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Gaming Guru

Rod Smith
 

Aladdin Transformation One Step Closer

2 March 2006

LAS VEGAS -- The transformation of the Aladdin into Planet Hollywood is a step closer with work completed on the rotunda in the hotel-casino's center.

Mike Dean, president of M.J. Dean Construction, the general contractor for the project, said basic work on the 6,000-square-foot rotunda, the first major interior portion of the redevelopment project, was largely completed Friday.

Other phases of the redevelopment are still being designed or are awaiting permits, Dean said.

The project's rotunda phase was a key part of the plan to put the Aladdin on a higher plane, said Robert Earl, co-chairman of Aladdin owner OpBiz. The phase changed traffic flow to broaden the resort's customer base and to present an edgier, trendier look.

OpBiz is a partnership of Earl, Bay Harbour Management and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

Redevelopment of the Aladdin includes dropping the Middle East theme and repositioning the property in the same class as Mandalay Bay, The Mirage and MGM Grand.

The transformation of the Aladdin into the Planet Hollywood started in October and should finish in this year's fourth quarter.

Aladdin President Mike Mecca said the rotunda project, like other parts of the redevelopment, was designed to reclaim "shelf space" to give the hotel-casino more square footage for entertainment, restaurants and casino operations.

"And we're not just talking new, exciting amenities for the property," he said. "The overall design makes it very contemporary, very competitive and very accessible."

The property continues to operate as the Aladdin during renovation. Mecca said despite the redevelopment project and rebranding of the Aladdin, occupancy rates have remained in the high-90 percent range.

"The marketing team is doing a great job of disguising the construction work and minimizing the disruption, which helps the property do as well as it is," he said.