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October will mark new era at Hard Rock in Hollywood, Tampa

HOLLYWOOD — Anticipation and excitement has been in the air for months as Tribal members and the general public watched the massive guitar-shaped Hard Rock hotel rise 450 feet into the sky in Hollywood.

Workers are now putting the finishing touches on its façade and interior.

The hotel’s unique guitar shape is the first of its kind for the Hard Rock brand (although it won’t be the last). It’s perhaps fitting that is was birthed in Hollywood, home to the Seminole Tribe’s headquarters and its Hollywood Reservation, where so much Tribal history has taken place.

The sizzle enters a second phase now – the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood will hold a grand opening Oct. 24 to show off all its expansion efforts.

“The guitar tower will attract casino players and other visitors from throughout the country and around the world,” Hard Rock International chairman and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen said in a statement. “It will put South Florida on the map as a world-class gaming destination and it will have a huge economic impact on Florida. The gaming industry will never be the same.”

Allen estimates the draw, bolstered by national and international marketing efforts, will bring hundreds of thousands of new visitors to Florida.

While Hard Rock International has properties across the globe, the Hollywood and Tampa integrated resorts represent the Tribe’s flagship locations.

Hollywood has gone through a $1.5 billion expansion at its site located at 1 Seminole Way. Tampa’s expansion adds another $700 million, for a total $2.2 billion investment by the Tribe.

The Seminole Tribe is the parent company of Hard Rock International.

This bird’s eye view rendering shows the new areas of the Hollywood expansion. (Photo Hard Rock)

No boxy hotel here

The new Hollywood hotel was designed to resemble back-to-back guitars, with six illuminated guitar strings on each side. It holds 638 “luxury, oversized” guestrooms and suites.

There is also a new seven-story guestroom tower along the south side of a new pool complex. It has 168 guestrooms and “swim-up suites” that invite guests to step directly out of their rooms and into the surrounding pool.

When added to the existing 465 guestrooms and suites already on the Hollywood site, the property will offer 1,271 guestrooms and suites, one of the highest hotel room totals in in South Florida.

Reservations to stay in the new rooms began July 24.

Bells and whistles

Guests to the Hollywood property will now arrive through a new grand entrance featuring “The Oculus,” a “sight and sound extravaganza” combining elements of water, fire and technology in a series of floor-to-ceiling virtual shows set to music.

Once inside, guests will also see the vastly expanded casino – 195,000 square feet – with more than 200 table games, 3,100 slot machines and a new 45-table poker room.

There is a new 13.5-acre pool area at the foot of the guitar tower, part of 19 acres worth of pools and lagoons. The pool complex features cabanas that range in size from 450 to 800 square feet. It also includes a beach club venue for drinks and dining.

Spanning the length of three football fields is a manmade lake with water sports. A new spa features more than 40 treatment rooms and dry and wet lounges. There is also 150,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.

Nightlife, music

Overlooking the lagoon and pool area is the interior of the new 18,800 square foot Daer Nightclub. The adjacent outdoor Daer Dayclub includes a swimming pool and another 21,130 square foot space.

Almost as talked about as the guitar tower is the new Hard Rock Live concert venue. The $125 million theater-style performance space seats 7,000. The first performance in the new space will be Maroon 5 on Oct. 25.

Food, shopping

Like any Hard Rock, treating the taste buds is a mandatory part of the experience. Foodies (and just those who are just hungry) can choose between 19 restaurants and 20 bars and lounges at the new Hollywood development.

Food options will include contemporary Italian, an American grill, 24-hour bakery-café, buffet-style, poolside dining and a coffee shop.

Those in the mood to shop can choose stores within the 26,000-square-foot retail promenade.

The expansion in Tampa also includes a massive hotel. (Photo Hard Rock)

Tampa, too

Meanwhile, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa – the largest of all Florida casinos – there has been increasing anticipation as well.

The grand opening date for its $700 million expansion is slated for Oct. 3.

Tampa has a new 14-story hotel tower with 562 guestrooms and suites, three pools and additional gaming space. The 26,000 square foot spa and salon has 13 treatment rooms.

The new pools are located on the second level of the expanded hotel and casino complex. Along with the 200,000 gallons of water is an expanded 60,000 square foot deck area with 20 cabanas.

There are many new food, beverage and retail options as well. Guest can choose from 14 restaurants and bars within many styles and tastes.

Retail offerings include jewelry, cosmetics and men’s and women’s fashions.

Like Hollywood, but on a smaller scale, is the 2,000 seat Hard Rock Event Center, which is also a 17,000-square-foot grand ballroom that will host conventions, trade shows, private events and large-scale poker tournaments.

Country star Keith Urban will christen the Event Center with an Oct. 4 show.

The already completed 245,000-square-foot expanded casino includes an additional 1,000 slots and 41 table games. There are now almost 5,000 slots, 179 tables and 46 tables in the poker room.

As part of its extensive rock and roll memorabilia, the Tampa property recently acquired Elvis Presley’s 24-karat gold leaf plated 1928 Kimball Piano Co. grand piano. The piano represents Hard Rock’s 80,000th piece of memorabilia.

Some of the hotel tower’s more than 500 rooms are available to book now.

The Tampa casino-resort is located off I-4 at North Orient Road and Hillsborough Avenue, about 10 minutes east of downtown.

Jobs, jobs, jobs

The economic impact of both projects has already been felt with hundreds of new construction jobs and contracts at both locations. It will continue to increase with ongoing permanent positions.

Allen said the economic research he’s seen predicts the creation of 19,000 direct and indirect jobs between both projects. Both properties have already held multiple job fairs and hired thousands of new workers.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at