Location: Center Strip
3665 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
What’s There Now: Planet Hollywood
Former Aladdin hotel is imploded
Construction begins on new $1.3 million Aladdin
New Aladdin opens on August 18, 2000
Parent company misses important debt payment in Spring, 2000
Aladdin files for bankruptcy on September 28; hotel remains open
Purchased out of bankruptcy by Planet Hollywood chain
Remodeling begins to rebrand property as Planet Hollywood
Planet Hollywood debuts on April 17
The Aladdin that opened on August 18, 2000 was a “reimagining” of the classic Aladdin that had been on The Strip since 1966. That involved imploding the bulk of the old property and putting up a $1.3 billion replacement. You can read more about the original hotel on the Aladdin 1966-1998 page.
The idea for the new Aladdin was from a group of investors partnered with the famed London Clubs International, a company that ran salon gaming casinos in the UK and elsewhere. Their plan was to create a modern interpretation of the Arabian Nights theme with more than 2,600 rooms, two casinos (one for the Aladdin and another branded the London Club), restaurants, theaters, nightclubs, a spa, and more all surrounded by a massive, Road to Morocco themed shopping mall. The only thing that would remain from the old property was the legendary 7,500-seat Theater for the Performing Arts (which would receive a makeover).
The plans were announced in 1997 and the former Aladdin closed on November 25, 1997. The main hotel tower was imploded on April 27, 1998 and construction on the new Aladdin began shortly thereafter.
Construction took over two years and the new hotel opened on August 18, 2000. It was supposed to open the day before but last minute fire alarm testing delayed the grand event by about 18 hours. It was, perhaps, an omen of the trouble that would come.
The new Aladdin was the last major hotel to open in Vegas that had a highly identifiable theme. This had been the trend for more than a decade with hotels like Paris and New York-New York having opened just a few years before. But by 2000, the “theme” concept was considered passe by the Vegas powers-that-be and the hotels that would follow Aladdin (Wynn Las Vegas for example) would stress more of a luxury concept than a wacky theme.
But the Aladdin was theme heaven. From the exterior with a desert fortress appearance to the interior with its onion domes, genie’s lamps, and other Arabian Nights touches everywhere it was as themed as they get. Whether or not this was part of what led to the hotel’s demise is up for debate, but it certainly didn’t help that all things middle-eastern were being shunned a year later. More on that in a moment.
The design of the building was faulted as one of many problems that would cause its eventual failure. The primary vehicle entrance was off of a side street, Harmon Avenue, leading to an underground valet parking area. It was done that way to improve traffic flow but not being able to see it from The Strip may have been a demerit.
Further, that entrance leads into the hotel lobby with the casino up one level. Guests of the hotel never need to go through the casino to get to their rooms, something that is a positive for many people but was probably a negative for the bottom line of the hotel.
Getting in from The Strip wasn’t much better. The entrance to the building closest to where most foot traffic was going to come from (by Paris Las Vegas), put people into the mall and not the casino. There was an entrance to the casino from The Strip but it was up a flight of stairs or escalator, which allowed people to easily bypass it.
Another issue was that of a customer base. Most of the major hotel/casinos that had opened in the previous decade were siblings in one of the major casino chains such as MGM Mirage or Caesars Entertainment. This gave the new properties a database of existing gamblers to market to. The Aladdin, as a stand-alone property, didn’t have that and so there was no built in audience for the hotel. Most of the old Aladdin customers had gone elsewhere, many annoyed that they had lost the classic experience of the prior building.
Only a few months after opening, reports started appearing that hotel was in a dire financial situation, bleeding money and unable to meet its debt payments. Rumors started appearing as early as April of 2001 that the hotel was headed for bankruptcy.
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011, which drove the tourism industry and much of Vegas to its knees, was the final straw on the camel’s back. Not only did it drive down business because of a general tourism decline, but it wasn’t a good time to have anything related to the middle east, no matter how Disney-fied the whole thing was. The hotel filed for bankruptcy protection on September 28, 2001 and with more than $700 million in outstanding debt it was the largest such filing in Nevada history.
Despite rumors that creditors would seize assets and close the hotel, the property remained open for the next year and a half as it wound its way through the court system.
It was purchased out of bankruptcy on June 20, 2003 by a partnership of the Planet Hollywood chain of restaurants and Starwood Resorts for $635 million, about half of what it cost to build the hotel in the first place.
The company announced plans that they would completely renovate the hotel to rebrand it as a Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, removing every last bit of the Arabian nights detail inside and out and replacing it with a hip, Tinsletown theme.
Many wondered if a company like Planet Hollywood, which had gone bankrupt twice before, was making the right decision in taking on such a huge amount of debt. They were right to wonder.
The hotel remained pretty much the same for a couple of years with the remodeling not starting in earnest until 2006.
It celebrated its grand reopening as Planet Hollywood as April 17, 2007. You can read a full review of the current Planet Hollywood in the hotel section.