Hard Rockin’s a labor of love

Mar 5, 2002 10:00 AM

Don Marrandino is like a kid in a candy store. The new president and chief executive officer of the Hard Rock Hotel says that running the rock-and-roll themed casino-resort is a labor of love, besides being one of the prime jobs in town.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind that this would be a plumb job for someone like me,” Marrandino told GamingToday. “The Hard Rock is an outstanding casino-resort, the original entertainment-driven hotel in Las Vegas.”

Marrandino, who last week left his executive position with Station Casinos, said that Peter Morton’s Hard Rock has been emulated by the most recent Âí­hotels to open. “The so-called ”˜boutique’ hotels, such as the Palms and Green Valley Ranch Station, have followed Morton’s lead by offering fun and innovative attractions,” Marrandino said, citing the Hard Rock’s Baby nightclub, the Joint concert hall and upscale dining that includes Nobu, the Pink Taco and A.J.’s Steakhouse.

Marrandino worked for nearly seven years at Stations Casinos, most recently as the head of the company’s eastside properties ”” Boulder, Sunset and Green Valley Ranch Stations. Prior to that he worked for six years for the Rio.

This week marks his first official week on the job, Marrandino said, and so far he is impressed with the operation of the 670-room, off-Strip hotel.

“I’ve found that the employees are dedicated to their jobs, they enjoy their jobs and I hope to build on that,” Marrandino said. “My goal is to work with everyone, to help everyone reach their potential and to continue offering the great product that’s the Hard Rock.”

In assessing the hotel, Marrandino said the casino does a tremendous table game business, and the slot operation has yet to reach its potential. He added that he would like to find more use for the Hard Rock’s excellent pool area, and perhaps add an outdoor casino.

On the entertainment front, Marrandino said he might want to integrate more of the rock and roll bands from the 1970s into the hotel’s roster of artists.

“Many of these groups still sound great, and there are plenty of baby boomers ”” those in their 40s and 50s ”” who would like to hear them,” he said.

Marrandino said he would also like to ensure locals Âí­remain a noticeable presence at the Hard Rock.

“In walking around the hotel, I probably know one out of every 10 people,” he said. “The Hard Rock has always been a great place to hang out. There’s always something exciting happening here. I couldn’t imagine a better job. This is exciting for me.”