Revel to be a work-in-progress

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Revel will begin its eight-week preview period April 2. Photo:

Visitors to Atlantic City’s soon-to open Revel mega-resort will experience a work-in-progress rather than a fully realized operation, according to its CEO.

Kevin DeSanctis, who has overseen the creation of the $2.4 billion pleasure dome since the project was conceived in the middle of the last decade, explained during a media conference call Thursday afternoon that the casino-hotel complex’s planned eight-week “preview” period that commences April 2 is necessary to work out as many bugs as possible leading up to the May 25 grand opening and beyond.

“Having [opened other casinos in the past], my experience has been that the worst possible thing you can do is open everything at once with one big splash,” said DeSanctis, a veteran gaming industry executive who once ran Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza.

“We have an all-new staff, an all-new [technological) system. Things are going to go wrong. We expect some issues. If you bring things online in stages, you know what the problems are.

“We expect to hit our stride around the Fourth of July,” he added while acknowledging he didn’t expect things to be 100 percent glitch-free until spring, 2013.

While April 2 is the target date for the 47-story, 1,400-room hotel tower and 150,000-square-foot casino to begin welcoming guests, the first visitors will get a sneak peak on March 28 and 29, when the casino undergoes two days of state-mandated testing with play money. DeSanctis said those invited to participate in the simulated wagering will include community members and people who worked on what is the costliest construction project in Atlantic City’s 158-year history.

When the doors officially open on April 2, 500 of the hotel rooms and suites will be open, as will the entire casino, seven restaurants, including three-Amada, Village Whiskey and Distito Cantina—run by Philly-based uberchef Jose Garces. By May 25, all 14 planned eateries, the entire hotel tower, two entertainment venues, a spa and several nightclubs (and one pool-oriented “dayclub”) will be up and running.

What won’t be open right away is the retail component, which DeSanctis described as unique to Atlantic City. The shopping, he offered, will be presented in such a way that it “will encourage you to browse and hang around a little bit.” He also said the retail outlets’ price points will be realistic in nature. “We don’t want you to have to take out a home-equity loan” to shop there, he joked.

Revel, which will be AyCee’s first 100-percent smoke-free casino-hotel, will definitely be a major player in an entertainment scene currently dominated by Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa. DeSanctis declined repeated requests to identify headliner acts (rumored to be, among others, Coldplay and Maroon 5), but he did hint at some major bookings, especially for Ovation Hall, the property’s 5,500-seat performance venue.

“I do not think you’ll be disappointed when we announce our entertainment lineup,” he told one reporter, adding there will probably be one or two shows in the theater prior to the Memorial Day weekend grand opening which, he promised, will include a blockbuster booking.

DeSanctis also spoke about The Social, a 700-capacity space located in the middle of the casino floor that will host name acts (mostly musical), but which will have no admission fee.

“We are clearly going to be very aggressive,” he said. “Our view is that entertainment is not only going to be important to us, but to Atlantic City.”

Revel, which covers 6.3 million square feet, is the first AyCee resort to spread its amenities beyond one or two levels. The various spaces, all of which are identified in a Revel press release by their height above sea level, include:

***Revelry, (61 feet above sea level) features the casino (and The Social), restaurants, shops, nightclubs and a “dayclub.

***The Mezz (87 feet) includes the complex’s 5,500-Ovation Hall and 160,000 square feet of meeting space.

***The Lobby (114 feet) encompasses almost two acres of outdoor space anchored by SkyGarden and InOut Pool, which offers both indoor and outdoor swimming.

Hotel reservations can be made beginning March 5 at