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Outbound
New Planet Hollywood rocks the Las Vegas Strip
by David Luc Nguyen - SGN A&E Writer

Sin City and Tinseltown collided last November as the Las Vegas strip welcomed its newest resident, The Planet Hollywood Hotel Resort and Casino. The former Aladdin Hotel got a facelift, transforming its appearance from "Arabian Nights" to a "Night on the Town." Upon approaching Planet Hollywood, visitors are dazzled by bright lights, walls created by jumbotron television screens, and scrolling tickers giving it the feeling of Times Square or even Tokyo. Planet Hollywood finds itself in a prime location, firmly planted on the famed Vegas strip adjacent to the Bellagio and Paris hotels. It is also within easy walking distance of Caesar's Palace's Colosseum, which recently bid farewell to Celine Dion and will soon usher in a new tenant, the Divine Miss M! More than just a hotel, The PH complex also houses the Miracle Mile, a concentrated area of shops living up to the fantastic shopping Vegas has become known for. Unlike the Palm - which draws a twenty-something jet set crowd - patrons and guests of Planet Hollywood tend be part of the young urban professional circle mainly in their thirties and forties.

Upon entering the casino, visitors are immediately awed by the modern yet luxurious design. Classic, dark cherry card tables provide a sharp contrast between the glittering slot machines, and more than 300 flat screen TVs cover the three acres of casino floor. High ceilings coupled with light boxes used as accents to make pillars, beams, arches and entryways create airiness about the casino. An added stroke of genius is that the light boxes change colors throughout the day, which immediately alters the mood inside (sort of reminiscent of Manray's color-changing wall colors). An added bonus of the airy design is that because of the open space you don't leave reeking of cigarette smoke like you do when going to some of the older casinos. Other elegant touches include 30-foot chandeliers created entirely of Swarovski crystal.

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but there's no guarantee that will be the case. If you are looking for a surefire bet, stay at Planet Hollywood and you'll always be treated like a high roller or rock star. To check out PH's new digs or make reservations, look them up online at www.planethollywood.com. Here is a walk-through of the Planet Hollywood Hotel Resort and Casino:

ROOMS
The rooms at Planet Hollywood definitely have a modern yet comfortable feel to them. The great location on the strip provides for some pretty spectacular views of the majestic Bellagio fountains, two huge swimming pools, and the Paris' replica of l'Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. The influences of being a member of the Starwood hotels brand are definitely apparent - the decor has a feeling of a room at the W Hotel and the Sheraton (both Starwood properties), and just a hint of Hotel Monaco's color scheme to it as well. Most rooms have the dark wooden tables, cabinets, and bed frames which can be found in the W. The sofas and armchairs are in dark purple velvet that accents the purple and yellow in the burbur carpet. What earns Planet Hollywood's personal stamp is that each room has its own theme, and a piece of Hollywood memorabilia in it. Our room had pieces of the Waterworld movie set, costumes used in the film in a glass case, and a prop gun from the motion picture embedded in the coffee table.

FOOD
After working up an appetite by shopping or gambling, there is something to satisfy everyone's taste palette. If you are in the mood for seafood, Koi of LA is the place to be. This is the same Koi you see many celebrities coming out of in Beverly Hills. World-class sushi chefs and fresh fish is what you should expect. The open dining room is done in neutral colors with gray stone fixtures and nearly a hundred live orchids lining the walls and walkways into the restaurant.

If you are looking for something a little bit heartier, then try The Strip House of New York. The walls, lined with photographs of celebrities and painted in a deep red color, have velvet embossments on them. While having dinner, we had a celebrity sighting of Sylvester Stallone gnawing on a baguette while Bruce Willis sipped red wine. They stopped by to have dinner after watching the big fight and were seated only a few feet away from us.

If you are on a budget or in a rush to get back to gambling, try the Earl of Sandwich shop. They have really good gourmet sandwiches for about 6 bucks. All of the breads are baked fresh each morning.

By far, the best bargain for food at Planet Hollywood is the World Spice Buffet, which was voted Las Vegas' best buffet for 7 of the past 8 years. The only reason it didn't make it one year was during the remodel of the hotel, when it was closed. The buffet features a wide variety of cuisine from Chinese, Arabic, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, and American for only $21. There was such a wide variety, we went back three times for main courses and a final stop to the dessert bar that included baby crème brulees, chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate mousse and an ice cream bar. Definitely stop by this buffet since it is only half the price of many of the other casinos, and the selection is fantastic.

Koi of LA, The Strip House of New York, Earl of Sandwich and World Spice Buffet are all located inside Planet Hollywood Hotel Resort and Casino.

ENTERTAINMENT/GAY SCENE
After gorging yourself on food, you'll definitely need to burn off some calories by dancing the night away. Krave, conveniently located next door to Planet Hollywood, is the newest Gay and Lesbian club in town. Unlike clubs in Seattle, there is a dress code enforced and people are pretty decked out. You can wear jeans, but no baseball caps or bare-chested patrons allowed. You will get to see some skin, though, as the club features hottie Abercrombie-looking go-go boys who can tap a mean beat in very tiny underwear. The crowd at Krave tends to be late twenty-something to late thirties. These partyhoppers are definitely polished and upscale. Krave has a definite LA feel to it because booths are only given to VIPs. So if you aren't Lance Bass or part of his posse, you better call ahead to try to secure a booth or otherwise you'll find yourself standing with everyone else.
 

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