The Pier Shops at Caesars, Atlantic City Becomes Las Vegas

Atlantic City has been on the fast track to becoming a “Las Vegas of the East” ever since the classy Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened in 2003. Since then, there have been oh-so-many hotel expansions and re-inventions. From The Quarter at Tropicana to the Atlantic City Outlets, there seems to be a new development popping up every time you blink. And since Harrah’s Entertainment purchased Caesars in 2004, the four Harrah’s-owned resorts in the city are being given one heck of a facelift.

Case in point: the new Pier at Caesars. The new shopping center and entertainment complex is literally on a pier that extends over the Atlantic City beach and onto the ocean. This is a prime location, a beautiful idea, and an upscale tourist-centric place to spend your hard earned (or hard-won) dollars.

Visitors can enter the enclosed pier complex either from the Boardwalk or from an enclosed walkway overpass directly from the Caesars Atlantic City casino. Other than the windows offering such views, there is little to distinguish it from just a regular tourist mall. The shops are great (but expensive), the restaurants are diverse and serve quality food. And since the darn thing is so long and thin, its is almost impossible to get lost – unlike the nearby casino floor.

The first two floors are basically a shopping center feature upscale name-brand merchandise. There is an Apple Store, a Brookstone, a Gucci, and even a Tiffany & Co. The decor here – I think – tries to emulate a beachy Boardwalk, but with a bit of a contemporary twist. The floor is wooden and the ceiling has a artistic “waves”. The second floor is more twlight, with lights twinkling perpetually on the ceiling. Most of these floors have no windows, so you may forget you’re even on an ocean pier – which doesn’t do the location justice.

The third floor is the most popular, and the best-designed of the Pier. This is where all the restaurants are, such as Phillips Seafood, Continental, and the more casual Trinity Pub. It is hard to go wrong at any of these places – they all have solid offerings, but are also crazy expensive (no bargains at the Pier). The best aspect of this floor, however, is the view. All restaurants are on the north end of the pier, so visitors can enjoy an entire panoramic view of the Atlantic City south skyline as they stoll down the path. Even more, there are beach chairs – complete with sandy floor – where visitors can sit and stare for hours on end at the ocean. A very nice touch.

At the far end of the pier, viewable from the first 3 floors, is a kind of pier centerpiece called simply The Show. This is a preprogrammed Bellagio-esque indoor fountain show that features dancing water, lights and sounds – but on a much, much smaller scale (Bellagio’s show in Las Vegas is vastly better). Still, it is fun to watch once or twice, and there are different shows for the daylight and evening hours.

It is interesting to note that The Pier was designed by the same folks that did The Forum Shops in Las Vegas. Are they comparable? No way, The Forum Shops is much better. But for Atlantic City’s limited real estate and relatively new venue of non-gambling entertainment, this new development is pretty good.