There’s a buzz around “Meaningful Meetings” in Atlantic City, and it’s not just coming from the new urban beehive on the rooftop of the city’s Tanger Outlets (more on that in just a bit).
Local artists, entrepreneurs and organizations as well as the destination’s resort properties, not to mention Meet AC and the LEED Gold and GBAC STAR-certified Atlantic City Convention Center are innovating and creating a buzz around meetings with a purpose, with a keen focus on corporate social responsibility and regenerative tourism.
During a recent 3-day, jam-packed visit to Atlantic City as part of a FAM hosted by Meet AC and Caesars Entertainment, we got a look around to see what all the buzz is about—and there’s plenty, from art murals spanning the cityscape to the urban beehive we’ve touched on as well as renovated resort spaces, locally owned eateries and breweries with cool vibes and even a picturesque windmill farm (top photo-ops are from Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, our host hotel).
We followed the buzz up to the rooftop of the Tanger Outlets Atlantic City, where we found a very busy urban beehive, home to about 50,000 bees, as well as resident beekeeper Allison Gratton, who provided a detailed, interactive talk on the life of the hive—and even gave the group the opportunity to handle one of the frames coated in worker bees. As part of its commitment to environmental sustainability, Tanger Outlets partnered with Alveole, a social beekeeping company, to launch this 3-year seasonal program, and they hope to get interested groups—max 30—to partake in the experience that integrates sustainability practices locally and highlights the importance of building back biodiversity within communities.
Back on the city’s sidewalks, we were treated to a feast for the eyes during the 48 Blocks Mural Tour, showcasing more than 60 murals along the city’s 48 blocks. Created by locals or invited guests, and highlighting, in many cases, local stories, the permanent murals are sprinkled across this compact destination. The program’s purpose is to energize the local art community and to allow local artists to bring their artistic vision to life; every mural is distinct from the other and carries its own voice. Our guided tour—led by the very passionate program director Zachary Katzen—took place on board one of the city’s famed AC Jitneys (they’ve been around since 1915). We learned that several jitneys can be secured for larger groups that are interested in touring the murals, with time for photo-ops included.
From our spacious Bayview Tower Suite at Harrah’s, we had a perfect view of the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm, which can actually be seen from almost any spot in the city and consists of five, 380-ft. turbines (they’re each taller than the Statue of Liberty) capable of producing a combined 7.5 megawatts of power—enough energy to power approximately 2,500 homes and saving $6.1 million in energy costs. Groups interested in getting an up-close look at the turbines, and they are impressive, can schedule a tour to learn more about the farm’s environmental impact—since its opening it’s prevented more than 66,200 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Raise a Glass to Locally Owned Hotspots
Whether your attendees are looking for chocolate paired with wine or sipping on locally made draft beer with cool names such as “as simple as connections?” and “poetry in motion,” Atlantic City’s local business owners are upping the ante when it comes to unique cocktail bars and breweries. Small groups can partake in after-dinner chocolate & wine pairing as well as handcrafted chocolate-infused cocktails and desserts and even hot chocolate (one of the best I’ve ever had) at the intimate Bar 32 Chocolate, which has the feel of a cool, dimly lit NYC apartment.
Over at The Seed: A Living Beer Project brewery, which opened late last year and has a rustic aesthetic with lots of natural light, potted plants and muted colors, groups can foster camaraderie while sipping on brews that are made on-site with locally sourced ingredients.
Leading with the Atlantic City Convention Center, which offers 500,000 sf of exhibit space, including 45 meeting rooms, the destination offers groups a total of 1.8 million sf of meeting space citywide (and 17,500 hotel rooms for your attendees to choose from).
At the convention center, with direct access to the city’s transportation system, “it’s easy to social distance,” says Sandi Harvey, VP of sales for Meet AC, “and because we’re centrally located within the city, it’s also easy to get to restaurants and other attractions.”
She emphasizes that the convention center is focused on sustainability, and our group got a glimpse of that on a quick tour of the center’s rooftop where we found 13,000 solar panels covering 290,000 sf. “This allows us to save on the electric bill and we can then pass that cost-savings to our customers.” She adds that the convention center is back to 2019 numbers, and 2022/23 are “looking solid as a rock.” One of the convention center’s most unique reception venues is the Tree House, located on the fourth floor and offering stunning views of the Atlantic City skyline.
Included in that aforementioned 1.8 million sf of meeting space citywide is the Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s, which is said to be the largest hotel-conference center complex from Baltimore to Boston and overlooks the Absecon Inlet and the Marina District. The center has its own porte-cochere and offers 100,000 sf of meeting space—50,000 sf ballrooms per level that can be configured 330 different ways, as well as 25,000 sf of pre-function space per level. Our group also got a glimpse at the conference’s terrace that overlooks the windmill farm—it can be set up for an event, including, they mentioned to us, with fun experiences such as cigar rolling and the like.
There are 60 smaller meeting rooms, including one in which our group had a sit-down, full-course breakfast—ideal for groups who need to meet pre-conference. Harrah’s offers 2,590 guest rooms and the resort is undergoing renovations that will wrap up at the end of this year. In fact, Caesars Entertainment is investing $400 million in its Atlantic City properties, which, in addition to Harrah’s, includes Caesars and Tropicana Atlantic City. Our group’s favorite spot in the hotel, though, was hands-down the deck overlooking the indoor pool, where we were served a nighttime dessert extravaganza—we had about 30 goodies to choose from.
Skipping on over to the city’s Boardwalk area, our group toured Bally’s and its neighbor, the historic Claridge, a Radisson Hotel. Together, the properties offer more than 200,000 sf of meeting space. Bally’s is undergoing a long-needed renovation that will touch on all spaces, including the 1,200 rooms, although new onsite eateries are already swinging their doors open, such as Jerry Longo’s Meatballs & Martinis, whose decor is an homage to “The Sopranos” and it’s the only place in Atlantic City where your attendees will be able to play blackjack in a restaurant. In addition to its range of meeting spaces, including a 14,432-sf ballroom, the resort’s beach bar is available for groups. The standout venues at neighboring Claridge are the aptly named Vue Rooftop Bar & Lounge, located on the hotel’s 23rd floor—the only rooftop bar in the city—and the outdoor Brighton Park, which accommodates 800 for a reception or 600 banquet-style.
Nearby is the 3-year-old Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City—the largest Hard Rock in the portfolio with 2,000 guest rooms, a 30,000-sf ballroom and 2,000 pieces of rock memorabilia. That large collection allows the meetings and events team to put together exciting scavenger hunts that are ideal for teambuilding. The eye-popping venue at the hotel has got to be its 60,000-sf arena, which sits 5,000 to 7,000, although more intimate-sized groups can opt for a lunch meeting in the outdoor Fish & Co., right on the Boardwalk and with views of the Ferris wheel.
Or groups can enjoy a dining experience at the private dining room at the newly opened Sandpiper Coastal Bar & Grill, which serves small plates and a fruit-forward cocktail menu. What your group doesn’t want to miss is the photo-op in front of the mural at the hotel’s Backstage Café—the entire mural was painted with black Sharpies.
Go to @prevuemeetings on Instagram and click on the “Atlantic City Highlights” to check out all the experiences we had during the FAM.