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Borgata unveils 'boutique' hotel

Jul 1, 2008 7:01 PM

By GT Staff | The new hotel has tons of marble, an $18,000-a-week floral budget, five swimming pools and a spa-in-the-sky. About the only thing you won’t be able to do in the Borgata’s new Water Club is gamble.

The new boutique hotel next to the Borgata is the first of its kind in Atlantic City, but several others are on the way. They’re designed to cater to well-to-do vacationers looking for luxury who may not care about baccarat or video poker.

Although it was built by the Borgata, the $400 million, 800-room Water Club is being marketed as a stand-alone luxury hotel; its top attractions are for guests only, and are not even available to Borgata customers.

It started accepting guests several weeks ago, but held its grand opening ceremony last Friday.

Plans for the Water Club started soon after the Borgata opened in 2003.

"Early on, just after we opened the Borgata, it was apparent to us that we needed more hotel rooms, and more Borgata," Larry Mullin, the Borgata’s president, told The Associated Press. "The Water Club will launch Atlantic City into the next wave of new investment as it continues to evolve as a destination resort."

That has been the city’s mantra in recent years as it struggles to get away from its three-decades-old business model built around day-tripping gamblers who ride a bus, play the slots for a few hours (expecting a free buffet), then go back home.

The idea now is to attract a young, hipper – and, above all, richer – crowd to Atlantic City by making it a place to come for fine dining, top-name entertainment and ultra-luxury hotels that rival those anywhere in the world.

"Almost immediately following our successful opening of Borgata, we began talking with our partners at MGM Mirage about how we might accommodate the high demand we saw from day one," said Bill Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming, which owns the property with MGM Mirage. "That led us to this day and the opening of the Water Club, a project that will fill an untapped niche in this market for a cosmopolitan hotel experience, one that will provide an escape for Atlantic City customers seeking an unforgettable experience. The Water Club’s personalized service, sophisticated style and unique brand of comfortable luxury will offer guests the feeling of an exclusive retreat, something the market has never seen."

 Exclusive retreats have their price, though. Rooms run from $299 to $499 a night during the week, and $500 to $700 a night on weekends.

And what do well-heeled guests find for those prices? The property features 800 upscale guestrooms and suites, all with water views; a two-story spa on the 32nd floor; food and beverage hospitality by renowned Chef Geoffrey Zakarian of the Country and Town restaurants in New York City; 18,000 square feet of meeting space; three Residence suites; five heated indoor and outdoor pools; and six designer retail shops.

If the concept takes off, the 43-story Water Club is the first in what could be a series of non-gambling luxury hotels rising in Atlantic City. A grand opening ceremony is expected next month for the Chelsea, a 330-room, $105 million project by developer Curtis Bashaw and business partner Craig Wood that involves gutting two old motels, the Howard Johnson’s and the Holiday Inn, and melding them into one hotel with a ‘50s and ‘60s retro theme.

A similar project called "Prasada" is proposed for the Boardwalk at Kentucky Avenue. Developer Christopher DiGeorge wants to open a 200-room non-gambling hotel by 2010 or 2011.