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Only in Vegas - Two New Hotel Towers Open; Planet Hollywood Resort
 Adds 1,202 rooms and Hard Rock Hotel Adds 374 rooms

By Arnold M. Knightly, Las Vegas Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

December 25, 2009 --Only in Vegas would new hotel towers continue to open during a deep recession. Less than two weeks after the debut of the mammoth Aria at CityCenter, two more casino properties are opening new hotel towers Monday that will add 1,575 more rooms to a market that's straining to fill the rooms it already has.

The 1,201-room PH Towers at Planet Hollywood Resort and the 374-room HRH Tower at the Hard Rock Hotel open to a market with hotel occupancy in the mid-80 percent and declining room rates.

The owners of these towers, however, see the expansions as an investment in the future of Las Vegas when the economy returns.

PH Tower

The 52-story blue-and-red tower's rooms are marketed for travelers who want to stay in Las Vegas for an extended time, such as citywide conventioneers. Built as time shares, rooms come with full kitchens, washers and dryers, and state-of-the-art electronics and bedroom features.

"The tower is for the upscale customer who wants to enjoy an all-suite product," Planet Hollywood Resort President Bill Feather said.

The tower is a joint venture between Planet Hollywood Resort and Florida-based time share company Westgate. About 200 units are being sold as time shares with the rest being used for hotel rooms.

The tower had its soft opening Dec. 18 when nearly 20 people used their time shares.

Feather said the tower will open with 330 rooms on Monday, growing to 500 rooms by New Year's Eve.

Nearly 200 rooms will be added in time for the Consumer Electronics Show that begins Jan. 7. The full tower will be open for the Miss America Pageant on Jan. 30. Planet Hollywood will hold the tower's grand opening the same weekend.

The rooms are being marketed at $229 midweek and $349 weekends, Feather said.

The top four floors will be 16 condominium units ranging from 6,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet.

The new tower features a pool that will open in the summer. A lobby bar will open Monday and plans are being developed for two restaurants off the lobby.

The tower's 100-foot entrance is just past the closed Steve Wyrick Theater in the Miracle Mile Shops. The casino is located nearly 150 yards from the PH Tower's entrance, Feather said.

The new tower brings Planet Hollywood Resort's room count to 3,697 rooms.

HRH Tower

The all-suite HRH tower along Harmon Avenue is part of the larger $750 million expansion that has been opening up in stages since early spring and will be completed in April.

The tower's 374 rooms include seven penthouse suites and eight spa villas.

Opening with the tower is the 25,000-square-foot Reliquary Spa, a new parking garage with a porte-cochere and 40,000 square feet of new casino space.

<>A new nightclub, the 14,000-square-foot Vanity, opens Dec. 31, which will be the last night for the old nightclub, Body English.

Hard Rock Hotel President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Kwasniewski said this part of the expansion is marketed more to casino players who haven't had the full amenities available at other resorts at the Hard Rock Hotel until now.

"It's for the higher-end customer that we would assume is looking for a boutique experience," Kwasniewski said. "It has all the amenities necessary. It is a bit of a different design for that customer."

The HRH Tower caters to a different market than the 450-room Paradise Tower, which opened in July.

The Paradise Tower was designed for corporate meetings and convention guests, as well as group customers. That tower is convenient to the meeting space and the new Joint concert hall.

The property is planning a large grand-opening celebration in April, when the pool expansion is complete. Three restaurants are also planned in the new casino, an area which used to house the old Joint, in second quarter of 2010.

The expansion brings the property's casino space to 70,000 square feet supported by 1,506 rooms.

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Copyright (c) 2009, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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