Posted in Projects on 26 February, 2020

A unique vision for a famous brand was realised last October with the unveiling of the world’s first ever guitar-shaped hotel. An astounding piece of architectural brilliance, the Guitar Tower at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, in Florida, encapsulates everything the brand is known for. Sophie Harper was invited to stay at the hotel to find out more about the build and design of Hard Rock’s new-look flagship.  

Hard Rock has always been a brand synonymous with the music industry; its famous cafes and hotels always draw crowds of music fans as well as legendary musicians themselves. Relaxed and playful, the brand doesn’t take itself too seriously, other than its commitment to collecting and sharing some of the world’s greatest music memorabilia. It seems fitting then that the flagship hotel, on Seminole Tribe territory, should be given a new look that reflects the rock ‘n’ roll image of the brand. 

The Seminole Tribe of Florida acquired the Hard Rock franchise from the Rank Group in 2006. Known for their stake in the gaming industry, the latest addition to the Hard Rock family isn’t on new ground, but on the tribe’s original casino grounds – an existing Hard Rock hotel and casino complex. A year after acquiring the brand, company executives met to discuss ideas for expanding the resort in Miami. It was a passing comment during the meeting from Jim Allen, Hard Rock International Chairman, who made the suggestion of building a guitar-shaped hotel. Almost twelve years later, standing at an impressive 450-feet-high with 35 storeys, the gigantic structure dominates the landscape around it, and is visible for miles around. The drive along the highway provides ample opportunity for visitors to work themselves up into a state of overexcitement, as the tower shines and glistens in the Floridian sunshine.   

Set within 87 acres of the Hollywood Seminole Reservation the additions to the complex, which cost $1.5 billion, include: 638 luxury guest rooms in the Guitar Tower and 168 upscale guest accommodations, including unique swim-up suites in the adjacent Oasis Tower which, added to the existing accommodation, makes a combined total of 1,271 rooms; A lush, Bora Bora style lagoon with private cabanas at the base of the building; and a 13.5-acre watery playground designed for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding. Other features include: a 42,000 square-foot spa; 19 dining outlets and 20 bars and lounges; an expansive gaming floor housing 3,100 slots, 193 table games and a 45-table poker room; 120,000 square feet of premier meeting and convention space including a 38,000 square-foot, carpeted exhibition hall; and a 26,000 square-foot retail promenade. 

Then there’s Hard Rock Live – the site’s new state-of-the-art indoor performance venue with a 7,000-person capacity, mobile stage technology, fully immersive in-house sound and lighting systems, and unobstructed sightlines from every seat in the house. Designed by internationally renowned performing arts and entertainment design firm Scéno Plus, the space has a unique architectural concept that incorporates modern interior design to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for the world’s greatest musicians and their audience. 

On arrival, if you haven’t already got an inane grin plastered across your face, you soon will have as you step through the glassy doors into the lobby. The Oculus, which is the sight all visitors are greeted by first, can only be described as an elaborate waterfall feature, but instead of cascading down a rock face, the water falls a good 20-feet or more from an opening in the ceiling and is choreographed to music and coloured lighting: it doesn’t look all that dissimilar to the underbelly of a UFO – if UFOs came with a decent sound system (or existed in the first place). 

Rockwell Group was responsible for the design on the ground floor of the building, which although vast and open, feels far less cumbersome than one might imagine. This is mostly to do with the clever design that separates the space into different areas of interest – from the Oculus in the centre of the building to the casino on the left-hand side and the bar, reception areas, lounges, and dining areas to the right. The huge ceilings have been utilised as a design feature to display beautiful hand-blown glass lighting and geometric archways, with the usual framed music memorabilia dotted throughout. 

Outside, the lagoon weaves its way around the base of the building with colourful water features and a scattering of luxurious cabanas for guests to while away their time sipping cocktails, which evidently is a nice spot for watching the spectacular daily Guitar Tower light show from. 

Wilson Associates’ Dallas studio was tasked with designing the 800 guest rooms, across both the Guitar Tower and Pool Tower, as well as the world class Rock Spa®. “We created both relaxing and calming environments to give guests a welcome respite from the buzz of the locale,” said Louie Sison, Design Director, Wilson Associates’ Dallas studio. “Our design team drew inspiration from the surrounding lush landscape of Hollywood, Florida, to create peaceful interiors that bring elements of the outdoors into the interior space.” 

The guest rooms and suites combine natural stone surfaces with woven textures and lush area rugs to achieve a Floridian-inspired residence-like accommodation, with each scheme bringing in fun pops of colour. Guest bathrooms, which include open views to the bedroom and spacious walk-in showers, offer a clean, fresh design statement with natural stones and custom millwork. For some of the rooms, the unique curvature of the Guitar Tower afforded the design team to take advantage of the various window angles. The shape of the tower led to the design of full-height curved glass windows with soaring views. The eight swim-out suites, located at the bottom level of the Pool Tower, boast 12-foot ceilings and large-format flooring, and feature an outdoor deck that connects guests to the hotel’s public swimming lagoon and lazy river amenities. 

Ten VIP suites and a private Gaming Parlour in the Guitar Tower maximise the surrounding views of the property’s landscape as well as the pool complex. The suites, which occupy the top floors of the Guitar Tower, provide exclusive access to private gaming areas and views of distant Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Two of the VIP Suites, located on the topmost levels of the Guitar Tower feature large open kitchens and living rooms with open access to rooftop private pool decks. 

The 42,000-square-foot Rock Spa® features a huge number of body and facial treatment rooms, dry and wet lounges, jacuzzies, and a salon. The interior design offers a peaceful oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the casino floor and brings together natural elements – such as wooden columns, specialty textured walls, vertical green walls, dark stone surfaces and floor tiles, teak furniture, and a light, neutral colour palette. 

The new complex is a marvel − a grown-up playground of sorts − that will have visitors returning time and time again. You could quite easily stay put here without feeling the need to leave the immediate vicinity. It’s a rock haven, that’s for sure… any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here…   

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