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Online Exclusive - Hard Rock Hotel Panama

Oct 2, 2013

“I don’t define the Hard Rock Hotel Panama as any one aesthetic; it’s more of a blend of eclectic, modern styles,” says designer Jay Pecotte, Hard Rock Hotels’ director of project development. Spread out across a 66-story tower, the property houses 1,500 rooms, five restaurants, and seven bars—all “layering on that rock-n-roll drippy look.”


Hard Rock’s distinctive flair comes from designs like the Who-Are-You Lounge, where zebra and leopard skin flooring meets iconic British memorabilia. “[The lounge] looks like Austin Powers’ shake pad meets Mick Jagger’s love lair,” says Pecotte, who led the project in tandem with Miami-based firm Ba-Haus KNF.  A disco ball tops the round bar, which is surrounded by 1960s-inspired furniture. “It’s ‘Shaggadelic,’ if you would,” adds Pecotte.


The nearby Bling bar transitions into the 1970s. The dark color palette highlights sparkling purple and orange accents, all lit by a red spotlight. “The materials are reflective—a lot of mirrors, mirrored tiles, and die-cut metals,” says Pecotte. All of these surfaces enhance the Las Vegas-show feel, created by floating daybeds and a bar that double as dance platforms.


Contrasting against the Las Vegas and London-influenced spaces is Soy, an Asian fusion restaurant that nods to Japan. “I wanted to introduce Panama to sake,” says Pecotte. “What inspired me were traditional Japanese tapestries and the current anime style of art, and how those two live together or have morphed from one to another.” A large anime graphic complements a large orchid neon sculpture, which adorns the sushi and sake bar. While two sunken and tattooed areas provide traditional Japanese seating, the perimeter of the space offers more intimate dining beneath colorful mesh screens.

Still, the hotel’s location dominates its personality. “We try to dig deep in the locale and have it influence it a little bit, but not have it override,” says Pecotte. Along with memorabilia from Latin American musicians, the artwork throughout recalls Panamanian culture. Local tapestries, or molas, as well as carpeting mimicking tribal tattoos, bring color into the guestrooms. Dark stained wood millwork and purple and orange paint highlights throne side chairs and gator skin textures.


“The location of our projects always influences the design aesthetics,” continues Pecotte. Named after an American brothel owner who lived in the area in the late 1800s, Mamie Lee Kelley’s offers a subtle reference to the Canal Zone’s bawdy past.  Along with velvet furnishings and the mirrored-covered ceilings, strings of crystal wrap around the bar for a reflective chandelier. “It gives a little bit of play for people bouncing eye shots across the bar,” he adds. Tauro steakhouse also ties into this feel with “a little bit of brothel black and blue,” and a French twist—including feather chandeliers, lace-like wall patterns, and curved booths.


Even with all of the restaurants and bars, one of Pecotte’s highlights is the famous Hard Rock memorabilia. “We have a U2 Trabant car canted up on the carpet with a custom graphic behind it, and an escalator flanked by a purple glass wall with a thousand or so symbols that make up our hotel tattoo design,” says Pecotte. “Those are a couple of my favorites.” Snoop Dog, Elton John, Bootsy Collins, and other Latin American and classic rock legends glitz up the hotel as well.


“Working in Panama was a wonderful experience for me and my team,” says Pecotte. “ As we evolve further in the project and understand more, it will become more and more prevalent on the skyline that’s growing every day.”

hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



Produced by: Emerald Expositions
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