Out With the Old, in With the Gold

With plenty of pizzazz and a heavy dose of style, Landry’s Inc. (Landry’s) selected Cuningham Group Architecture Inc. (Cuningham Group®) to lead the design team tasked with transforming the tired Trump Marina Hotel and Casino into the vibrant Golden Nugget Atlantic City. The bright spot north of the Boardwalk in the upscale Marina District offers guests a refined, modern resort experience.

“The Golden Nugget operated a casino resort in Atlantic City from 1980 to 1987, so the transformation brings the very recognizable and highly regarded Golden Nugget brand back, while helping to revitalize the Marina District and add new energy and an economic lift to the area,” said Tilman J. Fertitta, CEO and owner of Landry’s Inc.

The renewed energy and improvements took 13 short and intense months to create—all while keeping the casino open 24 hours a day. Working together with Landry’s team of leaders, Cuningham Group created multiple design packages to allow for parts of the project to be under construction while design was being completed on other areas of the resort. The extensive renovation effort was obvious, and rather than try to hide it, Landry’s fully embraced the renovation and used it as a marketing opportunity. Encouraging guests to follow the transformation, “Out with the old, in the gold—watch the transformation!” became the renovation’s slogan.

Taking direction from Fertitta to give the entire property an ultra-modern feel, Cuningham Group focused on geometric shapes, clean lines and vibrant colors. Key elements of the renovation include the remodeling of the atrium, check-in, gaming floor, restaurants, bars, pool, spa and salon and music venue. “If guests are familiar with the old property’s look, the transformation is stunning and dramatic,” said David M. Solner, AIA, LEED® AP and principal at Cuningham Group.

The Golden Nugget experience begins before guests even enter the front door. The façade light show beckons guests from a distance. The 260-foot wide LED light show appears on the façade of floors nine through 27 and provides information about shows, events and offerings at the resort.

Entering the property, the two-level sun-filled central atrium greets guests with large chandeliers and giant wood columns and beams. The dated mirrors and excessive light fixtures were removed from the existing atrium to create a more intimate experience. “The grand atrium now has a warm, energized and contemporary feel,” Solner added. “It truly sets the tone for an exciting experience.”

The two-level sun-filled central atrium greets guests with large chandeliers and giant wood columns and beams
The two-level sun-filled central atrium greets guests with large chandeliers and giant wood columns and beams
As an area that serves to be the focal point of the hotel, the check‐in lobby was refurbished to give a modern feel upon arrival. Contemporary chandeliers, a marble desk and built‐in iPads™ provide for a one‐of‐a‐kind guest experience. Cuningham Group also designed the new VIP check-in area.

Moving to the gaming floor, Cuningham Group remodeled the 80,000-square-foot casino floor to feature new carpet, modern columns and light fixtures, rich fabrics and hundreds of new, exciting slot games. The high-limit gaming area is distinct and upscale, while the poker room features 20 smoke-free tables and a variety of games.

At Golden Nugget, guests have no shortage on dining options—eight restaurants reside on the property, ranging from steak and seafood to Italian food and Chinese cuisine. As a restaurant operator, Landry’s desire was to incorporate many of their most exciting concepts into the resort. Cuningham Group collaborated with Landry’s to design three of these concepts, including Michael Patrick’s Brasserie, Grotto Italian Ristorante and Lillie’s Noodles, Asian Cuisine and Sushi. Additional restaurants, such as the award-winning Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse and Landry’s famous Chart House restaurant, were incorporated into the mix of options.

The beautiful waterfront location further distinguishes the resort from its counterparts. Golden Nugget is the only casino with a full-service marina, offering 640 floating slips and the capability of docking yachts up to 300 feet in length. “Not only does the marina give boaters easy access to the resort, but live music and dining opportunities overlook the marina and extend the entertainment experience to the outdoors,” Solner said.

High-limit slots and high-limit tables reside in two distinct upscale environments.
High-limit slots and high-limit tables reside in two distinct upscale environments.
Back inside, 12 bars/lounges/clubs dot the resort. In the unique Wine & Wi-Fi area overlooking the atrium, guests can sip a glass of wine while sitting comfortably and enjoying complimentary Wi-Fi. Located directly off the gaming floor, Rush Lounge is the hot spot where guests can listen to live music, gamble or watch the latest game on flat screen HD TVs. LIVE Bar features live bands every Thursday through Saturday night.

The H2O Pool + Bar boasts Atlantic City’s sleekest new outdoor poolside lounge concept. Bright colors, contemporary decor, plush furniture, lounge chairs, daybeds and bar seating, as well as four all-season Jacuzzis, entice guests to relax. Eight cabanas add flair and style, and three fire pits allow for evening poolside relaxation, all making up Atlantic City’s first year-round outdoor pool area.

To rejuvenate, guests can check out the $6 million Spa & Salon. A sauna, whirlpools, salon and workout facility are part of the brand-new space. The Golden Nugget’s renovated Showroom, “packs big entertainment in a small setting,” Solner says. Starting with a new retail and concessions center just outside the venue, guests enter under a new ceiling feature that leads them into the 500‐seat showroom where every seat is “up front.”

The H2O Pool + Bar boasts Atlantic City’s sleekest new outdoor poolside lounge concept.
The H2O Pool + Bar boasts Atlantic City’s sleekest new outdoor poolside lounge concept.
Officially presenting the renovation to Atlantic City, the April 26 ribbon cutting ceremony with Fertitta kicked off a weekend of all-out entertainment. An armored truck delivered the Hand of Faith, the world’s largest gold nugget, to put on display at the resort. Third Eye Blind, The Oak Ridge Boys, Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and Whoopi Goldberg entertained patrons in the Grand Ballroom.

For Landry’s, gambling is only part of the transformation and success. “Their desire was to create a true entertainment destination,” Solner said.

By transforming the failing Trump Marina Hotel and Casino into a world‐class resort destination, Fertitta fulfills his promise to help revitalize the Marina District, bringing new energy and an economic boost to Atlantic City. Solner adds, “Fertitta’s commitment to Atlantic City’s renewal resulted in the transformation of one of Atlantic City’s signature properties into one with a significant competitive advantage and promise.”

KEY PLAYERS
Owner and Operator: Landry’s Inc.
Architect: Cuningham Group Architecture Inc.
Interior Designer: Landry’s Inc. and Cuningham Group Architecture Inc.
Contractor: Herman/Stewart Construction (restaurants), The PENTA Building Group (exterior), The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. (retail and spa), Baumgardner Construction Co. Inc. (casino)
Structural Engineer: The Harman Group
Other: Giovanetti Shulman Associates – mechanical, electrical, plumbing