Wow! Who knew?
Less than one year ago, we were squabbling over the deplorable conditions at the still very much under construction Hard Rock Daytona – a “theme” hotel built upon the skeleton of the haunted Desert Inn, once known as the “Dirtiest Hotel in America” – a project that took a circuitous route to becoming a reality and ultimately cost the personal and professional reputations of several high profile elected and appointed officials in the eyes of their flummoxed constituents.
In 2015, the Volusia County Council dutifully did the bidding of their puppeteers and passed ordinances setting specific performance guarantees in exchange for granting the developer 410 linear feet of traffic-free beach behind the hotel.
Then, construction languished – at times it was like the project was being completed by two guys working weekends.
During a fateful County Council meeting in April 2017, our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, and former County Manager Jim Dinneen, confederated with developer Abbas Abdulhussein to bring an off-the-agenda ambush which ultimately changed the flag from a Westin luxury property to a Hard Rock International affiliation – along with a request for various concessions and time extensions.
We, The People watched in horror as those blowholes we elected to represent our collective interests immediately succumbed to excited incontinence – erupting in mock surprise and jubilation – hooting and jabbering their complete support for the developer’s every request without hearing the first shred of testimony, analyzing a statement of need or even receiving a basic explanation for the extension request.
Just like that, the fix was in.
As the date certain for the performance and completion standards set by ordinance grew near, concerned citizens began taking photographs depicting structural integrity concerns in a subterranean parking garage, ugly concrete spalling on the external seawall and the then clearly unfinished pool deck.
There were angry allegations and counter-allegations in the newspaper.
Area residents worked hard to convince ourselves that no corporation with standing in the hospitality industry would dare risk their hard-earned reputation by certifying an incomplete renovation as meeting the exacting standards of an International brand.
Yet, in February 2018, that’s exactly what Hard Rock International did.
Hard Rock corporate shrewdly issued a note to Little Jimmy Dinneen quibbling that the “luxury design” of the hotel – and “upon opening” the operation of the hotel “will” – meet brand standards and service requirements.
Based upon this “kinda/sorta” premature certification from Hard Rock International – Dinneen, by Royal decree, unilaterally decided it was enough to permanently remove our century old heritage of beach driving from the strand behind the hotel.
I won’t get into the slapstick comedy that resulted when county officials subsequently drove a phalanx of poisonous wooden poles into the sand in the pre-dawn darkness. . .
So, imagine our collective surprise earlier this week when The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that our very own Hard Rock Daytona was named Best Hotel in North America (sorry, I just shot coffee through my nose, here, let me clean that up) by a travel industry website called travelplus.com.
Yep! Our very own Hard Rock is the 2019 Travvy Award Winner for Best Family Hotel/Resort in the United States and Canada!
The Ritz-Carlton New York? No.
The Montage Beverly Hills? No.
The Willard Washington, D.C.? No.
The Rosewood Vancouver? No.
The Gold Standard sits at 918 North Atlantic Avenue – just down the street from the moldering remains of the Americano Beach Resort (another world class venue by current standards) and a stones-throw from the enchanted, Disney-like atmosphere of the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, where vacationing children can meet and greet the whimsical characters who roam the area creating a magical memory for the whole family!
What’s a “Travvy Award” you ask?
Well, depending upon which industry expert the News-Journal spoke with, it’s either a “very prestigious award” or a “Huh? Not familiar with it. . .” PR ploy.
According to Michael Terry, an associate instructor at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, “It’s not a big award right now, but they are working to make it that way.”
Given the wide disparity in expert opinions on Hard Rock’s “Major Award” – I conducted a cursory inquiry and found that, apparently, any eligible industry supplier may submit their name for consideration to the publisher – pay an “entry fee” – which “ensures that the entry will be considered for recognition” – then the “entrants” are voted on by participating travel agents through the Travelplus website.
And that, gentle readers, is how Hard Rock Daytona became the crème de la crème of family resort hotels in North America. . .
Look, I don’t give a damn if corporations want to feather their own nest with dubious accolades – after all, shameless self-promotion is the way of the world in 2019, and any company worth its salt hires professional flacks to do just that.
God knows my own ego, hypocrisy and petty pretense knows no bounds. . .
But when many locals read The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s coverage of this prize – and the fawning horseshit of our local tourism “experts” who seized this sliver of good news with the tenacity of a drowning victim – it shocked our calloused sense of reality.
Earlier today, I took a drive down to the Hard Rock – parked in the county-owned public parking lot that taxpayers are now relegated to – and braved 30-mph winds and driving rain (never say I don’t marginally sacrifice my personal comfort to bring you what passes for my goofy opinion of the news and newsmakers on Florida’s fabled Fun Coast) to take some photographs of the very visible beachfront face of the premiere family resort in all of the United States and Canada.
After all, they say a picture is worth a thousand words:
You be the judge.