Many of the new casinos are opening not just as gaming spaces but as adult entertainment zones, drawing customers with diverse attractions. “A quarter of the people who visit [a casino] say they don’t gamble when they go,” Wetzel says. “They are shopping, going to the spa, seeing a show. There is definitely a trend toward these more diversified opportunities.” Maryland Live!, for example, which opened in Hanover, Md., in June 2012, complements table games and slots with several dining options, including Phillips Seafood, The Prime Rib, and Bobby’s Burger Palace from Bobby Flay, and live entertainment at Rams Head Center Stage.
Two Starwood properties, Aloft Arundel Mills and Element Arundel Mills, jumped at the opportunity to partner with Maryland Live! when it opened. “We knew it could be beneficial, supporting our weekend business and offering casino clientele a beautiful space to relax when not gaming,” says Parvez Ahmed, general manager to both properties. Ahmed notes that the partnership has been a major occupancy driver for weekend business—the properties currently top other area hotels for weekend occupancy in the Arundel Mills area. “We attribute that greatly to our partnership with [Maryland Live!],” he says.
In addition to the weekend bump, Ahmed says his properties have benefited from the businesses and vendors working with the casino who are looking for extended-stay hotel options. “The partnership draws all types of guests including executives, vendors, new recruit executives, and the high-roller casino customer,” he explains. “It’s also introduced both Aloft and Element Arundel Mills to business travelers whether they are on business or transitioning to relocate to the area.”
Still, Beaumont says most hotels will have to sacrifice on rate to get volume. “Anyone who does these kinds of partnerships is going to have to do that.” But that sacrifice is definitely worth it, Beaumont notes, given how positive his experience has been. And unlike the whims of lady luck at the craps table, the Hollywood Casino, he says, “has delivered on everything they’ve promised.”