When Revel in Atlantic city opened its doors on April 2, 2012, many heralded it as a new era in the chapter of a city that was struggling to find its identity after a successive and continuing series of downfalls. With profits falling at all of the major operators except notably for Harrahs and the Borgata in the Marina District, Revel was thought to be the key to revitalizing the boardwalk and bringing that same level of success to an aging district in need of a boost.
Designed by Arquitectonica and Sceno Plus, Revel topped out at 47 stories making it one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in Atlantic City and in fact the entire state of New Jersey. Yet despite all of the successful things that were created including excellent customer service, a revolutionary smoke free casino (which later added smoking sections as a last ditch effort to bring in customers) and some of the most amazing rooms and views that could rival the best hotels in Vegas and the world, a number of operational failures ensured Revel really never got it’s foot in the ground and after 2 1/2 years of struggles closed its doors on September 2, 2014.
The better part of the year later, it seems like like Revel may be poised for a comeback. Bouncing around the bankruptcy courts, Revel has finally found a suitable, if eccentric, owner in a Florida developer by the name of Glenn Straub. What this means for Revel’s future is not necessarily clear, but with a chance the hotel might in some form re-open I think it’s a great time to look back on my stay there and remember just what made Revel, even if not so successful long term, one of the best hotel experiences of my life.
Of the things that made Revel stand out amongst the crowd was the way it was able to give you a feel of home on a grand scale. The design was something to behold with a level of detail and quality that made it feel comfortable yet modern, sleek and interesting. Something as basic as the elevator lobby, shown above, was a space designed to create interest and a gathering space to lounge before you headed out for the night or a place to rest after grabbing your morning coffee.
With all of these touches and interesting notes, it is no surprise that Revel’s hotel rooms became the star of the show in a hotel that was lack luster in operations and its gaming facilities. No more proof of this is needed then my stay in an Ocean Suite at Revel which deserves a revisit both in remembrance of the what was and in hope for the future of a hotel that deserves to be open and operating once again.
Being open for some time, in reality not all of Revels 47 floors were truly open, with a band of floors in the middle of the hotel being nonoperational and non-complete. The lower floors were home mostly to standard rooms while upper floors contained the basic and larger suites that catered to invite a guest and those looking for a little more room for space. With views like Revel has, the Ocean Suite, sold on it’s corner view of the beach and Atlantic, was a no brainer. After check in I quickly headed up the tower to my suite, 4301.
My suite was located at the end of the hall, with a window overlooking the beach and giving me a preview of what was to come. I quickly waved my RFID key card in front of door, heard a bleep and bloop, and I was inside.
My first impression was the breathtaking view out of the right side of the suite’s entry. Two entire walls of the suite were floor to ceiling glass, giving views of not only the beach and boardwalk below but the rocky coast to the north as well as the nearby lighthouse. To say the view was amazing was an understatement at best, and the room was designed to frame it perfectly.
The rest of the long linear entryway was filled with a table with the lamp on top. As you can see my lamp was not plugged in and therefore never used. Perhaps a sign of what was to come? The floor of the entry was striated stone, clean and tidy, and using a muted palette much like the walls that was the base of Revel’s room design.
In the corner of the suite was a seating area with a large L-shaped couch coffee table and the television, which in honesty I never turned on. Even though the television was there to be watched, all of my time was spent staring at the view, both at day and night. I watched surfers in the cold and sometimes snowy Atlantic, and the lighthouse at night. With that kind of consideration of your location, who needs a distraction like television?
To the left of the television was a long desk/console combination unit containing the mini-bar, drawers for storage, a station to charge your gadgets and all the usual hotel literature you can could expect. The dark and lacquered wood was a nice contrast to the muted tones of the carpeted floor (in the seating and bedding area) and the addition of a small bar set made it perfect for intimate in-suite entertainment. Because of the amount of glass these rooms had, they also uniquely had two AC units, one on each side of the suite. The designers wanted to make sure on a hot day the room could be kept comfortable, and in an age of saving money, things like this are a sign of thoughtful, customer oriented design.
Aside from the view, the focal point of the room was absolutely the bed itself. With an overall muted tone in its cool, soft linens, the offset of a running-bond wood grained headboard and pops of color in accessories created a perfect environment to get cozy and watch the waves come in through the windows. Revel did bedding right, creating a custom and exceptional sleep experience that rivals my two favorite beds of all time, the Wynn Dream Bed and Aria’s specialty pillow top affair.
The last night stand contained a phone/tablet combination, which did double duty as a source of interactive information about the resort at the touch of a button although it proved to be a bit buggy in real use. In the lower base of the nightstand was a safe, typical of the way most hotels are positioning them nowadays.
To the right the nightstand was exactly the same, only minus a safe and the phone. A lamp with an open and airy base and drum shade provided just the right amount of light in a perfect complement to the design of the bed.
The remainder of the space in the room was taken by the bathroom, a luxurious affair in striated stone and bubble-shaped decorative tile that was as luxurious as it was utilitarian. The vanity had plenty of open storage underneath and a plethora of soft and large towels and rugs for use. Provided as well were a magnifying mirror, and all the usual accessories you’d come to expect including a hair dryer and accessories kit. Products provided were non-offensive and did the job right, what I’ve come to think of as getting it right when it comes to hotel-provided amenities rather than those with overpowering scents.
The remainder of the bathroom was split into two zones by full height glass partitions, keeping the bathroom light in addition to a frosted glass panel in the sliding door to the room itself.
The right enclosure contained a roomy water closet, with a taller than standard toilet. Thankfully no phone in sight (don’t even get me started on germs on those things people), although the addition of a “fresh from the bulk pack” extra roll on a stick was a bit less than classy.
The left enclosure and remainder of the space housed a luxuriously large spa style shower. In addition to a standard height head, there were four additional heads including a rain shower above and three body sprayers below. After a day of touring and gambling in the cold air of Atlantic City in the winter, this shower was a godsend. Every luxury hotel today should take note.
It is truly unfortunate that Revel didn’t get the chance to succeed that it deserved.A hotel with this level of design and comfort is really a special place that should not of closed after only a sad and short two year lifespan. But with the chance that Revel can come back from the dead and the fact that these rooms, although having been closed and vacant for two years, are most likely still in pristine condition means that hopefully sometime soon people can experience the same kind of wonderful stay I had at Revel. Atlantic City may be declining still, but we can always hope that with dreams turning into reality such as Revel, one day that decline will turn around and Atlantic City will become a mix of past glory and modern luxury.