By Jerry Whittaker
Everyone knows about the Atlantis Casino in the Bahamas, but there is another casino that gets little attention; the Crystal Palace Casino. The Crystal Palace Casino is located in the Wyndham Nassau Resort and is 30,000 square feet and boasts of 400 slots and 25 “liberal” table games.
Like most resorts in the Caribbean, the Wyndham resort is on a beautiful beach overlooking the clear, turquoise water of the Bahamas. I travelled to the Resort with my girlfriend for a five day trip; so I think my experience was indicative of the kind of experience any visitor would have staying and gambling at this Resort.
Review of the Hotel
We stayed in the “C Tower” of the Wyndham which is the tower for casino gamblers. Instead of being an upscale, premier tower for active gamblers like myself, it was actually I think the oldest (if not it sure looked it) and the most run down tower at the Wyndham. The first room we were given was so hot and the air conditioning so poor there was little hope for a comfortable nights sleep. To make matters worse, the heat seemed to magnify any errant smells in the room, which there were many. We went back down to the front desk and asked for another room. I do have to say the young woman at the front desk was very apologetic and provided us another room without issue. In the new room there were no smells but the room was still uncomfortably warm. After staying at hundreds of hotels in my lifetime, I know this battle for a cool room was a losing cause because the cooling system was too old and/or under engineered for room. But what the hell, I still called the front desk and they were going to send someone straight up to fix the problem. Needless to say the “fix” did not repair the problem and our stay was much warmer than we would have liked.
Review of the Beach Facilities
I am really a “beach guy” so a nice beach is very important for me when I travel. The Wyndham Resort shares a beach with its sister hotel, the Sheraton. Guests of the Wyndham are free to use the beach facilities of the Sheraton and vice versa. It did not take us very long to realize the short walk to the Sheraton’s beach was well worth it. The Sheraton’s beach was quieter, the beach chairs better (and newer) and the other guests, with the risk of being labelled a snob, of a higher caliber.
I think the real difference is Wyndham guests were younger and were more interested in partying. The guests at the Sheraton were either families or couples just wanting a little quiet getaway. Unfortunately with a small beach and even moving to the Sheraton’s beach, we could every song the DJ was playing and every announcement he was making. Not my most restful beach experience for sure.
Review of Crystal Palace Casino
In general, I enjoy gambling in smaller, boutique casinos and have always wanted to try the Crystal Palace Casino. On these sort of getaways, I always enjoy a day on the beach, having a nice dinner and then gambling for the next four to six hours.
I have been gambling for over 30 years so I can generally walk into a Casino and get the feel of it very quickly. My first impression was not good. There was absolutely no positive energy in this casino. First of all, I was shocked at how the Casino was so quiet, especially for a Friday night. Normally you have slot machines dinging and players screaming either for joy or sadness. This was very strange.
Well I was ready to play and see what was going on first hand. I sat at the 3 Card Poker table and was ready to have some fun. I think the negative energy of the casino was contagious. The dealer definitely had an attitude and was not interacting in anyway with any of the players. I do not expect the dealer to be telling jokes or juggling, but I do expect them to be friendly and professional. He was neither. The other players at the table looked like they were shell shocked. Totally blank faces just going through the motions of gambling. They looked like they just expected to lose; they were not disappointed. The people bringing drinks were at least somewhat friendly. I guess they had to friendly to earn tips because this casino charged for their drinks. I know there are a lot of other casinos that charge for alcoholic drinks, primarily because of local liquor laws but come on, this is the Bahamas. I was betting $50-$150 per hand and I have to pay for my drinks? Not very good for a positive gambling experience. I also played Texas Hold’em, Craps and Baccarat. All the same experience as I had at the 3 Card Poker table. I know casinos can have off nights so I did give Crystal Palace Casino two more opportunities and had the exact same experience those two evenings.
I noticed for a Friday night the table games were barely active; noting at one point there were no players at the Craps table at 10:00 pm of a Friday night. Unheard of! It finally dawned on me what the issue was with the lack of play. In their arrogance, Crystal Palace Casino had raised the minimum bets on all of the table games far outside of the comfort zone for 90% of their customers. Most table games minimums were $25, including craps. So with a $25 minumum, some games like 3 Card Poker, Let it Ride and Craps, players are risking $50 to $75 with any sort of normal play. Based upon what I saw at the beach, most of this resorts guests were young adults, families and couples seeking a quiet refuge. Crystal Palace Casino has done a great job of creating a casino atmosphere that discourages their potentail customers from playing and enjoying themselves.
If Crystal Palace Casino lowered their table game minimums to $10 and their Craps minimum to $5 they would create a casino in which their customers could afford to play and the casino would feel energized.
Could all of the gambling on the Bahamas be this bad? Well I had to see what was going on at the Atlantis Casino so we took a 25 minute cab ride to see firsthand. I have to say this cab ride did get my heart beating a little faster – he must have trained in New York City. When we arrived at the Atlantis Casino, it was as good as the Crystal Palace Casino was bad. This Casino had the positive energy of any Las Vegas casino and was extremely busy even for a Sunday night. They had a terrific array of table games with much more affordable minimums.
If I were going to the Bahamas again, I would definitely avoid the Crystal Palace Casino and spend my time playing at the Atlantis Casino.