By David Stratton
Although a bankruptcy court decision is two weeks away, a bid submitted by Starwood Hotels and Planet Hollywood has the inside track on transforming the Aladdin into a Hollywood landmark.
The "stalking horse" bid ”” selected by Aladdin lenders but subject to court approval ”” would have Planet Hollywood operating the casino, and Starwood Hotels running the hotel.
Hired to run the casino is longtime gamer, Mike Mecca, who recently left a similar post at Green Valley Ranch Station. Mecca previously served as Greektown’s (in Detroit) chief operating officer and Mandalay Bay’s vice president and general manager.
Mecca said scrapping Aladdin’s lamp in favor of a statue of Oscar is an exciting proposition for Las Vegas.
"It’s an exciting concept and great for Las Vegas," Mecca said.
At this point, the new management team is formulating a master plan and reviewing designers who will ultimately be charged with renovating the property, Mecca said.
"Everything will speak to the brand and theme of Planet Hollywood," Mecca said. "Planet Hollywood is a great concept, in a great location and is the logical and unbeatable choice for the property."
Mecca said the theme will appeal to the Southern California market, capitalizing on the Planet Hollywood and Robert Earl’s celebrity connections.
Among the attractions will be the world’s foremost movie memorabilia collection. "Seeing, touching Hollywood memorabilia, as well as the prospect of catching glimpses of Hollywood celebrities has great appeal to all segments of the market," Mecca said.
Besides the Hollywood glitz built into the property, Las Vegas can expect Hollywood-style events and periodic visits from celebrities, Mecca added.
A "unique aspect" of the bid, Mecca said, is Starwood’s management of the hotel through its Sheraton network, which includes a massive database on which to draw.
In addition, the hotel will feature celebrity suites, designed by and named for Hollywood stars, who will actually stay in the rooms when in Las Vegas. "When the celebrities are not in town, the suites will be available to hotel guests," Mecca said.
Mecca said the hotel and casino will remain open through the renovation process, which is expected to begin after the bankruptcy court accepts Planet Hollywood’s bid.
That date could be as early as June 20.