Hotel Histories

History of the Aladdin

Opened as English Tallyho Motel 1962
Opened as Aladdin April 1, 1966
Imploded on April 27, 1998
Re-Opened as Aladdin August 18, 2000
Re-Opened as Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on April 17, 2007


From the beginning, this property seemed to be doomed for failure. This property at times was called "The Vegas Jinx".

In 1962, inventor of the game Yahtzee, Edwin Lowe, opened the $12 million, 450 room, English Tallyho Motel aimed to prove that a resort motel without a casino could be successful. Tudor style, it had leaded windows, gables, and half-timbering. It contained 32 villas, a par 54 nine-hole golf course which some regarded as the most challenging in the West, four swimming pools and six specialty restaurants. The resort closed in October of 1963.

In 1964, the motel became the King's Crown Tallyho Inn and failed after six months when it was denied a gaming license.

In 1966, Milton Prell purchased the resort for $16 million. Another $3 million on renovations was spent, including a new 500 seat "Bagdad Theater" showroom. Prell swapped the English imagery for an Arabian Nights theme, but kept the original Tudor room wings.

A serrated canopy and a $750,000 15-story aladdin's lamp sign were added.

The 335 room Aladdin opened on midnight, April 1, 1966, with a black tie affair. Flower petals poured from the ceiling and onto guests as they entered the hall. One guest was composer-pianist Warren Richards. The opening entertainment included comedian Jackie Mason, the "Jet Set Revue," a musical review that showcased The Three Cheers and the Petite Rockette Dancers in the Bagdad Theatre.

Prell introduced an innovative main-showroom policy by offering three completely different shows twice nightly with no cover or minimum charges.

The Aladdin contained a golf course, 9 hole par 3.

On May 1, 1967, the Aladdin became important to rock n' roll history when it was the host of the wedding of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, before 100 friends and an armada of writers and photographers.

In 1969, wealthy Detroit widow Mae George purchased 24% of the resort. George was questioned by the Nevada Gaming Control Board because her business adviser was her late husband's foster brother, James Tamer, the Aladdin's entertainment director who later was placed in Nevada's Black Book. Four mobsters who had bilked the hotel of $250,000 received prison terms. Later it came to light that Detroit bail bondsman Charles Goldfarb and James Tamer were running the resort on behalf of Detroit and St. Louis mob interests. A grand jury was convened and a two-year investigation began.

In August of 1969, the Aladdin just completed a $750,000 face life including renovations to the Sinbad Lounge which became enclosed and leveled above the casino floor with Arabic motif.

Also in 1969, Parvin Dohrmann Corporation took over the Aladdin and in 1972, using the name Recrion Corporation, sold it to veteran casino executive Sam Diamond, St. Louis politician Peter Webbe, Sorkis Webbe, and Richard Daly for the price of just $5 million. Under the Webbes, a $60 million facelift was conducted including the addition of a 19-story tower, and the new 7,500 seat Performing Arts Center replacing the golf course, which was $4 million over budget.

The Aladdin stated that the new tower was 29 floors. It was actually a 19-story structure, but the owners, fond of the idea of 29 stories, started numbering the floors at 11.

A $250,000 porte cochere continued the tower's arabesques. The Aladdin also added a new $300,000 140-foot blockbuster sign with little neon, huge attraction panels and none of the arabesque of the Aladdin's original sign.

The Aladdin had a grand re-opening in 1976 with singer Neil Diamond being paid $750,000 for two shows.

In August, 1979, James Abraham, Charles Goldfarb, Tamer, and Edward Monazym were convicted by a Detroit Federal Jury of conspiring to allow hidden owners to exert control over the resort. The Nevada Gaming Commission then closed the hotel but U.S. District Judge Harry Claiborne opened it three hours later warning he had "special powers" as a federal judge. Aladdin attorney/owner Sorkis Webbe was indicted in connection with a $1 million kickback scheme during an expansion project at the hotel.

