Ex-Tropicana Casino owners hope to win in Atlantic City

The Baltimore Sun

The former owners of the Tropicana Casino and Resort in New Jersey say they are working to transform the Tropicana brand into a low-cost, high service entertainment option in an effort to win back recession-weary customers - and the Atlantic City casino they lost control of in 2007.

The company hired a Seattle branding expert to help with the program, which will focus heavily on trying to win back customers, a spokesperson said.

The Tropicana has been operating under state supervision since its former owners were stripped of their casino license in December 2007.

Subsidiaries of Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex Corp. slashed nearly 1,000 jobs soon after buying the casino-hotel in January 2007. That soon led to problems. Guests complained of filthy hotel rooms, overflowing toilets, bedbugs, roaches and dust. Some slot machine winners also had to endure long waits for jackpot payouts.

Tropicana Entertainment has new management and is trying to convince regulators they are once again capable of holding an Atlantic City casino license. The Tropicana is scheduled to be sold soon at a bankruptcy court auction but the sale process has hit repeated snags.

Tropicana hired Hornall Anderson of Seattle, which has done branding campaigns for Madison Square Garden, Seattle's Space Needle, and large corporations.

LINCOLN EXHIBIT: With Malice Toward None: the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition opened last week at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, which runs through May 9, chartsLincoln's growth from prairie lawyer to president and addresses the issues of his time. Among the artifacts on display are the grammar book studied by Lincoln and the notes he prepared in advance of his debates with Stephen Douglas.

VIRGINIA FREEBIES: Starting Feb. 20, Virginia tourism officials are giving away 40 trips in 40 weeks to mark the 40th anniversary of the state's "Virginia is for Lovers" marketing campaign. Featured packages include "Eastern Shore Ecothusiast," "Presidential Pride at the Boar's Head Inn," "Rock Climbing in the Shenandoah Valley" and "Founding Fathers and Founding Farmers." Visitors can enter the sweepstakes at virginia.org/40.

GRAND CANYON VISITOR CENTER: A century-old gift shop at the popular South Rim of the Grand Canyon has been converted into a visitor center that incorporates the building's history. The family-owned Verkamp's Curios gift shop closed in September after operating at the Grand Canyon since 1906. Now the Verkamp's Visitor Center has displays that explain what it's like to live at the Grand Canyon and the Verkamp family history.

Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Steve Martin says the Verkamp family has helped make the park what it is today - a world-renowned natural wonder that attracts millions of tourists every year. The Grand Canyon celebrates its 90th year as a national park Feb. 26.

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SWISS AIR'S FIRST CLASS: Swiss International Air Lines is introducing a new first-class cabin that focuses on the new Swiss First seat, which can be reclined into a totally flat bed that is 6 feet 6 inches long and comes with a down-filled duvet and generous work surface and storage facilities.

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