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Howard Stutz

SLS Las Vegas, formerly the Sahara, will open Labor Day weekend

6 February 2014

LAS VEGAS -- The $415 million SLS Las Vegas Hotel Casino will open Labor Day weekend, almost three years and three months after the hotel-casino, formerly known as the Sahara, was closed.

SBE Entertainment Group, LLC CEO Sam Nazarian on Wednesday announced the opening plans for the weekend of Aug. 29-Sept. 1 on the SLS Las Vegas website. Los Angeles-based SBE owns the resort in partnership with private equity firm Stockbridge Capital Group of San Francisco.

“It’s been an incredible journey these past few years and I’m proud and humbled by some big news — SLS Las Vegas is officially opening Labor Day Weekend 2014,” Nazarian wrote. “Looking forward to toasting the Strip’s next chapter with you! We are ‘back’ indeed!”

Nazarian also posted a photo of his handwritten note on Sahara letterhead that he taped to the door of the hotel when the resort closed May 16, 2011. The note read “Be Back Soon!” Thank You for 59 years … .”

The Rat Pack-era Sahara sat vacant until last February when SBE and Stockbridge secured the final $100 million needed to complete the renovation. The initial $300 million was secured in April 2012.

Construction began immediately on transforming the Sahara into the 1,600-room SLS Las Vegas.

The resort will have an ultramodern look and style with elements reminiscent of Hollywood Boulevard and the Sunset Strip. The property will have nearly a dozen restaurants and nightlife amenities from SBE’s roster of brands.

Many of the attractions are starting to take shape. The redesign of SLS includes new entrances and corridors, while the property’s public areas, including the casino, are undergoing a reconfiguration. Entrances along the Strip and from Paradise Road are being redesigned.

Unlike other casino companies that license out amenities to third-party operators, SBE will oversee all aspects of SLS Las Vegas. The company said The Bazaar by Jose Andres, Katsuya by Starck, Umami Burger, The Sayers Club and 800 Degrees are part of the SLS lineup.

In 2012, SBE announced an agreement with Los Angeles retailer Fred Segal to place seven different outlets throughout the property.

Nazarian is proudest that he persuaded the The Griddle Cafe, a Los Angeles dining institution, to open a location inside SLS Las Vegas as the property’s 24-hour restaurant. He said it took him five years to convince ownership that he would honor their brand.

Former Wynn Resorts Ltd. executive Rob Oseland was named SLS Las Vegas president in 2012 and will oversee the property, including the reconfigured 60,000-square-foot casino, which will have 80 table games and 800 slot machines.

Nazarian said SLS Las Vegas’ biggest feeder market will be Southern California, where SBE operates 60 restaurants and nightclubs. The company’s loyalty program could have 5 million names by the time SLS Las Vegas opens.

Besides existing hotels in Los Angeles, New York and Miami, SLS hotels are being planned for Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston and Houston.

SBE and Stockbridge acquired the Sahara in 2007.