Travelers, if you are like I am, when you travel to the unknown, you like to know SOMETHING of what you are getting yourself into...such as, what clothes to take, what amenities are available, what is within walking distance of where you are staying if you will be without a car, and the general 'lay of the land' so to speak. So, when I was preparing to travel to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, I went searching on the Internet for a site that would give me any of this information. It seems this information was a well kept secret, though, because I found next to nothing and had to wing my way into this adventure..and an adventure it was..and will be for you as well if you so choose...but I will help you to be better prepared than I was.
As my husband and I first arrived at the hotel, we entered and were tossed into immediate sensory overload. The constant ( and I mean CONSTANT ) ringing and buzzing and beeping of the Casino slots, the throngs of people, the abundance of 'Hov-Around' type motorized wheel chairs, ( I THINK there was some sort of background white noise music ), and the most eclectic bunch of people Ive ever encoutered in one place. Elderly folks, locals, vacationers, professional gamblers, cruise 'stop over' guests, clubbers...a true ethnic plethora of humanity. ( Again, be mindful of the motorized wheelchairs..it seems there was no speed limit for them..) Add to that the thick fog of smoke hanging in the air and surrounding us that,although terribly uncomfortable, I was at least somewhat appeased with the knowledge that, altho I would be coughing and tearing -up most of the time, I would look great to others being it was like a constant 'silk screen' to hide any facial flaws that would normally be obvious....
We went to our room. ( There is security making sure you are a guest of the hotel prior to being allowed into the elevators. )
Our room was adequate. The decor had a little more 'leopard print' than I was used to, but it was a comfortable size with a lovely bathroom. Altho there was a coffee maker, there was no microwave or refrigerator. There was a wet bar that we were cautioned to be very careful with; the front desk person told us that if we would even jostle something inside it, we would find it on our bill. We never even opened the door...just in case.
I had read, on the one and only small review Id found prior to arriving, that the staff was impersonal and uncaring. I found the opposite to be true. Everyone we interacted with could not have been more pleasant. Actually, one night while I was juggling my cell phone, notebooks etc, a young maintenance man, changing garbage bags in a nearby can, stopped working and quietly went to the casino and carried back a nice leather chair that he offered to me. That did truly impress me. Especially since there are NO benches or seats in the lobby area, which means if you want to sit down, you must patronize one of the restaurants or bars. They 'Gotcha'.
I will reiterate, the place sits on a Seminole Indian Reservation so smoking is allowed. Everywhere. And it is thick. If you have ANY lung concerns, this is NOT the place for you. I feel so strongly about this warning, you will read it again further down...
First choice: Tequila Ranch
Service: Fantastic, professional, courteous.
Food: Dined there 4 times.
Excellent AUTHENTIC Mexican food..NOT 'chain' style. Prepared on premises ...Over the course of the 4 times dining there, we tried the Empanadas (light, flavourful, heaven in light dough ) Skirt steaks, Dirty Mexican Cocktail, Fajitas, and an appetizer sampler. Fast service. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Indoor seating was interesting with Mexican tiles with comfortable and private seating. Outdoor seaating avail. Unfortunately the night I sat outdoors there was an ANNOYING 'cheesy' show of some sort on the 'central stage' REALLY killing the 'whatever peace is afforded' atmosphere where one is still surrounded by a different loud dance beat from every nearby establishment coming at you from all sides. Weather was perfect..that helped...:) Outdoor bar avail as well with friendly bartender the night I was there. My waiter on my last night, EW, spent time with me and was interested in my writing. A native of this area, he was friendly, genuinely interested in MY comfort, Checked my food preparation, my comfort, fixed the tilt in my table, etc.., and he was also 'comforting' and, I will say, 'protective' as I sat alone amidst the sea of 'interesting' humanity..thanks EW...:)
Johnny Rockets, Hooters, Martorano's (...?), Then there is Hard Rock Cafe'...here we go......get the ashtrays...
Hard Rock Cafe: Always loved the concept...Except for HERE.
Wait and bartending staff: Friendly and helpful.
Atmosphere: SMOKEY. Loud-ish. Directly next to Casino. Non smoking section changed from one night to the other but it is - again - RIGHT NEXT TO CASINO and there is Plenty of smoke to go around there..NO getting away from it. (The Hotel/Casino is located on a Seminole Indian Reservation and smoking rights are well catered to...Gamblers seem to need their smokes...)
Folks, if you have ANY concerns for smoke due to health reasons..this is NOT the place for you..(or me..my eyes, throat burned, clothes and hair reeked. We had to put a towel under the door...) NO escaping from it...As for no escaping..there is literally NO escaping period.....We felt trapped minus a car, but walked down the street one day to find an abundance of Asian Massage Parlors, pawn shops ( or course..), and auto dealers...At least on a cruise ship vacation you stop and de-board at destinations..not here....In other words. 'They Got ya'. NO refrigerator, as mentioned, in rm. NO microwave. NO benches in 'lobby' ( IS there a lobby..?). You HAVE to eat their food, drink their drinks, and sit in the restaurants on site as a patron if you want to have a seat...and it is NOT cheap. Either you are a patron HERE or you dont eat or drink...We did lose weight...Speaking of weight.. I will address the fitness center further down in this review...
