Vacation may seem like it’s always needed. These spots will give you a taste of the good life without having to hop on a plane.
Hard Rock Atlantic City
1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, N.J. 08401
At the end of this past June, it seemed life had once again returned to Atlantic City. In one day, America’s Playground added two hotels/casinos. Long standing as empty relics of what Atlantic City once was, their re-openings marked a big step forward in revitalizing a city that only years ago was a city on the brink of total financial ruin. As the fireworks flew over the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino marking its grand opening, it felt, at least for that moment, like Atlantic City was back.
If you walked the north end of Atlantic City’s boardwalk just two years ago, it was a depressing reminder of our country’s financial woes and changing lifestyles. Atlantic City had rapidly shuttered casinos and those that remained open often reminded me of visiting my grandmother’s smoke-soaked apartment, where even she had given up the casino floor to puff away at her Marlboro Reds whilst sitting in her night gown playing online poker.
It seemed like Atlantic City might never return, yet here we are, watching Pitbull perform in the Hard Rock’s beautiful arena to the tune of a sold out (and intimate) 7,500 fans. For the ownership of Hard Rock, it was a dream only an impossible year in the making.
When “two guys from Jersey,” as they called themselves, got together with Hard Rock International, a dream to transform the dusty old Trump Taj Mahal into a spectacle of entertainment and hospitality that Hard Rock’s around the world had become known for was born.
“I was walking the boardwalk one morning,” recalls Jack Morris, “and it was just a sad place to be. Atlantic City was hurting, and I knew that we could help. I called up my friend Jim Allen (another Jersey boy who happens to be chairman of Hard Rock International), and knew there was something we could do. A year later, here we are.”
And, here I was, sitting in front of a packed press conference with “the Jersey boys” – Jack Morris, Joseph Jingoli and Jim Allen, along with the Seminole Tribe of Florida who owns Hard Rock International – announce that this $500 million renovation project was complete. Right at that moment, you could feel the energy return to the city.
As you drive up to the valet of the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, you quickly realize that they didn’t just throw a coat of paint on an existing building. The miraculous transformation from the Taj, which Donald Trump once called the “eighth wonder of the world,” to the new Hard Rock is astounding. The entryway is grandiose, but in a subtly sophisticated way, rather than the typical glitzy Trump way. Of course, a signature Hard Rock guitar shoots some 50 feet in the air, marking your arrival to what is now most likely New Jersey’s largest collection of music memorabilia – from Elvis’ Cadillac to all things Bruce Springsteen and some of Nicki Minaj’s more unique wardrobe choices.
It was clear that the team behind the new hotel and casino had seen Atlantic City’s plight. No longer was a hotel going to survive just off of gambling. With that, Hard Rock Atlantic City took the “America’s Playground” moniker to a whole new level.
Set on 17 acres on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Hard Rock’s 2,100 slots and 120 gaming tables is just a taste of the world-class entertainment they promise to deliver. The Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena, where Carrie Underwood and Pitbull performed on opening weekend, is an intimate arena where you’ll see top notch performers in a small venue – a feat only the likes of an organization like Hard Rock could pull off. The hotel already has hundreds of acts booked for the next year.
If concerts aren’t your thing, then the Howie Mandel Comedy Club might provide you the perfect setting to laugh off some of those early afternoon slot losses. Then it’s off to DAER Nightclub to see some big name talents in the DJ booth.
For those that prefer a more zen-like setting, the Rock Spa & Salon offers a variety of full body treatments and massages, including deep tissue, romantic couples experiences, athletic and therapeutic restoration needs. Whether it’s a girlfriends’ getaway, bridal party or just a desire to spa, the private VIP spa suite is perfect for small groups.
More Zeppelin than Zen, the Rock Spa & Salon features the brand’s signature Rhythm & Motion menu of spa services offering the world’s first fully immersive music-centric treatments that utilize amplified vibrations, pressures and patterns. This groundbreaking experience takes guests on a rhythmic massage journey – bass vibrations ripple through the massage table as treble beats come from above, sending pulses through the body and leaving guests feeling energized and invigorated.
The full-service spa and Body Rock Fitness Center caters to the body through a range of healing therapies and luxury spa treatments, while their holistic fitness program is designed to adapt to guests’ personalized routine.
Of course, a Hard Rock Hotel wouldn’t be complete without a Hard Rock Cafe. This one, however, overlooks the Boardwalk and has a stage for live performances throughout the day – something you’ll get used to seeing (or hearing) throughout the property.
If you’re a foodie though, you might never step foot in the Hard Rock Cafe here. With over 20 food and beverage offerings, it might be the dining options that make Hard Rock stand out the most.
Kuro features contemporary artisanal Japanese dishes using both locally sourced and imported ingredients from Japan. As a fan of Nobu in the city, Kuro put Nobu to shame, and that’s before I dove headfirst into the restaurant’s handcrafted cocktails divided into five sections based on the five basic tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami.
