SLS Las Vegas Rumored to Be Returning to Roots with Sahara Rebrand

Posted on: July 15, 2018, 08:00h. 

Last updated on: July 13, 2018, 09:40h.

The troubled SLS Las Vegas casino resort might be returning to the brand that made it a Strip icon and Rat Pack hangout for nearly six decades.

SLS Las Vegas renovation Sahara casino
SLS Las Vegas could be taking a page out of its own history book for its future. (Image: Review-Journal File/SLS Las Vegas/

According to blog Eater Las Vegas, SLS owner Alex Meruelo’s real estate development company has filed renovation paperwork with the city that refers to the resort as the Grand Sahara. But nothing is apparently set in stone.

When reached by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Meruelo Group rep Christopher Abraham explained, “We have not determined the name of the new property. It was a working name at the time that the plans were written up several months ago.”

The Meruelo Group’s other casino holding is the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.

SLS History

Meruelo came to terms to acquire the fiscally troubled SLS Las Vegas in May 2017. The price was not disclosed, and the sale was only formally completed in April of this year.

SLS opened in 2014 after a $415 million conversion from the Sahara, which closed in 2011. Developer Sam Nazarian chose “SLS” to denote style, luxury, and service.

Despite his best efforts to transform the Sahara into a hip and modern property, its north Strip location made attracting guests difficult. The Drew (former Fontainebleau) and Resorts World remain unfinished, the Riviera was demolished, and the off-Strip Lucky Dragon recently shuttered.

SLS Las Vegas reportedly lost $123 million in its first nine months in operation, and has struggled ever since.

In obtaining a gaming license from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Meruelo said he’s the one to turn around the resort.

“I was told there was no way in hell that I would be able to turn the Grand Sierra around. If I can turn around the Grand Sierra Resort, I could do that at SLS also,” Meruelo declared.

The NGCB unanimously approved Meruelo’s gaming license application.

SLS Future

The Meruelo Group is spending $100 million to reimagine the 66-year-old casino. The resort is parting ways with the W hotel brand, and plans to spruce up all 1,600 rooms.

Meruelo says the property investment will include a refreshing of the casino floor, and upgrades to the pools. Aside from that, little is known as to SLS’ future.

“The capital investment is something that will make a dramatic impact. Things are already turning around, and I am very optimistic,” Meruelo declared in March.

About this time next year, according to the developer, the new identity of the resort will be officially revealed.

Speaking with The Los Angeles Times in April, Meruelo said he plans to cater to the Hispanic market at his Strip resort. “That’s just one more under-served market,” Meruelo said.

SLS should benefit from more pedestrian traffic in the coming years, as The Drew has new owners who are working to finally complete the massive blue structure. Lucky Dragon could also find a new owner and reopen, and work continues at Resorts World.