From the distance, you'll notice a monolithic skyscraper standing alone at the very end of the boardwalk.
Upon approach and entering the passenger drop off driveway is when you feel the first "freeze". Cold brushed cement walls, stainless steel and glass doors. Think "Beetlejuice" design without the edgy extravagance.
One hopes to find a touch of personality once inside but you are immediately faced with a gigantic metal escalator with three endless levels to ascend before reaching the lobby level. (There's tons of open space in an empty kind of way, rather than minimalist decor.) Signage is clumsy but just keep walking and sooner or later your find a maze of cues, that you have to zig zag through even when there's no one in line.
Check-in was smooth with friendly customer service. Elevators to the rooms are quick and the wait is never long (unlike the elevators at the hotel entrance). At first glance, rooms are spacious and nicely appointed-- floating shelves, tasteful artwork, dark wood, with swivel armchairs by the floor to ceiling glass walls. That is until you start looking closely. Despite the fact the hotel is almost new, there were scratches on the big work area, kitchen counters and walls; the soap tray in the shower was falling off the wall and there are extension cords running through areas of the rooms that reflect a lack of planning.
Then you realize there's an absence of essentials: no shampoo or cotton swabs when I checked in; bring your own pen and paper 'cause you won't find any in the rooms; and BYOB. Indeed, no stocked mini bar. Just an empty fridge which Guest Services will invite you to use for storage of personal food and drink.
Also missing is the typical paper charge card you get upon check-in at most hotels. Here's you'll need to carry your license around which adds a sense of risk since you'll need that precious ID at the airport when flying back home.
A lot of these drawbacks are surely a result of a financial struggles the casino has faced since the construction phase. The original concept dictated two towers but those plans were scrapped and talk of bankruptcy is still in the air. You would assume hotel management would go out of their way to offer great customer service at every level, especially in entertainment. However, calls and emails to their nightclub VIP department were largely ignored. I guess they figure they don't need extra bodies at the HQ Nightclub or HQ Beach Club, packed with professional partiers from the Jersey area. (You'll chuckle when you realize the accurate depiction of these places on "Jersey Shore"). If you decide to venture in, prepare to drop a boatload of cash-- especially at the Beach Club where a sun bed on a weekend will run you about $750, easy. People watching is top-notch, just make sure you've worked out your chiseled body and don't forget to bring ear plugs. You'll remember me if you don't while your ear drums are still ringing the day after. Again, service is horrible and you'll be largely ignored if bottle service is not your choice.
What a contrast with the treatment you get at Ivan Kane's Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub. The legendary club owner, with a huge influence in Los Angeles and Vegas, personally runs the show and makes sure everyone has a great time. Doormen, security personnel, bartenders and cocktail waitresses all work in sync with a smile on their faces. Oh, and the burlesque show is terrific-- great dancers and dazzling choreography. No wonder Ivan has an impeccable track record running groundbreaking bars and clubs like Kane, Deep and Forty Deuce.
There were other highlights during my stay, such as outstanding fair at Amada where tapas are king. Simple yet deliciously prepared. I had the octopus, chicken and scallops. All terrific.
If you need to go online, there is complementary wifi everywhere you go and the concierge staff is knowledgeable and friendly. Plus the gym is spacious with state-of-the-art equipment and good old fashion free weights. The spa is also a treat.
That being said I still prefer the elegance and flow of The Borgata. That's where I'll stay next time work takes me back to AC. There, they've got the concept of "Cool" down to a science.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.