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Strip hotel delays its star turn

Planet Hollywood Resort is pushing back its grand opening event seven weeks to Nov. 16-17 because of scheduling conflicts with celebrities and a movie premiere at the property.

Co-owner Robert Earl said Wednesday the move merely involves scheduling, and there are no problems in construction or financing.

“Having spent so long planning and building this, I want to have it as ready as possible,” Earl said. “To have as many of the elements completed, as many of the tenants finished as possible, to have as many rooms ready as possible.”

During a ceremony in April officially changing the property’s name from Aladdin to Planet Hollywood Resort, Earl said the grand opening would be held Sept. 28-29.

Earl cited scheduling conflicts with actors Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and other celebrities as the main reason for the change.

Another reason is Planet Hollywood’s hosting of the Sept. 20 world premiere of the new film “Resident Evil: Extinction.” Earl said the property did not want to hold two large events a week apart.

The red-carpet event, the first movie premiere under the new owners, is part of a long-term business plan to host a movie premiere every month.

Earl said construction is on schedule, with the front plaza on the Strip scheduled to be completed Sept. 28. Everything is already “100 percent financed,” he said.

Nearly $1 billion is being spent to upgrade all aspects of the property. Some financing is from Credit Suisse First Boston.

Nearly 1,500 hotel rooms will be remodeled and ready by November; the remaining 1,100 are to be completed by early next year. Planet Hollywood has opened two new restaurants since April and has three more scheduled to be ready by November.

The casino has also been remodeled. A new poker room opened in May, and a new sports book opened in late August.

Bill Lerner, a Deutsche Bank gaming analyst, recently visited the property and said it looks much better than when it was operated as the Arabian-themed Aladdin.

“It has always been a great location,” Lerner said. “Visually, it is much more appealing. I liked the flow and the layout of the casino. They’ve done a nice job.”

Two new entrances now open along the Strip have helped access.

The property was purchased in 2004 for $496 million by OpBiz, a joint venture between Planet Hollywood restaurant founder Earl, investment firm Bay Harbour Management and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

Earl and Bay Harbour Management have a joint venture with an 85 percent interest in the property; Starwood holds the remaining 15 percent.

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