Situated next to Adventure Water Park Desaru Coast, the hotel departs from the ordinary by promising guests the authentic “Rock Star” experience from the hotel’s daily dose of entertainment and live music to uniquely handcrafted cocktail selection.
As Gaya Travel team members step into the property, we realise that Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is purposely designed to be family-friendly, down-to-earth, and cosy despite bearing the words ‘Hard Rock’ on its name, which might be construed as rebellious, restless, and uncontrollably pumped-up. On the contrary, the hotel remains tastefully mellow instead of garish and loud. So, when you come to the hotel, remember NOT to expect theatrical and edgy ambience, or anything too over-the-top, because Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is first and foremost a property set in a location dedicated for respite and caters to guests of all ages, particularly young families, hence the more toned-down and refined vibe.
Having that said, rest assured that Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is nonetheless vibrant – audible yet unobtrusive classic infectious tunes magically fill the hotel’s public areas, beckoning music lovers to tap their feet and sing along if they knew the lyrics. Most importantly, guests will never be deprived of their much-loved music, which can easily be streamed into their rooms from the complimentary music channels piped out using the sleek Bose® Solo 5 Soundbar.
It is worth noting that Hard Rock Hotels are the natural extension of Hard Rock Café. When the very first Hard Rock Café opened in 1974 along Old Park Lane in London by two Americans, Peter Morton and Isaac Tigrett, the owners intended to introduce the egalitarian American dining experience to the public by serving good old American food that transcended class and income bracket while listening to stimulating rock and roll music considering England that time was one of the world’s pop music hubs. The café quickly became popular, especially among musicians who stopped over to dine and even perform.
In 1979, one of the world’s most talented musicians Eric Clapton, who was a regular at Hard Rock Café and already famous, permanently booked his favourite spot at the bar by requesting the bartender to hang his guitar directly above that spot so that nobody else would take it, which the bartender obliged. Word got out regarding how Eric Clapton booked his spot at Hard Rock Café; a week later, the singer and guitarist for The Who, Pete Townsend, sent his guitar to the café to be hung above his favoured spot. Thereafter, other artists wanted to have a piece of their item displayed at Hard Rock Café, resulting in many of the artists’ fans coming over to have a look at them, thus mark the beginning of memorabilia display at Hard Rock chain.
Today, over 86,000 pieces of memorabilia are displayed across the Hard Rock chain worldwide. Though the majority are donated by the artists themselves, some of the items were procured through auctions, especially when the artists have passed away, or through charity. All items are certified original and not replicas.
Hardcore music enthusiasts who come over to Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast must be thrilled to know that over 32 items once belonged to international superstars like Led Zeppelin, Lady Gaga, Rolling Stones, The Who, Beatles, Beyonce, and Rihanna, including the legendary local rock group Search, are strategically displayed throughout the property. Guests are therefore invited to stroll along the hotel’s walkways at their own pace and fascinate over these items donated by the biggest names in entertainment, both old and new as well as local and international.
Better yet, guests should join the daily Memorabilia Tour led by the in-house Vibe manager, Aaron Barnabas, who begins the session at the hotel lobby at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. This carefully curated activity provides deeper insights and engaging stories regarding the items on display and the stars who used to own them. Guests can then bring back home tangible memories of the Hard Rock brand by purchasing collectibles and merchandises at the Rock Shop®.
The rooms at Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast are incredibly spacious, inviting you to relax and unwind. Gaya Travel team loves the high ceilings because it makes the space more airy, breezy, and pleasantly bathed in natural light, which the team finds uplifting. The whole bed is sumptuous and exceedingly comfortable, guaranteeing a restful and rewarding slumber. The room’s colour scheme comprising dark wood with splashes of blue, white, grey, and beige exudes a homely feel. There is also a generous-sized balcony for guests to lounge. As tribute to the environment, no disposable plastic bottled water is served in the room, therefore guests need to collect drinking water from the water station on each floor using the refillable water bottle made available in the room.
Guests who opt for any of the plush and highly recommended 22 Rock Royalty® Rooms and 24 Suite Rooms can directly head to the Rock Royalty® Lounge on the sixth floor for checking in and out. The lounge is also where guests of Rock Royalty® Rooms and Suite Rooms enjoy light refreshments throughout the day, and complimentary evening cocktails from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. In addition, Rock Royalty® Lounge serves limited yet wholesome exclusive breakfast from 7:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. This is especially helpful whenever guests prefer to escape from the breakfast bustle at the hotel’s all-day dining outlet called Sessions. However, for more variety, Sessions is the go-to place because its breakfast spread is far more diverse.
Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast features four enticing dining outlets: Sessions all-day dining; the photogenic Constant Grind coffee & bar; the lobby bar GMT+8; and The Elephant & The Butterfly, a Mexican poolside bar and grill featuring contemporary art and cuisine inspired by the fiery love tale between Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, two of Mexico’s greatest artists.