By 1980 there was a price war with Wayne Newton, along with partner Ed Torres buying the property for $85 million, over Johnny Carson's bids. Newton and Torres had personality and ego conflicts from the beginning. The resort's entertainment policy shifted from "big-name stars" to stage shows. Newton said he wasn't in favor of the change. Torres bought out Newton in 1982, but found himself fighting off banks and unions as creditors. A year after the breakup, Torres was trying to negotiate with Newton, this time to sell the resort back to Newton. In February 1984, Aladdin went into Chapter 11, $3.5 million in debt after a Teamsters Pension Fund forced the foreclosure. Newton had failed to show he had the finances to buy the property and the deal was dead.

Charges of mob infiltration and skimming closed the Aladdin from January 1986 to April 1, 1987.

Ginji Yasuda, a Japanese businessman bought the property in early 1987 for $54 million. The casino was closed while Yasuda applied for his gaming license and a massive year-long refurbishing began. State gamers granted Yasuda a two-year conditional license. He was the first foreign resident to obtain such a license and quickly became a hero to some individuals. It is reported that Yasuda spent $20 million in remodeling the resort.

During the casino's one year closure, he kept 80 employees on the payroll and lost as much as $850,000 a month. Yasuda was living beyond the Aladdin's income. He kept one of five elevator shafts roped off for himself while guests were waiting long periods of time for elevators. He would stay up late at night in the penthouse watching hotel monitors, placing slot machines in neat, orderly lines with no carousels. The Aladdin has no excitement.

Rumors were that Yasuda used the corporation's $25 million jet to fly his wife to New York on afternoon shopping excursions. Vendors began wanting their payment in cash. Hospitals refused to be providers for the Aladdin employees. It was reported that Yasuda borrowed $6 million from Japanese organized crime interests to keep the Aladdin afloat against the Internal Revenue Service who wanted to seize the hotel.

In August 1989, Yasuda refused to reveal the source of his loans to the Nevada Gaming Commission which cost him his license. Four days later the Aladdin was again filing for bankruptcy. Yasuda died of cancer in December, 1989.

Aladdin was instead put into the hands of a series of careful managers approved by the bankruptcy courts.

The occupancy rate of the Aladdin was 94% to 97%, but "Lately it seems people have been using us as a bedroom and spending their days elsewhere."

In 1991, United States Bankruptcy Judge Linda Riegle granted Bell Atlantic Tricon the deed, saving the closure of the resort and 1,300 jobs. Valley Bank was calling in a $2 million loan.

In 1992, possession of the Aladdin was turned over to casino executive Joe Burt on a 12-year lease, ending three years of bankruptcy court control. Although Burt orchestrated a $15 million renovation, people were still using the Aladdin for a bed and not much more. What was once one of the largest casinos in the state was a tired old relic next to the shine and glitz of the new resorts such as The Mirage and Excalibur. Even the Performing Arts center was outdated.

The Aladdin gained the interest of the public by having big name entertainment such as Bon Jovi, Jefferson Starship, Heart, Stone Temple Pilots, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers play there, as well as good musicals such as Country Tonite. Burt was credited as a strong operator who had turned the Aladdin into what looked like it was going to be a financial success.

Just when Burt was beginning to see his dream of the rebirth of the Aladdin making a strong come-back, he was killed in a motorcycle accident in July of 1993, in Arizona.

In 1994, New York real estate developer Jack Sommer and his Sigman Sommer Family Trust, through their company, Aladdin Gaming LLC, took over the resort for $80 million. A spokesman was quoted as stating that the resort will not be demolished.

In 1997, the Aladdin announced that the present hotel will be demolished and a new $1.2 billion hotel and gaming complex will be built on its 35 acres of land, opening in the spring of 2000.

On November 25, 1997, the Aladdin closed its doors forever. The Aladdin was imploded at 7:30pm, on April 27, 1998.

