San Diego: Hard Rock Hotel guests rock out with Gibson guitars

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Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Want to feel like a rock star? You don’t need an agent. Just check into the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego and check out a $2,000 electric guitar.

On the heels of Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, which began the “Check In. Rock Out” program more than a year ago, the San Diego link in the music-themed chain is letting guests use handmade, high-end Gibson guitars for free. Among the models are Les Paul Studios, SG Standards and SG Specials, said Blake Smith, global music marketing manager for Hard Rock International. Besides the instrument, you get amps and headphones so that you don’t disturb other guests.

One downside: Availability may be limited. The San Diego hotel has 420 rooms but just 14 guitars, spokeswoman Rana Kay said. Guitars are available on a first-come, first-served basis; you cannot reserve one in advance. So far, the hotel has been able to meet the demand, she said. But in Chicago, availability has been an issue, according to Smith. “They began with 20 instruments, and they were checked out all the time,” he said. The hotel company is working to get more guitars, he added.


If you do check out a guitar, be careful with it. The loaner agreement on the Hard Rock website states: “If the Merchandise is lost, stolen or damaged during the term of the loan, the Borrower shall pay Gibson’s best artist price plus applicable shipping and tax charges for the Merchandise and consents to these amounts being charged to his or her credit card listed below.”

I asked Smith about that provision. “We’re aware there’s going to be some wear and tear on the instrument,” he said. A ding or a scratch and or a broken string isn’t apt to be a problem, he said. But a guest who walks away with a guitar would have to pay up. And if theft by a third party is suspected, Smith said, “we would have to deal with the guest and get to the root of what occurred.”

And please, please don’t trash the room. Because you’re not really a rock star, are you?

Datebook note: At 3 p.m. Thursday, guitarist Zakk Wylde of the Black Label Society is scheduled to appear in the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego lobby to officially kick off the “Check In. Rock Out” program, which began last month, Kay said. Visitors will also be able to view all the guitar models then, she added.

Contact: Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, (619) 702-3000.