Even though most showrooms are dark this weekend, there’s still quite a ruckus being made at South Lake Tahoe, a lot of pounding and sawing for an event scheduled for late January. That’s the date set for the grand opening of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which replaces the outdated and lately pretty-tawdry Horizon on one of the prime locations for casino activity at the lake.
The MontBleu, across Highway 50 from the Hard Rock, is making similar noises. It has begun a $24 million renovation that includes the casino floor, the convention center and 437 rooms. The new look of the rooms is described as “Scandinavian Fantasy,” with more contemporary and cleaner looks than the slightly gaudy originals when the property was Caesars Tahoe.
The Hard Rock is taking over the location that once housed the Sahara Tahoe, then High Sierra, then Horizon. In an earlier incarnation, it boasted one of the largest and most glorious showrooms in Nevada – the High Sierra Theater – home of Liberace, Shirley MacLaine and Elvis, among others. Then the space was converted into a movie multiplex (a sad day, indeed). The Hard Rock is promising its return as a live venue and that bodes well for lake entertainment since the Hard Rock in Vegas now has on its schedule acts such as Train, Rascal Flatts, Seether and Bush.
Also promising is the fact the Hard Rock just hired veteran show producer Paul Reder to put together a summer concert series, which when combined with Harveys’ annual schedule should make for some exciting months. Altogether, the hotel will feature 539 rooms, the obligatory brand retail store, what’s expected to be the largest outdoor pool in the area, and multiple restaurants. Reservations are being accepted. (HardRockCasinoLakeTahoe.com)
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▪ In the meantime, holiday festivities begin this week with the third annual Light Up South Lake Tahoe, a procession led by decorated trucks and snowplows along Highway 50 that beings at Stateline and ends with a tree-lighting ceremony at the “Y” (corner of Highway 50 and 89). Santa Claus, hot chocolate and cookies all will make an appearance. The event begins 6 p.m. Saturday.
▪ The Winter Ignite celebration takes place Friday, Saturday and Dec. 12-13, at Heavenly Ski Resort. The event kicks off the start the season with pop-up DJs, après ski parties, and music by Young the Giant (www.skiheavenly.com).
▪ Some of the best rock-blues around can be found at Jackson Rancheria on Dec. 11. Inspired by the likes of B.B. King and Albert Collins, Robert Cray has certainly reached their levels and, in the opinion of some, surpassed them. Judge for yourself. Show begins at 7 p.m. ($25, $30; www.jacksoncasino.com)
▪ In Reno: “Christmas Wonderland,” the annual Eldorado seasonal show features a hard-working cast of young singers and dancers in bright costumes on colorful sets with endless smiles. It’s all like being dropped into a holiday episode of “Lawrence Welk.” (Times vary with seasonal matinees; $28.55-$45.05; www.eldoradoreno.com)