The rock & roll memorabilia and concert photographs in the lobby of Hard Rock Hotel San Diego draw out the inner rock star of someone in every group. A note to a friend from Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, one of Madonna’s revealing concert getups, and a bejeweled chainsaw used by The Black Eyed Peas at the hotel’s 2007 opening ceremony are just some of the highlights that set the stage.
At the check-in stations, guests are welcomed with stage-like neon lighting and asked what type of music they want played in their room. A hotel staff member also explains the hotel’s “Sound of Your Stay” program, which gives guests the opportunity to choose from 20 different Fender guitars. The guitar is later delivered to your room with a floor amp and headphones to use while rocking out without disturbing the neighbors.
You also have the option to rent a DJ controller and an accompanying laptop to practice mixing beats. Or guests can download one of three distinct playlists created to represent the hotel’s personality: the Players Playlist, City Playlist (curated by Mayer Hawthorne) and Resort Playlist (curated by Fania).
For meetings, the hotel is now offering the “Platinum Rock Star Experience” that rewards attendees with certain amenities with 50 or more rooms booked on peak. The package includes a 1-hour DJ set, a commemorative event poster and a 2-hour photography session reminiscent of an album launch party.
The Rock Star experience also includes a Picks & Mix coffee break, which brings the Sound of Your Stay guitar and DJ offerings to the meeting space. It also features an endless supply of Van Halen-style M&Ms (a mixture of the classic chocolates minus the brown M&Ms).
“We took a different spin on a meetings package and decided we wanted to recognize the attendees while they’re here,” says Letty Canizalez, director of sales. “They work hard and we want to make sure they feel like rock stars.”
MEETINGS THAT ROCK
The meeting spaces also set the stage for a rock star-inspired event. One past corporate group requested a runway stage set up in the 9,170-sf Legends ballroom. The top executives all came out dressed as rock stars and walked the runway while welcoming the meeting attendees.
The hotel knows how to welcome VIPs. Prince graced the ballroom with his presence for a hotel concert in May. The 4,000-sf Edge space features floor-to-ceiling windows and pays tribute to more rock & roll greats by displaying one of Elvis’ shirts and a guitar used by Tom Petty.
On the fourth floor, the 8,700-sf Woodstock space invites groups outside for a reception on the lawn. Planners can host their own outdoor concert with a stage already set up during the summer months. For more intimate affairs, the Elevation space and its outdoor terraces overlook the downtown skyline and San Diego Bay in the distance. The Rooftop, complete with comfy outdoor furniture, provides a casual space for receptions up to 125 attendees, and it also has a glass-walled dining room available for private dinners.
The hotel staff encourages meeting planners to enhance events with music-inspired activities such as a DJ instruction session. The teacher will show attendees how to mix and match beats on a laptop and then test how they line up in his or her headphones. Once ready, the attendee can turn up the beats for their peers to listen.
Vibe Manager Matt DuFour has created a musical version of Jeopardy with different types of music trivia questions for planners to use for teambuilding. Planners can also ask the A/V company to set up a Guitar Hero station at their event, which DuFour says is always great at breaking down barriers.
“I think music transcends different generations,” says Canizalez. “The built-in theme brings a little history to a meeting and gets people to talk during breaks about their first concert, for instance, or other memories that relate to music.”
Whether or not a group has time to participate in all of Hard Rock’s music-inspired offerings, planners can get the music conversation going with one of the staff’s complimentary tours of the hotel’s memorabilia. Elton John’s genie costume, for example, is sure to spark a discussion that will transcend well past the event—just like a truly great song.