• Lenora Kruk-Mullanaphy

Meetings & More at Casino Resorts

It’s no game of chance to plan a meeting at a casino resort property. These immersive venues offer an abundance of dining choices, entertainment and activities that can be woven into meetings and events, and in some of the venues, the event center is completely separate from the gaming floor, making these properties ideal destinations for group functions.

Enticing attendees to an event is easy when the backdrop is the sand and surf of the Atlantic Ocean and the excitement of games of chance on the casino floor. Add to that amusement rides, storefronts dotting a world-famous boardwalk, attractions, world-class performers and musicians, as well as fine dining and celebrity chef inspired restaurants, and Atlantic City, NJ is a meeting destination that has it all.

The wonders never cease inside Tropicana Atlantic City. With its 2,400 luxury, ocean-view hotel rooms and suites, there’s plenty of accommodations for even the largest of groups. “The Trop” also boasts 120,000-square feet of meeting and event space for conclaves of anywhere from 10 up to 2,000 individuals.

The Havana Tower is located in The Quarter at Tropicana and it is home to 45,000-square feet of function space, including 20,400-square feet of executive meeting space on its fourth floor. Four Apex Board Rooms on the 68th floor offer seating for up to 14 people per room. They boast high-speed Internet and AV systems, boardroom tables with built-in audio-visual controls, recessed and ceiling-mounted video projectors and screens, and video teleconferencing equipment. They also offer views of the ocean and city.

Tropicana features 54,000-square feet of additional space in its North and South Towers including a Grand Exhibition Center that is ideal for trade shows, as well as the pillarless Royal Swan Ballroom. In the Tropicana Showroom there’s seating for 2,000 guests, making it a great choice for meetings and presentations.

“Most of our restaurants can accommodate groups, too” noted vice president of hotel sales, James Ziereis. “Tropicana offers Olón with oceanfront views, coastal seafood and prime meets, while Okatshe serves sushi, ramen and has an expansive Japanese whisky and sake selection. Both restaurants are creations of celebrity Chef Jose Garces. There’s also Chelsea Five Gastropub, with ocean views and a locally-sourced menu, hand-crafted cocktails and a ‘Burger of the Month’ program. Verdi, ranked on OpenTable’s Top 10 in Atlantic City, features Italian specialties and an extensive wine list, and Golden Dynasty serves award-winning, traditional Mandarin cuisine.”

Tropicana, a haven for dining, also houses: Palm Restaurant, a classic New York City steakhouse; Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar, offering authentic Cuban dining; Carmine’s, a Big Apple Italian restaurant; and PF Chang’s Atlantic City. Attendees also will enjoy Broadway Burger Bar; Casa Taco and Tequila Bar; and Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab House and Sports Bar.

For bar favorites and 40-ounce beer specials, attendees can enjoy the casual atmosphere of A Dam Good Sports Bar, and for an endless buffet with a carving station, peel-and-eat shrimp and enough options for every taste, there is Fiesta Buffet. An extension of Olón Restaurant, Bar Olon serves Happy Hour specialties and has an international beer selection.

Tropicana executives wanted a local presence, and Gilchrist Restaurant was a natural choice with its long history in Atlantic City (a local favorite since 1946). Guests will enjoy its trademark blueberry hotcakes and classic breakfast and lunch choices. Ri Ra Irish Pub features fish and chips and corned beef; Seaside Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner; and Hooters Atlantic City offers its legendary chicken wings and beer. Clearly the choices at Tropicana are extensive!

In addition to its restaurants and traditional meeting spaces, Ziereis said the property also boasts some very unique offerings, like Boogie Nights Nightclub, which features a fun, themed experience, ‘70s and ‘80s décor, a new sound system, and a state-of-the-art, lighted dance floor. This vibrant space brings out the lightheartedness in attendees, who will find themselves transported back to a time when eight-track tapes, disco balls, bellbottoms, sideburns and crushed velvet were all the rage. Planners can rent this space for private parties.

Holding a meeting at Tropicana’s IMAX Theatre® is another great option, with 300 seats and prime space for presentations. Content for the meeting can be featured with crystal clarity (and up to five-and-a-half stories high on the huge IMAX screen). Plus, there’s wrap-around digital surround sound available.

For an after-hours activity, a spousal program or an extended stay, guests can try their luck at 2,300 slot machines, an 18-table Poker Room, 132 table games and the William Hill Sportsbook. Meanwhile, The Quarter and The Marketplace are a shopper’s dream with some of the nation’s hottest and most unique stores.