Structural requirements dictated the implosion, but Aladdin executives made the bold choice to honor the casino's heritage. The two resort towers that extend from the building toward Las Vegas Boulevard were designed to resemble the original Aladdin tower. Employees of the original Aladdin were the first group invited to apply for jobs at the new resort.

The scheduled opening of the Aladdin was on August 17, 2000, at 6:00pm, with fireworks at 10:00pm. Aladdin opened her $1.4 billion, 2,567 oversized room resort to the public at 11:00am, on August 18, 2000, 16 hours after the scheduled opening.

Even though the resort didn't open, the Desert Passage Mall opened at 7:00pm to crowds that numbered in the tens of thousands. I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden helped open the doors of the Desert Passage.

The scheduled opening was called off several minutes after midnight. This left thousands of Aladdin visitors leaving in disappointment as well as opening night hotel guests wondering where they'd spend the night. Many high-rollers waited out on the sidewalks in front of the Aladdin for hours. Most were unable to even get to their luggage, since the hotel had been locked down for testing. Aladdin employees did their best to arrange alternate accommodations for the guests with Paris and Bellagio, tempers still ran high.

The cause for the 16 hour delay was Clark County Building Inspectors requiring the resort to complete its fire safety testing. The testing was complete, and the resort received its certificate to open at 7:45am on August 18, 2000. Another delay was caused by last-minute repairs to the casino surveillance system.

Also present on August 17, 2000, were 100 members of Culinary Local 226, as well as an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 other workers who were marching on Las Vegas Boulevard to protest the Aladdin opening without a union contract. The protesters were looking for sympathy but created an anti-union atmosphere when their bull horns drowning out the opening festivities of the Desert Passage as well as Barbara Eden's speech.

The Aladdin offspring sits on 34 acres of land.

All of the Aladdin's private hotel areas, including guest rooms, the health spa, and swimming pool, are accessible directly. Guests do not have to pass through the casino to reach their rooms, or any other destination within the resort. Two separate guest elevator banks are located on the lobby level, one floor below the main casino level; 2,567 total rooms, all within seven doors of an elevator for convenient access (rooms are 450 square feet and up); these include 1,878 standard rooms, 466 parlor rooms, and 223 suites.

All guest rooms feature luxurious marble bathrooms, including separate soaking tubs, separate showers and private water closets; two phone lines, high-speed Internet access and cordless phones.

Two outdoor swimming pools are located six stories above Las Vegas Boulevard

The resort contains 1,001 Arabian Nights - an exotic main casino themed after the tales of 1,001 Arabian Nights. It offers 100,000 square feet of gaming amidst flying carpets, ebony horses and an ever-blooming "Enchanted Garden" of lights. A unique stacked layout places the hotel lobby, casino and restaurants on separate, easily accessible levels. Aladdin's innovative design eliminates long walks in public areas. The casino contains 2,800 slot machines, 87 table games, Keno, and Race & Sports Book.

The casino also contains the world's largest indoor light board which creates a 130 foot "Enchanted Garden" with a constantly changing display of vibrant blooming flowers, as well as a 36 foot magic lamp towering above the casino floor. The talon and nest of a giant Roc Bird, taken from the tales of Sinbad and the Sailor Giant winged horses from the Tale of the Ebony Horse mark the entrance to the Aladdin Race & Sports Book.

Contained in the main casino area is the 35,000 square foot The London Club. This area features an elegant 15,000 square foot main casino offering 30 high-limit table games, including baccarat, roulette and blackjack, 100 high-denomination slot machines, exclusive higher limit gaming facilities, a private lobby and dedicated elevator service, a 120 seat five star restaurant offering a multi-ethnic menu and al fresco dining on the Strip, and a multi-functional lounge and garden club, and private reception room. Smaller gaming rooms are designed to recall the exclusive "salle privees" found in Europe's most celebrated casinos.

There are more than 135 stores in the Aladdin's Desert Passage, which is the 500,000 square foot shopping adventure that surrounds the resort.

