Las Vegas invades Hollywood, Florida, as the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino unveils a whopping $1.5 billion resort expansion

By Linda Marx
October 24, 2019 01:24 PM
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Credit: courtesy Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood

An architectural wonder soaring 450 feet into the sky opens this weekend in Hollywood, Florida.

The world’s first Guitar Hotel, an ambitious expansion of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, is designed to resemble back-to-back guitars, complete with guitar faces, illuminated strings, and floor-to-ceiling glass panels dazzling the landscape.

“We created this unique hotel because the guitar is a symbol of music worldwide for any person of any background,” Drew Schlesinger, Vice President of Hotel Operations, and an industry executive noted for opening new properties, tells PEOPLE during an exclusive tour.

It took three years to create the 638-room Guitar Hotel which is part of the $1.5 billion expansion of this flagship casino resort of Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The guitar, designed by Klai Juba Wald Architecture+Interiors of Las Vegas, can be seen for miles, creating excitement and totally changing the landscape by offering guests and locals a visual treat.

Credit: courtesy Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood

“Since the guitar is an iconic symbol for the Hard Rock, we embraced its unique shape and form to create a narrative that begins at ground level,” Craig A. Stoner, Associate Principal of EDSA, a firm that designs outdoor spaces that work in conjunction with nature, tells PEOPLE. “When guests arrive they discover a layered, lush and dynamic resort environment that transforms into an experience that changes around every corner, and allows for events, interaction and ultimately excitement.”

Credit: courtesy Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood

The Guitar Hotel’s lobby was designed by Tony Award-winning architect and designer David Rockwell and his Rockwell Group. Rockwell is both a theatrical and hotel/restaurant designing whiz fascinated with immersive environments and storytelling.

He used natural stone, wood, living walls and waterfalls throughout the space, which combines, retail, restaurants (seven are brand new) and a stunning check-in area. The latter is made of wood and leather and surrounded by sculptural hand-blown glass. There’s also a massive bar within an otherworldly entertainment spectacle called The Oculus.

Rockwell collaborated with WET, a water feature design firm that created the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, to build The Oculus, a sight and sound extravaganza, combining elements of water, fire and technology with waterfalls that change color in a constant series of floor-to-ceiling shows all choreographed to music. (There is an infinity pool in its center.)“When guests arrive via our new grand entrance porte cochère they will be immediately entranced with a synchronized show which changes each hour,” says Schlesinger.

At night, the lights and music work together to create a jaw-dropping experience that should fascinate visitors of all ages. “Nothing in Las Vegas comes close to this—not the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel, or the fountains at Bellagio,” he continues.

Credit: courtesy Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood

Adjacent to the Guitar Hotel is the new seven-story, 168-room Oasis Tower, a suite hotel with eight swim-out terraces featuring large private pools. The 1500-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment-style suites are designed with lots of marble, sexy Japanese soaking tubs, two separate German made Speakman showers, and a large living and dining space.

Guests staying at the Oasis have views of the gigantic guitar and the 13.5-acre pool lagoon, which is accessible by walking over The Spine, a bridge flanked by waterfalls. There awaits an adventure putting many waterparks to shame: A beach-style experience with Florida sand, a tropical lagoon setting with swaying palms, and a large water expanse as long as three football fields for kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and other water sports.

But the most over-the-top water experience is the “Bora Bora” lagoon, a series of 16 over-water cabanas connected by boardwalks that navigate guests to villas that range from 450 to 800 square feet, each equipped with personal plunge pools, luxury bathrooms and butler service.

While touring the hotels and new attractions, there is always something more, something grander to see. In addition to celebrity photos of the late Amy Winehouse and other performers gracing most public area walls, there are constant videos shown at elevator banks of musicians and entertainers like Mick Jagger chatting with Bruce Springsteen.

On the third floor, is the new 42,000-square foot Rock Spa & Salon is a fully immersive music-centric spa utilizing amplified vibrations, pressures and patterns as the foundation of its relaxing treatments. Three spacious couples suites offer three-hour spa sessions with champagne-filled whirlpool baths, exotic fruit and truffles.

Credit: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel Hollywood

For clubbing day or night, there is DAER South Florida, a 44,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor entertainment complex. At night, the club offers a massive venue, 45 VIP gaming tables with blackjack, baccarat and other table games, and an LED centerpiece developed by lighting designer Steve Lieberman of SJ Lighting, who has designed stages for Coachella.

The finishing touch?, the resort is presenting a newer, more modern version of Hard Rock Live, a $125 million, 225,000-square-foot entertainment space with nine VIP suites for private show experiences.

With clamshell-style seating, the furthest seat is only 164 feet away from the stage. The space offers state-of-the art mobile stage technology, fully immersive in-house sound and lighting, and a promise of more than 100 A-list acts each year beginning this weekend with a grand opening show by Maroon 5.

“I live for this,” marvels Schlesinger after seeing the new complex come together. “I open properties for companies but this is unique. I compare it to rock climbing. When I get to the top I feel euphoric. Opening the Guitar Hotel and this expansion gives me the same rush!”

Visit seminolehardrockhollywood.com for more information and reservations.