Tatu: Had Drinks there...'So so' service. Nice outdoor cozy / romantic bar..Deep red and black hues with candles on tables..Signature drinks. Sushi. Cool place. I had a lovely night there.
Security/Police: Stayed 7 nights and 8 days. As I observed from different venues nightly, I befriended a police officer or two as well as a couple of security guards. Friendly, eyes open and doing their jobs.... I questioned them if their ears ring when they go home at night due to the NOISE...Answer...no..but smoke bothers them..One male Police Officer stated that the atmosphere can be difficult on relationships while working there due to 'nature of attire' of patrons...etc.....
OK, Now, Im no prude..lets get that out of the way...but whoa.....Ladies, sorry to say (or maybe happy to say for some of you...hmmmm...) but the PM attire consists of stilettos and dresses shorter that my usual t-shirt....The first night observing I was in somewhat of a shocked state..then....the odd thing.....it becomes just what it is.....'everywhere' and nothing out of the ordinary..one is gradually desensitized to the overall effect and I found myself enjoying my shorts and flip flops while keeping the heels and dresses in the closet in our room...just too much work...ONE night I did have a 'date night' with my husband and I wore a lovely sleeveless black chiffon number with heels..HIGH neck, (a classic), and I began to realize that the 'looks' I received were not lecherous..but respectfully (sometimes) appreciative...I received 'different' types of looks than did the 'ladies' ( and I use that term loosely ) in their heels ' up to there', tops 'down to there', and skirts hiding the bare minimum...I sat and observed one night on a stool that was a treasure (provided by a nearby restaurant ) that night, outside the walkway to one of the swanky dance clubs....I seriously was only going to give a short but succinct review of the hotel and accommodations to the every day traveler..but..that night was so...interesting...that I decided to warn those planning a stop here of the seemingly mandatory dress code attire....sigh.....almost sad to see couples coming into the club and bar area, women unsuspecting, men wide eyed, to the mass of humanity oozing 'sex'.....I was exhausted after a few hours of experiencing this...There I sat....black shorts, flip flops, black long sleeved t shirt..and due to the fact I was sitting on a stool near a club, I had numerous requests for directions to certain clubs, poker tables and general information questions....what was amusing was that, being Id been here for almost a week at this point, I was adeptly able to direct them to their destination and answer every question confidently...nice...
Back to 'fashion'.....ANYTHING acceptable...I DO recommend 'fancy' attire for weekend nights if you want to feel somewhat comfortable in fitting into the crowd..but..truly? I cant imagine most people 'fitting into' THIS crowd with their unique dress code...Where is the self respect ladies? As mentioned..High neck sleeveless cocktail dress here, and I received respectful yet appreciative glances...I prefer that..but mostly? My incredibly handsome husband told me I looked 'stunning' ( a few times...:) so it didn't matter what anyone else thought..I'm just passing on what I feel may be helpful therapeutic information, Ladies...
All this said. bring your money, your dancing shoes ( preferably stilettos ), your money, your finery, your money, ( get the idea here? )and just enjoy it for what it is..It IS an experience and adventure if you decide to make it one....trust me.....one of a kind...but I suppose I'm happy to have experienced it...In an odd masocistic kind of way....
Pool area: Truly wanted to feel that 'tropical steel drum island give me a margarita and a palm tree' feel..but didnt get it..bummer...
Wait staff: Pleasant, friendly, but if you missed one round? Forget it. I advise you to go to Beach Club bar yourself and get your drink..bartenders are extremely accommodating and worth the walk. Water slide fun for all..my first...:) An abundance of lounge chairs, token palm trees, and a great volley ball court.
Equip: ( for the fitness nuts like my husband and me ) One word? GREAT. As another 'gym buddy' put it.."15 year old brand new equip..." As in...hardly used and well taken care of.
STAFF: Truly pleasant staff to greet you. Helpful and personal treatment.
Now, fitness/gym people.....You will 'GET' what Im going to tell you.....
You travel, for business or pleasure, and you NEED a fitness center. This is an excellent one Period. Excellent equipment for every muscle group as well as top notch cardio equipment. And we never waited for a machine. (!!) The gym was rarely occupied when we were there..... Fresh towels were provided, water, calm atmosphere (compared to the constant adrenaline rush oozing from the rest of hotel...) Clean, SMOKE FREE ( to an extent )..and truly a great 'travel gym'...So, bring your shorts and sneakers....:)
Id love to say there were many nearby attractions, but I cant. Nothing within walking distance, that is. There is some sort of Alligator show on Saturday Nights on the Hotel grounds, but we didn't attend that.
In closing, I must say Ive traveled enough to feel qualified to give an honest review of this establishment. Remember that I'm a traveler just like you and like to know what to expect when visiting a new place. I wish Id read this prior to OUR stay at the Seminole.
The most important last word to pass on to you is this: It is NOT our normal kind of place to vacation to. We will probably not return....but...I WILL say it was a truly memorable adventure...so...ENJOY! ( Because you are armed with information and ready. )