Hard Rock is not going for subtle with this one.
To the sounds of a drum solo by Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Hard Rock International on Wednesday unveiled the progress of their biggest bet yet: A colossal guitar-shaped hotel 10 years in the making.
At Wednesday’s “guitar smashing ceremony,” leaders banged acoustic guitars against electric guitars, sparklers shot up from the ground and a guitar solo raged overhead at the construction site of the new 638-room hotel, which, so far, is only a few stories high. The ceremony was one big sigh of relief for Hard Rock, which for years has been trying to realize its vision of a guitar-shaped hotel — contingent upon an agreement with the state of Florida.
That deal with Gov. Rick Scott, which granted the tribe a statewide monopoly on banked card games including blackjack at its casinos until 2030, was finalized in July after an original deal expired in 2015. The hotel, designed to resemble two back-to-back guitar faces and 450 feet high at completion, has long been touted as an economic reward to the state for reaching an agreement with the Seminoles and Hard Rock International. (The new hotel, and the $1.5 billion expansion plan it’s a part of, are expected to bring about 2,909 ongoing jobs and 9,936 construction jobs to South Florida.)
THERE IS TRULY, WITH ZERO EXAGGERATION, NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD. James Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and chairman of Hard Rock International
Now, with the political and legal battle — the tribe sued the state when the original agreement expired — behind it, Hard Rock has gone ahead with the planned an expansion of its flagship property in Hollywood. The project includes a larger casino, new show venue and of course, the star attraction: its new hotel.
The new Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood complex is set to debut in summer 2019.
The new Hard Rock
James Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and chairman of Hard Rock International, said he’s had the idea for a guitar-shaped hotel since 2007.
But not even the architects on the project could see the vision at first. Their initial design paired a rectangular hotel with a glass front in the shape of a guitar.
“I said, ‘We are talking about a building that is actually shaped like a guitar,’ ” Allen told the crowd at the preview event Wednesday. “This is another time in my life when people thought I was certifiably crazy.”
THE NEW HOTEL WILL BEING THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ROOMS AT SEMINOLE HARD ROCK HOLLYWOOD TO 1,270.
Now, Allen believes his vision is going to pay off for Hard Rock. The new hotel will feature blue glass windows, several restaurants and lounges, and a 41,000-square foot spa. The addition will being the total number of rooms at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood to 1,270.
“We think the architectural design in itself creates an amazing attraction,” Allen said in an interview. “There is truly, with zero exaggeration, nothing like it in the world.”
Apart from the hotel building itself, the other main feature on the property will be a 10-acre, lagoon-style pool. At the center of the pool complex will be the “Bora Bora Experience:” private villas surrounded by water and waterfalls, with private plunge pool access and butler service. The complex will include beach club dining and water sport activities, including canoes and paddle boards.
The 5,500-seat Hard Rock Live arena on the property will also get a major facelift: it will be completely demolished and replaced with a 7,000-seat theater-style venue housing its own television studio and broadcast center capable of hosting awards shows and other events. The original building will be demolished in March 2018, and a temporary performance hall at the northwest corner of the Seminole Hard Rock site will house events until the new venue is built.
“I think it’s important to look at five, 10, 15 years from now,” Allen said. “We wanted to build something that is not just a casino but we wanted to build an entertainment destination. If we look at the TV ratings of “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol,” or any of these shows, the numbers are off the charts. So it’s important for us to make sure that we have those type of facilities that if we choose, and obviously if they select us, that we could do those type of productions here.”
Not to be left behind, Hard Rock’s main money maker, the casino, will double in size with more than 3,260 slot machines and 178 table games — including blackjack and baccarat. The expansion will add 60,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space.
WE WANTED TO BUILD SOMETHING THAT IS NOT JUST A CASINO BUT WE WANTED TO BUILD AN ENTERTAINMENT DESTINATION. James Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and chairman of Hard Rock International
Allen added that he hopes the new facilities will help the brand expand its marketing efforts to draw visitors from across the globe.
Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. called the new hotel a continuation of the tribe’s pioneering legacy. The Seminoles’ legal battle on its bingo halls led to the Indian Regulatory Act in 1988 that granted all U.S. tribes the sovereignty to create casinos on their reservations. The arrangement required that they signed compacts with their state governments to disperse some of those casino revenue back to the state — the source of Florida’s agreement with the tribe. The Seminoles licensed the rights to call its hotel-casinos in Hollywood and Tampa Hard Rock in 2004, and then bought the company in 2006 for $965 million. The brand is now in 75 countries around the world.
“We did something no tribe had done before and we went international,” Osceola said. “What we are about to do in the next two years is another amazing feat.”
Mitchell Cypress, vice president of the Seminole Tribe, does have just one regret with the new property though, regarding the loss of a restaurant with a certain reputation.
“The only thing I’m going to miss is Hooters — the wings!” he corrected. “Everything other than that, I think we have accomplished a lot.”