Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

HardRockHard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City debuts just eight months after construction began with a design that delivers a plethora of Hard Rock Moments.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing

The closing of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J., in fall 2016 presented Hard Rock International with an opportunity to fulfill its years-long desire of opening a hotel and casino on the city. “We purchased the property in April 2017 and our desire from the beginning was that we had to be open in summer 2018 after a major renovation,” says Joe Emanuele, senior vice president of design and construction for Hard Rock International. 

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is a 4 million-square-foot property that sits on 17 prime beach-front acres on the legendary Atlantic City Boardwalk, offering vast views of the city and Atlantic Ocean. The property features a range of gaming opportunities, including 2,200 slot machines and 120 table games. The hotel features nearly 2,000 rooms in the north and south towers. Guests can choose from standard rooms, ocean deluxe rooms, suite accommodations, celebrity suites and Apollo suites.HardRock info box

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino features 20 restaurants and bars throughout the property, including a 553-seat buffet, a 328-seat seafood restaurant and a 172-seat Asian restaurant. The Hard Rock Café will adjoin the casino floor with more than 400 seats. 

In terms of entertainment, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City features Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena, the beachside Sound Waves and the Howie Mandel’s Comedy Club. The launch of “365 Live” allows Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City to offer entertainment across five dynamic performance stages every day of the year. 

Rocktane, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City’s gas station, is located outside the casino’s parking garage and features 16 gas pumps, a 5,100-square-foot convenience store and a 3,500-square-foot car wash. “Rocktane is totally unique for Atlantic City and relatively unique for the industry,” Emanuele says. “It provides all those things guests actually need and it makes their experience and visit with us so much easier while allowing us to promote the brand and services to our customers.” 

Aggressive Timeline

Hard Rock International Design and Construction began developing the concept in mid-April 201 before demolition began fourth months later in August and construction followed in September. “We had about eight months of construction before we opened in June 2018,” Emanuele notes. “We had full cooperation from state agencies, which helped with the scheduling. I have worked for 25 years in Atlantic City on a number of hotel and casino projects and this was the best cooperation I’ve ever had, which was totally different than previous years.”

Joe Polisano, principal of Polisano Construction Services, was the construction manager onsite and said the aggressive schedule was the single greatest challenge in constructing Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. “New Jersey-based general contractors TN Ward and Jingoli worked on the interior and exterior, respectively,” he says. “The project was broken into 21 subprojects, so fast-tracking progress and getting information to the field was critical.”

Polisano Construction Services served as the owner’s representation during the site and met with operations teams daily to ensure the project remained on schedule. “The key here is cooperation,” Polisano says. “Everyone has to put their ego aside when you do something this big this quickly. The cooperation between the design team, general contractors and the owner is key here in order to maintain the schedule. This project is something I am very proud I did and is the highlight of my career to accomplish so much so quickly.” 

Hard Rock International chose contractors and design teams it had successfully worked with in the past to achieve the expedited timeline. “We could not have done it without people who know the brand and know hotel casinos, which allowed us to open in the short amount of time we did.

Hard Rock Moments

Hard Rock International’s Design and Construction team designed the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City to deliver what it calls “Hard Rock Moments.” “We created this vibe that no other project will ever have and we did that through knowing our customers,” Emanuele explains. “We do that by creating music-centric environments centered around Hard Rock Moments, which include memorabilia, music-related artwork, as well as architectural, light and aesthetic design. Those moments start at the front door.” 

A 60-foot cherry-colored replica Gibson Les Paul guitar greets visitors with lights and sound as they enter Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. “The guitar is a Hard Rock Moment; the chandelier in the atrium is a piece of artwork with LED screens and content on it that also creates a Hard Rock Moment,” Emanuele notes. “We probably got 25 billion media impressions that were created through Hard Rock Moments.” 

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino employs a vibe manager who is responsible for setting the music and lighting levels at various times of the day to tell the story of the property and memorabilia. “This is the largest amount of memorabilia we have ever put in one project,” Emanuele says. “We have 300 pieces and then some, and that doesn’t include the artwork. A lot of it highlights music artists from New Jersey, such as Bruce Springsteen and Whitney Houston. There are so many artists that have come out of New Jersey and concerts that have been performed, there are so many stories to tell. Also, this is a 4 million-square-foot project, so it’s a very large space and we wanted to reinforce Hard Rock Moments throughout.” 

Although there is a significant amount of Hard Rock Moments to be had throughout the property, the design team strategically placed items to feel like they were intended to be there. Elvis Presley’s 1963 gray Rolls Royce that he used to pick up the Beatles from Los Angeles International Airport sits at the front entrance along with suits worn by the Beatles. “It’s a funny story,” Emanuele says. “The color of the Rolls Royce is a gray/champagne color, but it was originally midnight blue. Elvis had it repainted because his mother’s chickens pecked at the finish.” 

Hard Rock designers set the tone inside the hotel and casino with splashes of color to make guests feel good, cheerful and bright. “Gray or black was not in the equation,” Emanuele notes. “We used a lot of bold colors very successfully. The carpet design was one of the first things we reviewed and selected.”

In November 2017, Emanuele flew to Italy to hand select the stone use for the granite flooring inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. “We visited stone yards in Italy where some of the most fabulous stone can be found and sat there for two days picking all the slabs and granite blocks of stone,” he remembers. “We made selections on flooring early because of the long lead times, but they also make a big statement and we wanted to ascertain them. The flooring decisions were made by December.” 

In August, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City held its grand opening and completed some finishing touches to areas of the property, such as the Rock Spa. “We had the 51 Miss America contestants at the spa’s opening and it’s those creative moments that only Hard Rock is able to do,” Emanuele says. “People just want to be part of the vibe at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.”

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