FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A new $1.5 billion expansion project at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood is off to a smashing start — literally.
On Wednesday, an electrifying guitar smashing ceremony accompanied by fireworks set the back drop for the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s preview of a new hotel tower that’s rising at the mammoth lodging and entertainment complex.
The guitar smashings have become a ceremonial staple of Hard Rock grand openings and other milestone events.
The expansion is poised to debut several signature features that don’t currently exist nationally or anywhere in the world, officials said during a preview of the 450-foot tall guitar-shaped hotel tower under construction.
“It will be the first building in the world that’s truly to scale designed as an authentic guitar,” James “Jim” Allen, Seminole Gaming CEO and chairman of Hard Rock International told reporters. “So it’s not just an exterior façade, the curving of the building will be identical to an authentic guitar.”
It’s scheduled for a summer 2019 opening.
In addition to the tower’s avant-garde shape, guests will be able to explore an expansive 10-acre complex at its base that will offer private cabanas with plunge pools, multiple waterfalls, beach club dining and watersports.
The lagoon-style poolside “Bora Bora Experience” will be unlike anything currently existing in the United States, Allen said.
“You’ll have Chickees submerged in water with beds, bedrooms, showers and complete butler service built into the pool itself,” he said.
The “water wonderland” will have a slew of day and nighttime entertainment offerings including day pools, lazy rivers, paddleboats and canoes.
The tower will add 638 rooms and suites to the Seminole Hard Rock’s accommodation offerings, pushing the room total to 1,270. Another lower-level building inside the new development will offer even more rooms for a total count of more than 1,300 units, Allen added.
The tower will also contain a 41,000-square foot spa, several restaurants and lounges.
“We think the building itself will be must-see attraction,” Allen said.
Today, the Seminole Hard Rock hotel boasts 469 rooms and suites, several restaurants, a lagoon-styled pool, casino and meeting and convention space.
The existing 5,500-seat Hard Rock Live entertainment venue will be demolished in March. The new $100 million larger and redesigned Hard Rock Live will sport 7,000 seats in a theater-style configuration. The complex’s existing casino will also be doubled in size to offer 3,267 slot machines and 178 table games, such as blackjack and baccarat.
The new Hard Rock Live venue is also scheduled to open in mid-2019. When it opens, an interim performance hall will convert into a new 37,000-square feet ballroom, which will boost the Seminole Hard Rock’s total meeting space footprint to about 141,000 square feet. For shopaholics, there will also be 60,000-square-feet of new retail and restaurant space on site.
The project is expected to boost the local economy.
“We’re creating 3,000 additional permanent jobs,” Allen said. “We’re creating over 2,000 construction jobs so we’re truly creating an additional economic engine here in South Florida.”
Both the hotel tower and entertainment venue openings are timed ahead of South Florida’s hosting of Super Bowl LIV at the Hard Rock Stadium in February 2020, officials said.
Seminole Tribe officials first announced plans for the billion-dollar project at a press conference at the Hollywood complex with Gov. Rick Scott last year.
At the time, officials said the expansion was contingent on the Legislature’s approval of a new gambling deal between Scott and the tribe. A deal was reached over the summer.
“We had this project in a holding pattern,” Allen said, noting the tribe wanted certainty about its future before making the financial investment.
“The tribe’s compact is 100 percent secure, in place (and) challengeable by no one until the year 2030,” Allen said.