SLS Las Vegas
|SLS Hotel & Casino Las Vegas|
|Address||2535 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas Nevada 89109|
|Opening date||October 7, 1952 (as Sahara)
August 23, 2014 (as SLS Hotel)
|Closing date||May 16, 2011 (as Sahara)|
|Number of rooms||1,720|
|Total gaming space||85,000 sq ft (7,900 m2)|
|Owner||sbe Entertainment Group
Stockbridge Real Estate
|Previous names||Club Bingo, Sahara Hotel and Casino|
|Renovated in||1960, 1963, 1996, 2003, 2013|
The SLS Hotel & Casino Las Vegas is a boutique hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Winchester, Nevada. It is owned by SBE Entertainment and Stockbridge Real Estate. The renovated property reopened on August 23, 2014, after a $415 million renovation as part of SBE's chain of SLS hotels.
Sahara Hotel and Casino
The hotel was formerly known as the Sahara Hotel and Casino. It was in operation under that name for 59 years from 1952 to 2011. The hotel had 1,720 guestrooms and suites with a casino covering more than 85,000 sq ft (7,900 m2), and sits on 55 acres (22 ha) including the empty adjoining land. The hotel is the site of the Sahara Ave station, the northernmost stop for the Las Vegas Monorail. The Sahara was one of the last remaining vintage "Rat Pack" casino-hotels, leaving only the Riviera Hotel and Casino, Flamingo, Caesars Palace and The Tropicana . The Sahara anchored the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. The porte-cochere entrance, topped by an onion-dome minaret, was designed to set the resort's warm Moroccan flavor and hospitality for arriving guests.
The first casino built on the site was the Club Bingo, which opened in 1947. Owner Milton Prell replaced the casino with a new casino hotel in 1952 called the Sahara Hotel. It was located just outside of the City of Las Vegas, and was the sixth resort to open on the Strip. The resort was built by Del Webb.
In late 1954, the hotel hired jazz musician Louis Prima to be their late night lounge act, one of the earliest ones on the Las Vegas Strip. Along with his then-wife Keely Smith and sax player Sam Butera, they created one of the hottest late-night attractions on the Strip. In 1956, Abbott and Costello appeared together for the last time on the Sahara stage before their permanent breakup. The hotel constructed the first high-rise tower on the Strip in 1959, designed by Martin Stern.
In 1961, the hotel was purchased by Del Webb. In 1962, a Don the Beachcomber restaurant opened in the hotel, becoming a top attraction to not only hotel guests but a variety of celebrities as well. A 24-story tower was added in 1963, which made the hotel the tallest building in Las Vegas.
The resort was the site of the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for many years, mostly in the 1970s, and for a brief time in the 1990s.
Performers at the resort over the years have included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Lena Horne, Jack Benny, Tony Bennett, Paul Anka, George Carlin, Liza Minnelli, Violetta Villas, Shirley Bassey, Wayne Newton, Imogene Coca, Eleanor Powell, The Platters, Connie Francis, Bill Cosby, Jeanette MacDonald, Ann-Margret, The Mills Brothers, Louis Prima, Joey Bishop, Shelley Berman, Donald O'Connor, Buddy Hackett, Helen O'Connell, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Kay Starr, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, The Drifters, Don Rickles, Bobby Darin, Teresa Graves, The Coasters, Taya Parker, Sandler and Young, Sonny & Cher and many others. In 1964 The Beatles stayed at the Sahara and played two shows at the nearby Las Vegas Convention Center.
Del Webb ran into financial problems in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He sold the Sahara to Paul Lowden (Archon Corporation) for $50 million in 1982.
Ownership changed in 1995, when Archon Corporation sold the property to Bill Bennett. Bill Bennett owned the hotel until his death on December 22, 2002. The 27-story tower addition was added in 1987, and a new porte-cochere was added by the relocated pool in 1997.
In 1999, further renovations added a roller coaster and a restaurant. The roller coaster, called "Speed - The Ride", shot riders from the hotel outside along the Las Vegas Strip, where it looped through the grandiose Sahara sign in front of the hotel, went straight up a tower, stopped and then took a return trip backwards. Bergman Walls Associates were the 1999 architects.
Rumors of the Sahara's closure surfaced in the media in February 2006. In a news article on June 30, 2006, it was reported that the Sahara site, as well as a defunct adjacent Wet 'n Wild property, were for sale.
On March 2, 2007, Sam Nazarian and Stockbridge Real Estate Group signed an agreement to purchase the Sahara from the Bennett family. The transaction was said to be[by whom?] between $300 and $400 million for just the hotel/casino and its 17.45-acre (7.06 ha) lot. The deal did not include the 26-acre (11 ha) lot across the Strip from the Sahara and 11-acre (4.5 ha) lot east of the Sahara on Paradise Road.
Closing as the Sahara
The Sahara shut down on May 16, 2011. SBE chief executive Sam Nazarian stated that the hotel was not "economically viable". Nazarian said that he would help the 1,600 hotel workers find new jobs. Its closure left only the Tropicana, Flamingo, Riviera, Caesars Palace, and the Circus Circus remaining from the pre-1969 era.
On May 16, 2011, at 12:00 PM PDT, the last hotel guest checked out of the Sahara Hotel and Casino, and the hotel officially closed at 2:00 PM. This marked the end of a 59-year run on the Strip. According to the Sahara's website, any previous reservations would be honored at the Circus Circus. NCL/National Content Liquidators began a liquidation sale on June 16, 2011, of all items inside the property; the sale continued until the property was completely empty. The final day of the sale was September 4, 2011.
The "Speed - The Ride", which was located in front of the casino, was sold and removed. It will be relocated to a different location on the strip.
On February 14, 2013, Nazarian announced the groundbreaking for the $415 million conversion of the hotel into the SLS Las Vegas. The hotel opened on August 23, 2014. It contains 1,600 rooms, a casino, four nightclubs, the clothing store Fred Segal and various restaurants.
- The 1960 version of Ocean's 11 was filmed at the Sahara.
- In 2011, the TV show Storage Wars filmed their special "Storage Wars Unlocked" at the Hotel/Casino.
- "SLS Las Vegas Will Open Even Earlier Than Planned on August 23". HotelChatter. June 17, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- Jones, Jay (February 14, 2013). "Las Vegas: SLS resort to open in fall 2014 in the former Sahara". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- "What to See, Like and Savor at The SLS Las Vegas, Opening in August". HotelChatter. May 12, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- "Dreaming the Skyline – Sahara". University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- Burbank, Jeff (May 20, 2011). "Sahara". Online Nevada Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- Kanigher, Steve (May 14, 2011). "Once ‘jewel of the desert,’ Sahara entertains last weekend guests before closing". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- Benston, Liz (February 13, 2006). "Offers they can refuse: For now, no changes on tap at Sahara". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- Miller, Brian K. (June 30, 2006). "Archon Selling 27 Acres on ‘Strip’ for $450M". GlobeSt.com. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- Stutz, Howard (March 5, 2007). "Sahara buyer sees new life for old resort". Casino City Times. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- "liquidation sales website". National Content Liquidators. Retrieved December 12, 2013.[dead link]
- Hotel News Resource (February 14, 2013). "SLS Las Vegas Redevelopment Breaks Ground". Hotel News Resource. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
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