Resorts Casino Hotel is a hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Resorts was the first casino hotel in Atlantic City, becoming the first legal casino outside of Nevada in the United States, when it opened on May 26, 1978. The resort completed an expansion in 2004, adding the 27-story Rendezvous Tower, and underwent renovations in 2011, converting the resort to a Roaring Twenties theme.
First hotels on the site
The Resorts site was originally occupied by two three-story wooden Quaker rooming houses, The Chalfonte House and The Haddon House.
The Chalfonte House was built in 1868 by Elisha and Elizabeth Roberts. They had purchased a plot of land at North Carolina Avenue and Pacific Avenue from John DaCosta for $6500.00. The hotel was constructed during the winter for a cost of $21,000 and could accommodate 140 guests. They named the hotel for Chalfont St Giles, the town in Buckinghamshire where William Penn is buried. The Chalfonte House was expanded and moved oceanward twice, in 1879 and 1889.
The Haddon House was opened across the street, on the current Resorts site, by Samuel and Susanna Hunt in 1869. They named the hotel for the Quaker family who had founded Haddonfield, New Jersey. It was sold to Leeds & Lippincott in 1890. In 1896 they rebuilt The Haddon House at a cost of $200,000, naming the new, larger hotel "Haddon Hall".
Henry Leeds then bought The Chalfonte House in 1900 and constructed a modern hotel on the site, the Chalfonte Hotel. This eight-story $1,000,000 brick building, Atlantic City's first "skyscraper", was designed by architect Addison Hutton (1834â"1916), and opened its doors to guests on July 2, 1904.
Current Haddon Hall building
The current Haddon Hall building was constructed in stages in the 1920s. The 11-story wing facing the Boardwalk was constructed first, with the 15-story center and 11-story rear wings added later in the decade. Soon after the modern Haddon Hall was completed, it was merged by Leeds & Lippincott with the adjacent Chalfonte via a skyway, which still exists and can be seen today. The new Chalfonte-Haddon Hall complex consisted of 1,000 rooms and, at the time of its completion, was the city's largest hotel by capacity.
During World War II, under the command of Col. Robert C. McDonald, M.C., (November 27, 1943â"June 30, 1944) Chalfonte-Haddon Hall was requisitioned by the US Military and put to a new use, as the Atlantic City Air Forces Training & Reception Center Hospital, renamed Thomas England General Hospital. More than 40 other local hotels were taken over by the United States Military at the same time. The first meeting of the Section on Surgery of the American Academy of Pediatrics was held in the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall on November 21, 1948.
President Nixon spoke in front of the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel on June 22, 1971 .
Conversion to Resorts International
Resorts International, which was formed in March 1968, first became interested in developing a resort in Atlantic City after the company learned of a planned fourth attempt to bring casino gambling to New Jersey by limiting it to Atlantic City. The company heavily contributed to the November 1976 gaming referendum which successfully passed that year.
While campaigning for the gaming initiative, Resorts International also began planning for a future Atlantic City casino by securing an option for 55 acres (220,000Â m2) of land on the Atlantic City Boardwalk from the city's Housing and Re-Development Authority as well as acquiring Leeds & Lippincott Company, which owned Chalfonte-Haddon Hall. Resorts purchased 67 percent of Leeds & Lippincott Inc. in August 1976, and completed the acquisition the following month, paying a total of $2.489 million.
Resorts International reduced the 1,000 rooms at Chalfonte-Haddon Hall to 566 by closing the older, smaller Chalfonte building due to the rooms being impossible to expand to the city's room requirements. The Haddon Hall was easier to convert, and space was available in the building to allow for a casino, restaurants, shops and a showroom. The company's logic in the decision to use Haddon Hall was that renovating an existing property on the boardwalk would give the company an advantage by allowing the resort to be open at least a year before its new-build competition, as well as being less expensive to construct.
However, Resort International's plans went against the state's wishes for casino development, since state leaders wanted companies to build new resorts there and not conduct "patch and paint" jobs on existing properties. However, with Resorts International being the first casino project developed in New Jersey, the company was able to avoid any state criticism, and actually was encouraged by the governor. This would not be the case with the later resorts built on the Boardwalk.
Resorts International opened its doors at 10:00AM on May 26, 1978. Initial gaming laws in New Jersey only allowed casinos to operate for 18 hours during the week and 20 hours during the weekends. This situation produced massive lines outside of Resorts and people waited hours to get inside after Governor Brendan Byrne cut the ceremonial opening ribbon. The first act in the hotel's 1700-seat Super Star Theater were Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, with Lawrence throwing out the first dice roll at one of the casino's craps tables.
Even after the conversion to Resorts International, the squash courts on the 15th floor of Haddon Hall remained in operation under their original name: The Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Racquet Club.
The Chalfonte Hotel building, constructed in 1904, was left vacant and finally demolished in 1980 to make room for a parking lot for Resorts International.
