If a casino’s goal is to keep the visitor betting through hunger, thirst and exhaustion, then why did Dover Downs Hotel & Casino set me up in a room with a jacuzzi as captivating as a vat of fizz?
Perhaps, I questioned as I ran the water, the Delaware property was making an attempt to relax me, so easing the pain of future losses in the casino. Perhaps, I thought as I tossed in a touch of scented bath salts, the hotel was teasing me with the good life, so that I’d place high bets to attempt to sustain this level of luxury. But what if, I mulled as I sank into the warm churning waters, they were just being seriously, really good, booking me into this undeserved suite? Aah yes, I concluded with a soft splash, Dover Downs is lovely.
I’m really not a rube when it comes to hotel-casinos. I have done my time in Atlantic Town, Las Vegas and Albuquerque. But Dover Downs is amazingly different. For one, it is not garish no flashing neon, bombastic sound system or hyper-patterned carpeting that will trigger an eye twitch. The lobby is, dare I say, tasteful, with sky-bound white columns, marble floors and a luxuriant floral centerpiece. The hotel is attached to the casino by open passageways (can’t have players bungling with door handles), but there is enough of a buffer to maintain a separation of slots and sleep.
In the Dover Downs timeline, the harness racing and NASCAR track came 1st (1967-69), followed by the slots (1995) and then eventually the lodging (2002). Though the hotel was the last to join the party, it is not lagging behind the other operations. It has grown from 232 rooms to 5 hundred rooms, nabbing the title as the state’s largest hotel.
At the front desk, I kindly requested a room with a view of the track, which was suspended during my July stay but active with harness racing from late October to mid-April. With a go-
Ahead-and-accept-it grin, the worker passed me the key card to a Jacuzzi suite, one of 14 on the tenth floor. Not wanting to ruin the illusion that I used to be a big player, I kept my history as a penny-slot shark to myself.
The elephantine suite living space with freestanding kitchenette, bedroom, two loos could have swallowed my Washington studio plus half my neighbor’s place. The classy decor (desert colours, framed images of flora, mirrors aplenty) deferred to the floor-to-ceiling windows, which let in the muted lights of the track and the dusky night sky.
While I was playing dolphin in my Jacuzzi, temptation called from other parts of the hotel-casino complex. I considered drying off to try one or all of the above : the spa ; the gym with punch bag, pool and hot tub ; the bars and lounges ; and / or the trattorias, including Michele’s, a fine-dining multinational on the second floor. As an alternative I threw in another small spoon of bath crystals. Ultimately, though, my resistance eroded. Or maybe I was simply starting to feel damp.
As part of my reservation, I’d received $25 in free slot play. In transit to the Capital Club Members desk to gather my card, I detoured to the free soda machine (nice touch) and the winners’ board (nice display of false hope). Sure, I would really like to win $4.8 million like Bert D. Of Fairfax, but I’d also settle for a few bucks to buy a sticky bun at Sweet Advantages.
I won $4.91 on She is a Rich Girl, enough for a treat and a coffee, and lost the rest on slot machines featuring lovable animals. (Never trust an enigmatic wolf.) Returning to my suite, my pockets empty, I recognised the true windfall of the night : my Jacuzzi, which would never let me know “Game over”, writes tagza.com.