Atlantic City is on sale. And this time, most of the hotel deals are good on weekends, too.
The Atlantic City Alliance, the casino-marketing cooperative behind the DO AC campaign, launched new hotel packages and discounts over the weekend.
One of the highlights is A Taste of Summer, but it starts in the depths of winter and applies through the end of March.
The deals are specific to each casino’s hotel, and the prices and offerings vary. Most are available at least on Friday nights, and five of the casinos say they’ll give hotel deals seven nights a week — although each one notes that its rates start at the advertised price.
The ACA lists details of deals at doatlanticcity.com/tasteofsummer, which also links to each hotel’s booking site.
They range from “starting at $49” in Trump Plaza Hotel Casino for a room with late checkout and a half-pound box of saltwater taffy to “starting at $109” at Revel Casino Hotel for a package that includes an ocean-view room, a $25 food credit and “complimentary day spa passes for two to Exhale,” the 35,000-square-foot spa complex in the city’s newest casino.
Showboat Casino-Hotel offers two buffet passes in its “starting at $49” package, while Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa includes comedy-club tickets, “complimentary fitness access” and a $100 dining credit in its deal, which the hotel lists “starting at $169” from Sunday through Thursday nights.
“The Taste of Summer packages ... are geared toward deal-oriented consumers who want a great deal, close by, at a great price,” said Jeff Guaracino, an ACA spokesman, who added that his agency also is promoting a Show Us Your Bling package — aimed specifically at drawing bachelorette parties to the city — and a Do AC Nightlife package, “geared toward the 21- to 35-year-old Philadelphia/New Jersey crowd looking for live entertainment and dance clubs.”
Guaracino, a veteran of Philadelphia’s tourism bureau, acknowledged the Taste of Summer promotion is based partly on that city’s popular Philly Overnight packages. Philly Overnight, which started in the nationwide travel slowdown after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, began with a splash by offering two hotel nights for the price of one — plus the free parking that is still part of the package.
That’s crucial, because parking charges in Center City Philadelphia can run to $40-plus a night. And although most Atlantic City parking garages charge far less than that, free parking is included in some of the new Taste of Summer deals.
Philly Overnight packages also have traditionally included a little welcome gift to visitors, but Guaracino added that Taste of Summer guests will get a not-so-small gift.
“At check-in, everyone will get a DO AC beachball,” he said, adding the ACA hopes visitors notice a recent addition to the hotel lobby at each casino site — new sand sculptures designed to create their own hints of summer amid snowman season.
Joseph Weinert, executive vice president of Spectrum Gaming in Linwood, said that putting together all these hotel deals in “a citywide campaign is a new tack, and it’s probably a good one. It sends the message that the many fun things to do in Atlantic City other than gambling are a value” in the off-season.
And the marketing group may not necessarily be trying to send that message very far in many cases.
“Atlantic City does have a good story to tell, and a lot of locals have discovered that — particularly since The Walk has opened,” Weinert said, referring to the outlet-shopping mall that continues to grow in the heart of the city.
But an attractive hotel deal can draw visitors from farther away.
“What’s important for Atlantic City is the trial,” the analyst added. “It’s getting people to come here and try it out who haven’t been here in a while, or maybe have never been here.”
Atlantic City’s loss of gambling dollars to new casinos in Pennsylvania and other surrounding states has been widely publicized and “traumatic. But ironically, there’s more to do in Atlantic City now than there has been since its heyday,” Weinert said. “So if they can get people to come here and experience that, there’s a good chance they’ll come back.”
The ACA’s Guaracino adds that the packages and deals the city’s hotels started offering over the weekend aren’t set in stone.
“The prices will go up and down, depending on demand,” he said, “kind of like airline seats.”
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