Despite the initial success of its flagship Atlantic City property, Resorts International struggled to compete with its competition as more casinos were developed on the boardwalk. Newer and more extravagant resorts began to erode market share and interest in the property during the 1980s, and Resorts International added to the problem by not making any significant upgrades to the property. Instead, the company focused on expanding its operations in the market by announcing in the mid 1980s its plans to develop a new property in Atlantic City called the Taj Mahal Casino. Financial difficulties, however, prevented Resorts International from ever completing the Taj Mahal project, and in 1987 the company became a takeover target when Donald Trump purchased a controlling block of Resorts International stock.
After the death of James M. Crosby, Trump made an offer to all remaining Resorts International shareholders in late 1987 to buy all of the remaining outstanding shares of the company's stock that he did not already control. Trump was challenged for control of the company in early 1988, though, when Merv Griffin, through his Griffin Gaming & Entertainment company, also made a bid for all of the stock in Resorts International. After a two-month battle for control of the company, Trump and Griffin finally reached an agreement to divide the company's holdings between them. Trump would receive the stalled Taj Mahal Casino, while Griffin would receive ownership of both Resorts Atlantic City and Resorts Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The casino later became the location of filming for Merv's variety/game show Ruckus.
After the conclusion of the deal between Griffin and Trump, Griffin spent $90 million making improvements to Resorts Atlantic City, while selling the Paradise Island property to Sun International Hotels. Griffin later sold the remainder of Griffin Gaming and Entertainment in 1998 to Sun International Hotels for $350 million. Sun International was headed by Sol Kerzner, and under his leadership the company planned a $500 million revamping of the property after completing the purchase. However, the company only completed a $48 million expansion and renovation to Resorts Atlantic City in 1999 before refocusing its efforts on its other international properties. In 2001, Sun International sold the property to Colony Capital for $140 million; less than half of the cost the company originally paid to buy the property.
On December 10, 2009, it was announced that Resort International wasn't able to pay the mortgage for more than a year for the Atlantic City property and made a deal to have the loan canceled and surrender the property to RAC Atlantic City Holdings L.L.C. (which is owned by the lenders, Wells Fargo and others). In 2010 former Tropicana Casino and Resort President Dennis Gomes announced his intentions to purchase Resorts Atlantic City for $35 million in cash from the lenders who took over after Colony Capital defaulted. The casino was taken over by DGMB Casinos, a company headed by Dennis Gomes, in December 2010, days before the casino was scheduled to shut down.
Renovation and re-branding
In October 2010, a plan was revealed to transform the resort into a Roaring Twenties theme. The re-branding was proposed by current owner Dennis Gomes, and was initiated in December 2010 when he took over the casino. It capitalized on the success of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire and changes accentuate the resort's existing art deco design, as well as presenting new 1920s-era uniforms for employees and music from the time period. The casino also introduced drinks and shows reminiscent of the period.
The resort came under controversy in April 2011 after fifteen older and middle-aged cocktail waitresses, some of them longtime employees, were fired after they "did not look good enough" in skimpy new uniforms introduced as part of the resort's makeover. Several of the former employees filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company for the incident, in which an outside modeling agency had the waitresses model in the uniforms, which were modeled after 1920s-era Flapper outfits. Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred won court permission to represent the former employees. The fired employees were offered jobs for other positions at the resort.
In May 2011, Resorts became the first casino in Atlantic City to market itself to LGBT customers. The resort opened "Prohibition", the city's first gay casino nightclub, as well as hiring a director of LGBT marketing.
In July 2011, a five-year lease was signed with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, owner of the Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, New Jersey, to provide a marketing partnership between the casino and racetrack. The agreement allowed Resorts to rename the Haskell Invitational as the Resorts Casino & Hotel Haskell Invitational, and possibilities include a merging of loyalty programs as well as bringing entertainers' appearances at the casino to the racetrack. The program is part of a strategy to mesh horse racing with casino gambling.
Resorts announced an agreement in August 2012 for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, operator of the Mohegan Sun, to take over management of the casino and hotel.
Ocean Tower Built in 1927, Ocean Tower is 260Â ft (79Â m) tall. The tower is the original Haddon Hall that reopened in 1978 and contains 480 guest rooms. The base of the tower is home to the main casino floor, spa, pool, and the main retail and dining level. It also contains a club reserved for qualified casino players called "1133", as well a 350-seat theater. As of 2013 this building also houses an Online Gaming room, a "Margaritaville" casino section of the casino floor, as well as a "Margaritaville" restaurant. Also as of the 2013 the previous "1133" club has been remodeled and expanded into two separate players clubs named the "Epic" and "Paramount" clubs.
Rendezvous Tower The 459-room Rendezvous Tower was built on the site of a smaller hotel tower for the casino. The Rendezvous Tower, whose rooms were designed by Bergman Walls Associates, opened in 2004. The tower contains 357 luxury rooms and 42 suites. Combined with the property's existing 480 rooms, Resorts total room inventory was boosted to 879 rooms after it was completed. The exterior of the tower features an Art Deco design that was part of a "return to the classics" theme which Colony Capital implemented for the property. The new tower also brought upon an expansion of the casino and several new restaurants.
- Gambling in New Jersey
- List of tallest buildings in Atlantic City
- Resorts Atlantic City
- Historic photos of the Chalfonte Hotel - Library of Congress