It’s that time of year again - the holiday season has arrived. End of the year festivities soon will be held all throughout the region, and those planning them are always on the lookout for out of the ordinary venues and spaces that they can feel confident will be a sure-fire hit with their attendees.
Count casino resorts among such venues with their numerous and varied event spaces as well as the ample opportunities they provide for both dining and entertainment.
Atlantic City, NJ boasts several casino resorts with outstanding spaces and other offerings for hosting creative events during the holiday season - or any time of the year.
Tropicana Atlantic City is home to plenty of options, says James Ziereis, vice president, hotel sales for the casino resort. Located on the Atlantic City beach and boardwalk, it has just under 2,400 luxury ocean view hotel rooms and suites to go along with 120,000-square feet of meeting and event space that can accommodate groups ranging in size from 10 up to 2,000 people.
The Havana Tower, located in The Quarter at Tropicana, features 45,000-square feet of function space, including 20,400-square feet of executive meeting space on the fourth floor. The 68th floor features four Apex Board Rooms with striking views of the ocean and city along with the latest in technology.
Tropicana also offers a 20,000-square foot Grand Exhibition Center and its 18,000-square foot pillarless Royal Swan Ballroom. The Tropicana Showroom provides more than 2,000 seats, and the on-site IMAX Theatre® can accommodate seating for 300 attendees.
“Our staff is ready to make your holiday party special with a large amount of ballroom and meeting space that can accommodate your private function,” says Ziereis. “We also are home to more than 25 places to dine, 25 places to shop, and 20 places to party. Most of our restaurants can accommodate groups… In particular, Olón and Okatshe (both creations of Chef Jose Garces), as well as Chelsea Five Gastropub, Il Verdi and Golden Dynasty are gearing up for the holidays with delicious a la carte menus.”
Perhaps Tropicana’s most unique spaces are Okatshe, its Boogie Nights Nightclub, and the IMAX Theatre. At first glance, Okatshe seems to be an inconspicuous Japanese candy store on the casino floor, but open a secret door and guests will feel as if they have been instantly transported to Japan with lights, sounds, smells, and mysterious vibes in this ode to the night markets and restaurant stalls in the streets of Tokyo. The restaurant is Chef Garces’ playful, modernized take on a traditional Japanese Izakaya.
Boogie Nights is a ‘70s and ‘80s themed nightclub that boasts an incredible new sound system and a state-of-the-art lighted dance floor in a space that spans over 8,000-square feet. Featuring retro-style furniture, specialty pop culture cocktails and an oversized disco ball, Boogie Nights creates the ideal atmosphere for an evening of flashback fun and can be rented out for private parties, or groups can book one of its VIP booths to celebrate during the holiday season.
“Many groups have started out in our Escape AC - Escape Rooms for a team building session, gone to their banquet or one of the restaurants for dinner, and then kept the party going by attending our holiday show in the Showroom or by dancing the night away at Boogie Nights,” observes Ziereis. “We also have a variety of places to party throughout the property. We are happy to work with groups on discounted room rates for those who wish to stay the night.”
In addition, Tropicana transforms The Quarter into a whimsical winter wonderland with a 35-foot decorated tree and a free daily holiday musical light show presented every hour on the hour beginning at noon. From November 24 to December 20, the Tropicana Showroom will host “Jingle: A Whimsical Winter Wonderland” - which can serve as a great addition to any group’s holiday party.
Ocean Casino Resort has a variety of unique spaces on-site that are available for hosting events, notes Peter Ciccone, senior vice president of sales and meetings for the property. One example is The Den, a semi-private area accommodating up to 300 people that overlooks the casino floor and has a trendy bar area with TVs mounted throughout the room.
“Topgolf Swing Suite is a sports bar overlooking the ocean and boardwalk with 13 bays of virtual golf, baseball, soccer, hockey and other interactive games,” he adds. “The space can hold up to 400 people, but also can be utilized for groups of as few as 20 and above. This is an ideal area for team building, holiday parties and social functions. 1927 Speakeasy is an intimate space that’s tucked behind one our lounges within the casino. This unique space has a dance floor, stage, multiple bars and private booths, and is a great venue for groups of up to 150 people."