Or, attendees can indulge in either of two spas - Bluemercury Spa Atlantic City in The Quarter or Sea Spa in the Chelsea Tower, which mixes traditional spa services with a holistic approach to wellness.

For team building, Escape AC offers challenges for groups of up to 10 people to escape a designated room within one hour. Room choices include: The Boardwalk, Casino Cage, The Poker Room, and Backstage.

“There’s something for everyone at Tropicana,” said Ziereis. “Under one roof, guests will find a 24-hour casino resort, an array of dining, retail, bars, lounges, nightclubs, four swimming pools, two spas, headline entertainment and so much more.”

Wind Creek Bethlehem in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley provides many advantages when it comes to hosting meetings at a casino destination, both for planners and attendees.

“At Wind Creek Bethlehem, we own and operate the majority of our restaurants, and this streamlines the planner’s experience,” said Alyssa Lippincott, national sales manager. “They have one contact who can assist them with everything, from catering the meetings to booking one of the celebrity chef restaurants. There’s no need for five different contacts and multiple phone calls waiting for a reservation to confirm.”

Attendees benefit from the variety of authentic activities available at the property, too, like shopping, musical entertainment and more. Many of the experiences offered are conducive to bonding as a team, as well, and will leave attendees with great memories of their meeting.

Groups can enjoy the Wind Creek Event Center, a concert and entertainment venue that plays host to top musical acts, such as Britney Spears, Journey and stand-up comedian and actor, Sebastian Maniscalco. The acts never get old, as the property continues to book world-class entertainment regularly. For a special event, the center offers private suites for groups of up to 26 guests - and they’ll find themselves only 135-feet from the stage. Attendees will feel special in this intimate setting with a private bar to enjoy for the evening.

Appetites will be satiated at Emeril’s Chop House, Emeril’s Fish House, Burgers and More by Emeril, Buddy V’s Ristorante, Carlo’s Bakery, Chopstick, Croissanterie, The Market Gourmet Express, Signature Cakes and Pies, and at Steelworks Buffet and Grill.

Just steps outside the property is a reminder of the history of Bethlehem. Groups can stroll to the Hoover Mason Trestle to find views of the Bethlehem Steel Blast Furnaces. An elevated, one-third mile walkway affords a look at the former Bethlehem Steel plant that features the historical furnaces, as well as plaques along the way to note significant facts and information about what is was like to be a steel worker. The area includes garden features and places to rest, as well. Attendees can opt to visit during a break outside of the meeting room or take a guided tour, which is available through the Historic Bethlehem Society.

“We live in a world where planners are juggling multiple meetings and additional job tasks,” said Lippincott. “They’re always looking for a way to be more efficient without sacrificing quality and amenities for their attendees. Casino properties offer meeting attendees a unique experience with many additional entertainment options - and save planners time with all aspects of the meeting held under one roof.”

Casino properties offer a variety of advantages compared to traditional hotel meeting space, noted Peter Cancila, director of sales, Atlantic City Region for Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino, and Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino.

“The advantages are built around giving meeting planners more tools to enhance the attendee experience,” he said. “An example is that we like to bring our groups receptions outside of the meeting space, and this could be hosting 2,000 people at our indoor swimming pool or 600 guests in one of our VIP Player Lounges overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.”

For a change of scenery, planners can choose one of the 1,500-seat music theaters instead of a ballroom. If they want breakfast overlooking the bay, that’s available, too.

“We offer all of this variety inside one agreement with one food and beverage minimum and one point of contact,” said Cancila. “Shopping, spas, nightlife and high-end restaurants all under one roof offer additional opportunities for attendees to match their interests after the general session concludes.”

Atlantic City’s beach and boardwalk are just steps away, and attendees can stroll on the white sand, find a peaceful spot for a yoga session, or enjoy a refreshing bike ride. Attendees will look forward to a reception at Bally’s Beach Bar, which can host up to 3,000 guests.

For each group, the Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City team will find out what the planners’ needs are in order to create the perfect event for them. For a national sales meeting, everything under one roof may be what’s needed, while an incentive trip may call for exploring the city. A long list of the properties’ partners will help to elevate the experience for each and every group.

“A confidential meeting may look for privacy and security as a top priority, and that’s available at our Waterfront Conference Center, which is connected to Harrah’s 2,600 guest rooms, yet separate from the casino and outlets,” Cancila explains.

Rivers Casino Philadelphia recently underwent a rebranding (formerly known as SugarHouse Casino), and that name change represents a $15 million reinvestment into the property, including its $5-million state-of-the-art BetRivers Sportsbook, a redesigned gaming floor and the new Jack’s Bar + Grill.

