In Orbit on the Strip

Planet Hollywood gets ready to throw the party of the year

By: Kenneth Shapiro

This is the first Image
The stylish lobby of Planet Hollywood
welcomes guests.
According to representatives of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, plans for the property’s official grand opening next month are on schedule. In particular, by the time of the opening weekend, Nov. 16-17, guests should definitely have plenty of choices when it comes to where to dine and relax. “All our new venues, including Yolos, Koi, Planet Dailies, Strip House, Earl of Sandwich, Heart Bar, eXtra Lounge, The Living Room and Privé, as well as favorites P.F. Chang’s and the Spice Market Buffet, will be open by our grand opening,” said Andrea Roqueni, public relations manager.

Formerly the Aladdin, the hotel is undergoing a complete makeover and may soon be the newest hip hotel on the Strip. So much so that the grand opening promises to be a can’t-miss event.

“In April, we promised Las Vegas we would throw the biggest party this town has ever seen,” said co-chairman, Robert Earl. Now all signs point to the realization of that promise.

What to Expect
On a recent on-site visit, the hotel’s metamorphosis from old-school Vegas to modern party palace was well under way. I knew something had changed when “Rock Lobster” by the 1980’s new-wave band the B-52s was playing as I got out of the cab.

Many of the restaurants and bars are open already (while some are still behind construction barricades) and the lobby and casino are completely redone.

The lobby and porte cochere are probably the hotel’s most impressive areas. With lots of colorful accents and a sleek, modern tone, the lobby conjures the feeling of a trendy boutique hotel, which is nothing at all like the old Aladdin.

The hotel’s casino, on the other hand, is decorated in rich reds and burgundies, and adorned with full-glam disco balls and chandeliers, seemingly playing on the idea of decadent Hollywood. There is more to the scene than nostalgia, however, as scantily clad dancers are positioned on risers in the main bar and even at some of the blackjack tables, making this no hotel for the prude.

Most of the guestrooms and the pool area as well as the front of the hotel facing the Strip and the old Dessert Passage mall, now called Miracle Mile Shops are still being redone. Guests can get a feel for what’s to come, however, on the elevators and on the sixth floor (which is the route to the hotel’s two outdoor swimming pools). In the elevators, there are flat-screen monitors mounted on the ceiling that play videos and other hotel promos, while the sixth-floor hallway features in-your-face red, purple and silver wallpaper and carpeting that give it a disco-era feel. One can only wonder what the finished product will be like.

“They anticipate all rooms will be completed by Jan. 1,” said Roqueni, “however, they are whipping through so it could be sooner.”

Be prepared, because Planet Hollywood has made all the right moves to guarantee that there will be plenty of buzz once it opens. At least until the next “hip” property comes along.

For the opening next month, Planet Hollywood says all its restaurants and bars will be open. Here’s a sampling of what to expect according to its Web site.

Earl of Sandwich
“The extensive menu ... pays tribute to the art of sandwiches.”

“Japanese inspired cuisine with California accents.”

P.F. Chang’s
“Experience this unique combination of Chinese cuisine, attentive service, wine and tempting desserts. Also available through room service.”

Planet Dailies
“This ever-changing coffee shop and cafe, which offers over 200 menu items ... 24 hours a day.”

Spice Market Buffet
“[This] buffet has been voted 2007 #1 Buffet in Las Vegas.”

Strip House
“Singled out by GQ, City Search and Maxim as one of the best American steakhouses.”

“Wild colors, textured walls and wooden beams, combine with Yolo’s creative cuisine.”

EXTRA Lounge
“Correspondents and crew from television’s ‘Extra’ will mix, mingle and interview celebrities from their new Vegas headquarters.”

Heart Bar
“Perfect for meeting people or watching them.”

The Living Room
“The place for a casual cocktail, late-evening nightcap or the beginning of a great romantic night.”

“Perfecting the quintessential Miami vibe, Privé will play host to Vegas’ and Hollywood’s biggest VIPs.”