Renovations Are Underway at SLS Las Vegas

The new owner of SLS Las Vegas, Alex Meruelo, has started what he says will be $100 million in upgrades and renovations to the north Strip resort.

Changes as SLS are already underway, including in the casino, as evidenced by a large portion of the floor being walled off.

SLS Las Vegas renovations
You go, SLS. We love that new casino smell.

It doesn’t appear the current renovations have had any impact on the restaurants, including one of our favorite in town, Cleo.

It’s anticipated most, if not all, of the current SLS dining offerings will be swapped out with new concepts as the resort overhaul proceeds. Restaurants like Katsuya, Umami Burger, Cleo and 800 Degrees Pizza are licensed from SBE Entertainment Group, a previous co-owner of the hotel.

We have heard Bazaar Meat will survive the transition, though, and even expand.

Sadly, the walled-off section of the casino floor does encompass the former party pit, just outside the Sayers Club.

SLS renovations
When you’re in this spot, look up. You’ll see a glorious chandelier made from door handles salvaged from the Sahara.

The renovations brush up against the popular center bar’s video screen.

A couple of signs on the construction wall give a glimpse into what’s to come for the SLS casino floor.

SLS Las Vegas
The casino at SLS never looked finished. Clearly, now it will.

Upgrades in the casino will include changes to the ceiling, carpeting and lighting.

Here’s another peek through the time portal into the future of SLS. Or something.

SLS renovations
Adios, exposed air conditioning ducts. And random monkeys.

By the time the renovations are done at SLS, it’s likely the resort won’t bear that name anymore. The most likely candidate is Grand Sahara, a throwback to the casino’s original name while integrating a brand owned by Alex Meuelo in Reno, the Grand Sierra Resort.

Oh, all right, nerd. The Sahara’s original name was Club Bingo. Just play along!

Beyond the casino, renovations to the resort will involve hotel room upgrades, the pool and entertainment venues. It’s all fairly amazing given the resort only opened as SLS four years
ago, on Aug. 23, 2014.

As far as we know, SLS hasn’t had a profitable month since it opened, and the hope is Alex Meruelo and his team can turn things around.

SLS renovations
The good news: SLS is one of the few remaining casinos on The Strip with free parking.

Meruelo’s team has already made dramatic moves to cut costs at the resort, including terminating a lease of a nearby employee parking lot that was rumored to be costing the company $40,000 a month.

A big change at the resort took place when W Las Vegas was shown the door in August 2018. Details of that deal are murky, but it brought back operation of the hotel’s Lux Tower (now called the Grand Tower) after the boutique “hotel within a hotel” concept opened in Dec. 2016.

Some of the changes haven’t been received warmly by employees (don’t get them started about the employee dining room), but in recent weeks we’ve found them to be in better spirits, and play in the casino seems to have picked up a bit.

Generous food comps and free play offers seem to be flowing freely, and that’s a great way to keep us coming back.

We’re looking forward to seeing how SLS Las Vegas revamps its casino. One change we’d love to see is a loosening up of the slots, as they clamped down tight a few months after SLS opened, presumably as a way to increase revenue when the anticipated crowds of cool kids from L.A. never materialized.

We’ve always liked SLS a lot. The restaurant mix is appealing, and we tend to prefer our casinos less crowded and rowdy. SLS qualifies.

The success of SLS Las Vegas could hinge on increased development on the north end of The Strip. If projects like Resorts World, The Drew, All Net Resort and Arena (don’t laugh, we hear there’s new funding) and the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion come online, there’s hope. And who knows, Lucky Dragon might re-open again in some form after its sale (Alex Meruelo was in the mix as a potential buyer at one point).

There’s also a rebrand in the works at The Strat, and much more activity at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds (site of the forgettable Rock in Rio music festival fiasco), just across the street from SLS.

In the meantime, eat as much of the Chicken Tagine at Cleo and take lots of selfies with the goofy statue in the hotel’s porte-cochere, while you still can.

SLS casino chip
This fake chip will soon be a collectible!

We’d love to hear your thoughts about what’s in store for SLS Las Vegas.