Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood

If your mood has sunk to a new low due to the lack of daylight, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. According to this story published by the American Heart Association, nearly 10% of North American residents suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While light therapy and exercise can ease symptoms, traveling is an easier (and definitely more enjoyable) way to boost your mood. Although New Yorkers are spoiled for choice when it comes to a getaway in the sunshine, there’s one destination just a three-hour flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport that rewards travelers in more ways than one.

Located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood has been popular with locals since it opened in 2004, but is often passed over by tourists who prefer flashier accommodations in neighboring cities. However, thanks to a stunning $1.5 billion renovation in 2019, Hard Rock has recently become a popular vacation destination for South Floridians and out-of-towners. The best part? You don’t necessarily have to go to the casino to have an unforgettable time.

The anchor of the whole thing is the 450-foot-tall, 36-story Guitar Hotel. It is the first of its kind in the world and the resort’s third hotel tower (the other two are Oasis Tower and Hard Rock Hotel). It houses 638 guest rooms and suites, freshly decorated in bright, nautical colors and modern furnishings. But what happens right outside the accommodations is probably the Guitar Hotel’s biggest draw. The architectural marvel is equipped with state-of-the-art LED lighting and offers a spectacular display of staged lights and music every evening at 7 p.m. that can be seen from miles away.

Just as captivating as the Guitar Hotel’s nighttime light show, but smaller in scale and indoors, The Oculus serves as the resort’s central hub, connecting The Guitar Hotel, Hard Rock Live, shops and casino. It is a completely original architectural masterpiece that combines a 35-foot waterfall, lights, projections and sounds that change throughout the day to provide guests with a unique, immersive experience.

The Guitar Hotel’s pool area is also visually stunning and was inspired by Bora Bora’s famous over-the-water bungalows. The 16 semi-private retreats with direct water access feature butler service, refrigerators with complimentary soft drinks, and private restrooms. Pool Bar & Grill’s menu features bottle service and globetrotting bites (e.g. Mexican street corn, Greek salads, chicharron banh mis).

At a whopping 42,000 square feet, Rock Spa® & Salon remains one of South Florida’s best-kept wellness secrets, but it won’t take long for the word to spread. You can easily spend a day in the Spa Atrium’s lounge areas, multiple pools including a cold plunge pool, steam rooms, saunas and the Himalayan Salt Room. The treatment offering is equally comprehensive, ranging from modern hydrafacials to the Thai Muscle Melt, an 80-minute full-body massage inspired by ancient Thai healing practices that uses warm herbal compresses and pressure points on weary warriors returning from battle.

One of the Hard Rock’s newer restaurants, Abiaka Wood Fire Grill uses the fire of its Josper ovens and J&R wood grills to add a distinct smoky aroma and flavor to much of its Spanish and South American menu—even the humble avocado with pine nuts and yuzu Vinaigrette gets the royal treatment. Other solid favorites from the 19 food and beverage concepts include Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, whose name comes from a historic oak tree on the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation that symbolizes strength and stability, and Kuro, a lively Japanese eatery that offers pristine cuts of sashimi. Top tempura and grilled Wagyu beef.

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