Full disclosure: I was chosen to participate in a
"DO | AC" overnight experience at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City through a website I joined called Crowdtap (give feedback, get rewards = awesomeness). I am writing this blog post as part of my participation in this experience.
So, for those of you who are new to my blog, you may not know that I'm getting married, rather soon, as in, five days from now. Many brides might have thought to themselves, "Oh NO -- there's no WAY I could leave amidst all the chaos that my wedding day is creating, family drama and all!" Well...not me. I couldn't WAIT to get away from work, and the wedding stuff, and the family drama nonsense, and head two hours away from my home in Metuchen, NJ, to check out all the fun that Atlantic City has to offer during this time of the year!
Sure, I've been to AC before, plenty of times...BUT, I'd never: stayed at the Tropicana, saw the Sandcastle Olympics live, hung out atop the pool deck at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, or even ridden a Jitney before this trip! Even as a NJ native, there was still plenty for me to do in AC that I'd never experienced before, and I look forward to exploring more possibilities next time I'm down there for an overnight stay!
Now, to the details...
I had to work yesterday prior to going on this little overnight trip, so unfortunately for us, me and the fiance were rushing our butts off to get down the GSP and the AC Expressway to arrive "on time" for the Jitneys that would be picking us up promptly at 5:45pm... Do you see where this is going already?
Alas, we arrived at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino at 5:35pm...thinking we might have a few minutes to catch our breath. Little did we know the maze we'd walk into from the self-parking deck... Like I mentioned above, neither of us had been to Tropicana before, so I had no clue what the layout of the building would be like upon entry. Apparently we parked as far away from the main lobby as humanly possible. At first I was so irritated with not being able to find the place we needed to be, I didn't even realize just how beautiful this hotel really is. Luckily, I got to check it out in further detail later on in the trip. All that aside, Jay and I rushed across, up and down escalators, attempting to get to the lobby as fast as possible. Finally, when we thought all hope was lost in getting to the main desk, we found Brianne, a "DO | AC" event rep, waiting for us by the escalator with a "CrowdTap" sign in tow. With a HUGE sigh of relief (on our end) she ushered us outside towards our transportation for the evening. I present to you, the Jitney:
This adorable 13-person minibus took us to our first "hang out" location -- the pool deck atop the Golden Nugget Resort and Casino, which is conveniently located near the AC marina. Here, we met up with our fellow CrowdTappers who arrived to the hotel earlier in the evening, and had taken the first Jitney over to the meet-up spot. Brianne told us that there were multiple CrowdTappers located in three or four different hotels -- we were curious to know what other hotspots our fellow CrowdTappers were staying at!
Walking by the pool at the Golden Nugget, I immediately wanted to jump in, then hang out in one of these amazing sun-bathing chairs:
As tempting as it looked, I ignored the hankering I felt to jump into the pool with the other guests staying at the hotel, and walked with my fellow Tappers to the seating area that overlooked the marina:
Can you feel the gentle breeze blowing against your shoulders, the sun shining down, warming you, as you take in the beauty that extends in front of you, as far as the eye can see? Now you're in my shoes... Look to your left:
And to your right:
Yum! You can smell the crispy onion rings, the tasty sliders, the golden french fries, and you want a cold beer from the ice bucket -- you know it!
Some of the greeters who work for the Atlantic City tourism track came around to greet us, and they could not have been more adorably sweet! Jeff was chatting my fiance and I up about our upcoming nuptials (this Saturday, June 28th!) and giving us tips on how to get the most out of our honeymoon cruise. I snagged a pic of Jeff talking to our CrowdTap party group, welcoming us to AC, here:
After some light refreshment, we headed back to our Jitneys, boarded, and headed toward the Steel Pier to check out the 2014 World Championship of Sand Sculpting competition! There were SO MANY talented artists showcasing their talents, it was hard to choose my favorite. Not all of the artists in the competition had completed their work when we were there either... The last picture in this grouping is of the sandpiles that had yet to be sculpted (just to give you an indication of what these massive sandcastles looked like at the start of the contest):
The pics above are just SOME of the MANY gorgeous masterpieces sculpted for this event!
We decided to head to the Trump Taj Mahal Casino for some slot machine action, since it's right next to the Steel Pier. After a $20 quickly disappeared, we decided to try our luck elsewhere...
Walking down the boardwalk, taking in all the action, people watching, watching the low tide roll in, hand-in-hand, felt so wonderful, so...ALIVE. After our stroll we decided it'd be best to retire to our hotel room for the night, so we took a Jitney back to the Tropicana.
Funny story on the way back -- the guy on the radio that the driver used to get in communication with Jitney headquarters, sounded completely drunk. I don't know if he was just talking randomly or if it was a random snippet of discussion we caught, but the dude seriously sounded like he was rambling on and on about nothing... First he said he wasn't going to drive any more than 5 mph over the speed limit, no matter how the other drivers felt, he wasn't going to be "that" driver... Then he started rambling about some dude who said "This was the best damn ride I've ever had, and I had a great time and thanks - that's all - have a nice night" or something along those lines -- it was completely random. My fiance thought some random passenger hijacked the walkie-talkies that the Jitney drivers used because it just sounded ODD. I'm sure the guy who was talking on the radio wasn't actually drunk, but he sounded a little out of it to say the least. Our driver on the other hand, was VERY helpful. The rambling on the radio was funny if nothing else (just glad I wasn't on that other dude's Jitney!)
