Revel’s interim CEO Jeffrey Hartmann regards the newest attractions at the struggling $2.4 billion megaresort as a way of “reconnecting” with customers.

In an effort to tweak its marketing programs and remake itself as a much more gambler-friendly casino, Revel has invested $3 million for a new high-limit slots lounge and a VIP club.

The projects are designed to pull more customers through the door and give them an extra level of pampering once they spend their money in the casino. The slots lounge features about 70 machines, with denominations ranging from $1 to $100. Revel’s high-level cardholders will be treated to free food and drinks in the VIP club.

Overall, Revel is trying to rebuild its customer relations as it restructures itself in bankruptcy court. When it opened in April 2012, Revel touted itself as an upscale resort first and a casino second. Now, it is focusing more on casino customers to boost business.

The slots lounge and VIP club are critical parts of Revel’s new marketing strategy, particularly as it prepares for the peak summer tourism season. A grand opening will be held Friday night.

“I think this will enhance the gaming experience,” Hartmann said. “We think this is a product we needed to go forward.”

Barring last-minute surprises, Revel is expected to win approval next week from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for its reorganization plan. It includes erasing $1 billion of debt from its balance sheet and turning over ownership of the casino to Revel’s lenders.

“Clearly, it will be great to have this behind us. But we still have a lot of work to do toward becoming profitable,” Hartmann said of Revel’s financial overhaul.

Under its previous management, Revel faced complaints that it did not offer the kinds of gambler-oriented amenities typical of other Atlantic City casinos. With Hartmann now on board to guide Revel through bankruptcy, the property has started to address its shortcomings with gambling customers.

The new high-roller slots lounge and VIP club are helping to fill the void, said George Mancuso, Revel’s vice president of slot operations.

“This will give our sales people a marketing tool to cultivate those gamblers,” he said.

The slots lounge and VIP club are emblematic of Revel’s attempts to build loyalty among its customers. They have been dubbed the Pearl High Limit Lounge, corresponding with Revel’s top-tier Pearl rewards card. The slots lounge is open to all customers. However, the VIP club will be the exclusive domain of Pearl cardholders every day of the week and the second-tier Beach cardholders Mondays through Thursdays, Mancuso said.

“One of the biggest requests from our high-end players was for more private space,” Mancuso explained of Revel’s decision to build the VIP club.

Since opening, Revel has languished near the bottom of the pack for gambling revenue among Atlantic City’s dozen casinos. A stroll through Revel’s casino floor Thursday afternoon revealed rows of empty slot machines and closed gambling tables.

Friends John Kolaski and Carol Yager had a section of the casino floor mostly to themselves while they played the slot machines about 2 p.m. Thursday.

“It doesn’t look like it’s very crowded,” said Kolaski, of Columbus, Burlington County. “But to be fair, when I was here Sunday night, the place was rocking.”

Kolaski brought Yager to Revel on Thursday for her first visit. Yager, of Swansboro, N.C., said she was impressed by Revel’s posh surroundings but added that she was concerned about the casino’s financial difficulties.

“I hope they can get themselves together,” she said. “You want to see that happen, because this is such a beautiful place.”

Kolaski expressed confidence that Revel, through its stepped-up marketing efforts, will be able to increase business and keep pace with the other casinos. He noted he has already benefited in a small way from Revel’s attempts to improve its customer relations.

“I received a $10 comp in the mail for the slot machines. That’s something I hadn’t gotten before,” Kolaski said, laughing.

Contact Donald Wittkowski:

609-272-7258

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Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.