Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2019

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Aladdin executives bring experience to project

Here are profiles of the key executives behind the Aladdin hotel-casino:

Sommer is the trustee of the Sommer Family Trust, owner of 57 percent of the Aladdin Resort & Casino.

Though Sommer has been a resident of Las Vegas since 1988, much of his family's fortune came from development in the New York City area. The Sommer family has been in the development business for more than 100 years, while Sommer has more than 25 years of experience in developing commercial and residential real estate. While the family has built a substantial fortune from its northeastern investments, Sommer's efforts to enter the Las Vegas market have proven challenging.

Sommer first entered the gaming business in 1994, selling the Bankers Trust building in Manhattan to finance the purchase of the Aladdin. Though he initially hoped to keep the property in operation, Sommer eventually decided the Aladdin would have to be demolished and rebuilt to be a financial success.

When cost overruns began emerging at the Aladdin, the limited liquidity of the trust left Sommer unable to meet most capital calls on the Aladdin construction project, forcing larger investments by partner London Clubs International -- and tensions between the investment partners. Sommer has denied news reports that this was intentional, and has insisted he still believes the Aladdin to be a worthy investment.

In addition to the Aladdin, the Sommer Trust is also the developer of Mountain Spa, a 630-acre resort community in northwest Las Vegas.

Goodenough, executive chairman of London Clubs International, joined the Aladdin's board in 1998 when his company entered into a partnership with the Sommer Trust to develop the new Aladdin. Though Goodenough has more than 30 years of experience in the hotel and gaming industry, the Aladdin will mark his first venture in North America.

Goodenough's career in the hotel and leisure industry began in the 1970s, when Goodenough joined British holiday hotel operator Pleasurama. Following that company's acquisition by British gaming company Mecca in the late 1980s, Goodenough got his first experience in the gaming industry as managing director of Mecca's slot machine and casino divisions.

In 1990, Goodenough struck out on his own, founding Lyric Hotels Ltd., an operator of three and four-star hotels throughout England and Wales. Goodenough sold this business in 1998.

Since taking LCI public in 1994, Goodenough has led a period of expansion for the British casino operator, taking it into new markets in South Africa, Lebanon, Egypt and the Bahamas. At the Aladdin, Goodenough has vowed to bring a level of customer service yet unseen in the Las Vegas market.

Goeglein, hired as chief executive of the Aladdin in late 1997, has spent the last three years paving the way for the rebirth of one of Las Vegas' most renowned gaming properties. Though the owners of the Aladdin have had little experience in the Las Vegas gaming market, the same cannot be said for Goeglein, who has worked in the gaming and food service industries for more than 35 years.

Prior to the Aladdin, Goeglein's highest profile experience came with Holiday Inns, the one-time owner of Harrah's Entertainment Inc. Goeglein joined Holiday Inns in 1978 as an executive vice president and director. Following Holiday's takeover of Harrah's Hotels and Casinos in 1980, Goeglein was promoted to president and chief executive of the casino chain.

In late 1984, Goeglein was promoted again, this time to president and chief operating officer of Holiday Corp., the parent company of Holiday Inn, Harrah's, Hampton Inns and Embassy Suites. Goeglein served in this position until his departure from Holiday in 1987.

Following a four-year hiatus from the gaming and lodging industry, Goeglein returned to the Las Vegas gaming scene in 1992. Through his consulting company, Gaming Associates, Goeglein carried out the closure of the legendary Dunes hotel-casino in 1993. As a consultant, Goeglein also assisted Marriott Corp. with its overseas gaming operations through December 1997. First hired as a consultant at the Aladdin by Sommer in 1996, Goeglein took over as full-time CEO of the property one year later, just before its closing.

One of Goeglein's most distinctive acts as CEO of the Aladdin has been his desire to keep in close contact with its employees. Goeglein has met with all 4,000 employees of the property in groups of 200, and has promoted an open-door policy at the new Aladdin.

Timmins' 34 years of experience in the gaming industry have taken him to a wide variety of jurisdictions, from Monte Carlo to the Bahamas. But the Aladdin will be his first experience in Las Vegas -- a market he likes to call the "mecca" of gaming.

Prior to his appointment as president and COO in March, Timmins worked as director of international operations for London Clubs International, a position he held since 1996. Previously, Timmins was the managing director of the S.P.I.C. group, a gaming consortium in France. Under Timmins' direction, the consortium, headed by Sun International and Accor Hotels, grew in seven years from a single hotel-casino in Nice to the third-largest hotel-casino operator in France, with five casinos and a non-gaming hotel.

Charged with finding new international opportunities for London's largest casino operator, Timmins gave up his post as LCI's director of international operations in March to take over as president of the Aladdin. Timmins' appointment came after LCI increased its stake in the Aladdin project to 40 percent -- and gained control of the holding company's board of directors.

Lettero is one of the most experienced members of the Aladdin's top executive team, with nearly 20 years of gaming experience in the Las Vegas market. The Aladdin will be the sixth property he's helped open in those two decades.

Lettero joined the Aladdin as chief financial officer from the Stratosphere, where he served as CFO for six years. Lettero replaced Cory Klerk, who resigned in March.

Lettero's career as a gaming executive began with Caesars Palace, where he was hired as casino controller in 1980. He left in 1983 to join Summa Corp., and was later named vice president of finance and chief financial officer of the Sands.

Lettero received his first taste of helping open a property in 1987, when he was hired as director of operational accounting for the Mirage. Lettero served with the Mirage through its 1989 opening, leaving in 1990 to become CFO of Main Street Station.

Lettero then left the Las Vegas market for a period, serving until February 1993 as executive vice president and CFO of HP Casino Management LP of Golden, Colo. From this position, Lettero oversaw the opening, marketing and daily operations of three casinos in Central City and Blackhawk, Colo. Lettero returned to Las Vegas in February 1993, joining the soon-to-open MGM Grand hotel-casino as vice president of casino marketing operations.

Lettero is best known in Las Vegas for his six-year stint at the Stratosphere, which began in December 1994. He served as the company's top financial officer during its 1996 opening, its 1997 bankruptcy and its subsequent takeover by financier Carl Icahn. Asked by Icahn to stay on, Lettero helped guide the property through its successful restructuring and return to profitability.