When we got to the hotel we had to wait a bit (9pm and there were still several people on staff helping even more hotel guests) -- AC never goes to sleep -- and in case you didn't know that, it was obvious by the large numbers of people hanging out in the lobby!
We were pleasantly surprised to hear that we'd be accommodated with a suite. Now, we honestly weren't sure if this was because we got in at 9pm instead of checking in at 4pm like we were supposed to, or because CrowdTap hooked us up, but we were PSYCHED! We had to wait about 10 minutes for a manager to check and make sure our room was ready (odd for 9pm, but we didn't mind) -- in the meantime our very attentive hotel clerk explained the perks we received with our room -- the $50 gift card, the $10 free slot play, and the use of the workout room (the last of these were far from our mind but it was nice to know that the option was available in case we were the gym buff type!).
Once the manager came back to report that our room was ready, we headed to floor 9, room 988. Since it was nearly 9:30pm, when I pulled back the curtain to see a large street light streaming into the room, I immediately drew the curtain closed and shrugged it off -- we were only staying one night after all, what did it matter if there wasn't a view!
Though the nibbles we had earlier in the evening were delish, we were getting very hungry, and decided to indulge in some room service. Hubby-to-be had a reuben, and I had chicken fingers. At 10pm my fiancee called down to the desk for our munchies, and was put on hold for no less than five minutes... This was sort of strange to us, seeing as it was fairly late in the evening, how many other people were calling for food at that hour. Yes, I realize I wrote that AC never sleeps, but STILL! So anyway, he finally got through.
While we eagerly awaited dinner, my beau headed to the hotel gift shop to grab some snacks while I changed into pajamas, washed off the make-up, typical evening routine - you know the drill, ladies!
Beau returns from gift shop with a Twix for me, and a Dr. Pepper and some Ritz snacks for him (dessert!)
We brought our Roku with us to hook up in the room. We're currently binging OITNB (Orange is the New Black) and were happy to relax with room service and one of our fave Netflix shows to wind down for the evening.
I should probably note here that the internet connection was an issue for us. We tried getting onto the internet via our computers, but to no avail. There wasn't anything written in our room key folio about the wireless, and every time I tried to look for network portals specific to our room (at least 10 rooms around us were coming up in the list of networks, but not ours) but no such luck. We used my fiance's phone as a hot spot in order to connect the Roku to the TV, which wasn't an issue, since we didn't use much data for this month (when you use the phone as a hot spot, especially for streaming, you use a TON of data, just a tip!) We decided to watch two episodes before turning on the TV before bed. Yes, I like to fall asleep with the TV on -- fiance has adapted to my habits :) Disappointed to see that there weren't many premium channels available to us. I realize that most people go to AC to drink, hit the club, gamble, check out comedy club shows or other types of nightlife fun, but that doesn't mean that those of us who like to watch TV into the wee hours of the morning should have to suffer! We settled on watching Hoarders on Lifetime before bed before drifting off to dreamland.
The next morning we woke up at 10 (set the alarm knowing we'd have an 11am checkout) in order to prepare for our departure. We didn't ask for late checkout but we should have. I should note here that we are both night owls. While I may not be into partying or gambling into the wee hours, I like to be AWAKE at that time... Neither of us fall asleep before 3am, and since we don't have kids yet, and we're university professors/PhD students that allow us to have a schedule that's flexible, we don't get up at the crack of dawn like the rest of the world -- we like to get up at noon when we can get away with it!
That said, I begrudingly got up to wash my face, brush my teeth, put in my contacts, throw on some clothes, fix my hair and makeup, and prepare for the day. I made my way towards the window in the midst of my routine... As I drew back the curtains, the heavens must have opened and smiled upon us. What I thought was a lame view was actually an OCEAN view. The most glorious view of the ocean I've ever had in a hotel TO DATE, and trust me, I travel... A LOT. It was PERFECTION. I was beyond delighted to see the glorious light of day shining, almost blindingly, into our 9th floor accommodations. I couldn't believe how lucky we were to have such a room. I wish we'd gotten there earlier the day before to take in the sunset! Oh well, there's always next time ;)
We decided that since there were lines beyond belief at 11am on the dot, that we'd opt for the express checkout kiosk instead. We tried to check out via the television, but for some reason the TV would freeze every time my fiance tried to select the option... Oh well! The kiosk line went quickly -- we had our bill printed out in less than 30 seconds and were on our way!
