Since its opening in 1952, the Sahara Hotel has been an iconic property that attracted tourists from all over. The resort initially operated under the Sahara name until 2011 before it closed to avoid bankruptcy. The former owner of the Sahara hotel-casino, Sam Nazarian announced closing down by saying “we are working with our partners to assess a variety of options for the property, including a complete renovation and repositioning.” Sam Nazarian, CEO of SBE Entertainment Group, which owns and operates the Sahara further commented:
“While no final decisions have been made at this point, the continued operation of the ageing Sahara was no longer economically viable.” In August 2014 the hotel was rebranded and reopened as SLS Las Vegas.
Last year Alex Meruelo, took ownership of SLS, bringing back the iconic name of the Sahara to the north Strip. The name switch was announced by Meruelo last June following a series of expansions that the Sahara saw over the years with previous owners. Meruelo commented on the hotel’s return “the Sahara kind of lost its way over the years, and it never kept up with the expansion and the changes on the Strip.” Furthermore, Alan Woinski, president of the Gaming USA Corp. consultancy mentions ‘”when plans were made to turn it into SLS, that part of the Strip was supposed to be hopping. But the two big developments, the Fontainebleau Las Vegas and Echelon Place, that were planned for the north end at that time didn’t pan out.”
The Sahara’s comeback
Many believe that returning to the old name will appeal to a wider range of audience and increase traffic to the north Strip. The hotel already underwent $100 million worth of renovations, including updates to the 60,000 square-foot casino. This included replacing carpeting and lighting as well as revamping the hotel suites, corridors and entertainment venues. Pirosch commented on the awaited launch “they’re capitalising on a well-known name on the Strip. With 1,600 rooms and change, yes, it makes them a smaller Strip property, but 1,600 rooms is still a lot of rooms, and you have to sell them, so it pays to have this broad appeal. The Sahara name also seems like a good way to shorten the marketing time for the property and cut through the noise a little more quickly.”
Reviving the north strip
Industry leaders agree that it is about time that the Sahara brand made a solid comeback along with other properties in the north strip. Former sites such as Fontainebleau are being redeveloped as the Drew Las Vegas. Moreover, the Echelon Palace will be overtaken by Resorts World Las Vegas, planned to open next year. Many investors are turning their eyes to the north Strip as its destined to be the hottest ticket in the scorching desert. The blend of old and new will defiantly help the area reach its full potential attracting tourists and locals.