Out of This World

Planet Hollywood is poised to make its mark on the Strip

By: Kathy Espin

This is the first Image
The “Pulp Fiction” themed guestroom
features the tuxedo Harvey Keitel wore
in the film, along with photos and
other memorabilia.
Can a remodel and a name change break the spell?

There has long been speculation that the land now occupied by the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino is cursed. No facility at the Las Vegas Strip and Harmon Avenue location has ever enjoyed long-term success. The string of bad luck goes back to the Tally Ho that opened in 1963, and continued through the latest evolution of the Aladdin Hotel and Casino, which opened in 2000 and folded its tents in 2003. Since then, a conglomerate of owners including Robert Earl, founder and CEO of Planet Hollywood International, Inc., Bay Harbour Management LLC and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide have been working feverishly to exorcise the spirit of the Aladdin. The development of the new Planet Hollywood began in 2003, and won’t be completed until Sept. 28.

In keeping with the current trend in Las Vegas resort design, the property’s new look will be a non-themed theme. The decor is a modernized ’60s retro, with towering lighted columns, square light fixtures and chandeliers that evoke beaded evening gowns.

A criticism of the 2000 version of the Aladdin was that the elaborate Strip frontage served as a barrier to foot traffic rather than an enticement. That facade is being removed and replaced with a more accessible Strip presence, including patio dining at a new Trader Vic’s. The driveway and porte-cochere will remain on the south side of the property because of space and zoning restrictions.

The shopping mall, formerly known as Desert Passage, is now called the Miracle Mile as it is more than a mile long. It, too, is slowly being stripped of the Arabian Nights theme in favor of a more modern non-themed look.

While the public areas avoid a traditional themed approach, the remodeled guestrooms will be highly themed. Each room will be designed after a particular Hollywood hit with photos and memorabilia. The fully decorated model of a typical king room was done in a “Pulp Fiction” theme with a glass case containing the tuxedo Harvey Keitel wore in the film, along with photos and other memorabilia.

The idea is for each guestroom and suite to feature photos, costumes and props from a different film, but as yet, the execution is not complete. Will there be enough costumes and memorabilia to furnish all 2,600 rooms and suites?

“Oh yes, we have warehouses full,” said public relations manager Andrea Roqueni during a recent tour.

The room remodel is sill underway. So far, only three floors of the north tower have been redone with new carpet, window treatments, furniture and the signature Starwood bedding. A desk has been added, and the new black-laminate armoire features his-and-her closets, as well as a large flat-screen TV.

The extra-large bathrooms remain essentially the same right down to the Aladdin’s lamp-shaped faucets. Eventually, they will be replaced, Roqueni said.

The rooms feature all the standard amenities. But what guests might find pleasantly surprising is the quality of the service, which was quick, complete and friendly and always ended with a question about what more could be done.

“That’s the Starwood influence,” Roqueni said. “We’ve worked hard on that.”

The makeover will also include eight new dining facilities, including Strip House, a steakhouse from New York; and Koi, the popular Asian restaurant from Los Angeles. For now, dining options include Planet Dailies, an upscale 24-hour coffee shop; the Spice Market Buffet; and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. Other dining options are available in the shopping mall.

The Living Room, an ultra lounge, is now open, and more lounges and nightclubs will soon debut. Entertainment options include “Stomp Out Loud” and “The Beauty of Magic,” starring magician Hans Klok with Pamela Anderson.

By the time the grand reopening ceremony is held in September, officials say all of the public areas should be complete, as well as most of the room remodeling. Then, time will tell if the exorcism has been successful.

Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino

Average room rates start at $229, per night; as low as $89, per night, during the off season. Strip-view rooms cost an additional $30, per night.

Full Casino including poker and race and sports book
Full-service spa
Two outdoor pools and sun deck
Wedding Chapel
Convention and Meeting Space
Mall with 170 retail outlets
Nine restaurants (three, including the buffet, are currently open)
Snack Bar
Extra Lounge
Living Room Ultra Lounge
Prive Nightclub