In the spring of 1999, more than a year after “Titanic” made its big-screen debut, flamboyant casino figure Bob Stupak unveiled a big idea for Las Vegas.
His vision: build a Titanic-replica resort with 1,200 “cabins” and an “iceberg” retail area.
The plan, like the actual Titanic, sank. But it wouldn’t have been the first themed hotel structure proposed along Las Vegas Boulevard, and certainly was not the last. The latest such proposal was unveiled this week.
Hard Rock International announced Monday that it is buying The Mirage’s operations side from MGM Resorts International for more than $1 billion in cash. Through the deal, it said, it plans to build a guitar-shaped hotel tower on the Strip.
The purple-hued tower would feature six light beams shooting into the sky as if they were strings on a guitar neck, with the former Mirage, rebranded and remodeled as the Hard Rock, next to it, according to a rendering.
Themed resorts are nothing new to Las Vegas. But only in some cases are hotel buildings wholesale constructed to a theme, such as the pyramid-shaped Luxor and the skyline-designed New York-New York.
Details to come later
As for the guitar hotel tower, Hard Rock hasn’t announced details of the plans.
“I wish we had more to share, but at this stage, we are not ready to discuss details on the design, development and timeline of the Las Vegas construction project,” Hard Rock spokeswoman Gina Morales told me.
The company’s “first order of priority is to be respectful of the process of gaming regulatory approvals and the closing,” which is slated for the second half of 2022, she added.
Some resorts incorporate their themes in other visible ways along the Strip, such as the replica Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas and The Mirage’s volcano, which would likely be demolished to clear space for the guitar tower after Hard Rock takes over the Polynesian-themed property.
Still, Las Vegas’ real estate market boasts a long history of developers pitching big plans and never following through.
Themed ideas that never left the drawing board include a project designed to look like the U.S.S. Enterprise from “Star Trek,” a London-themed casino-resort with Big Ben, a San Francisco-themed project with a replica Golden Gate Bridge, and a Harley-Davidson-themed project with exhaust pipe-styled hotel towers, according to reports.
Hard Rock’s first guitar hotel tower
Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, operates restaurants, casinos, hotels and other venues around the world and says it owns the world’s largest and most valuable collection of authentic music memorabilia, at 86,000-plus pieces.
It is known for having giant decorative guitars outside Hard Rock locations, and it even has a 450-foot-tall guitar-shaped hotel tower in Florida that looks like the one planned for Las Vegas.
When the guitar hotel opened in fall 2019 as part of a $1.5 billion expansion at the Seminole Hard Rock casino-resort, the company said the new building’s six high-powered light beams project at least 20,000 feet into the sky, mimicking the strings of an imaginary guitar neck.
In Las Vegas, some locals might wonder if the guitar-shaped hotel will ever get built, given the seemingly never-ending parade of big real estate plans that come and go through Southern Nevada.
But Hard Rock has built one before, and that’s more than some developers can say.