It's been 21 years since the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino made its Las Vegas debut just a few blocks off the Strip. Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, Jack Nicholson and George Clooney were in attendance. Weezer, Duran Duran, Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow provided the soundtrack. B.B. King, Billy Idol and Seal also took a turn onstage.
That grand-opening weekend introduced the property to the world and established its brand: irreverent, sexy and in-your-face. This wasn't your grandmother's Las Vegas.
In the two decades since, the resort has grown and grown up, adding hotel towers, expanding its legendary Joint concert hall, renovating the lush poolscape, trading out nightclubs and redesigning the casino floor. The aesthetic has shifted to a more sophisticated vibe. Still rock 'n' roll, sure, but less leopard print and leather, more sleek and understated.
The latest manifestation of the Hard Rock's continuing evolution was revealed last month when the hotel completed the first phase of a $13 million renovation of the original Casino Tower. Phase one remodeled 575 standard rooms in a color palette of gray, white and purple, adding furniture, quartz countertops, spa-inspired bathrooms and fresh artwork. The rooms now have USB ports throughout, as well as 55-inch HD TVs and French doors that overlook the casino's well-known pool or city views.
Phase two of the project will bring the same style and amenities to the tower's 65 suites.
"The Hard Rock Hotel's impressive remodel of its Casino Tower is a demonstration of how we stay in the forefront of the Las Vegas market," said COO Jody Lake. "For more than 21 years, the property has offered guests high-energy entertainment, innovative gaming and a revolutionary nightlife, day life and music scene. By upgrading the property's original tower, we're ensuring our guests are provided with the best accommodations possible."
However, refreshed rooms aren't the only change. The new year will also bring new eateries and shows. An oyster bar is reportedly in the works, and later in 2017, brothers Michael and David Morton plan to open a steakhouse concept at the Hard Rock. The move feels like a full-circle moment for the Mortons, whose father founded Morton's Steakhouse in 1978, and the Hard Rock hotel, which was opened by brother Peter Morton in 1995.
"Michael and I have long wanted to do a steakhouse together," said David. "These plans have been percolating for years, and the time has come for the Morton brothers to, once again, reinvent the steakhouse."
Starting in March the hotel will also have a pair of fresh entertainment options. On March 11, "Raiding the Rock Vault" will move into Vinyl at the Hard Rock, an appropriate home for the show, which features a rotating lineup of musicians from big-name rock acts. The show, which previously had runs at the Westgate and the Tropicana, will play Saturdays to Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.
"Raiding the Rock Vault," a show that taps musicians from legendary rock acts, will move into Vinyl in March. Photo Credit: Erik Nielsen/Raiding the Rock Vault
"We couldn't have picked a more fitting show to bring to Vinyl at Hard Rock Hotel," said Chas Smith, vice president of entertainment at Hard Rock Hotel. "Hosting a full-scale production in an intimate venue like Vinyl will give fans an up-close rock 'n' roll experience like they've never seen before. We are really excited to have them here and look forward to them rocking the night away!"
Later that month, Channing Tatum's highly anticipated "Magic Mike Live" male revue is slated to reincarnate Club Domina in a new cabaret-style space inside the resort.
Choreographer Alison Faulk said the show won't just be part three of the movie series or a remake of what we've already seen on the big screen. "It's a new incarnation," Faulk said. "Our motto is giving women what they really want. Really asking them what they want and doing our best to give it to them."
The same could be said of Hard Rock's philosophy over the past 21 years: asking Vegas visitors what they want and giving it to them, with a bit of rock 'n' roll bravado, of course.