Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, a sneak peek

A sneak peek, as this phrase describes, is just a little glimpse and a tiny taste of the much-anticipated experience at the brand new Hard Rock Hotel, opened at Desaru Coast.
A sneak peek into Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast
After a stay experience with the Hard Rock Hotel in Singapore, I’m familiar with the hotel brand’s rock ‘n roll inspired ambience, its throbbing energy and exciting rock culture that permeates the entire property.

With this in mind, I’m ready to be wowed by how Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast will replicate this cool culture with all the bells and whistles that reflect the brand’s image, right here in Johor.

The drive from Johor Baru via the Senai-Desaru Expressway is smooth and scenic, and in about 45 minutes, I’m exiting the Penawar toll gates.

I follow the signs that point to Desaru Coast and buntings hanging from lampposts that feature the hotel, help to guide me in the right direction. My eyes are peeled, ready to spot the next sign.

The iconic giant guitar in front of the porch
But instead of seeing bronzed and muscled surfer guys along the coast, I spot many tanned construction workers complete with safety helmets and rubber boots, as construction is still in rapid progress for the new development projects in this area.

Undeterred, I head on until I find the building with a sign that reads, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, and I’m greeted by the sight of their iconic giant guitar in front of the porch.

It looks like the party has already started because there is no sign of other guests in the entrance lobby.

Then our hosts turn up to welcome me into the Rock Shop where guests – wearing tags emblazoned with Media Rockstar – are busy browsing and buying their special souvenirs!

Our hotel sneak peek starts with a tour of the exhibits contributed by rock-stars that are carefully preserved in glass showcases, complete with information plaques.

Hard Rock Hotel memorabilia from the Rock Shop
Armed with a handy tablet, Vibe Manager, Aaron Barnabas, directs our attention to the range of paraphernalia contributed by rock royalty through the ages.

He shares a bit of history about how Eric Clapton inadvertently started the trend of a signature showcase of rock-star artifacts in Hard Rock Hotels worldwide, when he left his guitar behind to reserve his favourite spot in the hotel bar!

While we view the collection of rock-star personal effects, Aaron uses his smart-device to play a snippet of the music by that particular artiste for us to connect with the stars whose personal property of an outfit, guitar, amplifier or an item from his/her successful music career earned them worldwide fame.

It's not bad to be a (Media) Rockstar for a day!
Our tour takes us through the wings of the front lobby and into the restaurant to admire fascinating exhibits from Lady Gaga to Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin, among other contemporary rock-stars.

The tour ends in the Rock Shop to see a custom-made leather jacket, once worn on stage by Lizzy Hale of Halestorm, during their 2012 shows and in the music video of the group’s 2015 hit, Apocalyptic.

In a media meet-up last August, the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast team introduced us to The Sound of Your Stay – one of the unique features that guests can experience when they check into the Hard Rock Hotel at Desaru Coast.

A pair of rhinestone studded sandals that
belonged to Madonna
The rock-star experience starts when you register at check-in. Then you select your choice of in-room music from a playlist of popular rock-stars. And when you step into your room, your personal choice of music will already be playing for you…

If you are so inclined to play an electric guitar along with your favourite rock music, then select your choice of guitar from the menu of Fender guitars – yes, real guitars – and your pick of guitar will be provided for your in-room guitar-plucking-strumming, rocking pleasure.

Back to the hotel for the room inspection and we (the Media Rockstars!) are split into smaller groups to facilitate the tour.

This way please, to the Ladies room!
As we walk along the common corridors, I cannot help but notice the signs for Male and Female restrooms that are aptly designed with an outline of a Male or Female figure standing next to a stand-microphone!

I cannot help a sudden flashback to a long time ago when my grandmother and her old cronies went on holiday. She said the tour-guide taught them to ask if they needed the restroom (and it could be often!) to politely say, “I want to sing a song,” as a euphemism for, “I need to use the toilet!”

I’m just tickled that at Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, guests going to the restroom are also welcome to be a rock-star in the privacy of the restroom!

The accommodation the hotel has prepared for us to inspect are two connecting rooms, one furnished with a King-size bed while the other is furnished with twin super-single beds.

The connecting door between the two rooms is wide open and when I step in, I spy someone wearing a bathrobe, seated on the King-size bed!

Who's that inside the room?
“There’s somebody here!” I exclaim in jest. But it’s only a mannequin.

When the others leave the room, I have a moment to look closer at the details that set the Hard Rock Hotels apart from the others. In the relative silence, I hear the music selected for this room playing softly and recognise the classic sounds of Santana.

Then it’s time for a spot of lunch.

We are ushered into Sessions, the all-day dining restaurant, where Executive Chef Shan and his culinary team have prepared an exciting spread of local and international favourites to tempt our tastebuds.

Besides popular Malaysian dishes in a Hidangan menu, there are fresh seafood-on-ice, Spanish paella, refreshing Mediterranean salads, Indian briyani, roasted lamb chops and a range of delightful desserts, presented only as a sample of the cuisine we can expect to enjoy from Sessions restaurant.

Chef Shan [Left] and his culinary team in Sessions restaurant
Chef Shan, short for Shanmuganathan, explains that they serve weekend buffet spreads while the festive season menus should be available soon. With the festive season just around the corner, guests can make advance reservations for year-end celebrations here.

It looks like the fun never ends at Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast as we head over to The Elephant and The Butterfly.

At the entrance, a staff hands me a door-gift which feels light in my hand.

I can hear the throb of chill-out tunes that sets the tone in this cool poolside bar. And when I open the door-gift, I discover a fun pair of Hard Rock shades (I’m told!) to shield from the glare and of course, to look absolutely cool!

Chris Danial [Left] doing what he does best at
The Elephant and The Butterfly
The cool-ness continues into the bar where we are introduced to Chris Danial, the Outlet Manager who’s also an accomplished mixologist.

It’s interesting that Chris starts by telling the stories behind each of the ingredients that go into a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails which he prepares with skill and meticulous care.

One-by-one, Chris presented his cocktail creations: The Mexican Story (silver tequila), Smiling Senorita (gin), Singing Navidades (dark rum and white rum), Urban Grind (dark rum and Kahlua) and Yo Te Cielo or My Heaven (Baileys, Kahlua, Malibu).

The non-alcoholic Sama-Sama is a refreshing concoction of ginger, kaffir lime, lemongrass, passion fruit flowers and a tinge of spicy chili padi

Discover the rockstar in you with a Fender guitar
at Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast
The glare of the camera lens plus the humidity of the tropical heat probably added to the pressure as Chris created each cocktail for his attentive audience.

After his demo and presentation of cocktails for photography, Chris made more of the same and shared it out for all of us to sample.

A comfortable lunch followed by sips of a range of cocktails to the cool music by DJ Kenji. It’s the right recipe for a lazy, chill-out time by the pool at The Elephant and The Butterfly.

I remind myself that this is only a sneak peek. And there is much more where this came from.

Thanks for the sneak peek, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast
Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is located at Jalan Pantai 3, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor.

For reservations, Tel: +607 – 838 8888. Visit website: www.hardrockhoteldesaru.com

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