Ever heard of the SLS hotel on the Las Vegas Strip? What about the Sahara? Turns out they are the same place. The now-SLS Hotel is thinking of changing its name back to the Sahara. The legendary hotel that hosted a NASCAR café, the Beatles, the Rat Pack and the Jerry Lewis Telethon.
Sahara is such an iconic name that the property owner immediately considered returning to it when he bought the property. The current owner Alex Meruelo bought the property from the Stockbridge Capital Group in 2018.
The Sahara featured a Moroccan style “onion-dome” that covered it’s porte-cochere. And was a favorite hangout of celebrity musicians Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
The classic, 14-story Vegas hotel sits on the border between the city and the tourist corridor. It is one of the only classic strip hotels that survived demolition in favor of new resorts. The Sands, Stardust, Riviera, Landmark and Desert Inn were all demolished in such a fashion—but not the Sahara.
At one time the three-tower hotel was the tallest on the strip. The Sahara name was retired in 2011.
The return to the Sahara name is just part of a hefty $150 million renovation of the entire SLS complex and could take almost three years to complete.
This month’s first travel blog looks west, again, at Las Vegas where the historic Riviera Hotel & Casino closed its doors on Monday, May 4th, 2015.
The Riviera is an icon—it was the first high-rise resort when it opened 60 years ago. It hosted all the best acts: Liberace, Elvis, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Marlene Dietrich, Bob Hope, Barbra Streisand, and Orson Wells.
Over the years many owners struggled with bankruptcy and other financial difficulties. As a part of the waning north Strip, The Riviera couldn’t compete with the newer, flashier-themed like the Mirage and the Bellagio.
The Riviera’s 1,300 employees worked their last shifts Sunday and Monday amid throngs of curiosity-seekers crowding the casino for one last glimpse of an old-Vegas landmark. Shortly after noon, security guards began herding people to the exits, and the hotel’s website was pulled down.
The hotel-casino now joins the Dunes, the Sands, the Sahara, the Aladdin and other departed resorts from a bygone Strip era.
The 26 acres of land was purchased at $182.5 million dollars and will be turned into a convention center complex. There is no time-line yet on demolition, however a liquidation sale will begin on May 14th.
While many people world-wide would likely recognize her seminal design work – the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign in Las Vegas, Nevada – most probably have probably never heard of Betty Whitehead Willis, the designer of the iconic sign. She died this week at the age of 91.
The Neon Museum of Las Vegas also credits her with the creation of the Blue Angel Motel sign and the Moulin Rogue Hotel sign. Retiring from design at the age of 77, Willis never trademarked her most famous work saying it was “my gift to the city.”
These days it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to say that the recreation of this design on t-shirts and other tourist trap treasures has probably resulted in millions of dollars of profit.
Willis was a Las Vegas native who attended art school in L.A. She first work for Fox West Coast Theaters in L.A. designing advertisements. Later she returned to Las Vegas where she worked at the courthouse, but finally landed a job creating neon signs at Western Neon. It was at Western Neon she designed the famous sign.
In capital city of odds and wagers it looks as if cold and even snow may be a safe bet this New Year’s Eve – forecasts in Las Vegas have New Year’s Eve snow at 70 percent, along with a 32-degree low. Although on key element, moisture, as been somewhat elusive it will be cold.
Meteorologists have been warning tourists that the need to dress warmly and wear footwear with good traction. Neither of which are what any Vegas tourist is looking forward in a NYE outfit. Some 340,000 people are expected to pack the Strip and Las Vegas’ downtown Fremont area for festivities.
Pyrotechnics specialists organizing the fireworks show discharged from the rooftops of seven casinos were confident that snow wouldn’t effect the event. Michael Mack of Las Vegas Events stated that strong winds was the only weather that would shut down the event entirely and that it never had in fourteen years.
Snow, however, could spell trouble for the airlines. Airplanes coming into Las Vegas will have to bring their own deicing equipment. Las Vega’s McCarran International Airport doesn’t have any on hand and isn’t required to!
Where ever you are spending NYE and whatever the weather have a safe and happy holiday!