Iconic Sahara name returns to Las Vegas

SLS rebrands with historic name

By Austin Carter, Joyce Lupiani
Copyright 2019 CNN

SLS Las Vegas rebrands with historic Sahara name.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - A Las Vegas Strip hotel-casino made an announcement with a blast from the past as the SLS renamed itself Sahara Las Vegas.

Journalists were among hundreds of guests during the performance to announce the new name with fireworks and even a drone show.

It wrapped up with the drone lights spelling out "Sahara."

The changes are all a part of the hotel-casino's $150 million dollar renovation, including the return of the iconic name Sahara.

Celebrity guests walked the red carpet of the event to show their support to Las Vegas.

SLS owner Alex Meruelo says he's excited for this change and is hoping to make the Sahara a big part of the ever-growing city.

"We'll change the floors, the restaurants, bars, nightclubs, the theater the rooms... every detail whether it be small or large will change," says Meruelo.

The Sahara Hotel and Casino opened in 1952 and operated under than name for 59 years until 2011.

The original hotel was owned by Milton Press and designed by Max Maltzma and built by Del Webb.

In 1954, Louis Prima and his then-wife Keely Smith created on of the hottest late-night attractions on the Strip.

In 1956, Abbott and Costello performed together there for the last time before their permanent breakup.

The hotel and casino was also the Las Vegas base for the Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford. Other performers over the years included Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Paul Anka, Barbra Streisand, Wayne Newton, Sonny & Cher and many others.

The hotel-casino was known for its elegance and style during the first 30 years of its existence.

The hotel-casino underwent several changes and owners over the years, including the addition of a roller coaster named "Speed - The Ride" in 1999. At that time, there was an effort to make the hotel-casino more appealing to locals and tourists of a modest budget.

It was closed in May 16, 2011, after SBE chief executive Sam Nazarian stated that the hotel was not "economically viable."

In 2013, SBE announced that it was changing the name of the hotel-casino to SLS Las Vegas. It reopened Aug. 23, 2014, after a $415 million conversion. The name SLS was chosen to denote "style, luxury and service" and the hotel-casino attempted a return to attracting more affluent guests.

In 2015, the Starwood Hotels & Resorts bought the Sahara and announced that one of the hotel's towers would be rebranded W Las Vegas.

In 2015, the Starwood Hotels & Resorts bought the Sahara and announced that one of the hotel's towers would be rebranded W Las Vegas.

In 2018, the Murelo Group purchased the property and spent $100 million on renovations. At that time, there were rumors that the name would revert to the Sahara because renovation plans used a working name of "Grand Sahara."

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