It’s about a two-hour drive from Nassau County to Monticello, New York, in the heart of the former Borscht Belt — one that takes you along progressively smaller roads until you wend past pine trees and stone walls to New York’s newest upstate casino, Resorts World Catskills.
From the outside, the 18-story resort cuts an austere profile, a mirrored tower jutting above the surrounding woods. Past the busy valet stand and through the atrium entrance, however, is a volley of sound and light. A 100,000-square-foot gaming floor jangles with thousands of slot machines. Unlike many casinos, where natural light is blocked so that gamers lose track of time, here high windows illuminate the casino floor, a refreshing touch.
Resorts World Catskills has received a lot of buzz both before and after cutting the ribbon on Feb. 8. More than three years and $1.2 billion in the making, the sprawling resort and casino will, when complete, have 332 suites, nearly a dozen places to eat, and — later in 2018 — another adjacent boutique hotel and “entertainment complex” with retail shops and a few more restaurants. Eventually, an indoor water park called The Kartrite will open, as will an 18-hole Rees Jones-designed golf course.
These are ambitious plans reminiscent of the grandeur of the hotel that once occupied this site — a Borscht-Belt resort called the Concord. They will also take time to enact. For now, though, you might hold off a visit until late spring or summer, when more of the resort’s amenities become available.
Their turndown service, though, is impeccable. Only about one third of the resort’s 332 suites were open in late February (weekend rates start at $299 per night). The rooms were plush and spacious, cast in cool tones with velvet armchairs, a huge desk, an enormous flat-screen television, comfy platform bed and plenty of tea and small candies. The marble bathrooms are large enough to do yoga in, with separate nooks for shower and toilet. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in lots of light — but may look out on a muddy construction site, reminding you of the general state of things.
As we check out in the morning, costumed dragons are taking their place outside the main entrance — the stirrings of a Lunar New Year parade. Soon, a volley of firecrackers explode and propel the dancing dragons (each manned by two dancers) into the casino and through the maze of slot machines, where they occasionally stop to shimmy and shake. We follow the crowd, cellphones aloft, and easily lose our sense of time and direction amid the maze of blinking slot machines.
Isn’t that why most people come, anyway?
IF YOU GO
Resorts World Catskills
888 Resorts World Dr., Monticello, New York
The resort is a 2- to 2.5-hour drive from Nassau County and 3 to 3.5 hours from Suffolk.
All of Resort World Casino’s rooms are suites, the smallest around 600 square feet. Rates start at $299 on the weekend and can go as low as $139 during the week. Penthouse suites and two-story villas will eventually be available, at higher rates. Parking is valet (free for guests) or in both outdoor and underground lots.
The 100,000 square-foot gaming floor has about 2,000 slot machines and 150 table games, including poker and blackjack, with private, high-stakes gaming salons opening soon.
As of early March, the resort had four food options: Two food courts, a sports bar and fine-dining Chinese restaurant, Lotus. A casual eatery called 24/7 Diner and a high-end Italian restaurant and steakhouse will open this spring.
INFO 833-586-9358 rwcatskills.com