The overhaul of SLS Las Vegas is underway.
Despite the fact we were summarily given the boot for taking photos during our last visit, we’re determined to keep you apprised of developments, so here’s the latest.
Summarily, it should be noted, is the worst kind of boot to be given. By far.
The new owner of SLS, Alex Meruelo, has said he’ll invest $100 million in “revitalizing” the former Sahara. That’s a whimsical number, but there’s no question a dramatic facelift is taking place in the resort’s casino.
There’s been a dramatic shift in the look and feel of the perennially under-patroned casino, including new carpeting and a rethinking of the dark, unfinished industrial ceiling of SLS.
The interior design of SLS was distinctive, but SLS was an unmitigated financial flop, having never made a profit since the day it opened.
Was the decor a contributing factor? Hard to say.
Alex Meruelo and his team clearly believe so, hence their decision to try a more traditional vibe.
While changes in the SLS casino are most visible, Meruelo has been chipping away at the resort’s challenges behind-the-scenes as well.
Cost-cutting has been a big priority, with a number of departments pared down to shore up the bottom line.
The restaurant line-up at SLS has also been scrutinized. Holdovers from the SBE Entertainment era of the resort, Cleo and Katsuya, are unlikely to survive the summer from what we hear.
Look for the introduction of new dining concepts, including a food hall concept, expected to be a welcome addition for value-seekers.
We’ve also heard a buffet could be in the works. SLS had a buffet on the hotel’s second floor when it opened, but it was underwhelming it didn’t last long.
When the time is right, SLS will presumably get a new name: Grand Sahara Resort. (Alex Murelo also owns the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.)
It remains to be seen if the changes at SLS will help turn the struggling casino around.
The resort’s location continues to be an undeniable challenge, as a number of north Strip projects are on hold (Wynn West), dead on arrival (Lucky Dragon) or plodding along at a snail’s pace (The Drew, Resorts World, All Net Resort).
Little foot traffic means the casino needs to get creative with marketing. Easier said than done.
A casino refresh at SLS can’t hurt. Ultimately, though, casino resort fundamentals need to be in place for a venue to succeed.
Loosen up those machines. Give loyal customers generous perks. Pour liquor from the bottle (rather than the gun). Provide value. Keep parking free. Dump the goofy statue out front. Bring back the awesome video screen that was above the casino bar. (That’s the plan, by the way.)
Oh, and let people take photos.
We’re rooting for you, SLS.
Sorry, Grand Sahara.
That may take some getting used to.