Here’s a pro tip: If a publicist emails you and asks if you’d be interested in attending the grand opening of a Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun, all expenses paid, for three days of laying out by the pool, eating more food than Honey Boo Boo’s mom at a buffet and generally behaving like a Kanye West/Kim Dotcom hybrid … all sandwiched in-between concerts from Flo Rida and the Goo Goo Dolls, well, then you should most definitely say “Yes.”
Because that’s what I did. For three days this weekend, I checked my journalistic integrity at the door and partied like a genuine rock star at the sparkly new Hard Rock in Cancun, a 12-story gem that juts out into the Caribbean Sea, features some 600 rooms, five international restaurants, five bars (including two of the “swim-up” variety) and a lobby packed with enough memorabilia to give the Rock Hall pause (checking out John Bonham’s kit up close was a thrill … what can I say, I’m a rock nerd). There were parties and after-parties, booming DJ sets by the pool, white sand beaches, endless Hors d’oeuvres and at one point, they christened the thing with a guitar-smash, one attended by a little person dressed up like Gene Simmons. Needless to say, one of the better work-cations I’ve ever been on.
For the grand opening, the folks at Hard Rock pulled out all the stops, which meant, that, in addition to the fashion show I attended — I wore a button-up shirt and everything — there were also two nights of concerts. Flo Rida provided the perfect soundtrack to a very loose first night, ripping through a set of his patented party-starters (“Low,” “In The Ayer,” “Right Round,” etc) and even bringing a bunch of ladies up on stage at one point for an impromptu dance-off. Shoot, he had such a good time that he even stuck around the next day, and was seen by this reporter wading out into the crystal-blue ocean in a pair of gigantic red trunks.
The Goo Goo Dolls performed on night two, and served reminder that they possess a back catalog as formidable as, well, anyone, leading a fired-up crowd through rousing sing-alongs on hits like “Name,” “Iris,” “Black Balloon” and “Slide.” And despite forming in Buffalo, New York, they seemed at home on the Hard Rock’s beach stage, rocking long into the night.
There were also celebrity cameos by the aforementioned Willis (who, it should be noted, was definitely feeling the Goo Goo Dolls) and Wilmer Valderrama, who hosted a Saturday afternoon pool party from high-atop a DJ booth, staged a “Dougie” competition and posed for about a bazillion photos. Oh, and then I got an “organic facial” from the Hard Rock spa. It definitely helped with the hangover.
All-in-all, it was a pretty tremendous weekend, and now that I’m sitting here back in gloomy New York, typing this with my tan slowly peeling away (it’s seriously gross), I can tell you without a doubt that you should definitely make your way down to the Hard Rock in Cancun sometime … even if a publicist isn’t paying your way, it’s sure to be a trip you won’t forget. Even if you can’t remember most of it.