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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has worked as a writer and editor more than 25 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee.

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Top 10 reasons to love Beau Rivage Resort & Casino

18 Mar 2019

By Gary Trask
Casinos come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, and certain properties will resonate with certain people.

For me, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi has always checked all of my prerequisite boxes for what makes a great casino.

The Beau, as it is fondly called by locals, celebrated the 20th anniversary of its grand opening this past weekend. Below is a detailed breakdown of why this MGM Resorts International gem is right at the top of my list of favorite casinos on the planet.

10. The history
I’ve always found the story behind Beau Rivage to be fascinating.

As we detailed last year when commemorating the 20th anniversary of Bellagio in Las Vegas, Steve Wynn’s original plan was to have Beau Rivage reside on the Las Vegas Strip, in the exact spot where Bellagio now sits. According to the book Winner Takes All by Christina Binkley (a “must-read” for any Vegas history buff), Wynn wanted to build a resort on the Strip that would host windsurfing and waterskiing events, and his plan was to call it Beau Rivage, which means ‘beautiful shore” in French.

But after Wynn and his wife went on a vacation with Paul Anka and his wife to Lake Como in Italy and fell in love with a village called Bellagio, he scrapped his plans for The Beau.

"Ten months' worth of architectural drawings hit the trash can," Bobby Baldwin, one of Wynn’s key executives, is quoted as saying in the book.

While those drawings may have hit the proverbial “trash can,” they weren’t destroyed. The idea behind Beau Rivage was resurrected a few years later when Wynn decided to build on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so it’s no coincidence that Beau Rivage — both on the interior and exterior — has a similar look and feel to Bellagio, right down to the keen scent of fresh flowers that hits you as soon as you enter the extravagant main lobby area.

The Beau originally opened in March 1999 at the cost of $800 million and, at the time, was the largest resort casino in the U.S. outside Nevada. But after the devastating Hurricane Katrina ripped through the area in 2005, a $550 million renovation was completed before a grand re-opening in August 2006.

Today, Beau Rivage remains the tallest building in Mississippi and for two decades has been the largest private sector employer in Biloxi, with more than 3,000 workers.

9. The new sportsbook
Full disclosure: I have not been back to Mississippi since sports betting was legally introduced last year, but have always thought that it had all of the ingredients to become the Las Vegas of the South.

And from all accounts, The Beau has done a nice job of helping feed that fire since opening its Sports Book & Bar in August. Instead of making sports betting an afterthought, MGM went big, building its sportsbook in the space where the former Coast Seafood & Brew was located. It’s a spacious area central to the casino floor and adjacent to the poker room. There is plenty of comfortable seating with leather couches and high top tables, a slew of high-def TVs and some video poker machines. The seven betting windows are located just outside the actual sportsbook, so the entire area is dedicated to watching the games.

Yes, it’s a safe bet that this will be my very first stop the next time I visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

8. MGM Park
Another fairly new addition to The Beau’s offerings is the MGM Park, the home of the appropriately named Biloxi Shuckers, the Double A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The charming ballpark opened in 2015 just across the street from the resort. In fact, many of the guest rooms in the front of the building have spectacular views of the park. It seats a cozy 5,000 people, with room for an additional 1,000 people or so in the standing room sections. The atmosphere is casual, the price is right and the food options, like most everywhere on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, are exceptional.

The park, which has its own MGM-bronzed lion statue at the main entrance, is also utilized for other events, including this past weekend during the 20th anniversary celebration where guests gathered for the fireworks display.

7. The accommodations
Elegant is the first word that comes to mind when you enter any of Beau Rivage’s 1,740 guest rooms and suites. The décor is fashionable with original artwork and the bathrooms feature Spanish and Grecian marble. More importantly, in my mind, are the double pillow-top mattresses and triple sheeting that make the beds super comfortable.

A $10 million suite renovation was completed last year, and we were fortunate enough to give the 400-square-foot Panoramic King Room a test ride. Located on the corners of the resort, the oversized rooms have stunning views of the coast with a 48-inch wall-mounted flat-screen TV, media hub, iHome docking station coffee maker and refrigerator.

6. The poker room
Poker has long been a main attraction at Beau Rivage as the resort has annually hosted some of the bigger tournaments in the region, including the Million Dollar Heater, the Gulf Coast Championship and World Series of Poker circuit events.

