By now, we all know the story of the Revel in Atlantic City. It was built for .4 billion, touted as the smoke-free, high-end Borgata of the Boardwalk—a place to which young people from all over the Northeast would flock to gladly pony up 0 for a weeknight room so they could sit in a club with a DJ and drink vodka for 0 a bottle.
Subsequently, in recession-ravaged New Jersey, the glitz and glamor of Vegas-style partying appealed to about six people, and what was arguably the most beautiful hotel ever built in Atlantic City’s modern era closed in just two years.
But the more intriguing story may lie in the man who eventually bought the shuttered property, Florida developer Glenn Straub. He snatched up the Revel for a bargain-basement $82 million.
The last time we visited Straub in this space, he was busy patching up holes in Revel caused by kamikaze seagulls, and doing everything he could to keep the place from looking like an abandoned rust-belt factory. But he’s planning on opening Revel back up on June 15, so evidently, he has figured out a way to keep the winged vagabonds from crashing into the guest rooms.
He’s actually figuring out much more than that, according to the man himself, who was the subject of a profile and interview last month in Forbes. He says he is sinking $500 million into Revel to create a year-round attraction that will offer just about every amusement you can think of.
Straub, 69, is a fascinating fellow. He spends a lot of time and money on self-preservation—as in preserving his own body from the ravages of time. I fancy myself a fairly clever writer, but I admit that after reading the Forbes piece, I had to look up “cryotherapy.” Remarkably, it has nothing to do with crying. It means using cold to preserve your body, as in packing yourself in ice periodically. (The advantage, of course, is that in case you do croak, your carcass won’t spoil.)
Straub practices cryotherapy, and also gets regular vitamin transfusions. “Once a week you can sit there and get a transfusion with the nutrients you need,” he told Forbes. “That’s what allows me to go out and play polo like I’m 20 years old.”
Man, if I could play polo like I did when I was 20… I still couldn’t play polo, because I never played polo. But I digress.
I must admit, Straub does look pretty good for a 69-year-old. Well, except that he wears his tie like his buddy Donald Trump, which is to say it’s so long it must drag on the ground like an ape’s knuckles. But again, I digress.
What really intrigues me about Straub is his ambition for the Revel. He plans year-round recreation facilities including a water park, horse jumping (like in polo, as opposed to the old diving horse), an art fair, rope courses, and even a friggin’ ski jump on a fake mountain, for crying out loud!
“We’ll have frozen mountains with ski runs and half pipes and moto cross tracks,” Straub told Forbes. “We’ll also have mud runs where we’ll raise $1 million a day for cancer charities. Girls will get dressed in pink tutus and run around on our race track in the mud.”
Wow. Pink-tutu babes covered in mud, running around. Maybe not the kind of family entertainment envisioned by some for Atlantic City, but hey, I’m there.
He also plans a “life-extension facility” for Revel. “They’ll replace any organ in your body that’s not doing well,” Straub said in the interview. “Your hips, your lungs, your heart.”
Wow again. Do you think they’ll offer organs as player-club giveaways?
“It’s Transplant Tuesday at Revel! Every 10,000 points earns a lung! Kidneys and spleens are 5,000 points each!”
No, Straub takes this stuff seriously. He says he personally plans to live to 105. “After that you shrivel up too much,” he told Forbes.
That’s what I always say: Once you reach 105, it’s all downhill from there. Unless they invent cyborg bodies. Then, Straub would have to transform his life-extension facilities into showrooms for the cyborg bodies, just like that one episode of The Twilight Zone.
And if Straub can bring Atlantic City out of its own Twilight Zone with his grand plans for Revel, more power to him. He says that he and his other billionaire pal, Carl Icahn, are going to make Atlantic City “10 times what it’s now worth.”
Personally, I’m all for it. Just don’t forget the tutu-girl mud race. If that doesn’t bring in the high rollers, nothing will.