Fronting the pool and serving comforting Mexican and South American fare, The Elephant & The Butterfly offers an interesting alternative to the options listed on the menu at Sessions, which primarily focusses on Western and Asian dishes, among them are the popular oxtail soup and grilled salmon. In short, all of the hotel’s diverse restaurants and bars whip up satiating gastronomic delights whether they come in the form of a caffeine fix, leisurely meal, or craft cocktails. If you were not keen on leaving your room, you can just order in-room dining.
GMT+8, which is opposite of the reception counter on the third floor, offers exhilarating time for catching energetic live shows featuring Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast’s resident live band from 8:30 p.m. onwards.
But rather than watching other people perform, why not you become a performer yourself? Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast indulges guests with the chance to unleash their inner rock star via the Sound of Your Stay (SOYS) music amenity programme: guests can have their own jam sessions within the comforts of their own room by renting one of the 20 Fender guitars or a Crosley turntable together with a selection of vinyl players and records, complete with amplifier and headphones, from the reception. Guests who stay at the Rock Royalty® Rooms can utilise the SOYS programme for free.
Guests who wish to venture outside the resort will be happy to know that Desaru is home to several exciting places of interest. Those who reserve their room via the hotel’s own website will receive complimentary single-entry tickets to the Adventure Waterpark next door, which is undoubtedly good value. Other nearby family-friendly attractions that you can head to are Desaru Fruit Farm and Muzium Nelayan (Fishermen Museum) in Tanjung Balau, both located around 15 minutes’ drive away from Desaru Coast.
But among the more educational activities are the trips organised by Junglewalla Desaru, an award-winning tour company focussing on ecotourism and natural environment led by passionate nature guides who adopt an up-close-and-personal approach so that travellers learn about the ecological characteristics of the destination better. Two packages that guests can select to understand more about Desaru are the Beach Life & Tide Pool Walk, and Sungai Lebam River Cruise.
Beach Life & Tide Pool Walk introduces guests to an untouched beachside area within Desaru Coast during low tide, when the tide pools are exposed, to study the myriad of bizarre and intriguing creatures like sand bubbler crabs, hermit crabs, moon snails, cowrie snails, mudskippers, and sea cucumbers. Small as they are, these creatures play important role in maintaining the environment’s ecological balance.
Along the way to the beach, Junglewalla Desaru’s knowledgeable guide points to the types of vegetation found in the area such as the local tree called penawar, which has shoots that can be eaten as salad and the rest of the leaves used for treating wound; and the indigenous casuarina called ru, giving rise to the name ‘Desaru’, meaning Casuarina Village. Based on the geological formations found around the tide pools, the guide further explains that the land mass now called Johor was the first to emerge from water millions of years ago compared to the rest of Peninsular Malaysia to become part of the Asian continent. Other trees found in the area are the ancient cycads and penaga laut (tamanu).
On the other hand, the Sungai Lebam River Cruise allows guests to explore the wide river of Sungai Lebam, which is flanked by rich and lush mangrove forest, only a mere 15-minute drive from Bandar Penawar, considered as Desaru’s town centre. As the boat gently meanders along the river, the guide unravels many interesting secrets regarding the area’s unique ecosystem.
According to Junglewalla Desaru’s expert guide, two most popular types of mangrove tree that flourish in Sungai Lebam area are Rhizophora apiculata (bakau minyak) and Rhizophora mucronata (bakau kurap) because their seeds travel and reproduce easily, including Sonneratia caseolaris (mangrove apple) that attracts fireflies in droves. The mangrove system is crucial in protecting the coastline from erosion and tsunami. Members of an aboriginal tribe called Orang Seletar also use selected plants found at the mangroves to treat ailments.
Besides flora, the mangroves are also home to birds, squirrels, lizards, tapirs, wild boars, pit viper, mangrove cat snake, python and Raffles’ banded langurs that are endemic only in Johor and Singapore. The best time to see the birds is in the morning from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., while reptiles appear on the branches of the mangrove trees during high tide; small creatures like crabs and mudskipper as well as migratory birds that feed on these creatures come out during low tide. Aside from engrossing information shared by the guide, guests are sure to be captivated by Sungai Lebam’s tranquil atmosphere and soothing greenery.
After staying for two nights, the Gaya Travel team clearly sees that Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is well on its way to become the ultimate destination for fun and entertainment in the south of Peninsular Malaysia. People from all walks of life are bound to be bowled over by the hotel’s blend of fine-tuned hospitality, evocative pop music, climate-responsive architecture, cosy interiors, enthralling memorabilia, and collectible merchandise, making the hotel one-of-a-kind. The destination where the hotel is located also brims with choices of amazing attractions for the whole family.
For more info and reservation, visit Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast’s official website.