Biloxi in Mississippi was badly hit by Hurricane Katrina, and as you drive along the expansive beachfront area of this charming Southern Oasis it is obvious that it will take at least ten years for the area to recover. There are several bright spots however, and the Beau Rivage Hotel is definitely one of them, with the gambling scene down there alive and kicking at the 1740 room hotel, that include 95 suites. The hotel suffered significant storm damage, but the plan to reopen in exactly one year was quickly agreed upon, and $550 million later they were back in business, a source of great relief for the 3,800 employees.
Some of the other new features of the new and improved Beau Rivage include a brand new poker room and high limits area in the 85,000 square foot casino, with 93 table games and 2,100 slot machines. The newly designed lobby incorporating thousands of plants and flowers, and a brand new interior design scheme, incorporating traditional Southern hospitality. All the rooms have been upgraded and feature 32-inch LCD flat screen TVs.
Another major development is the creation of a Tom Fazio designed golf course, Fallen Oak. Located about 20 miles from the hotel, you can only play there if you are a guest of the hotel, and a limousine will transport you directly from the hotel to the first tee, of what must be one of the toughest course in the south. The 7,500 yard course features some cruel bunkers, some very difficult rough, and some of the biggest greens you will ever see, that play incredibly fast. There are almost 1,000 mature oaks, pines and magnolias, 3,500 tons of sand, numerous lakes, marshes, pecan groves, snakes and alligators. The 12,000 square foot clubhouse is built to resemble an Acadian-style Southern mansion, and has a great lunch that includes the homemade sea food based Gumbo.
On a visit down there last week, I experienced Southern Hospitality at its finest, and if you really want to help the local economy down there, a trip to this hotel is a good way to start. Most of the hotel employees who stayed are still living in FEMA trailers, but I found the spirit of these people remarkably uplifting, considering the nightmare they must have been through.
The Beau Rivage is part of the MGM Grand Family, and boasts seven restaurants, several bars and nightclubs, and a 1500 seat theatre, currently hosting a 75 minute show similar to a Russian version of Circle de Soleil. The trapeze artists perform some pretty spectacular feats without a net, and the fast moving show never fails to bring the house down. Other artists scheduled to appear in the near future include Jay Leno, the Beach Boys, Peter Frampton, and past headliners have included Kenny Rogers, Kenny G and Tony Bennett.
While the man of the house is gambling away, the woman can visit the 20,000 square foot spa and salon that has fourteen massage treatment rooms, four facial rooms, two private pedicure rooms and many other facilities. Treatments include Caviar & Pearl Facial, Youthful Recovery Epidermabrasion and Extreme Eyelashes.
The sea air of Biloxi will make you hungry, and top class dining is available at two of the signature restaurants, BR Prime and Olives. BR Prime is a high quality steak and seafood restaurant with an extensive 3,500 bottle wine list, and will nightly feature exclusive Kobe steaks and chops, specialty breaded catfish and much more. Olives is an upscale Italian restaurant created by the Boston based celebrity chef Todd English, and at the open kitchen you can see the squadron of chef’s preparing such goodies as flatbread pizzas, homemade pastas, rotisserie dishes, flame-licked seafood and meats.
Mike HepworthApril 2007