The Water Club at Borgata
Everyone who knows gambling destinations knows that Atlantic City is no Las Vegas. There’s a certain charm to a town by the sea that was built not only on gambling but its varied and colorful history throughout the years. But amidst the Boardwalk centric casinos that dot the coast and have grown throughout the ups and downs of the city and embody Atlantic City of the past, there have cropped up a few larger destination resorts that aim to bring a slice of the Las Vegas action to a town that is arguably declining from a position that can support them. Including Harrah’s and formerly Revel amongst them, the only to arguably be a continuing success is Borgata, opened in 2003 as a joint venture between Boyd and MGM and to this day Atlantic City’s top grossing casino operation.
It was no surprise then, that with demand at a high and occupancy kept near full, that Borgata would choose to expand its operations 2008 to accommodate more guests. The result of this choice was The Water Club at Borgata, a standalone boutique hotel attached via walkway to the already bustling Borgata. With 800 rooms and an impressive collection of pools and spa facilities, the Water Club has given a new level to what was already considered the best hotel in AC. It was a no brainer given the circumstances then that on my first visit to Atlantic City I had to try out the Water Club and see if it stood up to my already high Las Vegas standards.
Arriving via cab, the first thing that came to mind when we rolled into the valet area of the Water Club is the layout and its similarities to Delano, formerly THEhotel at Mandalay Bay (the first of many similarities to come between the two properties). Like Delano, the main valet of the Water Club is in a parking garage located off the main lobby of the hotel. Valet was quick and friendly, and after going up one flight to the airy and water-sound filled lobby of the hotel, I was quickly assigned my room on the 28th floor. Unlike the Borgata, the Water Club has no casino of its own, and is connected to the main hotel by a shopping arcade with sundries, liquor, and a few luxury boutique outposts along the way. All the distance equates to a transformative effect, with a much calmer demeanor than the bustle that seems to be constant at the Borgata itself. After navigating the intimate lobby past the security guard I quickly rode up to the 28th floor.
As with most design today, the hallways of the hotel are asymmetrically designed. The color scheme, muted in beige earth tones and browns, is relaxing yet modern with a design scheme dominated by circles and squares. It equates to a warm feel without being too aggressive. Absolutely relaxing. I move down the hall to my room, insert the keycard and go inside.
Just inside I’m greeted by yet more circles in the form of an earth toned carpet carrying the theme from outside in. Playful and refined, its an extension of the design seen in the hallways moving into the rooms themselves. There are no fancy DND lights here, but rather a playful wheel which allows you to decide what your distraction is. A fun take on the traditional.
To the right is a full length mirror trimmed in a burl-esque (not a pun, I swear) wood veneer. A nice touch to the entry.
To the left, just past the bathroom door is the room’s closet, inside of which are the usual ironing board, luggage rack, extra bedding, and a selection of two brown terry bath robes. A nice twist on the typical white robe, although I didn’t try them for fear it would be hard to know if they were cleaned properly.
Heading inside the bathroom, one can see for both good and bad where space was cut in order to add to the space inside the bed area. Instead of a tub and shower along with the WC and vanity like most hotels of this design, the rooms in the Water Club elect to have a closed off WC, single vanity, and a larger than normal standing shower with bench and rain shower. The vanity is a nice exercise in design, with the mirror’s lines moving down to a granite insert in the vanity where the sink is inset.
On the sides are wood veneered counter and walls where the sconces are hung along side the mirror. To the right is a set of built in shelves which keep various sundries including a dental kit, vanity kit, and tumblers.
Bath products are by Modern Apothecary and are of various tastes. Although they were lovely to use, the assorted fragrances often were bothersome to me, and I stuck to one product to avoid that issue.
Across from the vanity is the WC, the toilet sitting in a closed off room with it’s own shadowbox art. It performed dutifully, and also has a phone for those who need to do the business whilst doing the business.
At the side of the vanity is the shower. Following the spa mentality of the Water Club in general, a typical shower has been eschewed for a rain shower with adjustable wand, as well as a large area to move around including a sizable built in bench. The rain shower was pleasant as all get out, perfect for those mornings and nights when I was a bit too worn out from running the gambit at the tables. A nice addition was the towel rack inside the shower, allowing one to grab a towel immediately after turning off the water. Nice touch, although once again the brown color of the towels gave me pause to make sure things were identifiably clean. Also, housekeeping had seemingly done an immaculate job, a welcome touch despite what seems to be the normalcy of horrible housekeeping in most Vegas hotels.
Moving out into the main room, to the left is a large console which anchors the area under the wall mounted television. The TV had a wonderful splash screen that ties into the design of the hotel, and weather and other information was readily available. The console underneath, in a striped grain wood finish, held drawers for storing clothing as well as a minibar, coffee machine and minimal barware.
The minibar was stocked with the usual overpriced goodies, along with the sensored shelves on top of the console full of snack goods and the now standard intimacy kit. Fortunately the coffeemaker was free to use, although coffee wasn’t given unless purchased from the goods in the minibar itself. The ice bucket and glasses also were handy for having a pre-gambling drink in the room.
Just to the left of the console next to the window is the desk area. The desk is the same wood as the console, and the chair while not an office style was cushioned and comfortable for when I had to do a bit of work on my computer. One thing to note is that unlike Borgata, the internet at The Water Club is gratis. That’s always a wonderful thing when looking into the hidden fees of any hotel stay. To the left of the desk is a floor lamp on a dimmer, nice for providing light when you don’t want the direct desk lamp or watching TV in the dark.
Also on the desk were the standard notepad and various books and flyers hawking both AC and the Borgata’s entertainment offerings. Nice to keep yourself in the know while you’re there or to plan your next trip.
There’s also a handy IP run phone with touchscreen to connect to room service or concierge. It also handily told you the current wait time for services you may need, a nice touch rather than waiting on hold for what could seem like an eternity. Speaking of room service, the menu at the Water Club is highly touted as being designed by Geoffery Zakarian of Chopped and Iron Chef fame. The food was interesting and good, but I wouldn’t call it anything remarkable over standard hotel fare. Don’t be fooled by the hype.
Rounding out and most importantly in the room were the beds. I ended up in a two queen room due to availability issues. The beds have the same wood finished headboards as the console, with a clever chrome inset making them asymmetrical, and a nice torpedo shaped lamp above each bed for reading. Additionally each has a bench with inset book tray at the foot, handy for getting ready or storing extra bags at the ready.
Between the beds is the only nightstand, with a cordless phone, lamp with dimmer, and docking alarm clock for your dock-equipped iDevices. Also in the nightstand was the safe, similar to the designs being used by most MGM properties today.
One interesting thing I noticed about the beds, was that despite the tied in earth tones of the duvet and pillows on the bed, the under sheets were aqua blue, which gave a nice color pop to the room itself, something that most hotels won’t do favoring the traditional white linens. The bed slept superbly, and most nights I was out like a light once I disposed of the mountains of pillows that were on them every day.
In the end, the one comparison that I most drew to my stay at the Water Club was how similar it was to my stays at
THEhotel the Delano in Las Vegas, a property that has since become the Delano, and the reason one would pick the hotel are one in the same. While offering all the amenities of the Borgata, the Water Club allows the guest to have a secluded and serene experience, one that transforms away from the bustle and teeming crowds of the Borgata into one that allows for swimming, great dining, and all the same amenities one can get at the Borgata without the feel of being in a packed casino hotel. And if you’re going to go to Atlantic City, and want to be near all the draws of a hotel like the Borgata, there’s nothing wrong with going the extra 100 yards and staying somewhere that feels a little more like home, even if your home doesn’t include a swimming pool on the 32nd floor.