Friday, Oct. 24, 2008 | 7:38 p.m.
The Hard Rock Hotel celebrated a milestone in an $750 million expansion project Friday when construction workers hoisted the highest piece of the structure atop a new North Tower.
The 17-story tower will feature 479 guest rooms, meeting spaces and 10 pool suites. A 3,400-square-foot penthouse suite will crown the tower.
The North Tower is scheduled to open in September 2009.
Hard Rock vice president of marketing Phil Shalala said the new design is about slightly altering the property's look.
“It’s going to be a very comfortable, very warm feel. It’s changing the current look of our rooms a little bit,” Shalala said. “It’s high-end rock and roll is what it is.”
The North Tower is part of Hard Rock’s ongoing construction and renovation process, which began last year. Additions will include new gaming areas, high limit rooms, pools, spas and restaurants. The resort began construction on a South Tower this past summer and will complete the expansion project in late 2009.
Shalala said business has mostly held up for the off-Strip Hard Rock, although the downturn has been felt.
“We’re seeing a little bit of a decline but not anything compared to the Strip," he said.
Falling room rates have had the biggest hit on the property, Shalala said. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported earlier this month that the Las Vegas area's average room rates for all hotels in August plunged 15 percent in the past year, from $126.38 to $107.01.
“With the drop in rates on the Strip, it drives our rates down because we have to be competitive," Shalala said. "When the Palazzo is doing a $99 room, that hurt us.”
The new hotel towers will increase Hard Rock’s guest room total from 650 to 1,500.