Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, first impressions.

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL is a Seminole-run property that has just opened to great fanfare in south Florida. The massive 400 foot tall Guitar-shaped hotel dominates the Skyline and landscape for miles. This is a 1.5 billion (yes, with a “B”) project, and it shows.

A friend of mine who lives in nearby Boca Raton, FL invited me to her company Christmas party, which coincidentally was being held at the new venue. Now I have always enjoyed perusing the music artifacts at Hard Rock Cafes, so I knew I would want to see what this new monolithic structure had inside! So after some schedule shuffling, I decided to make a road trip out of it. I dusted the fresh snow off the convertible and I was Florida bound!

As I winded my way down I-75 from Tennessee, the weather of course grew warmer. After a few weeks of winter weather at home, top-down driving under the palm trees was a nice change of pace to say the least.

My friend spent a day showing me around, and we soaked in the sun and sights. Plenty of open-air eateries offered delicious fare while people watching. Rocco’s Tacos and The Rebel House are two I recommend!

So the night of the party, we made our way to the enormous hotel complex. The “Guitar” is visible miles away from the interstate, with it’s powerful beams of light forming the “neck”, shooting off into space. As I gingerly wove my way through the parking garage, trying to not make contact with the multitude of cars that cost more than a house, I finally found a spot many floors up. A quick elevator ride later and we crossed into one of the many entrances, complete with Flying-V guitar door handles.

Ok, so the Hotel and Casino itself. Well…it’s MASSIVE. Every ceiling is at least 30 feet high and every hallway is 30 yards wide. Even beyond the casino areas there are seemingly miles of corridors that lead to separate banquet rooms. Each banquet room is the size of a warehouse and the passageways that connect them reminded me of Dorothy and company meekly making their way down the hallway to see the Great Wizard of Oz.

When you first enter the casino, you are greeted by a shopping area, with multiple stores and attractions. An enormous water feature entitled “The Oculus” has choreograpphed music matching video images that are deftly weaving in and out of the water itself. As I watched the water fall to the ground from high overhead it pulsed with the images of Sting and the Police. The performance footage faded in and out of view from the mist itself. Enormous “living walls” of various vines and mosses surround The Oculus in a wide reaching circle.

The Oculus

Now of course I was interested in what musical artifacts were on display. Display cases do indeed pepper the walls throughout. One advantage of this venue over the actual Hard Rock Cafe settings is there aren’t a bunch of knick-knacks in cases ten feet off the ground where you can’t really enjoy them. Every display here is ground or eye-level, and can be viewed from inches away.

Was it all “Hard Rock music” stuff? Come on, you know better than that. The majority was Pop and even R&B paraphernalia. But still interesting, as they were undeniably big name artists who contributed outfits, instruments, etc. People like Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce’, were represented as well as more traditional Rock artists like Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Slash, etc.

I was happy to inspect one of my heroes, Geddy Lee of Rush’s basses up close, and was surprised at seeing a pair of Jimi Hendrix’ stage pants up close. Stats say Hendrix was 5’10” but I’m telling you, going by those pants, the dude was tiny.

The Casino is a convoluted affair. It stretches for seemingly a couple of football fields and winds out in either direction along the way. I can’t even guess how many slot machines, black jack tables, etc. are there. Thousands? Countless little nooks enclose separate bars with various sports and boxing matches on the televisions inside. Don’t forget, this venue also includes Hard Rock Live, which will host not only live concerts but theatrical events.

With a bass used by the one and only Geddy Lee!

So, my companion’s Christmas party was great. The room was enormous, the food and service were fantastic. No, it wasn’t Hard Rock Cafe burgers and fries! A good time was had by all. If you are into the casino scene, this will be a must-visit. It will also be a great destination trip to see live concerts. I was not able to stay in a room at the hotel itself, because I didn’t have an extra mortgage payment laying around. I have no doubt it is an opulent experience. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has pulled out all the stops, and the results are impressive. Be sure to check out the photos below !

Tom Pederson of Cheap Trick’s Bass
I almost knocked this over.
Casino area
Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
Michael Jackson stage outfit
Hallway to Banquet Rooms
Jimi Hendrix had a waist smaller than my neck?
Pink McClaren anyone?
Lady GaGa

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