The Chelsea Hotel is kicking off summer with a revamped food, beverage and nightclub program thanks to a new partnership with Bezzone Hospitality, a Morristown-based company that will transform the entire boutique hotel’s 5th floor experience.
Joseph Bezzone, president and CEO of the nightlife and hospitality group, says this weekend will mark the beginning of a transformation of its 5th floor into a European drive day and night weekend “soiree” where guests and locals will enjoy exclusive programming tailored to fit their needs.
The 5th floor, which once had multiple concepts ranging from its steakhouse Chelsea Prime to its nightclub titled C5, will all be simply called “the Chelsea” and features new furniture, new layouts, refurbished cabanas by the pool, new amenities, new menus and much more offering everything from a cozy dinner for two to an unforgettable girls night out.
All summer, the Chelsea will be open Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon, ebracing the Nikki Beach and St. Barth’s outdoor experience that includes talented DJs, private cabanas, bottle service and a heated pool.
“Ultimately, Atlantic City, in an illogical way, is spending more money than ever on talent, restaurateurs and tourism but has never been thought of more poorly by the general public,” Bezzon says. “The reason is everyone is going after the same philosophy — the four-hour, prime-time, reality show-based, faux-Vegas model. They say, ‘We’re on the ocean and we have better demographics than anyone in the country, probably in the world, and we can’t make it work. Why?’ And I think it doesn’t work is that there is not a true program based on targeted demographics. And that’s what we’re going to do. We are forgoing the traditional, reality-TV model to provide something sophisticated and cosmopolitan and direct message it to whom it applies.”
That means the Chelsea will target specific, “wealthy” zip and area codes, starting in the Philadelphia and New York areas, that feature the clientele Bezzone says will create a unique scene that can’t be found anywhere else in Atlantic City.
“The difference between us and New York is New York tells you that you are cosmopolitan,” Bezzone says. “We won’t tell you if you are. But if you think you are, you are welcome and we will custom tailor the experience to you. And we love locals because they love us because we are different. But we needed to refresh. The ‘Jersey Shore’ fist pump where you’re paying $200,000 for a DJ means you better get as many in the door as possible. We are more St. Barth’s than the Jersey shore. And we have really good DJs we pay very little money to. So without that tremendous overhead, we can provide value.”
That means lower bottle-service prices than many clubs, “heartier drinks” with “healthier pours” and an overall philosophy not to “gouge people.” Bezzone also said the club will not be an elbow-to-elbow experience and filled over capacity.
In addition to the club, the former Chelsea Prime space will retain its black-and-white color scheme but receive lounge furniture on the bottom level to transform the space to a more casual experience. The menu will follow suit, offering entrees prices that start in the teens and are mostly in the $20s.
“It’s way different than anything anyone else is doing,” Bezzone says. “It will be regional farm to table but it won’t be stuck in a rut and labeled Italian or continental or Asian. We will have Korean tacos next to spicy scallops over rice cake because we are not going to be bogged down. We don’t have incredible humps to get over like the casinos. We don’t have Revel’s obligations. We want to bring that former Stephen Starr, ultra formal, $85 per person restaurant to a a price point closer to $55. It will have small plates meant for sharing.”
The former lobby space between the restaurant and club will become more of a VIP lounge, particularly late at night. And the billiards table has been moved downstairs and the indoor club areas may feature occasional live music.
This isn’t the first major overhaul for Bezzone. He created new concepts for three other major hotels, including Bokx 109 in Massachusetts near Boston College, the Ames Hotel in Boston, and the Andaz, a Hyatt brand on Wall Street in New York City.
“It’s about brand refreshing, a complete rehab of the menu, training staff properly and doing an online and traditional marketing blitz,” Bezzone says. “We expect an unbelievable summer.”
The new club scene will debut this weekend except the restaurant, which is expected to launch May 31.