Hard Rock Desaru Coast is officially opened!

The participating guests invited on the stage for the brand signature Hard Rock guitar smash are escorted to the individual guitars leaning against the stands.

The stage is set for the
brand signature Hard Rock guitar smash

They reach for a helmet and a pair of protective goggles, perched on top of the stand and put them on.

The guests in the audience watch with bated breath as the minutes tick by while one-by-one, all the participating guests are invited up on the stage.

The VVIPs include Senior Vice President of Hard Rock Hotels, Dale Hipsh, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast General Manager, Clinton Lovell, and Rita Gilligan, the legendary waitress at the first Hard Rock Café opened in London in 1971 as Brand Ambassador.

Representatives from Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels, Desaru Development Holdings One, Hard Rock International, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Puan Soraya Alkaff-Gilmour of NGO Cahaya Suria Bakti, Rockstars Amy of Search and Lan of Hydra fame, make up a total of 20 guests, invited to join the signature guitar-smash!

All the guitars come down in unison
and are smashed into smithereens!

Caught up in the fever pitch excitement of the moment, the Master of Ceremony is speaking at the top of his voice to remind participants to assume the position – guitar across the shoulder – and on his count, to bring the guitars down simultaneously to smash them against the stands!

The main stage was meticulously set up around the Mandala guitar, a permanent feature in the forecourt of the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, and the entire area is cordoned off as the venue for the much-anticipated Grand Opening Party.

I’m among Media Rockstars invited from the region including Indonesia, Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Johor, privileged to enjoy front-row views of the stage.

Media Rockstar privileges only for us!

We witness all the guitars coming down in unison – shattered into smithereens – with a glorious smash amidst loud cheers, immediately followed by fireworks on the stage.

At first, the pyrotechnics are shooting from the stage but in the next few moments all eyes are riveted skywards where a series of fireworks bloomed in the night sky!

This not-to-be-missed Hard Rock signature guitar-smashing ceremony marks the official opening of Hard Rock Hotel in Desaru Coast, their second hotel in Malaysia after Hard Rock Hotel opened in Penang 10 years ago.

Our gracious host, MarComm Director, Grace Chiam
with some of the Media Rockstars at the GOP

It kicks off the evening’s star-studded live music entertainment featuring Malaysian rock ‘n roll legend, Amy, the lead vocalist of his band Search, fondly known as Amy Search, with opening and closing acts by bands, Sharp 9 and Hydra, and music spun by DJ Chinois.

Flashback to 15 July 2019 when Grace Chiam, the hotel’s Director of Marketing and Communications, sent me the digital version of the Save The Date card to invite me to the Grand Opening Party (GOP).

“I would like you to be the first person to receive our Save The Date digital card,” she said along with the card that had brief details of the GOP planned for Sept 28.

And now here we are, right smack in the middle of the GOP, eagerly anticipating the appearance of the featured artist, legendary Rockstar, Amy Search, who’s hometown is proudly, Johor Baru.

Grace Chiam [Right] with
Soraya Alkaff-Gilmour

Grace told me that Amy was invited as the featured artist for their GOP because he is our fellow Anak Johor who achieved Rockstar fame in the capital city, then nationwide and also abroad, particularly in Indonesia.

Earlier today, the hotel VVIPs and the media met with Amy, the singer-songwriter and musician whose real name is Suhaimi Abdul Rahman, in an event where the Rockstar presented his personal effects to the Hard Rock collection of Rockstar Memorabilia. [This will be shared in a separate story.]

Technically a senior (he was born in 1958), Amy has aged gracefully and carries himself with amazing agility.

Now the anticipation is palpable as the audience – who probably knows all the songs made popular by Amy – is impatiently waiting for him to appear on stage.

On a separate section of the stage, I can see the bunting that announces info on the Hard Rock Heals Foundation with the tagline, Love Amplified.

Double screens in the stage backdrop featuring
a cool photograph of Amy
with eyes the will blink occasionally!
Grace had also told me that through this foundation, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is partnering with NGO, Pertubuhan Kebajikan Cahaya Surya Bakti, the volunteer society which manages the Rohingya Community School to support their music development programme.

The GOP is indeed a timely occasion for the hotel to present to the NGO, a range of musical instruments that include a keyboard, bongos and guitars.

The founder and executive director of Pertubuhan Kebajikan Cahaya Surya Bakti, Soraya Alkaff-Gilmour, graciously received the gift from Grace, who presented it on behalf of the hotel.

A cool photograph of Amy appears on giant double screens set up as the stage backdrop and it’s a bit spooky because I can see that his eyes will blink occasionally…

Yay! It's Amy rocking it out on stage! 
This clearly heralds his appearance and the audience responds with a roar of approval when the MC welcomes Amy on stage.

In the flashing lights cutting through deep shadows, my eyes are searching every corner of the stage for Amy. And there he is – Johor’s very own Rockstar!

Dressed in full black, Amy struts his stuff with signature moves and it didn’t take long for the audience to respond with equal enthusiasm – finishing his lines and belting out familiar lyrics.

It’s interesting that while Amy sang in Malay, he spoke to the audience in English.

Amy is still able to work his audience...

His hit song, Isabella, an anthem from Amy’s repertoire, really needs no introduction.

During the chorus, I take my eyes off Amy to watch the audience – made up of various ages in different race groups– who is singing along with gusto, mouthing familiar lyrics with pure passion!

It’s fascinating to see how his music resonates with Malaysians and unites us in a most unique way!

All too soon, the set draws to a close and Amy is cheered with thunderous applause.

Amy's adoring fans singing along with him!
Then a team member tells me that the Indonesian media has requested for an interview with Amy and the Rockstar has agreed to it.  

When asked if I will join them, my reply is of course, a resounding, “Yes!”

While the audience rocked on to the next band’s performance, a few media members and I slip off to meet with Amy. [This will also be shared in a separate story.]

The rest of the GOP passes in a blur because I’m ensconced with Amy for a private interview.

The heady session with Amy ends with photos with him and I leave dazzled by the aura of Amy Search while the Isabella soundtrack keeps playing a loop within my mind…  

Amy Search, Johor's legendary Rockstar, rocking it out at the
Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast's Grand Opening Party!

Slowly I find my way back into the GOP, which is drawing to a close, and guests are then invited to the After-Party happening at the GMT-8 Lounge.

The night is still young as the party continues with live music and exciting entertainment performed by a fire-eater!

Congratulations Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast on a most stunning and successful Grand Opening Party! #Now Live in Johor!

Photo Credits: Courtesy of HRHDC and Johor Bahru Collective Media [JOCOM] members 

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