IMG 7667If you’re looking for a hip, modern, sexy place to stay and play on the Las Vegas Strip, you can hardly do better than the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.

Originally known as the Aladdin, this casino-hotel has a storied past.  It opened in 1966, hosted Elvis Presley’s wedding to Priscilla, was made over numerous times, was sold to Wayne Newton, who then sold it to another owner just 21 months later.  It was host to Iron Maiden’s first U.S. concert, was sold a few more times, closed in 1997 and was imploded in 1998.  Rebuilt and reopened in 2000, the New Aladdin was in financial trouble from the very beginning and was quickly sold to Planet Hollywood and Starwood Hotels.  The “makeover” from Aladdin to Planet Hollywood was done in stages, allowing the property to remain open throughout.  At last, in 2007, it opened as Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.

I actually stayed at the New Aladdin in 2006, with my friend Charles, and while the casino itself was nothing special, with cliched Arabesque touches, we were treated extremely well and the room they gave us was beautiful and extremely comfortable.  

IMG 7618At any rate, I was excited to see what PH had to offer.  Things started off beautifully.  The main lobby, with it’s sleek black marbleIMG 7622 floors, long, curving registration desk, and walls studded with raised polka-dots that hide LED’s  changing from purple to red to green to blue, is actually about a block back from the Strip and one floor beneath the casino.  The fact that the registration area seems so far removed from the rest of the action, makes it feel almost like a private entrance, allowing you to bypass the casino completely.  I arrived about 1:30 pm, and there was hardly anyone around.  When I began the check-in process, the clerk told me none of the Fountainview Rooms were ready yet, and asked if I’d like a free upgrade to make up fro the inconvenience.  I agreed and he began checking for available suites.  Unfortunately, there was some computer glitch which prevented him from booking any of the suites, but he gave me a Fountainview Room on the Penthouse Level - not a bad trade-off at all!

IMG 7585When I stepped off the elevator, even the hallways of the Penthouse floor had a kind of hip feel - blue-green doors contrasting withIMG 7593 black walls and dark carpeting.  The effect was rather relaxing.  My room was incredible: A nice King-sized bed with a large black headboard, mirrored end-tables with red ceramic globe lamps, an iPod dock, a desk complete with coffemaker, and a bureau with plenty of drawer space.  Over the bureau was a flat-screen TV and underneath, a cabinet with a mini-fridge.  By the window was a small purple easy chair, matching the dust ruffle on the bed, and a  clever side table containing props from the Charlie Sheen film “Hot Shots-Part Deux”.  As sleek as the room was, the nice gold and butterscotch accents on the walls created a warm comforting feeling.  The bathroom seemed enormous, with a huge soaking tub, separate glass-enclosed shower, a separate WC for privacy, and even a flat screen TV over the sink and vanity area.  Best of all, was the spectacular view - I could see the Aria and Vdara at City Center, the Cosmopolitan across the street, Bellagio and it’sIMG 7669 spectacular fountains, Caesar’s Palace, The balloon and Eiffel Tower replica of the Paris Las Vegas, even a bit of Bally’s and the Mirage in the distance.  Just amazing.

IMG 7640Downstairs, the casino was always busy.  Just about everything glows in the casino - there are recessed LED’s in the walls and in theIMG 8280 rectangular, muslin-covered hanging light fixtures.  With support columns lit from within and large, spherical chandeliers alternating colors, the decor is streamlined and futuristic  The place is busy, crazy, and packed!  Granted, there is a lot to do down there - 100,000 square feet of gaming space, an ultra modern Sports Book, the Heart Bar - a circular bar right in the middle of the property, and The Pleasure Pit - a section of table games featuring beautiful young female dealers in sexy lingerie as well as go-go dancers!

IMG 7663Of course there are a variety of restaurants from which to choose.  From the Spice Market Buffet, to Planet Dailies - PH’s casual cafe/coffee shop.  From the Earl of Sandwich, or Yolos - a casual Mexican restaurant and cantina, to Koi - serving upscale, deliciousIMG 7632 Japanese fare, Strip House for steaks or Gordon Ramsay BurGR - the hot-tempered chef’s take on American burger joints, you’ll find something to satisfy your appetite pretty much any time of day or night!

IMG 8360PH is home to a long-running hit show called PEEP SHOW, currently starring Coco Austin, from the TV show “Ice Loves Coco”  Peep Show is a combination of well known fairy tales and sensual strip tease.  I suppose I should mention that I saw this show very early in it’s run and found it wasn’t really to my taste.  Still, it seems to be a big hit and has lasted through several cast changes.  If you’re a lover of stand-up comedy, look for the Sin City Comedy show.

IMG 8286Nightlife?  Try the Koi Lounge for a Vegas vibe with an Eastern twist.  There’s also the Extra Lounge, where live broadcasts are often made for the TV show Extra, and Gallery Nightclub - a Vegas hotspot with glowing chandeliers, framed artwork and candlelit glass fireplaces creating the feel of a dark, sexy art gallery or English library...albeit a library staffed with gorgeous, provocatively dressed performance dancers.

If you need a little rehab after all that nightlife, there is the Spa by Mandara, and the fitness center, or you can dive right back into the party atIMG 7795 the Pleasure Pools, which feature two separate pool decks, private cabanas, DJ’s, and two pool bars.  You can also indulge in a little “Retail Therapy” and shop your way to sobriety in the Miracle Mile Shops - a large shopping complex that wraps around the casino floor and features more than 170 shops, 15 restaurants and several live entertainment venues.

I’ve found it very interesting, watching this property go from a nearly bankrupt casino with a famous name, to a chic, bustling, incredibly successful mega-resort, providing top notch service to an undeniably cool young clientele.  I enjoyed my stay at Planet Hollywood tremendously!  Trust me - for a cool time in a hot town, you won’t do much better than Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino!