Harrah's Resort Atlantic City
While there is a 10 percent check-cashing fee, Seven Stars cardholders
get the fee back in the form of free play. In other words, if you
want $1,000, your checking account will be debited $1,100, but you’ll
get $1,000 in cash and $100 in free play.
(click any image to enlarge)
Rooms at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City are located in five different towers. The Waterfront Tower is the newest, followed by the Bayview Tower, Marina Tower, Atrium Suites and Harbour Tower.
The "light show" on the exterior of the Waterfront Tower was originally a dazzling, signature addition to the Atlantic City casino scene, but now it's gotten a little too "self-promotional" and some of the images don't translate well in lights (especially faces).
Fees and Taxes - Harrah's adds a $27 (which includes a 14 percent state tax) per day resort fee to all room rates, whether for a
paid or complimentary stay. The resort fee includes standard Internet
access for up to two devices per room, unlimited local phone calls and a
$5 voucher toward parking. Seven Stars and
Diamond cardholders are exempt from the fee and get all the benefits. In addition, Seven Stars cardholders get one complimentary in-room movie every 24 hours. In addition, some guests are responsible for from $5 to $8 in additional taxes and fees, and sales and occupancy taxes are additional on all paid rooms.
Parking - Complimentary self-parking – look for the dedicated Seven Stars parking area (see below) – is in a garage across the street, so if you have lots of luggage, or the weather is bad, use the complimentary valet parking. You'll arrive close to the front desk, and won't have to drag your belongings through the casino from the parking garage. (When you're ready to retrieve your car from valet go to the Waterfront/Bayview Tower – not where you dropped off your car. Seven Stars cardholders get priority service, usually "guaranteed" at seven minutes or less.) Outside where you retrieve your car Harrah's has installed a nifty video screen so you can watch the progress of your car. Each vehicle is assigned a number based on tier score, e.g., Seven Stars is 1, Diamond is 2, etc. Match the number on the screen with the number on your claim check. Harrah's also has a special Seven Stars parking area in the self-park garage. The area is gated, so you need to insert a valid Seven Stars player card for access. The problem is that, on frequent visits, the gate is permanently open so anyone can park there.
Rooms all are being brought up to new standards with flat screen TVs, new furniture, updated bathrooms, etc. (Strangely, many of the bathrooms don't have soap dishes – which makes a bit of a mess.) All rooms also have coffeemakers and small refrigerators, and wireless Internet connections are relatively strong.
The Atrium Suites tower are more like those in an Embassy Suites. They have a separate "living area" and a sofa which opens into an additional bed.
No matter which tower I've stayed in, it's been my experience that housekeeping is a real problem – especially if you have dust allergies. On the upper shelves in the Bayview and Waterfront Tower bathrooms I've found everything from laundry tags, safety pins, and matches (in non-smoking rooms!). The shelves often are full of dust. Ditto with the tops of picture frames and the wooden rails connecting the legs of the chairs, the sofa, the coffee table and the desk in the room. Check the tops of the picture frames in the "toilet room" or behind the glass door. Harrah's either needs to hire taller housekeepers or give them longer dusting wands.
Perhaps it's the dark and drab decor, but some of the "regular" rooms in this Waterfront Tower seem much smaller than the other towers. Rooms on higher floors are somewhat larger. The bathroom is particularly small no matter what floor you're assigned. While there is a huge shower and a separate toilet "room," the single sink offers precious little space for one's personal toilet articles. Amenities (shampoo, conditioner, soaps, etc.) just sit next to a "naked" box of tissues and two plastic-wrapped paper cups. You'll find the ice bucket (assuming it's not missing, as it was on several of my visits) and "glasses" (two more paper cups) on the dresser. The dark dreary hallways, left, are worse. With their ugly brown and orange color scheme, they look like they're permanently decorated for Halloween; the carpeting is equally unattractive and looks like it has been thoughtfully "pre-soiled."
Fitness Center - Harrah’s has opened a new Fitness Center between The Pool and The Red Door Salon & Spa. It’s open 24 hours and free for hotel guests. Use your room key for access.
Atlantic City law requires all casinos to designate at least 75 percent of gaming space as "non-smoking." The large sprawling casino has a very contemporary feel. There is no "theme" per se, just clean lines, and lots of marble and dark woods. Dealers, slot attendants and servers all are extremely friendly and helpful. In addition to a full complement of slots and video poker (including a separate high limit area called Diamond Cove), the casino has table games, as well as separate high limit and Asian gaming areas.
The casino is equipped with Caesars proprietary Total Touch system that allows customers to order drinks, redeem free play, check their Total Rewards account balances, and receive real-time offers based on play.
Dining - Dining options include The Steakhouse, Veracruz, Martorano's, Oshi Modern Asian Kitchen, The Waterfront Buffet AC Burger Co. and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant.
The Steakhouse is widely inconsistent with its food and service. One time the food is terrible and the service is great; another time, the food is great and the service is terrible. Rarely do both match the standards expected in such an establishment.
McCormick & Schmick's is also very good. If you're going to become a "regular" be sure to join the frequent diner's club – Landry's Select Club
. The cost is $25, but, in turn, you'll receive a $25 coupon you can use at any Landry's restaurant, plus two more coupons good for up to a $40 entree – one for you, and one for your companion (but you must sign up a companion to get both of these). Each will arrive about 30 days before your birthday(s) and are good for up to six months.
Somewhere between "fine dining" and casual is Martorano's, described on Harrah's website as "upscale Italian". Those who've dined there complain about the prices, and the "no substitutions" policy. In addition, food is delivered when it's ready, so don't count on everyone's entrees arriving at the same time. After 10 p.m. Martorano's becomes a "disco" of sorts with a mirror ball, a DJ and scenes from "R"-rated movies.
More casual options include AC Burger Co., Veracruz and Caffe Tazza. The Waterfront Buffet (which really doesn't face water at all) deserves special mention if for nothing else than the size and scope of its menu.
The former Taste of the Shore, left, has been revamped and is now called Harrah's Resort Food Court. Among the options are Deli No. 4 for hot and cold sandwiches and Pizza Joint for stromboli, calzones, Italian hot dogs, chicken wings and, duh, pizza. The former Tipsy Cream has closed and will reopen in March as a Starbucks.
The former Sammy D's will reopen this month as Coastal Craft Kitchen + Bar.
The newest additions to the drinking and dining scene are a lobby bar and lounge (the bar has no "official" name, but it's known by its Twitter hashtag #barwithnoname) and Oshi Modern Asian Kitchen.
Located next to hotel registration, the bar and lounge, right, features wine by the glass – both pricey and moderate, craft and “regular” beers, and a cocktail menu (“Evolution – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of the Perfect Cocktail”) which lists drinks you’ve probably never heard of – or will ever order.
Other options are the Eden Lounge
and X Bar
(Xhibition Bar), as well as the bars in The Steakhouse, Veracruz and Martorano's.
Harrah’s transformed the former Temptations into Oshi Modern Asian Kitchen, left. You might remember Oshi from Showboat, but Armiyanot “Harry” is no longer the chef. The opening hours are tied to the hours of The Pool.
The Pool is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There is no charge for hotel guests, $5 for guests staying at Bally's or Caesars, and $10 for all others. On Thursdays the pool is open from 8 a.m. until midnight, but, after 6 p.m., while there is still no charge for hotel guests, all others pay $5. On Saturdays the pool opens at 8 a.m. From noon on, there is a $20 cover charge – even for hotel guests, but, as long as you're inside by noon, there is no charge for hotel guests, $5 for guests staying at Bally's or Caesars, and $10 for all others. There is never a cover at The Pool for Seven Stars.
The Total Rewards Center is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to midnight on Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays.
The Red Door Salon & Spa
The fabled Elizabeth Arden institution, The Red Door Salon & Spa, is still somewhat of a
disappointing experience for men.
In the men's "grooming area" there
are only two sinks, and the lighting is so bad, it's like shaving in the
dark. (Assuming it was a man, whoever designed the lighting should be
forced to shave there for a month.) Add to that one of the "wimpiest"
Jacuzzis (in terms of jet strength) and it's not the most satisfying way
For women, though, the experience is much more positive.
Total Rewards Center
Special Seven Stars Benefits*
If you're having breakfast or brunch at Sammy D's, Seven Stars cardholders receive a complimentary half loaf of "Extra Crumby Coffee Cake" – a whole one for a party of four. Because Sammy D's no longer has special Total Rewards pricing, it might not be necessary to show your Seven Stars card until you pay your bill at the cashier, so if your server doesn't offer this, be sure to ask. And, speaking of servers I always ask for Marie. While I'm sure there are several excellent servers at Sammy D's, Marie has personality to spare and will take good care of you. Be sure to tell her that Darryl sent you or that you read it on the Seven Stars Insider Web site.
There is special reserved Seven Stars parking in the self-park garage. You'll need to use your Total Rewards card for access.
Seven Stars Lounge
Harrah's Resort has one of Atlantic City's two Seven Stars Lounges. [The other is located at Caesars.] It's located toward the rear of the Diamond Cove high limit slots area next to the cashier.
During major casino events, it can become very crowded – especially at lunchtime on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as cocktail hour. There is a small bar and comfortable seating, but many times seats go empty because there are too many tables and groupings for four, when parties of two are more the norm. Unlike the Atlantic City Diamond Lounges, which feature buffets, the Seven Stars Lounge offers guests menus with a limited selection of appetizers (a cheese plate, assorted dry snacks, shrimp cocktail, etc.), sandwiches, soups, "small plates" and desserts. Hours vary seasonally, but it is generally open later than the Diamond Lounge. Currently, the lounge is open:
Friday: 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.*
Saturday: 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.*
Sunday: Noon to 8 p.m.*
*last admittance is 30 minutes prior to closing; last call is 20 minutes prior to closing
The Diamond Lounge is an alternative to the Seven Stars Lounge, or when it is not open. It has a small bar [look for Debbie† (her nametag says Deborah and she won a "Best Bartender" award in 2014 – there's a photo and plaque above the bar) and Magee – they're among Harrah's best and friendliest bartenders, and they really watch out for their customers, often stepping out from behind the bar to take orders or help clean tables] and, depending on the time of day, a buffet consisting of cold cuts, salads, desserts and at least two, if not three, hot entrées. The lounge offers priority entrance to Seven Stars cardholders (though you'll have to "push" yourself to the head of the line), and allows up to three additional guests (two more than Diamond members). If there are others waiting to get in, simply walk in the lounge and present your card to the host. At extremely busy times when there is often a long line – especially when the lounge first opens, a host will be stationed at the door monitoring "traffic". Again, simply show your card to him/her, and you will receive immediate entrance. Drinks may be taken out of the club, but only after being decanted into plastic cups available at the door.
Hours (subject to change):
Monday - Thursday: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.*
Friday: 2 to 11 p.m.*
Saturday: Noon to 11 p.m.*
Sunday: Noon to 8 p.m.*
Note: Due to special events and holidays, the Diamond Lounge may alter its hours some days.
*last admittance is 30 minutes prior to closing; last call is 20 minutes prior to closing
NOTE: There is a 10 comp dollar (1,000 Reward Credits) per person per admission charge for Diamond cardholders who did not earn a least 25,000 tier credits last year (January 1 through December 31) or have not earned at least 25,000 tier credits since January 1 this year.
Getting Around Atlantic City
A complimentary Total Express shuttle runs daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The circuit makes stops at Bally's in front of the outside entrance to Harry's Oyster House (near casino valet), at Gate 11 in Caesars bus terminal and outside Harrah's casino entrance on Harrah's Boulevard.
Riders must have a valid Total Rewards card and ID. Cardholders may bring one guest. Seven Stars cardholders get priority boarding. Other restrictions apply.
Getting To The Casino From The Airport
If Harrah's does not provide limo service, in addition to taxis, which run about $35, the Atlantic City Jitney Association offers one-way transportation from the airport to any casino or hotel in the tourist district for $10 per person. The return trip is $15 per person. There also are a number of private car and limousine services.
Should You Choose This For Your Annual Retreat?
Atlantic City is a premier destination for "locals" throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. With two other Caesars properties in town, The Playground across from Bally's and Caesars, spa treatments, and relaxing on the beach (weather permitting), it would be easy to spend four nights (and $500) here – especially since you can "cross charge" to your room any meals, spa treatments, etc., even if they take place at Caesars or Bally's.
With its huge year-round indoor pool, beautifully landscaped with tropical flowers and palms, it's certainly a viable alternative to the two Boardwalk venues.
In addition, Harrah's showroom, The Waterfront, is often home to solo entertainers (Vanessa Williams, Tony Bennett, Jay Leno), "tribute shows" such as Beatlemania, and touring Broadway musicals (Hairspray, The Producers, Movin' Out) – but in their 90-minute, one-act format.
When you check-in, be sure to verify that your $500 comp account has been set-up. Alcohol charged to the room counts toward your $500 in expenses, but not gratuities for meals and spa treatments. Best advice is to keep all your receipts until you settle your final bill.
There are many direct and connecting flights into Atlantic City's local airport (15 minutes from the Boardwalk), but many guests fly into Philadelphia International Airport and either rent a car or arrange limousine service. One advantage to having a car is the ability to make a day trip to charming Cape May, or many of the other nearby Jersey Shore attractions. While round-trip airport transportation to your destination property is included as part of your Seven Stars trip, Caesars will not credit you the cost of this toward your rental car. Another option would be to take a limo from the airport, then rent a car in Atlantic City for a day or two, returning the car before your departure. Other than a Hertz outlet here at Harrah's Resort, rental cars are available only at the Atlantic City airport.
*subject to change, revision or cancellation
†employee may no longer work at subject property or be unavailable due to his/her specific work schedule
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