|By Donald Wittkowski, The Press of
Atlantic City, Pleasantville, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 09. 2011--ATLANTIC CITY -- Think of Julius Caesar as a cooler, hipper guy clad in Bruno Magli shoes and Armani suits instead of sandals and a toga.
Now, think about the ultra-luxe suites at the Roman-themed Caesars Atlantic City in the same way. In need of a fresher look, the suites have been given a facelift to make them more stylish, too.
"It's how we would perceive Caesar now. It's not Caesar of the old statue days. It's Caesar in modern times," said Don Marrandino, president of the Eastern Division of Caesars Entertainment Corp., parent company of the Caesars casino.
Although the 24 suites in the Ocean Tower now boast a more contemporary look, Marrandino said they are as elegant as ever. The nearly $9 million remodeling job combines old-fashioned opulence such as marble floors and ornate chandeliers with high-tech creature comforts.
There are plasma TVs, the latest video games, iPod docking stations and sophisticated sound systems to entertain the guests when they are not on the casino floor.
"Technology has to be a big part of our suites," Marrandino said during a tour of the renovated rooms Monday. "People who travel expect it. We realize now that when people go away, they don't want to have anything less than what they already have at home."
Guests in these suites don't even have to pull on a cord to draw back the curtains on big windows overlooking the beach, ocean and Boardwalk. Push a button, and the curtains open and close automatically.
The high-tech theme extends to the bathroom. Ann Anderson, a shift manager at Caesars, displayed a hand-held remote control that allows guests to adjust the settings on electronic toilets. Among other features, the toilet seats heat up to a comfortable temperature or vibrate for a soothing massage. A light glows inside the toilet bowl for guests who may have trouble locating the bathroom light switch in the dark.
The suites also have contemporary furniture, new carpeting and wallpaper to "hip it up a bit," Marrandino said. Butler service also is available to add to the posh environment.
The typical guest who occupies the suites is a high roller who bets $50,000 and up, Marrandino said. Premium gamblers will have their rooms comped, but the suites also will be available for rent during weekdays for between $1,200 and $1,500 per night.
"This is one area that we really wanted to focus on. Our higher-end customers demand more of a suite experience," Marrandino said. "The suites will also be available midweek for our convention customers. We'll keep them open for our best customers, but also for our best convention customers."
Caesars is the latest casino to spruce up its suites or regular guest rooms in the competition for customers. Resorts Casino Hotel and Tropicana Casino and Resort recently unveiled major hotel projects to the public. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has been keeping a $50 million renovation of its 2,000-room hotel tower under wraps.
"Good hoteliers put their rooms on a cycle, about every six to eight years, to keep them fresh. Caesars is really on top of that," Marrandino said.
Marrandino added that first-class hotel rooms are considered as important as upscale restaurants, spas, and entertainment as Atlantic City transitions from being a daytripper market into more of an overnight tourist and convention destination.
"We can't offer poor product in Atlantic City today," he said. "I think if you break that chain anywhere along the line, especially with the room product, then people are going to have a poor experience."
The suites renovation at Caesars will be followed this fall by a $7.5 million remodeling of 120 guest rooms in the Ocean Tower. Overall, the four Atlantic City casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment -- Caesars, Bally's, Harrah's Resort and Showboat -- have had about 60 percent of their rooms touched up in the past four to five years, Marrandino said.
"These are world-class amenities we have in Atlantic City," he said. "Style needs to be constantly updated."
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Press of Atlantic City, Pleasantville, N.J.
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