Coastal Mississippi promotes itself as “The Secret Coast.” Our first foray into the area was a standout experience jam-packed with Biloxi activities with the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, a AAA Four-Diamond property, serving as our stylish home base.
Getting to this gulf-side getaway was easy. The resort’s air charter program offers 684 flights from 90 cities. Each year, charters carry 85,000 passengers to the property’s 1,740 guest rooms and suites (and massive casino) .
While the casino is a big draw, we found much more to do than gaming at this beachfront locale.
The Beau Rivage Resort, named among the South’s Best Resorts by Southern Living magazine, is part of the MGM Resorts International family. Other members include Vegas’s Bellagio, Vdara, Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand Hotel.
Our spacious, 21st-floor room overlooked an expansive pool that extended out over the Mississippi Sound from the resort’s second-floor deck. Our view of a seemingly endless flotilla of cargo ships, barges, sports watercraft and fishing vessels was captivating. The pool’s rental cabanas, Romanesque décor and tropical landscaping create an oasis that pulses with warm-weather fun.
Gambling, shows, massages and more
The big deal here is the 85,000-square-foot casino, a huge drawing card (pun intended). It includes Mississippi’s first sportsbook, opened in 2018 as the state’s first foray into legalized sports betting. That was followed in summer 2019 with the TAP Book, Bar and Bistreaux, including more than 100 televisions and a massive video wall promoting high-energy sports entertainment and dining. There are also a 16-table poker room, high-limit salon and non-smoking area.
The resort routinely books notable live entertainment in its 1,800-seat Beau Rivage Theatre. Expect shows featuring performers like Chris Tucker, Tony Bennett and American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery.
Among the nine dining options are the elegant, high-end steakhouse BR Prime; Pan-Asian restaurant, Jia; and classic Italian, Stalla. The resort’s high-quality Sunday champagne brunch buffet offers more than 200 hot and cold specialties and tantalizing desserts. It’s here where we were introduced to massive, fresh Biloxi shrimp.
Filling your plate may feel decadent—well, actually it is—but you’re on vacation.
“Southern charm” is the philosophy behind the Beau Rivage Spa, where we followed our outstanding couple’s massage with a lunch in the Solarium sanctuary. To work off that buffet, there’s a nicely-equipped service gym accessible only through the spa.
While in town
The Biloxi Visitors Center, located across the street from the bayfront Biloxi Lighthouse, is the perfect starting point for discovering the area. Multi-media exhibits are worth viewing. For us, the real discovery was watching Katrina and Biloxi. This documentary detailed how much devastation 2005’s Hurricane Katrina left behind. At its highest point, water from Katrina rose nearly 18 feet.
Our tour guide, Carla Taconi, told the story with heart as guests hopped aboard her Biloxi Historic Tour Train. Throughout the tour, she called them her “darlings” and “dearests,” so riders easily slid into the relaxed, coastal vibe of a long-time local who loves her job. Along city streets–including the improved downtown commercial district on Vieux Marche (“old market”) and Howard Avenue–Tarconi smiled, waved, tooted the horn at her pals and introduced them by name.
Her tour ended on a solemn note at the artful Katrina Memorial, dedicated to those who perished in the storm, on the Biloxi Town Green. A mosaic wave wall sculpture leads to an enclosed glass case displaying retrieved personal belongings. Inscribed in black stone are the names of 170 storm victims’ names along with names of those missing.
Don’t miss climbing the 57 steps ascending the iconic 1848 Biloxi Lighthouse tower. It survived the Civil War and more than 20 hurricanes.
Another must, in season, is the beautiful MGM baseball stadium across the street from the hotel/casino complex. It’s home to the AA Biloxi Shuckers, a farm team of the Milwaukee Brewers. The park makes it easy to experience how popular minor-league baseball has become.
Feasting and fishing
The most historic spot for lunch is Mary Mahoney’s Old French House, dating to the original 18th-century home site of a French colonist. Family run for three generations, the restaurant specializes in locally-sourced seafood. You can bet you’ll find some of the renowned Biloxi shrimp on the menu as well as oysters and crawfish étouffée.
Learning firsthand about the crustaceans is the subject of a 70-minute, family-friendly excursion with Biloxi Shrimping Trip, departing from the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. Fishing enthusiasts also can book a day trip.
Another spot to delve deeper into the area waters’ stories is at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum. It’s Grand Hall features the Nydia, a 118-year-old Johnson boat, the last of its kind and a grand example of skillful Biloxi boat-building.
There is a “fallen oak” to spot when playing that namesake course during a visit to Beau Rivage. In 2019, Golfweek magazine named the Tom Fazio-designed Fallen Oak course No. 2 on its Best Casino Course list and No. 20 on its list of Top 200 Resort Courses, the latest of its 30 national honors.
The par-72 course, 15 minutes from the resort, sits at the edge of the DeSoto National Forest. It stretches 7,497 yards from the back tees. Each hole winds through ever-changing terrain with dramatic elevation. Amid Fallen Oak’s 510 acres are more than 4,000 oaks and other hardwood trees, ponds, streams and wetlands.
During our course tour, we were impressed that golf carts featured a video screen with hole-by-hole digital display that tracks players’ progress in real-time.
Golf enthusiasts can also check out the new Topgolf Swing Suite along Beau Rivage resort’s retail promenade. The suite/lounge has three simulator bays that accommodate up to eight people each. And the Black Clover Lounge has 10 high-def TVs to follow along any sports action. There are also interactive games, chef-inspired dishes and signature cocktails served at a full-service bar.
Fallen Oak’s 12,000-square-foot clubhouse resembles an Acadian-style Southern mansion with a restaurant offering a panoramic view of the 18th hole. Food was delicious and abundant, while staff here and at the 1,000-square-foot pro shop took Southern hospitality to a higher level.
The entire Beau Rivage Resort experience made it easy to spill the beans about Mississippi’s “Secret Coast.”
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- Ease of planning, thanks to three- or four-night packages that include charter round trip airfare, deluxe accommodations, ground transportation and $50 for casino play.
- With the casino, shows, beaches, water sports, nearby golf and minor-league baseball, there is a wide variety of activities for multi-generational travelers and couples.
- The 12 dining venues and quality of food, including fresh seafood, offer many choices.
- The stylish spa and massive, tropical pool area are welcoming and relaxing.
- The Tom Fazio-designed Fallen Oak golf course is available exclusively to Beau Rivage guests.
- The resort is located close to the center of Biloxi, which has a rich history that dates back centuries.
- The entire resort is smoke-free except for portions of the casino floor. While dining venues are smoke-free, some are reached via the casino floor, where smoking is permitted.
- The resort is dog-friendly, which may please some but not others.
- While the warmer climate is a drawing card, humidity can be high.
IF YOU GO
- The resort’s charter air/land packages are available in these 24 states plus the District of Columbia: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Disclosure: The authors’ stay was hosted by Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.