Restaurants/Lounges include Anasazi, Ark Restaurant, Marche Concept, Beluga Bar, Ben & Jerry's, BICE, Blue Note Jazz Club, Caffee Ferraro, Commanders Palace, IBIZA, Josef's, Lombardi's with adjacent French Bistro, and Prana.

The resort's meeting and conference facilities are located on a floor separate from the casino, with convenient direct access from the lobby or guest floors. The facilities contain 75,000 square feet of flexible meeting and pre-function space; a 37,000 square foot grand ballroom; flexible seating at the adjoining Theater for the Performing Arts, for assemblies of 2,500 to 7,000 people; two junior ballrooms; 18 separate break-out rooms; a permanent registration area; a 24-hour business center offering a complete range of business services; and a dedicated catering kitchen to ensure top-quality food and beverage service.

The first celebrity to appear at the Aladdin's Performing Arts Center was Enrique Iglesias.

In December of 2000, Kote-Bellew, general contractor for the Theater for the Performing Arts sued Aladdin alleging it defaulted on a $7.539 million payment for the theater's renovation. Korte said it seeks an order to foreclose on the hotel-casino and for proceeds of the foreclosure sale to be applied to the debt. At least 240 liens have been filed by general contractors and subcontractors against the Aladdin.

Also in December, the owner of the Denim-Denim Mens and Women's Casual Wear and Melwanis stores at the Passage Mall sued seven contractors, alleging they tried to coerce the retailer into paying for change orders that were "excessive and unjustified" by foreclosing on its two stores. The mall is owned by development giant TrizecHahn of Toronto. Clotheshorse Inc. leased space for the two stores from its landlord, Aladdin Bazaar LLC.

Clotheshorse sued its general contractor, Camco alleging it "jeopardized" the stores' opening on Aug. 17, 2000, when Camco "unreasonably delayed the start of the project and mismanaged the project resulting in unreasonable overtime charges and cost overruns." Camco allegedly charged Clotheshorse for $240,000 in change orders after it paid Camco $264,041 for work done on the Melwanis store and $190,839 for the Denim-Denim store. Camco failed to ensure its subcontractors to complete work in a timely manner and to pay them, which caused numerous liens to be filed against the two stores. The defendants included Black Rock Inc., Paul S.J. Ogaz Inc., Western Tile & Marble Contractors Inc., Jessco Electric Co. Inc., Western Fire & Protection Co. and Great American Insurance Co.

Lastly in December, reports began circulating that Aladdin's owners' work to regain its financial footing, that the resort could be prime for a takeover, either through a sale or in bankruptcy court.

The Aladdin could be sold, but such a move would require an 80% vote of the company's board. That would require both LCI and the Sommer Trust to go along.

Speculation about the Aladdin's future began in December 17, 2000, when London Clubs International, owner of 40% of the Aladdin's stock, reported a huge plunge in earnings and difficulties meeting the covenants of its debt. LCI had originally intended to invest $50 million in the property, but increased its stake to $200 million after the majority owner, the Sommer Trust, failed to meet capital calls to cover increased construction costs because of liquidity problems.

The increased income that was supposed to flow from this investment did not materialize in recent months as the Aladdin struggled in its early days. LCI then raised the possibility that it was interested in selling part of its equity stake. British investors shaved off more than 40% of LCI's share price, and the British press began speculating about LCI's future.

The casino was sold in bankruptcy on June 20, 2003 to a partnership of Planet Hollywood and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The retail space formerly known as "The Desert Passage" was converted into the Hollywood-themed "Miracle Mile Shops."

After the casino was renovated, it was reopened as: "Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino" on April 17, 2007. The official grand opening of was the weekend of November 16, 2007.

On January 16, 2010, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide dropped their affiliation so Caesars could take over hotel operations. On February 18, 2010 The Nevada Gaming Commission gave Caesars the approval to take over the property. Caesars officially acquired the property on February 19, 2010. Caesars' Total Rewards program was phased into Planet Hollywood beginning in April 2010.

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