SLS Las Vegas owner Alex Meruelo announced the return of Sahara to the world-famous Las Vegas Strip on a beautiful night in late June.
The new Sahara Las Vegas will replace SLS Las Vegas. The hotel is currently being renovated using the bones of the original Sahara Hotel and Casino that opened in 1952.
Sahara to SLS Las Vegas and back to Sahara
The Sahara was purchased and closed by sbe Entertainment in 2011. The hotel and casino reopened as SLS Las Vegas in August 2014. Response to the Los Angeles hotel and entertainment brand was lukewarm at best. Therefore, it ultimately sold again in March 2018.
Meruelo, the owner of Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, NV, and founder of the Meruelo Group, purchased SLS Las Vegas in 2018. Meruelo promised $100 million in renovations to the property but only hinted that the Sahara name might return.
Shortly after the purchase of SLS Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal found documents that the Meruelo Group was using Grand Sahara as a working name for paperwork used for SLS Las Vegas. This information stoked rumors of a name change sometime in the future.
The current tally on the renovation budget now stands at $150 million. The ultimate mark of the completion of these renovations will be when the property once again becomes Sahara Las Vegas this fall.
During a special event to reveal the new name, Merulelo said, “The Sahara played an important role in the evolution of the destination.” He continued, “we are now responsible for shaping a new narrative. We are writing the next chapter in the city’s evolution for the love of Vegas.”
Coming attractions for Sahara Las Vegas
The new Sahara Las Vegas will harken back to the iconic original while creating a new casino for the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.
While there are a lot of changes taking place right now, one thing that won’t be changing is that William Hill will continue to operate the sportsbook.
Renovations of the casino are currently underway and should be completed by the time the name changes from SLS to Sahara.
Sahara hotel renovations
The changeover to Sahara Las Vegas begins before even entering the casino. The renovations begin outside on the hotel towers. The new hotel and casino will have a sand-inspired coat of paint on the outside.
The new color on the exterior is an homage to the original casino. It also covers up the SLS Las Vegas paint that made the structure look more like a prison than a casino-hotel.
Valet, hotel lobby and check-in
Sahara Las Vegas has two entrances. The Vegas Strip entrance will mostly remain intact. However, the east valet entrance on Paradise will see a total facelift. The entrance closest to the hotel towers will have a new modern design. This will lead to a more traditional hotel lobby and check-in area concept.
Refreshed hotel rooms
All three of the hotel towers, elevator lobbies, and room corridors are receiving an update. Guests staying in the Story and World towers will see new and modern hotel rooms.
The Grand Tower replaces the W hotel tower and will retain the AAA four-diamond status as well as its private entrance. In addition to new room redesign, the Grand Tower spa will receive an upgrade.
Sahara casino renovations and additions
Changes to the casino floor
The 60,000-square-foot casino floor might have the most notable changes. Much of the property already has new carpeting, lighting and ceiling fixtures. The lower ceilings and traditional, but modern, casino design are more welcoming and comfortable for guests.
The new casino floor layout is a drastic change from high ceilings and industrial design from SLS Las Vegas.
New poker room
The original Sahara was home to one of the more popular poker rooms on the Vegas Strip. The owners of SLS Las Vegas decided to ditch the popular card room.
There will be a new poker room opening as part of the casino floor renovations. The poker room will be small and feature TVs for players to keep an eye on any sports.
Revamped high-limits room
Sahara Las Vegas will debut a new, single high-limits gaming space this fall. This will be a significant change from the most recent high-limits gaming structure.
The high-limits gaming areas have bounced around SLS Las Vegas and will once again change for Sahara Las Vegas. The high-limits gaming at SLS Las Vegas started in one room. It was then split into two rooms: one for slot machines and another for table games.
The casino loyalty club
Shortly after purchasing SLS Las Vegas, the current owners changed the casino loyalty club name to Club 52 Rewards.
The new name is a nod to the year the original Sahara initially opened in 1952. This might have been the first sign that SLS Las Vegas could once again become the Sahara.
It should be noted that this is a true players’ club that only offers rewards for money spent gambling. There are no rewards earned from other purchases on property.
Dining and drinking venues
Restaurants are changing it up
Uno Mas Street Tacos + Spirits is the first new restaurant that guests can enjoy at SLS Las Vegas and soon Sahara Las Vegas. More new eateries are in the works, so there may be more announcements in the near future.
Meruelo is being sued by sbe over unpaid licensing fees, which means new eateries will replace Umami Burger and 800 Degrees pizzeria.
Casbar recently opened on the renovated casino floor. The new stylish 24-hour upscale bar and lounge will feature unique craft cocktails and inviting seating areas with sightlines to the action on the casino floor.
When SLS Las Vegas sold, the new owners stopped a relationship with Starwood Hotels. The former W Lounge is now the Paradise Lounge. Another hotel lobby lounge will be opening as the hotel name reverts to Sahara.