Hard Rock AC is Doing AC Their Way, and Everyone’s Watching
As the end of June neared, it seemed life had once again returned to Atlantic City. One year ago, America’s Playground added two hotel/casinos. Long standing as empty relics of what AC 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.
A year ago, watching Pitbull perform in the Hard Rock’s beautiful new Etess Arena to the tune of a sold out (and intimate) 7,500 fans, one question loomed: Would it all work this time, in this city?
The entry drive up to the Hard Rock is grandiose. 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.
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 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 has four live music performance areas, and they book hundreds of acts a year to keep the place full of energy.
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 and athletic and therapeutic restoration needs. Whether it’s a girlfriends’ getaway, bridal party or just a desire to spa like a rock star, 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 cater 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. If you’re looking for a good pump before the fist pump, the Hard Rock’s gym, completed this past fall, is state of the art – rivaling any gym I’ve seen within a hotel throughout my travels.
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 hand crafted cocktails divided into five sections based on the five basic tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami.
Or, there’s Coucil 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. A year later, the place has ironed out any opening-year kinks and whether you’re at a restaurant at 8 p.m. or the casino floor at 4 a.m., the place is always buzzing with excitement. It’s great to see that maybe, this time, AC is back – and the Hard Rock is doing its part to help us all win big.
By Brandon Goldstein