Just An Ordinary Weekend At Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel

I never thought I’d be attracted to a piece of meat. But at 3:25, on an afternoon at Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel, it happened.

The meat was oversized, blown up on a screen that covered an entire wall of the Borgata’s Music Box theatre, where several hundred people watched the hamburger patty sizzle and sweat in a pan on the stove. Over the patty reigned Geoffrey Zakarian, otherwise known as “the guy who won The Next Iron Chef” or “the cute chef with the glasses.”

With his gift of gab (which he attributes to his mom: “She was bitingly sarcastic,” Zakarian says), the bespectacled chef serenades the crowd at his cooking demonstration with his Italian accents, self deprecation, and meat innuendos. After two hours of cooking a hamburger (“no sauces or spices, it’s all about the meat”), a ginger and golden raisin-inflected coleslaw, and a raspberry soufflé – the crowd was sold – and so were his cookbooks.

Zakarian is the culinary lifestyle consultant of The Water Club, the more luxury hotel branch inside the Borgata resort. And the term “lifestyle consultant” is really just a fancy name for someone who checks in and okays all the activities involving food and drink consumption.

And wowee, did a lot of that happen during my recent stay at the Club. The portions are three times the size of any entrée at most NY restaurants (yep, I’m looking at you, Izakaya’s peanut butter-chocolate-crispy sushi roll) and it’s the options themselves – choosing from the Borgata’s 12 restaurants – where a decisive appetite becomes more valuable than some chips at the poker table.

Lines like shoelaces – full of day-trippers and vacationers craving all-you-can-eat – loop around the corners of the Borgata Buffet, while dinners at Bobby Flay Steakhouse on a Friday and Saturday night necessitate reservations made days in advance. I dined at the resort’s Japanese restaurant Izakaya, and most notably the southern Italian restaurant Fornelletto, and let’s just say it’s inspired this strange dream about a plate of potato gnocchi with sage and brown butter, lifting into the heavens, on top of a dish of their heavenly vanilla ice cream.

But people don’t come to Atlantic City for the food. They come for the party. And on – oh, just an ordinary weekend in Atlantic City – two celebrity DJs were spinning at the Borgata’s mur.mur nightclub and MIXXSamantha Ronson (aka Lindsay Lohan’s ex) and Steve Aoki. So when you pair these two rockstars with the Zakarian visit, the Borgata suddenly becomes an oceanside celeb hub.

But for me, the star of the show was definitely the Immersion Spa, where I headed for some much-needed recovery. A masseuse named Elyssia somehow managed to restore my late-night pancake and vodka-stuffed self into a viable, blissed-out human being. The whirlpool also helped.

Now, I’m not going to tell you to go to the Borgata and stay at, more specifically, The Water Club. I’m all about showing, not telling, of course. But when you are, in fact, looking for a weekend that includes a view of the ocean, celebrities, and really good gnocchi, may you consider the Borgata. It’s the AC experience.

Get all the info on the Borgata’s Water Club hotel here, and follow Bonnie on Twitter.

Industry Insider: Gregg Coyle, Mixx Master

On any given evening, Gregg Coyle, the director of nightlife for the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, arrives at the sprawling den of hedonism well before the revelers roll in. At roughly 9pm, he dines in one of the hotel’s six celebrity-chef restaurants, often with one of his visiting DJs, big-name draws like Jermaine Dupri and David Guetta.

When his two clubs, MIXX and mur.mur, open an hour later, “it’s all business from then on,” he says. And he’s not kidding. Coyle, who has worked at the Borgata for the past seven years, typically doesn’t get home until 7am. “You have to be a bit insane to work in this industry” he says, “but it’s the unforgettable nights that make the hours entirely worth it.” Recent highlights have included a surprise performance by Busta Rhymes, an impromptu dance-off between Janet Jackson’s back-up dancers, and the after-party for a No Doubt concert, where Gwen Stefani arrived at the DJ booth on her bodyguard’s back. Fear not, however, for the well-being of the bodyguard–or Coyle for that matter. “A night out is a bit like a workout,” he says, betraying a Pan-like lust for debauchery. “if it doesn’t hurt the next day, then it probably wasn’t good.”

Gregg Coyle Brings Fun to the Borgata

Nightclubs used to be all about “bookings”. Every year I would get a brand new calendar with nice blank dates and I would do my darndest to fill in the blanks. Even the best of joints needed daily events to fill time slots and weak nights, especially during the week nights. A Wednesday invariably needed an event to fill the room, especially early. Most clubs were jammed around 12:30 or 1, so it was necessary to have a party that would seed the room. Without these events, early arrivals (which were mostly tourists) would sit around an empty room, looking at each other while listening to lounge music. Their experience, and the tale they took home to their friends, would be negative. At Life we often booked concerts, or allowed corporate parties to stay on when the cool crowd came. The theory was that nobody who came at 10 would still be there at 2, when the action really started. Bookings at the big casino/hotels in Vegas and Atlantic City not only bring people into the room, but serve as a shout out to the world. An add announcing Sting, Jerry Seinfeld, or Stevie Nicks does much more than advertise that specific show. The ad tells the world that the Borgata has world class shows, and is the place to be. It is very much an association, directly linking to the resort brand. My visit to the Borgata this past weekend had me hanging with in-house public relations honcho, Noel Stevenson, and Gregg Coyle, who is the Borgata’s Director of Nightlfe,

