Monday, July 14, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

New Resorts CEO offers intriguing logic about hotel rates

The newly minted president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel wasted little time in raising eyebrows in Atlantic City.

New Resorts CEO offers intriguing logic about hotel rates

Gary Van Hettinga
Gary Van Hettinga

The newly minted president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel wasted little time in raising eyebrows in Atlantic City.

In his first public address since being named the Big Cheese at AyCee’s first legal gaming hall, Gary Van Hettinga told those in attendance at Thursday’s meeting of the Atlantic City Hotel & Lodging Association that, in his opinion, the city's casino-hotels are shortchanging themselves by deeply discounting room rates during the off-off-season months of the winter.

To which I ask: WTF?

Maybe I’m missing something, but let’s see if I understand correctly: This guy says that the best way to make money during what is historically the slowest time of year is to charge more money for rooms that aren’t necessarily selling at existing ultra-low prices.

Is that why relatively few people come to town in the winter? Because hotel rates are too low?

I’m no MBA, so the logic escapes me. According to the Press of Atlantic City, “Van Hettinga said higher rates are key to driving profits in the ultra-competitive casino industry. As more and more gambling revenue is lost to casinos in surrounding states, Atlantic City must capitalize on its hotel rooms and other non-gambling attractions for business, he added.”

It’s no secret virtually everyone with a vested interest in Atlantic City’s success views non-gaming activities and attractions as crucial to its survival. But I wish he had explained just how charging more for hotel rooms will improve the industry’s bottom line.

I understand that if you sell the same amount of rooms at a higher price you will obviously increase revenue. But isn't there a serious--if not likely--risk of losing visitors with higher rent? Won't forcing visitors to shell out more to sleep make AyCee a less-attractive destination--especially during the cold-weather months when outdoor activities (even strolling the Boardwalk) are severely limited?

Nonetheless, Van Hettinga’s remarks are certainly provocative, and they seem to indicate that Resorts, which is now being operated under a management agreement with the Mohegan Sun tribe of Connecticut, isn’t necessarily going to play by the same old rules.

Stay tuned…

Ch-ch-ch-changes

While it doesn't include any of Van Hettinga's thoughts on hotel-room pricing, a video posted at www.atlanticcityweekly.com does find him talking about the near-term plans for Resorts. Among the alterations and additions on the drawing board are:

**A new Boardwalk facade (Margaritaville Cafe).

***A reconfiguration of the casino floor that will include a Five O'Clock Somewhere bar (part of the Margaritaville brand). The gaming area will also receive new carpeting.

***A new, "three-to-four-venue" food court near the bus terminal.

***Improvements to the parking arage and surface lot.

***New high-roller lounges.

Nugget brew-haha

If you have a fondness for the fruit of the hops—beer, that is--then Golden Nugget is the place to be this weekend as the bayside gambling den stages its second annual Beer Festival on The Deck.

This year’s bash features sampling of some 100 varieties from 40 breweries. Among those participating are Dogfish Head, Kona Brewing, Samuel Adams, Flying Fish, NJ Beer Co. and Yards.

Saturday’s Craft Beer Tasting, which also features live music and a book signing by Gary Moterosso, autor of “Artisan Beers,” is actually the anchor for the three-day “Oktoberfest On the Deck,” which will feature a variety of traditional German munchies (brats, pretzels, etc.) as well as plenty of beir from Deutschland.

For more info, go to www.goldennugget.com/atlanticcity.

Rippin’ it up with Southside Johnny

If you’re looking to party Friday night, there’s no better place to be than Tropicana Atlantic City. That’s because the party band’s party band, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes will be ripping it up there.

For nearly four decades, Johnny Lyon and his horn-driven unit have provided the kind of hip-shaking, sweat-dripping R&B-derived rock that could put a smile on the face of the Sphinx. That he originally burst on the scene as a protégé of another Asbury Park-bred rocker, a certain Mr. Springsteen, has endeared him even more to this area’s music fans.

Show time is 9 p.m. Admission is $20. For tickets, call 800-736-1420, or go to www.ticketmaster.com.

Atlantic Club jazzed

Just because the summer is history doesn’t mean The Atlantic Club’s series of Sunday night performances at Ono Chinese Bistro is but a memory.

The only casino-sponsored jazz gigs in AyCee are scheduled to continue through at least Oct. 28. The lineup through that date is:

Sunday: Demetrios Pappas & Andy Lalasis

Oct. 7: Ayako Shirasaki & Noriko Ueda

Oct. 14: John DiMartino & Boris Kozlov

Oct. 21: James Weidman & Harvie S.

Oct. 28: Donald Vega & Gregory Ryan

Along with the sounds come a number of bar specials including $5 Absolut martinis; $5 wine-by-the glass; $2 domestic bottles of beer; $3 imported bottles; half-price bottles of wine and half-price appetizers and sushi.

For more info, call 609-340-7220.  

About this blog
Philly native Chuck Darrow has literally covered Atlantic City’s casino scene since Day One: He was there on assignment the night in November 1976 when voters approved legalized casinos.

Since then, Chuck has covered the town and its gaming industry for several area newspapers -- which is why, in some circles, he’s known as “Boardwalk Charlie.”

You can reach Chuck at darrowc@phillynews.com. Reach Chuck at darrowc@phillynews.com.

Chuck Darrow