DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - It was a big day for Daytona Beach tourism.
The Hard Rock Hotel on the beach held its grand opening Tuesday.
Gary and Alicia Hines attended the Hard Rock’s soft opening.
“We had no idea that they finally built a Hard Rock in Daytona,” Lake Mary resident
Alicia Hines said.
“It's our four-year anniversary, so we just came and spent some time out here. It was great,” Gary Hines said.
The christening of the hotel featured the smashing of a guitar.
The Daytona Beach location is the fourth one in Florida, but the hotel is one-of-a-kind because it's the only oceanfront Hard Rock.
The musical elements include electric guitars to play in your room or a classic record player with a vinyl musical collection.
“It's a lot like Miami. It's more upscale and more modern,” Alicia Hines said.
The big ceremony started at 3 p.m. Officials showed off the spa, a Kids Club, a fitness center, a pool and a salon.
A live band will play Tuesday night.
Some hope the lavish hotel will spur change in a part of the city that has been crippled by blight and poverty. But others worry that the buzz the project has created will fizzle out, as was the case with previous projects that were touted as game changers.
"Every new shinny thing, every new project is met with a great enthusiasm and should be," said John Dees, owner of Mainly Gold on Seabreeze Boulevard. "However, not really any of them have really sustained or brought any significant change to the beach side."
In 1990, a set of new hotel developments were expected to improve the area. In 1997, new restaurants were the hot topic. In 2003, an updated boardwalk was supposed to be the fix.
But Dees said he hopes this time will be different.
"We are hopeful that it is going to encourage others to follow, because it's going to take more than just the Hard Rock to make a significant impact and make permanent changes and long-term changes for the better," he said.
The project hasn't come without controversy. It resulted in a 410-foot vehicle-free zone on the beach in front of the hotel.
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