Atlantic City’s Knockout: Revel

Its glass façade gleaming, Revel spans 6.3 million square feet on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and reaches toward the sky at 710 feet tall. The beachfront resort promises a haven of luxury, entertainment and play—a modern-day Atlantis.

“It really is dramatic. When you pull up to the valet, you almost feel like you’re driving onto the beach,” said Jason Seelig, president of New Jersey-based slot manufacturer ACS. “When Kevin did the initial vision of the property and put it together … he delivered on it.”

Kevin DeSanctis, the figurative architect behind the $2.4 billion Revel resort and CEO of Revel Entertainment Group LLC, committed to creating a resort with a casino instead of a casino with guestrooms. “He had a clear idea of what he wanted us to create,” said Bernardo Fort-Brescia, principal at Arquitectonica, the firm appointed the design architect of Revel.

DeSanctis says his inspiration was simple. “We wanted to finish what we started,” he said. “Once we started working on Revel, the goal was to make sure that it was completed. Now our goal is to do our best to see it become successful.”

Thomas Sykes, partner at SOSH Architects, another firm that worked on Revel, noted that DeSanctis often said the last thing Atlantic City needs is another casino, but what Atlantic City lacks is a resort destination—a resort destination that celebrates the Atlantic Ocean. “Arquitectonica, SOSH Architects and BLT Architects, in conjunction with Revel, developed the most sensitive and unique architectural response linked with the sea and embedded in a neighborhood master plan that truly reflects a resort destination,” Sykes said.

Revel’s Blueprint
Facing the ocean and situated just off the very north end of the Boardwalk, Revel fully embraces its beachfront location. Social areas flow from inside to outside, and outdoor to indoor spaces transition along sightlines separated by glass. “The entire property is an indoor/outdoor experience,” said Michael L. Prifti, managing principal at BLT Architects and executive architect for the project.

On the outside, Revel reflects its surroundings. The organic shape of the podium mimics waves and appears to undulate, while the glass façade mirrors the ocean, sky and sand, making Revel truly a part of its environment. The contrasting geometry of the glass parallelogram that houses the guestrooms “sails” above the wavelike shape of the podium, with its profile angled toward the ocean. Topping off the 47-story guestroom parallelogram structure is a giant light-up ball, making Revel’s structure a landmark in itself.

The undulations from the exterior extend to the interior and shape the spaces with “nautical sensuality and memory of the ocean beyond,” explains Fort-Brescia, who conceptualized the design of the property. Divided into four levels that include Revelry, The Mezz, Resort and The Lobby, each level provides guests with different experiences. In the Boardwalk-level main entrance, visitors are greeted by a dramatic, airy atrium with two massive, criss-crossing escalators that carry them through the open space to the casino level (Revelry). One of the most notable features of the main entrance is a shimmering artwork called “Arrivals.” Gold circles—19,700 of them—suspended on 650 steel cables catch sunlight and cast glimmering shadows in the atrium.

An ocean suite.
An ocean suite.
Next, visitors rise to the casino and hotel lobby on the Revelry level. Revelry, named for its vibrant atmosphere, contains public spaces like restaurants, shops, nightclubs, a dayclub and the casino. Unique to Revel, patrons can enjoy expansive ocean views, even in the casino. The partially naturally lit casino houses approximately 2,500 gaming machines and tables, including server-based games. Revel is the first Atlantic City casino to have such games.

Also on the Revelry level are endless dining options fit for foodies and casual diners. Chef Jose Garces’ Distrito Cantina serves Mexican street food, along with margaritas. Patrons dine on lobster and steak carpaccio in the sexy lounge at Iron Chef Marc Forgione’s American Cut. In total, 14 restaurants aim to please patrons’ palettes.

Shopaholics will enjoy The Row on the Revelry level. Covering 55,000 square feet of space, The Row is filled with shops from some of the world’s most iconic brands. And of course, Revel has nightlife covered, with two nightclubs and one day club, including Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly burlesque club.

For entertainment, Revel’s spaces are “second to none,” Prifti says. Ovation Hall, located on The Mezz level 87 feet above sea level, seats 5,500 people in an ample, but intimate setting. Mega stars who have played the hall include Beyoncé and The Black Keys. “Ovation Hall is definitely going to be something that everyone who comes to AC and likes entertainment is going to go to,” Seelig added.

Moving to The Lobby level atop the podium, patrons find the InOut Pool and SkyGarden. Revel’s 1,898 guest rooms also rise from the podium, and are located in the 47-story hotel tower. A gallery takes guests from the atrium escalators and elevators to the reception. The gallery’s transparent wall opens to the roof garden on one side and to the bars and restaurants on the other. A courtyard extends the lobby bar from inside to outside, and a fire pit is the centerpiece of the space.

Living room.
Living room.
Situated 114 feet above sea level on two acres and offering panoramic views of the Atlantic, the SkyGarden is an outdoor sanctuary that extends into the pool area. Patrons can meander along pathways in the garden that wind through the landscape created by 20,000 plants. All plants, shrubs and materials used in the SkyGarden are native to the New Jersey shoreline.

The shoreline and ocean played a huge role in the design of the resort. “The sea evokes feelings of amazement and tranquility,” Prifti said. “It [Revel] is very much oriented toward the beach, not just in its layout, but in its attitude and function,” added Joe Weinert, senior VP at gaming research firm Spectrum Gaming Group.

