As the band played AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, Hard Rock Hotel execs officially opened the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta this past summer. The reinvigorated, rebranded 348-room resort encompasses six restaurants, four new bars and bona fide rock ‘n roll paraphernalia adorning every nook and cranny. The new Hard Rock Hotel is also continuing to smash any planner’s expectations of what an all-inclusive might entail following the recent opening of Hard Rock Hotel Cancun.
“There’s a lot of all-inclusives out there that try to compete on price alone,” said Frank Maduro, vp of marketing at Hard Rock’s All-Inclusive Collection. During the event, he received applause saying, “We like disruption. We like to give people a sense of the unexpected.”
Michael Shindler, executive vp of Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos, also talked about disrupting expectations.
“Most American brands are not willing to embrace the all-inclusive idea,” he said. “We have a lot of variety here. It’s not a tourist or transient place or a ‘kids gone wild.’ For an all-inclusive, it has a wonderful scale to it. Some all-inclusives, it takes you 15 minutes to walk across the whole place. Here it’s manageable. You can walk around the property easily.”
Music is the theme of the entire resort and there’s even a talented young house band, not your generic cover band with middle-aged rockers dressing like 22-year-olds and going through the motions. Just during our 2-day visit, they rocked out at several different locations across the property—the press conference, the guitar smash, the flag raising and more—with normally jaded attendees commenting on how the band improved the ambience for each event.
It doesn’t stop there. Attendees will eventually be able to jam by themselves, in their own rooms, by borrowing one of the hotel’s genuine Fender Stratocasters and taking lessons on their room televisions. So, instead of rehashing another acoustic percussion teambuilding class, planners now have access to a more electric idea.
With an authentic rock star vibe throughout, the property includes numerous outdoor spaces suited for concerts, waterfront receptions or DJ events. Just during the scorching kickoff weekend, “Rock en Español” legends Maná performed outside underneath a tent for 1,000 guests in attendance, Miami-based DJ Laz presided like royalty over a beach party, and American Idol finalist Michael Johns, backed by our favorite house band, performed on the beach under a tent for about 500 people on multicolored couches. Planners have all of these configurations and group experiences at their disposal any time of the year.
VP of Group Sales, Ginny Davito, says it goes even deeper. Planners can choose from the entire history of rock ‘n roll for their event.
“Many of the elements are already there, with all of the memorabilia,” she explained. “There’s so many different take-offs on the whole rock ‘n roll theme, like retro, the 60s. There’s so many different eras of rock ‘n roll as it continues to evolve, so planners can get very creative with theme parties. They don’t have to spend the money because the atmosphere is already here.”
Right now, the property offers 6,300 sf of meeting space, including a ballroom, foyer and boardroom. Davito says an additional ballroom is opening in the future, which will be incorporated into the all-in-one packaging.
“All-inclusive means no one’s up late at night counting bottles or reconciling banquet checks afterward, because it’s all included in the rate,” she said.