About five years ago, the poker room location was moved to a newly designed multi-level, 16-table area that has an ultra-hip feel, with high ceilings, an open floor plan and brick walls covered with graffiti street art.

It's definitely one of the most unique settings you'll ever play poker in, and there's a robust schedule of weekly and monthly tournaments.

5. BR Prime
There's only one thing I like more than gambling, and that's food. Beau Rivage offers numerous optimal dining venues, but if you're looking to splurge, or you get lucky at the tables, I highly recommend BR Prime, the signature steakhouse.

Once again, the experience here screams charm and elegance, with an open kitchen and a floor-to-ceiling glass wine display. Whether you choose the chic bar or the dining room, you can't go wrong with whatever you end up ordering. Just don't limit yourself to the beef. Remember, you're on the Gulf Coast, so some sort of seafood dish or appetizer (did someone say crab legs?) simply has to be included in your game plan.

4. Pool and spa
Las Vegas is the undisputable mecca of gambling, but one of the attributes the Mississippi Gulf Coast can offer that Sin City can't is, well, the Gulf Coast.

The Coastal Region of Mississippi features 62 miles of white sand beaches, and one of the very best spots is the sprawling Beau Rivage pool deck, overlooking the Gulf. In addition to the awesome views and cabanas, there is the Pool Bar & Café with al fresco seating, tropical cocktails and frozen drinks, fruit-infused teas, smoothies, sandwiches and appetizers.

Steps away from the pool deck is the resort's gym that overlooks the water and the 20,000 square-foot Spa and Salon, with 14 massage rooms, four facial rooms and separate vanity areas for men and women that feature steam, sauna and whirlpools. There's also a "relaxation room" where you can order light cuisine, a juice bar and fresh fruit. The bustling casino floor is only a few floors below, but when you're at the pool or sitting in the spa, it might as well be miles away. This is most certainly the place to be if you want to escape from the gambling part of your trip for a few hours.

3. Eight75
Another nongaming spot to hit up at The Beau is Eight75, named after the resort's street address, 875 Beach Boulevard. While it's small in stature, Eight75 is the perfect place to visit for pre- or post-dinner/show/gambling drinks because it's cozy and stylish, and its open seating plan allows you to gaze right out onto the casino floor.

At night there is always free, live music, which is always a great draw. Two of the regular acts that appear — Dian Diaz and Dr. Zhivegas — are personal favorites, and both tend to get the joint jumping to the point where folks in the casino end up standing along the outside wall, watching and dancing to what's going on inside.

2. Fallen Oak
Of all the benefits that come along with a stay at Beau Rivage, gaining exclusive access to one of the country's top golf courses may be the best of all, if you're a golfer. Fallen Oak, located a short, 20-minute limo ride away in Saucier (yes, a limo will take you there), not only ranks among the very best casino golf courses that yours truly has had the pleasure of playing, but it's perennially ranked as the No. 2 casino golf course in the U.S. and in the top 100 overall by Golfweek magazine.

Everything about a round at Fallen Oak screams "luxurious" from the private locker room service, to the outstanding practice area, to the 19th Hole, a sunken down bar that overlooks the 18th hole where you can see the actual fallen oak tree just off the fairway while you sip on the world's greatest Bloody Mary (trust me on this one, it's the best you'll ever have).

Oh, and then there's the golf course. The Tom Fazio design hosts a PGA Champions Tour event each spring and has been consistently lauded by the pro players, caddies and media that come to the event each year. Other than that week, the course is only available to guests of Beau Rivage, so the combination of exclusivity and pristine conditions truly make this a bucket list visit for anyone who has ever stuck a tee in the ground.

1. The location
I've written plenty in the past about my fondness for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, thanks to the embarrassment of riches in the area when it comes to year-round optimal weather, music, casinos, golf courses and authentic food/drink. That pretty much covers all of my vices, so it's really no wonder why I love it down there.

Beau Rivage is definitely the crown jewel of the Gulf Coast in my mind, but it's far from your lone option for a gambling locale. There are dozens of other casinos, such as the Hard Rock Biloxi, which is right next door on the coast, as well as Palace Casino Resort, IP Casino Resort and Spa, Golden Nugget - Biloxi, and the new Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, all of which are a short ride away and bring even more choices for food, gaming and entertainment to the table.

On top of all of that, there really is such a thing such as "southern hospitality," which makes the trip to the Gulf Coast all the more enjoyable for this born-and-bred New Englander.

Hope to see y'all again very soon!
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