Patrons won’t find a space on the entire property that doesn’t incorporate the natural oceanside setting of Revel. Every area of the resort, including each guest room, features views of the Atlantic Ocean. “Wherever you are on the property, you feel like you’re on the beach,” Seelig said.

Literally on the beach is Revel’s destination spa, Bask. Facing the beach, a double-height skylight space contains its indoor pool. The fitness area overlooks the pool on two levels, and treatment and relaxation areas are set in a private enclave. And, like the rest of the resort, the spa is smoke-free, making it a healthy environment for guests. The outdoor pool’s sundeck and private cabanas complete the beachfront resort experience at Revel. “Everything at Revel is designed to provide maximum enjoyment to the guest,” Prifti said.

“Revel is built for a guest who is looking for a complete entertainment experience,” DeSanctis added. “We believe that is the future.”

Atlantic City’s Silver Lining
The first new mega resort in Atlantic City since The Borgata opened in 2003, Revel signifies hope and a fresh start for the Jersey city. “Revel injects a much-needed good-news story into a city that has been, frankly, starved for good news over the last five and a half years,” Weinert commented. “Atlantic City has been hit hard by the regional competition. Well over one-third of its revenue has evaporated. The magnitude and style of Revel is likely to halt that decline.”

Seelig echoes Weinert’s optimistic view of Revel, noting that he believes Revel will have the same impact on Atlantic City that The Borgata did nine years ago. “Revel’s great for everybody in this community. I’m born and raised in Atlantic City, and I can tell you, as a local, that it’s fantastic. It creates jobs—it brings people and money into the community,” he said.

Revel’s non-gaming-centric approach to the resort experience is being praised by many, including Seelig and Weinert. “Revel is trying some different things, nothing radical, but it’s just another part of the evolution of the destination gaming resort,” Weinert said. “People will be able to walk in and not feel like the casino is the be-all, end-all of their experience.”

A testament to Revel’s unconventional approach to the resort experience, Sykes says that during a reception on the Revelry level, a group of distinguished casino executives from other properties were in awe of the beautiful views of the sea. “They had to laugh when I noted that these are the same views their casinos and lounges afford, the only difference being they used solid walls and Revel opted for glass,” he said.

For Seelig, who travels constantly for work, Revel brings a true resort appeal to Atlantic City.

“When I went there for the first play day, I said I’d love to bring my wife and kids back and hang out for a few days. I’m a guy who’s on the road non-stop, so very rarely do I say that I want to take myself to a hotel for pleasure. That’s a hotel that I will definitely take myself to,” he said. “The restaurants are incredible, the nightlife is incredible, and the property overall is beautiful.”

Fort-Brescia views Revel as a quality resort that raises the bar in Atlantic City, while Prifti says that, without a doubt, Revel is going to make a significant and beneficial impact on the economy of Atlantic City. “Ideally, Revel will reaffirm Atlantic City as a premier East Coast resort destination,” he said. “Additionally, opportunities for new business will arise, with Revel’s immediate surroundings having the chance for great resurrection.”

One company seeing the benefit of Revel is ACS. The slot manufacturer has 42 of its new AXCESS cabinets on the floor, in addition to nine of its Legacy cabinets. “To have a presence that size in a new property in Atlantic City is exciting for our company,” Seelig said. “One, it opens up a new market for us overall, and two, we’re going into the latest and greatest property—that’s very exciting.”

Revel’s Allure
Marketed as a lifestyle resort where guests can “experience elevationism,” Revel is heavily influenced by the spirit of individuality and transformability. Prifti explains, “Guests at Revel do whatever they want. There are design features that speak to that, such as lighting that changes as the day progresses, reflecting the external environment and creating unique experiences.”

Revel was designed to cater to and provide enjoyment and an escape for every type of guest. “The scale and amenities of the resort are something that hasn’t been seen east of Las Vegas,” Prifti said. “There is literally something for everyone here, and from the moment guests drive into the hotel and continuing throughout their stay, desires are met swiftly and promptly, all while taking in the sights of the Atlantic Ocean.”

Turning heads with its grand presence on the Boardwalk, guests flock to Revel for its “wow” factor. “If you want to have a two- to three-day getaway without leaving the East Coast, Revel is the place to do it,” Prifti said.

Besides providing a phenomenal resort experience to guests, Revel has benefited Atlantic City. Revel has created 5,500 permanent jobs, part of more than 10,000 temporary and permanent jobs associated with its construction and operation. The resort is expected to generate $155 million in state and local taxes each year.

Revel’s SkyGarden
Revel’s SkyGarden
“Thus far, residents of Atlantic City have reacted in an overwhelmingly positive fashion,” Prifti said. “It is providing jobs, something that Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey are certainly very happy and optimistic about.”

DeSanctis views Revel as the type of property that will help broaden the appeal of Atlantic City. “Over time, we are hopeful that Revel will have a very positive impact on the markets view of Atlantic City as a destination,” he explained. “But mostly, we want them [guests] to leave Revel thinking that they just didn’t have enough time to do all of the things they wanted to do, and on their trip home, spend time thinking what they will do on their next visit to Revel.”

Architects: Arquitectonica, BLT Architects and SOSH Architects
Design: Scéno Plus, Laurence Lee Associates, Cagley & Tanner, iCrave, 212 Design, Crème Design
Construction Management: Tishman Construction Corp.

Revel at a Glance
6.3 million square feet on 20 acres
47 stories tall
2nd tallest building in New Jersey
14 restaurants
10 pools
1,898 guest rooms
2,400 slot machines