Since we hadn't yet used our free play or our $50 gift card from the night before, we decided to put our stuff in the car and head back into the hotel to explore, really get to see the Tropicana... I was so irritated when I'd arrived the day earlier, trying to make my way around the place, to get to the CrowdTap people "on time", that I really didn't get to take in just how LOVELY this hotel is on the inside... The New Orleans theme echoed throughout the walls and walkways... the fountains with string lights hanging overhead...cobbled floors to resemble streets/walkways below our feet... I've been to NOLA and I can tell you that the way the hotel was designed, particularly where the restaurants were located, looked SO MUCH like the gorgeous flower-filled balconies of Bourbon Street (and beyond) -- simply STUNNING!
Our slot play was spent...wasted...on a Wheel-of-Fortune $0.50 machine. Normally I prefer the penny slots but I was feeling daring... I also thought I'd be able to take my credit elsewhere in case the machine wasn't loose... Turns out you can't use your credit on any other machines once you opt to "add it" to the machine you're currently playing on... Didn't know that until AFTER we started playing on it -- BOO to you, Tropicana! That was shady! I didn't like that one bit. To add to this disappointment was the fact that I'd signed up to add my email address to my account to get an additional $5.00 worth of free play. I ended up wasting $15.00 of free play on ONE lousy machine, which irked me. We decided to switch machines as soon as I ran out of my free play cash... In the time we took wandering through the casino, we passed by several stores. One store in particular was right up my alley: The Old Farmer's Almanac General Store. I thought perhaps I would be able to use my gift card here, so I wandered in. While there were seriously no less than a dozen things I wanted to buy, I decided to wait, check a few more stores (in case something REALLY called to me) before making any final decisions. The next shop I came upon, the Zephyr Gallery, was calling my name. I love purchasing from small businesses and local artisans, so when I realized the place was top to bottom hand-crafted merchandise, I was all in! I immediately spotted a bat that was hanging upside down, made out of soldered metal materials... I was in love! My beau couldn't get the bat off of the wall, so I kept walking in hopes I'd come across a bat that wasn't a permanent fixture in the store. Directly across the wall where the original bat was located, I found several more bats hanging, one smaller than the others. I loved this bat even more. I knew this store would be more expensive because it was artwork that was being sold, as opposed to mass produced items possibly made outside of the US (I love small business everywhere but I like to shop American whenever I can!), so I was willing to spend a bit more if need be. With tax, I purchased my happy little bat for a little more than $40 after using my gift card -- totally worth the cost!
A list of stores located in the Tropicana's newest shopping area "The Quarter" (as in French Quarter, NOLA style) can be found by clicking HERE!
After spending our gift card we decided to try our hand at a bit more gambling... We always play slots. We're not table people. I like playing Blackjack but I'm not gonna lie, I'm intimidated by the tables and I'm always afraid I'm going to touch the table or do something wrong that could get me in trouble -- this is also the reason I don't play Craps... Anyway, the slots are always a good time!
We managed to find a few slot machines that looked similar to our favorites from other casinos we've been to in the past... We like the "Hot 7's" games, The Pink Panther, Wheel of Fortune, and the "Triple Diamond" machines... Anything that has a screen at the top with a progressive jackpot and/or shows some sort of action if you get bonus plays, etc., is the type of slot play we like. Anyway, we happened to find two loose machines next to each other, different games, unlike ones we've played in the past, but they were SO MUCH FUN! I kid you not, we won and lost so much (on $40 of my money and $20 of his) that we sat for about an HOUR playing on the same two machines. While I love to win, I also love to PLAY. The fact that we could entertain ourselves on over 50 free bonus plays between the two of us, not to mention winning anywhere from $6.53 (the mini progressive jackpot, a first for me) to $25.00 on a random play, up to $60.00+ on combined free spin wins, was SUCH A BLAST! We had a great time, even though we ultimately ended up throwing back all of our winnings. Usually I'm a sad sack or a sore sport about losing, I'm not gonna lie, but seeing as we had so much fun with those two machines for such a long time, I was still pleased overall.
We headed out to the boardwalk at this point, and made our way towards a little hole-in-the-wall pizza joint -- DELISH! I haven't had huge boardwalk slices of pizza since before Sandy hit, and it was so nice to people watch while feeling the breeze come in off the water. We also went for ice cream afterwards... I'm a big kid in a lot of ways, I had to have my twist cone with rainbow sprinkles!
The one thing I INSISTED we do before leaving for home was dipping my toes in the ocean water. I didn't have a bathing suit, and we needed to get back home to meet up with my fiance's parents who were coming into town from Massachusetts, but I HAD to find out how cool (or warm) the water was! There were a lot of people swimming that day, so it was obviously not THAT cold. When the water hit my feet at first I was a bit shocked, but just initially -- it really wasn't that cold at all. If I had a bathing suit on, and some extra time, I totally would have jumped in at that point (especially since it was approximately 85 degrees out that day!)
All in all, we had a GREAT time at the Tropicana, and at AC. We'd gladly be back if CrowdTap wanted to host us again, and if they don't, we'd STILL DO | AC on our own dollar!
Thanks so much again to CrowdTap for selecting me for this amazingly awesome trip!!!