PHOTO: A solo saxophonist gets our first conference started smoothly. (photo by Kelly Anne Gould)
Written and posted by Kelly Anne Gould of Travel Impressions.
The child of two parents for whom music is as compulsory as breathing — a mother who can name the tune from Twisted Sister to Sinatra in seconds flat and a father who recites The Moody Blues like poetry — it’s hardly surprising that it would also be a significant part of my life. If there’s one thing I love as much as traveling, it’s music.
So my level of excitement upon arriving at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya was as electric as my Stratocaster. Because not only was I there as a guest (my first stay at an all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel), but also as a member of a social media FAM … which meant post-worthy events were sure to be in store.
And so they were.
“’Turn it down,’ you say but all I got to say to you is — time and time again, I say, ‘No!’”
When you stay at a Hard Rock Hotel, you expect theatrics. That luxe-with-an-edge atmosphere does kick in as soon as you step into the lobby (in my case, at Heaven — a place on earth, and the adults-only side of the resort) and look up and around at galleried memorabilia, shops, restaurants, a lounge area used nightly for live concerts and events, and, my personal favorite, a rock garden of puns … including a boulder declaring, “FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK” I felt compelled to salute.
And it was right there again at our welcome dinner — a feast of artfully presented Mexican flavors, held in an ocean-facing gazebo and featuring a prelude introduction to the brand’s new handcrafted cocktail program. Without doubt, our group’s initial greeting had sufficiently wowed me. Little did I know the next morning’s opening session of our conference would show me what a true grand entrance looks like.
When it comes to seminars, too often that means a standard conference room (read: boring), perhaps a continental breakfast, and chairs set neatly around a long table. Not when you take your meetings to the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya. The doors that marked the entrance to the upstairs section of the on-site, two-level nightclub, Club Heaven, opened to admit us into a strangely dark room.
Red lighting cast a dramatic glow over the bar, the focal point of the room, on which a solo saxophonist, dressed his best in a pure white suit, stood playing atop it as fire — actual flames! — ebbed and flowed with a domino effect along the pyramid of glasses at his feet, Gatsby-esque green lights flickering into life as the fire spread farther down the bartop and billows of mist rose from the floor.
Mimosas, freshly poured, were pressed into our hands as a jazzy cover of “Titanium” by Sia held us transfixed, eyes darting between our flashing phones and the performance before us, not wanting to miss a single second.
Wild applause met the song’s conclusion, as we shook ourselves back into action, continuing into the club’s lounge/pool hall, sampling healthful juice shooters, mini yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit, and other Instagram-ready breakfast treats before taking our seats on the plush couches. Purple backlit walls showcased guitars and a giant projection screen under wrought-iron chandeliers and a ruby ceiling, exuding altogether a trendy, slightly masculine feel. At the session’s end, I found myself reluctant to leave, but eager to put my new skills into practice … and better explore this place called Heaven.