Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Will the Spirit of The Sahara Fade as it Transforms into a Hip Boutique?

The Sahara is dead; long live The SLS Las Vegas.

The Rat Pack era resort shuttered its doors for the last time earlier this year, selling off a ton of memorabilia in packed to the gills auctions, and now Vegas Chatter, one of my favorite Vegas-centric blogs, has been reporting on property owner Sam Nazarian's plans to renovate the property. The nightlife impresario (doesn't that seem like a made up job in a movie where he learns to love by the third act?), who runs twelve clubs in Los Angeles (including Hyde, Colony, and Industry... and yes, venue names like that do make my skin crawl) through his SBE hospitality group, has grand plans for the old-school Sahara property.

The outdated Sahara will become The SLS Las Vegas, a sister-property to the ultra chic boutique SLS Beverly Hills. The redesign of the resort will be spearheaded by "highly influential guy who designs stuff," Phillipe Starck (I know, I'm thinking the same thing about some of the names in this post, and no I didn't make them up... but this Starck-bro knows what he's doing. Check out his Wikipedia page), while two SBE meagclubs will open in the property. The NASCAR roller coaster in front of the property will be knocked down in favor of a sleek beer garden (okay, that's an idea I can get behind).

The economy makes it impossible it cost prohibitive for Nazarian to knock down the entire property, so it seems that The SLS Las Vegas will be built out of a renovated Sahara. The Beverly Hills property is about as modern as you can get, but if Nazarian and Starck are smart about integrating the classic Rat Pack vibe of the old resort into and sexy property, I actually have high hopes for the new resort.

Clearly, Nazarian is gunning for the affluent tastemaking party-goers who were the main demographic for the owners of The Cosmopolitan, but if the designers can smartly blend the old school into their modern and sleek design, they might create something truly unique and special... which they're going to need to do in order to get people to party on the North end of The Strip, which has become a dead zone once you get past The Wynn and Encore in recent years (as construction on new resorts has halted while Circus Circus... can't stop being Circus Circus).

I'm still sad that we lost another classic resort when Nazarian closed The Sahara a few months ago, but he has a chance to keep the spirit of the old-school yet admittedly run down resort alive if he's smart enough to meld together the classic and sexy new sensibilities into something that stands out from The Cosmpolitan, things could get very interesting on the North Strip when The SLS Las Vegas opens in 2014.

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