Limitless gaming opportunities bring a special element to functions held here, and planners can work with the casino’s team to incorporate them into their itineraries.

Planners also will appreciate the property’s offerings of high-end dining, live entertainment and ample meeting space. The dedicated team at Rivers will work with them to ensure success, from the big picture all the way down to the smallest details.

The property’s 10,000-square foot Event Center can be transformed to create the perfect setting for a memorable event experience. It has no columns, enabling it to host large celebrations or be configured in a variety of ways for smaller conclaves. The center features floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Ben Franklin Bridge. a private boardroom, plus private lounge areas that are optimal for smaller functions that require a more intimate setting.

Such a wide array of event spaces at Rivers provides an opportunity for every event to be customized to each group’s specific needs.

With seven food and beverage choices and a dedicated catering team from the Gibsons Restaurant Group (exclusive caterer for The Event Center), plus the menu from Hugo’s Frog Bar and Chop House, every appetite surely will be satiated. Rivers’ professionals work with planners in using the event space and also assist in coordinating meal functions at the casino’s restaurants. Hugo’s private dining room is perfect for private or semi-private parties, too.

“The event team can customize the classic steakhouse cuisine menu, including steaks, fresh seafood, appetizers and sides, all of which are made to order,” said Dominique Frio, general manager, Hugo’s Frog Bar and Chop House, and director of catering and sales for The Event Center. “Hugo’s offers an extensive wine and cocktail list and impressive signature desserts.”

Jack’s Bar + Grill, is situated along the Riverwalk and is just steps from the casino floor. It serves a variety of delicious bites and drinks with a view of the Delaware River and bridge.

The casino’s new, 5,700-square foot BetRivers Sportsbook features a luxury viewing area and a high-def video wall that can show more than a dozen games at one time. The sports lounge is complete with club chairs and table seating for about 115 guests and is accented with a huge LED central monitor and eight additional flat-screen, high-def monitors. The Sportsbook also provides 22 self-service betting kiosks, six betting windows and food and beverage service (with convenient text-to-order menus).

Planners will find the Rivers Casino team ready to assist in hotel selection and coordination of room blocks. For attendees seeking a gaming experience, the Rivers staff will help organize an event and provide any available incentive and promotional deals. Another bonus for large groups at Rivers is its free parking.

“Rivers is a destination and not just a casino,” said Frio. “It has something for everyone, including value and convenience in one location. Our flexibility allows us to meet the needs of all groups and guests, and the complete Rivers gaming experience is something you can’t find anywhere else in Philadelphia.”

Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, PA is always creating new experiences for guests while investing in enhancements to its property. With all the dining and entertainment choices on-site, attendees will find their stay offers plenty to see, do and enjoy. From the casino floor to the FanDuel Sportsbook to a show at The Venue or a stop at Valley Tavern, there’s an activity for everyone.

And whether it’s fine dining, casual fare or on-the-go favorites, attendees will find their appetites satisfied at Revolution Chop House, Valley Tavern, American Grill, asiannoodle, Italian Market and Dunkin’ Donuts.

What’s more, groups won’t have to search for entertainment while at Valley Forge Casino Resort. The Venue hosts headline entertainment, while The Vault is the newest spot for live entertainment, drinks and dancing every weekend. Center Bar is right in the middle of the casino action, and Valley Beach offers a seasonal daytime poolside club and outdoor nighttime experience with a sandy beach, private cabanas entertainment, a new tiki bar and a food truck.

The casino resort recently partnered with FanDuel to offer 1,800-square feet of sports betting with seven betting windows, more than two dozen television screens and two sports tickers.

When it’s time to relax, the property’s spa will rejuvenate and refresh with a range of treatments and services.

According to vice president of marketing, Gina Mancino, having the meeting space, restaurants and entertainment under one roof allows attendees to enjoy their time at the resort without any hassle.

With 37 meeting spaces, from ballrooms to the nearly 55,000-square foot event center, planners can host their events in a variety of spaces. With so much to offer, casinos make it easier to boost attendance and raise the level of planner satisfaction by offering everything they need, all in one place.

“Valley Forge Casino Resort is the region’s only full-amenity gaming resort,” said Mancino. “It offers so much more than just a meeting room and hotel accommodations... it is home to seven restaurants, five nightlife venues, world-class entertainment and the latest slots and table games.”

In choosing a casino resort destination as a host site for a meeting, planners are getting so much more for their attendees to see, do and experience beyond the boardroom. Each casino property offers its own unique opportunities for dining, entertainment, nightlife and even team building. With so much excitement available at these locations, the meeting truly is just the beginning.

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