A summer trip to Maine is a great vacation idea, whether it includes the inner most camping, hiking, and lakes, or the long coastline. But my agenda was different – (cue “Star Trek” music please) – to boldly go where I hadn’t gone before. Yes it was time to visit Maine’s two casinos.
First, may I preface this by saying I had just returned two weeks before from Las Vegas – staying at three beautiful and large hotel resorts – The Cosmopolitan, Red Rock Resort, and M Resort, which is owned by the same company that owns the Hollywood Casino, Hotel and Raceway in Bangor, namely Penn National. And living near Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun, and visiting Borgata in AC – well, let’s just say I visit large casinos.
Now it’s time to change perspective, from size to quality. First stop – HOLLYWOOD.
HOTEL – My first impression during check-in for our hotel room. The staff was knowledgeable and absolutely interested in giving you their attention. Friendly, warm and welcoming. The kind of start to a vacation everyone looks for. Parking is free – there is no valet service. Hotel amenities include WiFi that works well throughout the facility, exercise room, safes and complimentary newspapers. The addition of coffee/tea makers in the room is great – something that is not necessarily a given in many casino hotels. Rooms are bright, quiet, very clean and comfortable. I would stay there again in a heartbeat.
CASINO – Ok, it’s small. I walked the perimeter in 5 minutes. (Consider it the size of Main St
Station or Golden Gate in Las Vegas, or one floor at Newport Grand in RI.) It has table games, but very few. Video Poker, Craps, Roulette, Blackjack (3 tables), Three Card Poker, and Texas Hold ‘Em Bonus. Minimums were about $10 and up on BJ, everything else $5.
They have just under 1000 slots, including many of the new favorites – Michael Jackson, More Hearts, etc. In using the minimal space there is, the casino floor is spaced out enough that I never felt claustrophobic. Definitely a good ambiance to the gambling space.
However, their video poker is pitiful. Quarter players are stuck with 7/5 JOB and 6/5 Bonus, and 7/5 DDB. And the pay tables don’t improve for $1 players. If there is legislation that requires these poor pay tables, I’d love to know about it. Otherwise, there is no excuse! And the High Limit Area has no VP at all.
Rewards club told to me that on average (with slots), $600 in = 1 point, 1 point = $1.
DINING – 2 options. the Buffet and the Take 2 Snack Bar. While the snack bar seemed to have a good menu, especially for breakfast, we decided to try the Buffet. Unfortunately for them, I have eaten at many of the best at many casinos from Vegas, Biloxi, Atlantic City, New England, etc…. So, here goes
BUFFET – the Good: 1) the price. Brunch was around $12. 2) Staff service, friendliness, and a pleasant space. 3) Food – make-your-own-hamberger bar was a nice touch, shrimp were perfectly prepared for pickin’ and eatin’, and the carrot cake and brownie pudding were the highlights of the dessert bar, although the cheesecake and pie (yes I love my desserts) were equally as good.
BUFFET – the Disappointing: 1) The entrees were rather “blah.” The salad bar looked tired and unkempt, and the Asian selections were not he quality you’d expect – except the pot stickers, which were tasty. 2) It wasn’t a large spread. Maybe including breakfast items limited the dinner options. If that’s the case, the dinner options should be a better quality.
ENTERTAINMENT – A good size stage overlooks the casino. Live entertainment takes center stage every Friday & Saturday night at The Sound Stage Lounge, featuring the best in local and regional music in a uniquely-intimate venue. On Sunday nights, Karaoke is King! While I was playing in the casino, I was impressed with some terrific local talent. Very entertaining.
CASINO SERVICE – It was also interesting to me how much of a locals casino it was. As well as catering to mugs like me visiting from afar, and also entertaining Canadian tourists a few hours away, Hollywood Casino really seems to take care of it’s regular patrons, with many slot attendants were on a first name basis with the clientele. I heard one slot attendant tell one gentleman that his wife was on the other side of the casino, like longtime buddies.
BANGOR – The City of Bangor seemed alive with a Jimmy Buffet tribute band playing in the park next to the casino. It seemed alive, and full of specials with Maine lobster and beer. We ate and drank at the Sea Dog Brewing Co. and had a great time. But the best part of this place is the beer! We like our beer here in Bin household – quality, not quantity! Their seasonal ale had hints of subtle grape and was very refreshing with my grilled Crab & Havarti sandwich. In the picture above from our hotel window, it was a stone’s throw away before the bridge – highly recommended!
All and all a pleasant casino with a great hotel. I would visit again next summer, and I suggest you do the same!
That’s all for now.