Revel Rising

The $2.4 billion Revel Casino is approaching its grand opening. We check in and find out how things are going at this mega project on Atlantic City's north end.

The monumental Revel hotel and casino hopes to spur an Atlantic City revival.
Photo by Kim Tyler.

Revel, the new $2.4 billion, 6.3 million-square-foot, 1,800-room Atlantic City mega casino, is finally about to land. The undulating complex along the north end of the Boardwalk is opening in stages during an eight-week preview that starts on April 2 and ends with the official grand opening on May 25.

“Look at when you launch a Broadway show. It’s not drastically different from what we’re doing,” says Kevin DeSanctis, chairman and CEO of Revel Entertainment. “You have to make sure you know how the IT systems work and how the reservations systems work and make sure all the rooms are appropriately completed, because the reality is, until the guests come in, you just have rehearsals, and rehearsals just aren’t that good.”

Seven of the property’s 14 restaurants will be open on April 2, with the rest opening throughout the preview. The gambling operation will be ready from day one, but only one of the property’s two clubs will be open, and no retail spaces will open until all are a go.

It’s a unique way to roll out a project that’s been plagued with problems from the start. In 2008, three Revel and three construction executives were killed in a plane crash. In March 2010, a construction tower crane collapsed, followed days later by a two-alarm fire.

Construction on the building’s interiors stopped entirely in 2009 when Morgan Stanley, seeing Atlantic City gambling revenues fall off a cliff, shut off funding. It took the promise of $261 million in tax rebates from the state and new financing led by J.P. Morgan Chase to get construction started again.

“If anything, the project has shown a tremendous amount of endurance,” DeSanctis says.

The state is banking on Revel to drive a resurgence in Atlantic City. Meanwhile, Revel is banking on an all-star lineup to help it succeed. Iron Chef Jose Garces is opening three restaurants at Revel. Michel Richard also is opening three venues: a version of his James Beard Award-winning Central Michel Richard, along with a wine bar and breakfast spot. For nightlife, Ivan Kane, creator of the Forty Deuce clubs in Hollywood and Las Vegas, is launching a burlesque club. Revel also will feature a five-story nightclub, a 31,000-square-foot spa, two theaters, a beach club and a sky garden.

Cost for a standard room during the preview run will range from $239 to $439.

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