I Went to Revel and All I Got Was a Whole Lot of Frustration

What I learned at Friday's sold-out Maroon 5 show.

On Friday night, I took my 13-year-old cousin Brianna (and Brianna’s mom and my wife) to Atlantic City’s new $2 billion-plus Revel hotel and casino to see Maroon 5, fronted by The Voice‘s Adam Levine (a bearded version), whom Brianna, her mom and her grandma describe as “yummy,” “sexy,” and “yummy,” respectively. It was the first live event ever at Revel’s Ovation Hall, which is welcoming Beyoncé this coming weekend for four sold-out shows. I went into this endeavor expecting to hate Maroon 5 and love Revel. Boy, was I wrong. Here, some observations.

It’s “Jagger” not “cheddar.”
So for weeks, my kids have been dancing around the living room singing “I’ve got the moves like cheddar.” Since I don’t listen to the radio and am generally oblivious to anything resembling Top 40, I had no idea what they were talking about, except it wasn’t surprising that my kids would sing about cheddar, because they like cheese so much. Then I watched Maroon 5 perform “Moves Like Jagger,” and it all became clear. The band was incredibly tight, unoffensive, occasionally entertaining and sounded pretty much exactly like how I would expect them to sound on the radio. From a non-fan, I’d give the show a B+. Brianna, whose last concert was Barry Manilow, still hasn’t come down enough to file her formal report.

Don’t make people wait for alcohol.
Before the show, I thought I’d have a beer to cushion the blow that I thought Maroon 5 was about to deliver, so I got in line at the bar at Revel’s Ovation Hall and waited. And waited. And waited. More than 20 minutes later, the line still barely moving and with no extra bartending help in sight, I returned to my seat after notifying two employees outside of the bar area of the doomsday scenario playing out at the bar, hoping they would call in the reserves. Then Brianna’s mom and my wife decided to take a crack at it. About 30 minutes later, they returned with beers. Ridiculous. Earlier in the day, I waited 10 minutes for a server to take my drink order at Revel’s edition of Village Whiskey. Then they brought me a drink that tasted awful. And so I waited for a total of about 20 minutes there before I actually had a drinkable drink in my hands. Alcohol is your big moneymaker, right? So why not make it easy for people to overpay for it and be happy about it?

Revel’s rooms are the Boardwalk’s best.
If not for the fact that the Borgata just completed a massive overhaul of many of its rooms, I would say that the rooms at Revel are the best in Atlantic City, but the Boardwalk will have to suffice. (Revel is on the boards, while the Borgata is out at the Marina.) The niftiest thing about the rooms is that the standard hotel room book (the one with dining options, fire exit procedures, etc.) has been replaced by a tablet computer (see below), which also offers free Internet access. There are also plenty of hooks and mirrors, two things frequently overlooked in hotel rooms. Oh, and the ocean view, which every room boasts, is a nice touch, even if it is of the murky Atlantic.

Don’t make people wait for coffee.
The morning after Maroon 5, I thought I’d get coffees for the crew, so I went downstairs to the Revel’s O Bistro, which I was told was the only place to get coffee, other than room service. To say that there was a total breakdown in whatever was happening there on Saturday morning is putting it mildly. Twenty-five minutes went by before I had a to-go cup of coffee in my hand. Brutal.

The pool area is nice.
Brianna wanted to swim, so we all hung out by the pool for a bit. Oddly, there was no food or drink service outside. But if you’re a fan of seaside pools with lots of bikinis and sun, this is a good one.

Don’t give me attitude.
I realize that Revel is probably a sucky place to work right about now given the mess that you find yourself in, but you need to keep your chin up and not be snotty. That’s the business that you’re in. This goes out to a number of the people I encountered on Friday night and Saturday morning (O Bistro hostess, gals at the box office, and more) but most especially to the “VIP hostess” at the Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub. (Don’t worry, my 13-year-old cousin was sleeping.) Royal Jelly seems like a cool venue in spite of its name, and if I ever spend more than two minutes in there, I’ll let you know how it was.

It’s not a good thing when people eat three times outside of your property in less than 24 hours.
There was some confusion over my dinner reservation, and given the fact that we didn’t want to be late for Maroon 5, we decided to go low-fi at Tony’s Baltimore Grill, a quick cab ride away, where dinner for four was $62, drinks included. Boo. Yeah. Late night, after getting lip at the Royal Jelly and being frustrated by a lack of after-hours dining options, we paid a visit to the noodle bar at Showboat, adjacent to Revel. And in the morning, after the coffee wait and attitude at O Bistro (the only breakfast spot), we checked out as quickly as we could and had a delightful meal on Atlantic Avenue at Maria’s Luncheonette. After Revel doesn’t feed you, this is a good place to go.

If you’re going to see Beyoncé, good luck.
What Revel really needs to do right this second is shut down for four nights and retrain its current staff while hiring additional employees to deal with the onslaught that’s coming this Memorial Day weekend when Beyoncé shows up. I had a few employees give me the “we just opened” excuse. That’s partially true (and certainly is true in the case of Ovation Hall), although in point of fact, Revel opened more than a month ago. Regardless, if you’re going to position yourself as the VIP casino of Atlantic City, which is clearly what Revel is going for, you’ve got to treat people right and make and keep them happy, whether it’s day one, day 30 or day 300. I don’t know too many people of the type who can afford Revel who would even think about going back after having an experience like the one I had this weekend. If Revel is supposed to be the salvation of Atlantic City, then we all need to say a little prayer.