Tell me how you keep Borgata moving forward? We never get complacent. We are always looking for ways to continue to evolve the experience at Borgata. This summer, we made a large investment in MIXX, and put a greater emphasis on bottle service, added one of the most state-of-the-art DJ booths around and made it a fresh concept. MIXX has been very successful for seven years, but we wanted to add a new dimensional to the nightlife offering here. We are always drawing inspiration from hotspots around the country and looking at what’s happening in NYC, LA and other cities. On Sunday nights for example, we’re doing an outside pool party at SunBar, at The Water Club, which offers a South Beach-inspired vibe with a DJ, and offers party-goers a chance to enjoy a different scene before they hit up MIXX, late night.

How many DJs do you have each week, and who are they? Our resident DJ’s include Eli Escobar, Doug Grayson, PS-1, Carlos Melange and Dalton. Every night we have guest DJ’s who are like family here, and most play exclusively at Borgata in AC. They Include. DJ Vice, Jazzy Jeff, Samantha Ronson, Ruckus, Steve Aoki, Riz, Enferno, Cassidy, Jesse Marco, D.Nice, Ob-One, Cubeechee, DJ Rashida, DJ M.O.S., DJ Kiss, Riz, Enferno, DJ PS1, Carlos Mélange , Chachi, Scene, Roonie G, Rock-It! Scientists, Spider and Discotech. We also have DJ’s Jermaine Dupri, Rev. Run, Nick Canon, Solange Knowles and Tiesto frequently. How many of the DJs are booked in specifically for you, and how many are routing through NY, DC or Philly? We take several approaches to planning a night or a weekend. When we have a concert booked that can influence nightlife we look to complement the experience. For instance, when Mariah Carey performed in the Event Center we had Jermaine Dupri DJ in MIXX, and her husband Nick Canon DJ in mur.mur. That becomes synergistic throughout the property. Another example would be when Kid Rock had a sold out concert here on Valentine’s Day, Rev. Run and DJ Ruckus’ manager, Yoni Goldberg called me to suggest Rev. & Ruckus for the after-party. Rev and Kid had toured together before, so we knew that would make for a really good night. Our PR team happened to be planning a Rock n’ Roll wedding contest at Gypsy Bar, where a couple who met while serving over in Iraq won a once in a lifetime wedding at the property. We threw them a rockstar-style wedding at the bar, and Rev Run did the honors and Kid Rock actually came down and stood in as the groom’s best man when he heard their story! Its one of the those nights we’ll always remember Other nights here have been truly magical, I got a call from Stevie Wonder’s daughter Aisha saying that Stevie, Aisha, and the band wanted to come and hang out in mur.mur after his concert on Halloween. They all got costumes that day, so no one knew who they were in the club. Stevie requested a Drake song from DJ D.Nice, the next thing you know Stevie was singing “Superstition” and Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall.” Then Stevie ad-libbed a song about D.Nice on the spot. We couldn’t believe it. When the kids in the club realized, Oh, that really is Stevie Wonder, the place went insane.

Tell me bout your industry nights? What started out as a simple locals night, our mur.mur Mondays party has become infamous. Our goal was to replicate the great entertainment, and DJ’s that we have on the weekends for our industry night. We have so much fun that night because we have a loyal following of kids that work all weekend in the industry and want a night to go out. The dress code is tight, girls love to get dressed up and have a beautiful night out. The club staff deliver a guest list of over 1,000 people every week, usually the line to get in extends to the front door of Borgata. It is great to know someone here that night. When you get in you get to experience Samantha Ronson and Vice DJing together, or Steve Aoki giving an incredible performance. We are really proud to have such a great party every week. The night has grown so much we started pairing it with Izakaya, our modern Japanese restaurant. Michael Schulson is a great guy and amazing chef. The vibe in his restaurant is the best way to start the night, and makes Borgata a destination on Mondays like no other. I love when I see the staff of Avenue, Marquee, Tenjune & SL or 1OAK partying here on a Monday, it makes us feel great to serve our contemporaries we admire. What’s a nice boy like u doing in a place like this. Talk to me bout celebs? When do u sleep? I have been with Borgata for over 7 years and absolutely love it here. I remember one of my first interviews here, my soon-to-be boss asked me “How do you bring fun to work each day?” It threw me for a loop. I thought, is she kidding? I had been programmed to be responsible, be disciplined, be tough. I have to say, I didn’t know how to answer her. Lucky enough, I got the job. I have to tell you that each and every day since, I have been able to bring a little fun to work, and get to have a lot of fun doing it. How is the nightlife clientele here different than from New York City or Philadelphia? The clientele here is mostly New York City and Philadelphia. The difference here, is that people are away from their daily routines and scenes, as well as the people they know, and are looking for an escape. We give them permission to loose their inhibitions and have a great time. One thing that we always consider is that our customers made an effort to come here. They had to drive or take the train here, get a hotel room and have a nice dinner or spa treatment. Girls shop for the right dresses and shoes. It is quite an investment. We have a responsibility to make sure we exceed their expectations and that there is value in their experience with us. We take fun seriously. We are fortunate to have great customers.