A big advantage to booking an event at a casino resort property is it’s one-stop-shop nature. Ciccone explains that at Ocean Casino Resort, the property has everything a group might need for their event all under one roof. “With 1,399 breathtaking ocean view guest rooms, 160,000-square feet of meeting and event space, over 20 restaurants, three nightclubs, three swimming pools, a high-energy casino, sports book and more - there is no need to ever leave the building."
For those who are interested in holding their event within one of the on-site restaurants, among the options for groups are: American Cut, which offers private dining for up to 60 people along with family-style menus; and Amada by Chef Jose Garces, which is ideal for group functions with its small plate offerings (tapas) and energetic atmosphere. In addition, both restaurants overlook the beach and ocean.
When it comes to the Hard Rock Casino Hotel Atlantic City, Shelley Williams, vice president of sales, notes that the casino resort has many unique spaces for large and intimate groups to socialize, have fun or conduct serious business.
Whether for an intimate event in the private dining room of KURO, or a larger group in the 150-plus person private dining room in Council Oak Fish, which features views of the famous Atlantic City boardwalk, the Steel Pier Observation Wheel and the Atlantic Ocean, or a “do it yourself and paint the night in your own color” outing in a private ballroom for up to 1,000 guests, the property has the right space for nearly every kind of event.
In addition, Hard Rock Casino has built-in entertainment 365 days a year, explains Williams, “with our 365 Live Series and a selection of first-class dining options for all price points, your attendees can ride the elevator ‘home’ to one of our 2,000 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites."
The fun and relaxing Hard Rock Cafe is a great corporate lunch spot, and at night the Japanese-inspired cuisine at KURO has been a popular choice among guests of the property. In the summer, the Terrace of DAER nightclub - with waves breaking in the background - provides an intimate, yet authentic, experience on the Jersey Shore (without the sand).
"The advantages are in the details at Hard Rock Atlantic City,” explains Williams. “Plus, you have a planner to help you with every detail to coordinate and save you time for perfect execution."
For those planning end of the year celebrations in particular, Williams advises, "We have very special holiday menus and incentives for multi-day events throughout the winter."
Caesars Entertainment boasts three casino resorts in Atlantic City: Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s.
“Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, the largest facility of its kind from Baltimore to Boston, boasts 125,000-square feet of flexible meeting space to deliver your world-class event," asserts Michael Young, public relations specialist for Caesars Entertainment.
"The Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s features 100,000-square feet of meeting space spanning two floors, with a prime Marina District location,” he continues. “The pillarless Avalon and Wildwood Ballrooms each provide more than 49,000-square feet of versatile meeting space and divide into 30 breakout rooms."
Those seeking a very different venue can enjoy an evening at The Pool, which is surrounded by a tropical oasis and home to live entertainment beneath a 90-foot high dome.
“It is a perfect setting for a closing reception with room for up to 2,000 participants,” explains Young. “At night, it transforms into The Pool After Dark, Atlantic City's hottest pool party. Experience the best nightlife in Atlantic City and dance the night away listening to live entertainment with top DJs and performers."
Planners also can choose to hold an event at the Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s Resort Casino, where attendees can participate in an interactive class and taste culinary creations they make themselves in the venue’s private dining room with seating for up to 18.
Meanwhile at Caesars Atlantic City, Circus Maximus Theater seats 1,500 attendees for functions that range from general sessions to large-scale presentations. Regardless of venue, all of Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City properties exemplify high standards of environmental and social responsibility in relation to their meetings and convention facilities and practices, says Young.
“This includes documented energy reduction plans, further strengthened by Caesars Entertainment's specific objectives and numeric targets,” he continues. “That is why Green Key Global awarded Bally’s Atlantic City with a five-key rating, while Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City were each awarded a four-key rating."
All of Harrah’s restaurants welcome groups and complete buyouts are available. “We offer a dine-around arrangement, too, allowing guests to sample different venues, such as our most popular offerings like Gordon Ramsay Steak, Martorano's, Guy Fieri’s Chophouse, and Nero’s," Young adds.