Or there’s Council Oak Fish, a seafood forward restaurant celebrating the Northeast’s freshest catch with a local raw bar, wood fired kitchen, shellfish pots, and dry-aged prime cuts. The restaurant’s views abound, either looking out toward the airy beach boardwalk or towards the open kitchen.
Also of note is Sugar Factory’s hyper sweet eatery, with their signature 64 oz. alcohol-infused smoking candy goblets, a favorite of world-renowned celebrities such as Drake and Jennifer Lopez.
If none of those strike your fancy, there are still about 15 more restaurants on the property, offering everything from Italian and Chinese to a noodle bar and J Bar, where you can pick up your cold pressed juice before betting it all on black.
With over 2,000 rooms, there’s a spot for everyone. The contemporary-styled rooms all include the Hard Rock’s signature Sound of Your Stay music amenity program, which allows guests to set the mood with complimentary vinyl records or simply jam out on a fender guitar delivered to their room. Property-wide WiFi makes staying connected a breeze and 24-hour in room dining will crush that after-the-club 3 a.m. hunger.
If you want that quick escape without having to even leave the property, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is just the place to rock out.
Cachet Boutique NYC
510 W 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10036
Cachet Boutique NYC is turning the hotel scene inside out. The 105-room lifestyle property with city-inspired rooms and open-air suites opened this past summer. Located a few blocks from Hudson Yards, Gotham West Market, The Highline, the Javits Center and Times Square, the hotel serves as a breezy refuge in the neighborhood.
“There’s a playfulness to the property providing this secret garden vibe away from the bustle of the city,” said one guest. “Unexpected elements continue throughout the property – with art, with social games, with sexy lounges and coveted cocktails – ready to welcome our city guests.”
Cachet infuses attention to detail in its guest room experience, with newly introduced Smart TVs. The four executive suites, adjacent to the recreation area, offer a cozy living space and never-want-to-leave luxe rain shower. The three outdoor junior suites are an Instagrammer’s muse: the lofty bedroom spills onto a terrace with views of the city sky, where modern lounge settees can savor Queen Andrea’s wonder walls imbedded with slogans. For afterhours, a new lounge is open in the lobby, where guests and the public alike can shoot pool, taking in the nostalgic game vibes while sipping their favorite new cocktail.
Featuring a multi-media art program in the lobby in partnership with Steven Kasher Gallery, Cachet is equals parts cutting-edge exhibit space and hotel. Case in point: The new outdoor SkyDeck is decked out with a massive mural by JPOArt, the East Coast artist with clients, like MTV and Gap, clamoring for his layered street style. Additionally, video takes over the canvas with New Zealand artist Jessica Johnson transposing her drawings onto four large screens in the lobby.
The property’s on-site restaurant is Treadwell Park. Part lively neighborhood hangout, part beer mecca, the 200-seat bar and restaurant offers an extensive rotating list of international and domestic beers that pair perfectly with a menu of comfort foods.
The cornerstone space is The Retreat, featuring a glass atrium roof and tranquil waterfall as a true enclave within the concrete jungle. The Retreat will be activated on an ongoing basis with events and pop-ups giving you the choice whether to stay and relax within the hotels bounds or explore all Manhattan has to offer.
Moxy Times Square
485 7th Ave., New York, N.Y. 10018
Playful. Bold. Spirited. Moxy Times Square offers an energetic alternative to the typical hotel experience in the city that never sleeps. With bedrooms and public spaces designed by Yabu Pushelberg and dining venues designed by Rockwell Group and operated by TAO Group, the brashly experiential 612-room hotel boasts a wide variety of room types and flexible meeting spaces. Legasea, a seafood brasserie; Bar Moxy, a buzzing lobby bar and lounge; The Pickup, a twist on the traditional grab and go; and Egghead, an all-day egg-centric sandwich shop provide bountiful opportunities for guests to eat, drink, chill out, connect and play. Topping it all off, Moxy features Magic Hour, New York City’s largest indoor/outdoor hotel rooftop bar and lounge, offering cheeky amusements like a naughty miniature putt-putt; monumental skyline and Empire State Building views; and light bites and decadent cocktails – evoking a truly distinctive guest or special events experience.
For the modern traveler who wants it all, their design-driven bedrooms are affordable without forgoing style. Bedrooms are outfitted with comfortable beds, large walk-in rain showers, furiously fast and free WiFi, and clever built-in design features to create a flexible and adaptable guest experience.
Surprisingly daring, Moxy provides a fresh perspective on an iconic neighborhood. Located just south of Times Square, Moxy finds itself at the epicenter of New York City’s distinctive electricity – where uptown and downtown converge. The hotel is a New York minute from everywhere you want to be: the Theater District, Fashion District, Bryant Park, Madison Square Garden, 5th Avenue shopping, Javits Center, Penn Station, Hudson Yards, NoMad and an endless collection of boutiques, restaurants and downtown nightlife.
By Brandon Goldstein