Looking at new resort development on the Las Vegas Strip, the south and central parts have certainly garnered the lion’s share of attention in recent years. But as 2014 approaches, it seems the winds of change are blowing in another direction – to the north.
SBE, a company helmed by nightlife and entertainment impresario Sam Nazarian, has undertaken a $415 million makeover of the former Sahara Hotel & Casino that will transform it into SLS Las Vegas. Ground was broken for the project in February 2013.
SBE has a stellar reputation for developing and operating hotels, restaurants and nightclubs that are usually characterized by excessive lavishness. The company’s portfolio even reads like a who’s who of food and hospitality heavyweights: Katsuya by Starck, The Bazaar by José Andrés, The Sayers Club…and the list goes on.
SLS Las Vegas is an exciting concept because it will bring many of these revered names from Los Angeles to Sin City and put them all under one roof. Located on the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, visitors are sure to flock to this shining beacon of luxury in an area that’s otherwise been overlooked in terms of glitz and glamour.
“We view our location on the north end of the Strip as an advantage. Las Vegas is rich with history, especially downtown and on the north end of the Strip,” said Rob Oseland, president and COO of SLS Las Vegas. “As the city is continuing to evolve culturally and economically, this is a prime location for growth and we’re proud to invest in the development of the north end. We’re ready to show Las Vegas that north is the new south.”
Having spent more than two decades working in the hospitality and gaming industries in Las Vegas (including senior management positions with Wynn Resorts at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, MGM Resorts International at Bellagio and Station Casinos at Boulder Station), Oseland is more than ready to launch the city’s next all-encompassing hotel, casino and entertainment property.
Construction on SLS Las Vegas is progressing steadily. While transforming any existing building is sure to be difficult and bring surprises, SBE is trying to preserve the bones of the historic Sahara, once a hangout for the Rat Pack and the place where Elvis Presley stayed numerous times.
“Things are going smoothly with construction. The project is on track with timing and budget, and we look forward to opening in fall 2014,” stated Oseland. “SBE has a philosophy geared towards adaptive reuse in which we reinvent properties instead of tearing them down. Tremendous progress has been made with construction, and by opening you will see a completely different property.”
SLS Las Vegas will also be very different from the SLS properties in other markets. SBE’s family of existing hotels is comprised of the SLS Beverly Hills and SLS South Beach, along with The Raleigh in South Beach and The Redbury in Los Angeles. In addition to Las Vegas, more hotels are being developed in the U.S. in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin, Seattle and Washington, D.C., as well as in the Middle East and Asia.
“The DNA of the SLS brand is always there, but we really shape the brand and experience to reflect the local communities in which we’re located,” said Oseland. “SLS Las Vegas will provide the same caliber of style and service that SLS is known for in a more approachable, playful setting that perfectly fits Las Vegas.”
For example, in late August SLS Las Vegas announced a partnership with one of the world’s leading betting and gaming companies. William Hill has been tapped to create and operate the resort’s state-of-the-art sports book. It will feature innovative wagering technology (like mobile betting) and boast an expansive HD video wall for viewing the day’s big games.
In another impressive move that displays innovative thinking, SLS Las Vegas will become the first resort to have a single-brand partner occupy all of its retail space. At the end of 2012, a relationship was struck with Fred Segal, an L.A. fashion institution. Utilizing 10,000 square feet of the property and encompassing seven different shopping experiences, the iconic retailer will offer a wide range of merchandise including women’s and men’s apparel, jewelry, beauty products, books, art and accessories. Fans of Fred Segal will also discover the signature “denim bar” – a highly curated selection of must-have jeans that originated in 1960.
In addition, plans call for SLS Las Vegas to showcase a collection of unique restaurants.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite because each one contributes its own unique flair. With dining, you have Katsuya, a stylish concept from our creative director, Philippe Starck, which has incredible sushi. And then you have Umami Burger, which is playful and inventive. They’re constantly updating the menu with items just as creative as they are delicious,” said Oseland. “Another concept that we’re especially excited to bring to Las Vegas is The Griddle Café. The Griddle has taken on a huge following for its over-the-top breakfast, lunch, dessert and cocktail menus, and this will be the first branch outside of L.A.”
Among the four distinct nightlife experiences intended for SLS Las Vegas, SBE will reinvent the bygone Shelter, Nazarian’s original nightclub venture that debuted on the Sunset Strip back in 2003. The Sayers Club, currently considered among L.A.’s most exclusive live music venues, will have a presence here too.
“For nightlife, SBE will bring the same high-energy experience to the new nightclubs that guests have come to expect, but in a completely new setting,” said Oseland.
Of course, the 1,622 accommodations at SLS Las Vegas will be nothing short of spectacular. Ranging from 350-square-foot rooms to opulent 3,300-square-foot penthouse suites, their sleek décors are being masterminded by visionary designer Starck. Overseeing almost every element of SLS Las Vegas’ interior, his function-meets-pleasure aesthetic will be evident throughout the property, seamlessly transitioning the various social and private spaces.
Holding a sophistication all its own along with impeccable service standards and the one-of-a-kind offerings, SLS Las Vegas is guaranteed to be great addition to the city’s resort scene.
“As one of the world’s top tourism destinations, Las Vegas draws an incredibly diverse crowd with unique tastes and interests, and SLS’ innovative approach to creating stylish, approachable experiences tailored to each guest is a perfect complement to the destination,” said Oseland.
Unfortunately, you still have about a year to wait before the doors to SLS Las Vegas open to the public. But in the meantime, you can follow along with the construction progress and new developments on the resort’s recently launched blog.