not being rushed thanks to overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding the outdoor versions.
Don’t let the cons of the current times deceive you, Atlantic City has in fact done everything possible to turn the tides and maintain the ability to provide unforgettable memories, all in a safe manner.