In the Pocono Mountains, Mount Airy Casino Resort is a full service destination property that features a lakefront golf course, spa, salon and exercise facility, indoor/outdoor swimming pool, an entertainment complex, a covered outdoor pavilion that hosts a summer concert series, as well as headline entertainment at Gypsies Nightclub and bar, casino, and signature restaurant options like Guy Fieri’s Mt. Pocono Kitchen and Bistecca by Il Mulino.
This past spring, Mount Airy Casino unveiled an expansion at a cost of almost $40 million that included the addition of 20,000-square feet of new convention and ballroom space for hosting events, meetings and more.
The property also added 100 new guestrooms as part of its expansion. The newly added meeting and event space can be divided into six separate spaces and configured to accommodate a wide variety of events, from galas and holiday parties to trade shows. Full-service banquet and catering are available on-site, as well.
Also in northeastern Pennsylvania, Mohegan Sun Pocono is situated on 400-acres in the hillside of Plains, near Scranton. Owned by the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, it is one of the largest and most distinctive entertainment, gaming, shopping and dining destinations in the Keystone state.
It features a 238-room hotel with an on-site spa and adjacent 20,000-square foot convention center for hosting meetings and events, extensive gaming space, a variety of dining and shopping options, nightlife and entertainment venues, as well as live harness racing. The property also offers live entertainment with local bands every weekend at Breakers, Bar Louie and Molly O'Sheas.
A short distance away is the 8,300-seat Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, which features the biggest acts in music, sports and more, and is home to the American Hockey League's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Just steps from the gaming action, Mohegan Sun Pocono offers groups a number of food and beverage outlets with everything from snacks and sandwiches to steaks, fresh seafood and gourmet international cuisine.
Wind Creek Bethlehem in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, formerly Sands Bethlehem, is well suited to host meetings, incentive travel programs, trade shows, conventions and special events of all kinds, providing expert, highly personalized service and an on-site culinary team that serves up delectable meals for group functions.
A place where groups can seamlessly transition from work to play, Wind Creek Bethlehem is replete with accommodations, signature restaurants, entertainment and a spa for relaxation. With over 12,000-square feet of state-of-the-art meeting space and 28 luxury suites, it is a destination for everything from corporate meetings to holiday gatherings.
In the suburbs of Philadelphia, the area’s only full-amenity gaming resort can be found in King of Prussia, PA.
Valley Forge Casino Resort features 100,000-square feet of meeting, conference and banquet facilities as well as two luxury hotel towers for hosting groups of all sizes for a wide range of functions, from holiday events to meetings to trade shows and more.
The property also boasts eight dining options, daily entertainment, live music, and non-stop gaming action in multiple nightlife spots. For those in search of something a little more relaxing, the property features the Spa at Valley Forge Casino Resort, as well, with an expert staff that will assist in choosing the perfect experience.
Unique spaces on-site include: The Venue at Valley Forge Casino Resort, a distinctive location for headlining entertainment coupled with an intimate experience ranging from 550 to 1,000 people. The Vault is a true weekend entertainment destination that features dueling pianos on Fridays, music from the area's hottest rising country stars on Saturdays, and beats from DJ Wassup Gina on Sundays.
Located in the epicenter of the casino’s excitement, Center Bar is in the heart of the action at Valley Forge Casino Resort. Guests feel a special vibe at this dynamic bar, where high-energy bartenders keep the specialty cocktails, wine, and beer flowing.
Though currently closed for the season through May 23, 2020, Valley Beach boasts an unforgettable experience during the summer with a 20,000-square foot area that offers an outdoor bar, a new food truck, live weekend entertainment, a sandy beach for hotel and ELITE guests, as well as private cabanas available to rent.
The versatility of each of these casino resorts provides planners with almost unlimited options in planning for creative events whether during the holiday season or throughout the year.
Casino resort properties provide varied spaces, expert planning assistance, great food and beverage choices, as well as everything a planner needs all in one location, including overnight accommodations, entertainment, nightlife and more.
The holiday season is indeed one of the most wonderful times of the year, especially when groups are enjoying end of year gatherings at casino resort properties such as these.