SLS Las Vegas
|SLS Las Vegas|
|Address||2535 Las Vegas Blvd South|
|Opening date||October 7, 1952 (as Sahara)
August 25, 2014 (reopening as SLS Hotel)
|Closing date||May 16, 2011 (as Sahara)|
|No. 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|
|Years renovated||1960, 1963, 1996, 2003, 2013|
The SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino is a luxury boutique hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Winchester, Nevada. It is owned by SBE Entertainment and Stockbridge Real Estate and is currently under construction and scheduled to reopen in Fall 2014 after a $415 million renovation as part of SBE's chain of SLS hotels.
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 northernmost stop for the Las Vegas Monorail. The Sahara was the last remaining vintage "Rat Pack" casino-hotel, and 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 on the site was the Club Bingo, opened in 1947. Owner Milton Prell replaced the casino with a new casino hotel in 1952 called the Sahara. 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., 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 valued 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 its doors on May 16, 2011. SBE chief executive Sam Nazarian stated that the hotel was not "economically viable". Nazarian said that he would help some 1,600 hotel workers find new jobs. Its closure leaves 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 doors were 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 and continued until the property was completely empty. The final day of the sale was September 4, 2011.
The roller coaster, Speed, which was located in front of the casino, was sold and removed. It will be relocated to a different location on the strip with a possible changed ride layout.
On February 14, 2013 SBE head Sam Nazarian announced the groundbreaking for the $415 million conversion of the hotel into the SLS Las Vegas. It will contain 1600 rooms, a casino, four nightclubs, a 10,000-square foot branch of the famed Los Angeles clothing store Fred Segal and restaurants including branches of The Bazaar by José Andrés, Katsuya by Starck and Umami Burger. The hotel will open in Fall 2014.
- Jay Jones (2013-02-14). "Las Vegas: SLS resort to open in fall 2014 in the former Sahara - Los Angeles Times". Latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
- "Sahara". Retrieved 2007-09-05.
- Steve Kanigher (May 14, 2011). "Once ‘jewel of the desert,’ Sahara entertains last weekend guests before closing". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
- "Offers they can refuse: For now, no changes on tap at Sahara". Las Vegas Sun. 2006-02-13.
- Miller, Brian K. (2006-06-30). "Archon Selling 27 Acres on ‘Strip’ for $450M June 30, 2006". Globest.com. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
- Sahara buyer sees new life for old resort March 5, 2007 The Hotel President is Arash Azarbazin, President of the SBE Hotel Group.
- "liquidation sales website". Nclsales.com. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
- Hotel News Resource (2013-02-14). "SLS Las Vegas Redevelopment Breaks Ground". Hotelnewsresource.com. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
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