Hard Rock’s group offerings come at an arranged flat rate. // © 2016 Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta
Feature image (above): The property’s lobby bar features karaoke and nightly live music. // © 2016 Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta
The weekend began with an actual red carpet, which I conscientiously sidestepped, assuming it had to be for some celebrity or rock star — anybody but me. But then a Hard Rock Hotel (HRH) Vallarta employee gestured between the velvet ropes, offered me a cool towel and asked, “Would you like anything to drink?”
I thought to myself: “I could get used to this.”
And that’s exactly what HRH Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta wants for its guests: to get used to it. Each of the hotel’s 348 rooms include 24-hour room service, a minibar and a Jacuzzi, and the majority present an ocean view — which means this Hard Rock property could be any rock star’s paradise.
In the all-inclusive destination world, individual experience is king, but group destinations — from weddings to work meetings — are becoming larger pieces of the profit pie for these kinds of hotels. With more than 70 percent of its group business coming from repeat customers, HRH Vallarta had every incentive to build the largest convention center in Riviera Nayarit to better accommodate its guests.
Unveiled in fall 2015, the 12,900-square-foot Sanctuary Convention Center nearly tripled HRH Vallarta’s meeting and event space. The new addition can accommodate 1,500 guests and separate into four flexible sections.
Inspired by Sanctuary Records, one of the largest independent record labels and studios in Britain, the space comes equipped with the stage, lights and sound equipment able to transform an average PowerPoint presentation into a rock ’n’ roll spectacle.
Imagine standing on such a stage with co-workers, rocking out and shredding solos — not exactly just another day on the job. Jam sessions are just one of the unique team-building experiences available through Hard Rock’s The Sound of Your Stay program, which also offers guests access to Fender guitars and basses. And the best part?
“You don’t need any musical experience,” said Ash Tembe, vice president of global field sales for Hard Rock Hotels’ All Inclusive Collection. “We’ll put you in a room with a band, the band will teach you one song, and you’ll perform that song.”
After the convention center’s debut, HRH Vallarta took the opportunity to show it off to representatives from businesses that in 2015 used the hotel as a group destination. And the hotel pulled out all the stops. From snorkeling off the bluffs of Los Arcos to dining on the beach while colorful, costumed Cirque du Soleil-esque performers glided by on stilts to the red carpet, our group was treated like royalty. Even drinks were served on a silver platter.
The Sanctuary Convention Center itself was on display, and during dinners catered by one of the hotel’s six restaurants, a live band performed rock ballads just feet away from our tables. With Hard Rock, music is always in the background, generating a vibe that — once you find your rhythm with it — becomes irresistible.
The convention center has enabled the property to make a promise: “With music and fun, we have a different environment, and everyone is a rock star at our hotel,” Tembe said.
HRH Vallarta certainly followed through with the rock-star treatment. The music cultivated the right atmosphere, but the property sealed the deal with its service. The hotel’s group offerings come at an arranged flat rate, while providing planning services, unlimited outside banquets, cocktail receptions and parties and meeting setups — and all without cost overruns, surcharges or surprises.
The convention center was big enough to impress and gave guests every reason to return. But there’s still plenty of room onstage for even more. Newcomers to the party need only visit the hotel’s website to plan their event, and they’ll see how little it takes to experience the life of a rock star.