Site Visit: Waterfront Conference Center

Stacked on top of one another like two poker chips, the two 50,000-sq.-ft. meeting spaces that comprise the new Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City represent a big gamble the property hopes will pay off for years to come. Coinciding with Atlantic City’s new focus on meetings, the center is the region’s crown jewel of venues—and the largest of its kind between Baltimore and Boston, management boasts. “It’s a real game changer,” says Steve van der Molen, Caesars Entertainment’s vice president of meeting operations for the Atlantic City area, if you pardon his pun. The $126 million project spared little expense, installing plush carpeting and 144 ceiling structures to allow for multiple room configurations. Van der Molen says the property can host up to 20 groups at one time. Seating can range from a relatively small stadium for sporting events to traditional classroom options. There’s 26,000 square feet of prefunction space well-suited for registration hubs, and escalators connecting the two levels can be adjusted to flow in one direction at the same time to navigate conflicting traffic. Speaking of ease, four loading bays ensure smooth installation for trade shows, conferences and other events. Although there are multiple dining options inside the expansive resort, a built-in kitchen was installed in the back of the conference center to facilitate catering. One suggestion from van der Molen is to arrange tables by the large windows so attendees can take in the view of the region’s protected wetlands. Associations are booking years out already, management says, and the facility scored a major coup in attracting next year’s MPI World Education Congress. “The goal is to bring new business here,” states van der Molen, explaining the change from 17,000 square of meeting space to the now more than 100,000 square feet.

Insider Tip If your group is not interested in gambling, the slots are easily avoided. Harrah’s can set up your group in the hotel tower closest to the conference center, and the gaming section won’t be within eyesight. As a bonus, you’ll be right next to the pool, which turns into quite the party scene on weekends.