I might not be a high roller, but there is no vacation I like more than one at a casino mega resort. Sure, I occasionally like to tempt Lady Luck by rolling the dice when I spot a hot craps table, but the truth is I really enjoy taking advantage of the full breadth of amenities at these pillars of entertainment. The casino floor is fun, but it's only a sliver of everything that's available.
During the past 15 years, I've watched with wide-eyed wonder as the notion of what a casino resort could—and should—be, transformed. Gone are the days where smoke-filled rooms, uncomfortable accommodations, topless showgirls and 99-cent shrimp cocktails reigned supreme. Today, it's all about luxury and style, and packing as many fun-filled amenities into these billion-dollar palatial edifices as possible. Simply put, the modern casino resort is home to a multi-sensory experience available nowhere else. And it's sure to amaze and delight.
What started in Las Vegas with the debut of The Mirage in 1989 (and pretty much everyone in the casino business wrongly telling developer Steve Wynn he was out of his mind) has turned into a multi-billion dollar contest to best the competition. Now every time shovels break ground on a new development, the resulting resort is typically more eye popping than the last.
And while the newest properties like Wynn Las Vegas and the Borgata in Atlantic City are something special, wait until you see what's coming next. The dreamers have been dutifully dreaming, and the next wave of new resorts and property expansions are sure to amp up the "wow" factor.
Some new projects currently on the drawing board include MGM Mirage's colossal CityCenter in Las Vegas, which at more than $7 billion is the most expensive project of its type undertaken.
The centerpiece of the project will be a glass-clad, 60-story, 4,000-room hotel/casino and a half-million-square-foot entertainment wonderland. Opening this fall, the property will be fully integrated, making it the largest casino resort in the world.
Another exciting project to look forward to in Las Vegas is a sister property to the magnificent Venetian dubbed Palazzo. What's over the top here? Try 50 floors with some suites having putting greens and personal gyms.
Just opened is the Planet Hollywood Resort, which has replaced the Aladdin. There's a new cadre of restaurants, nightclubs and bars here as well as new shows from Stomp and magician Hans Klok.
In Connecticut, Foxwoods is busily adding the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, which will open next spring. This entirely new resort, which will be separated from the existing property by a sky bridge, will include an 826-room hotel and intimate 50,000-square-foot casino as well as performing arts center designed to attract top headliners. Designed for those who covet Las Vegas style but don't want to leave the east coast, this will be an entirely new experience.
Down the road, Mohegan Sun is adding a new hotel tower and has struck a partnership with House of Blues to bring the famed entertainment venue to the property. There will even be themed House of Blues hotel rooms.
In Atlantic City, the Borgata is getting a gorgeous new resort called the Water Club. When it opens this fall, it will have 800 guest rooms and suites, a two-story, 36,000-square-foot spa, two indoor pools and two outdoor pools (heated and open all year) and a sky-high spa with views of the ocean and the city.
On tap for Harrah's Atlantic City is a new hotel tower this year as well as an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa and a four-acre glass-dome-enclosed tropical oasis featuring an 86,000-gallon heated pool, hot tubs, cabanas, indoor and outdoor deck areas and pool bars. They'll even have regularly scheduled "dive-in" movies.
Of course the magic makers don't want to give away too many secrets before lifting the curtain. But when these resorts debut they will all feature plenty of amenities to keep you busy from the early morning into the wee hours of the next.
Hopefully luck will have been on your side, but if not, your casino resort vacation will have left you with a great couple of days of luxuriously appointed rooms, world-class dining, top entertainment, plus some much-needed relaxation poolside and/or on a massage table.