I don’t know about you, but as much as I love getting out and having a good time, there are other times when I really (really) just want someone else to do all the work for me. I want to get away to a place that has everything on-site so that I can simply check in and relax.
Sound familiar? I thought so. That’s why, whether you’re a Florida resident or a visitor to the state, you simply must check out the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, owned and operated by The Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Located less than 10 miles from the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has more than 130,000 square feet of gambling space, making it the largest in Florida. But this uber-resort is much more than shiny slots and high-stakes gambling tables – it’s a destination in itself.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) bestowed its prestigious Four Diamond rating to this 481-room hotel. With 17 restaurants and lounges, 40,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, a full-service European-style spa, 22 retail shops and 11 nightclubs in a complex known as Seminole Paradise (whew!) why would you need to leave the premises?
I can tell you first-hand, you won’t want to leave. Read on and I’ll take you on a tour of everything this destination resort has to offer, beginning from the moment you first pull up to the drive and see the 50-foot neon guitar modeled after one played by Jimi Hendrix.
Sure, every resort has valet parking, but do they have a car wash and detail service? The Seminole Auto Salon is a hand car wash and auto-detail service open to the public. When I pulled up to the hotel’s entrance, I left my car in their care. When I checked out, my fully detailed ride was brought around to the entrance. How cool is that? I still have the guitar-shaped air freshener hanging from my rearview mirror.
I noticed the high energy vibe of this resort from the moment I walked into the lobby. Music memorabilia lines the walls (think iconic images of Elvis, the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Madonna, Elton John, Aerosmith, the Who, the Rolling Stones, as well as South Florida's Gloria Estefan) while live music permeates the air with tunes from local musicians playing in the lobby bar. They play almost continually so I caught quite a few of the acts. They were all great—so good, in fact, that the surrounding couches and chairs were nearly always full with people listening to the music, while folks whirled and twirled on the small dance floor at all hours of the day and night.
At the Hard Rock, you’ll be a rock star for a night—or at least sleep in a rock-star themed room like I did. The contemporary guest rooms are all decorated with a musical theme and include unique extras like Tivoli stereo and CD systems, ultra-luxury beds with Egyptian cotton linens, spa robes, T-1 direct Internet access and luxurious bathrooms. All these things are nice, but c’mon, we’re not here to sleep.
After checking out my room, I headed down to the shimmering 4.5-acre, lagoon-style pool area. Who needs the beach here when the zero-entry pool is surrounded by sand. Waterfalls, hot tubs and a shallow pool splished and splashed with happy-go-lucky guests. But the crowning touch was the private poolside cabanas built into traditional Seminole “chickees,” which come equipped with televisions and refrigerators. You can sip a cocktail, watch TV and get a tan all at the same time – the ultimate indulgence. There’s a casual restaurant known for its coconut shrimp and oversized cocktails, so start there, but I’d definitely recommend the burger and onion rings – simply fantastic.
The only problem with the food at Hard Rock is deciding where to eat. On-site, you’ll find:
- Blue Plate, a diner-style restaurant
- The Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood
- The Council Oak, a prestigious steak and seafood restaurant named for the old oak tree where early members of the Seminole Tribal Council regularly met
- Constant Grind, a coffee and tea shop
- The Beach Club with poolside dining
- The 250-seat food court featuring a variety of quick food
However, outside the hotel proper you’ll find the dining, entertainment and shopping complex known as Seminole Paradise, where you’ll find 17 more restaurants including:
- Tequila Ranch, offering Mexican favorites (and a mechanical bull!)
- Tatu, a bi-level restaurant that features Asian-fusion dining in a hip and trendy atmosphere
- Renegade Barbeque, serving up Southwestern and Florida food
- Hooters. No explanation needed
- Bluepoint Ocean Grill, with fresh seafood and raw bar
I opted for the upscale Council Oak restaurant. The restaurant offers genuine, 100% USDA prime dry-aged stockyard beef from a butcher shop located in the front of the restaurant. Peek into the window that fronts the casino and you can see the beef hanging in the cooler.
Known primarily as a steakhouse, the Council Oak also serves some of the freshest seafood anywhere. Not one to discriminate, I decided to test out the surf and turf. I started with the stone crab claws and followed that up with a cowboy steak that practically cut itself, it was so tender. The Council Oak also features an extensive wine-by-the-glass selection and live entertainment nightly in a separate lounge area. My server, Tim, was the type of server who takes his profession to a higher level. Not only did he explain all the dishes I inquired about to perfection, he was also knowledgeable about wines and made excellent suggestions as far as they and dessert were concerned – crème brulee, if you’re interested.
By night, the 300,000-square foot Seminole Paradise complex draws the local areas’ party crowd, who flock to 11 high-energy nightclubs including Pangaea, Gryphon and Passion. There’s also the impressive 5,500-seat Hard Rock Live and The Improv Comedy Club.
With only one night at the resort, I couldn’t do them all — but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying. I visited Passion Nightclub, a 15,000-square-foot, multi-level nightclub with two floors, five different rooms and two VIP lounges with four bottle service sections.
Theme nights live on at Passion. Call or check the website for the latest events.
At the clubs I visited, conversation was not an option, but who goes to a
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