BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Raising a small tree atop the 12th floor of the new Hard Rock Casino Hotel marks a major milestone for a project that has been in the works for several years now.
"To finally see it coming to fruition is very exciting," Hard Rock General Manager Duncan McKenzie said. "To see the top complete, the rest of the construction is going to be very quickly."
Hard Rock's second hotel tower will add 140 rooms and 14 new suites, bringing the total number of rooms to almost 500.
"We stay full 99 plus percent amount of the time," McKenzie said, "so we are really excited to have more rooms."
The expansion is a $32.5 million investment that will add 90 permanent jobs and is expected to attract more visitors.
"We are focused on not only casino, but tourism in general," McKenzie said.
"The casinos in Biloxi mean a lot to us, so we can lower taxes for the people," Mayor AJ Holloway said.
The hotel rooms were designed by a Las Vegas architectural firm that has worked on hotel rooms all across the country. But architect Brad Schulz said these rooms are different from any others the firm has ever designed.
"A typical room you walk in, you walk through the room to a relatively narrow window. This is just the opposite," Schulz said. "The room is turned 90 degrees, so one whole long side of the room is facing the window... out to the Gulf or to Biloxi."
If the general manager has his way, this will not be the last expansion for the casino.
"We have all that land at the Windjammer that we are going to make much more parking," McKenzie said. "Additionally, that land can create opportunities for us to expand even more in the future."
The hotel was expected to be open by the New Year, but rain pushed the grand opening back a few weeks to mid or late January.