W Hotel Shown the Door at SLS Las Vegas

It took longer than expected, but W Hotel is no longer a hotel-within-a-hotel at SLS Las Vegas.

SLS marquee

The W sign no longer sits atop the SLS marquee. Thanks a lot, Illuminati!

We were the first to share that SLS would discontinue its relationship with W Las Vegas.

Initially, the plan was to integrate W back into the SLS resort in May 2018, but talks between the two entities hit a snag.

Soon after, it was announced W would be “reincorporated back into SLS Las Vegas as the SLS Grand, a Starwood hotel” on July 20, 2018. Nope.

W hotel notice

The best laid plans.

At one point, W Las Vegas employees were let go, rooms were redecorated to remove W branding and a crane showed up to take down the W sign. Because a deal couldn’t be finalized, employees were invited back, all the rooms in the tower were reverted to the W branding and the crane was asked to turn around.

Finally, the deal between the new owners of SLS (Meruelo Group) and W Las Vegas was done and W is officially out as of Aug. 17, 2018.

Our eagle-eyed reader Michael A. captured the removal of the W sign from the SLS marquee.

W hotel sign removal

Paging M Resort. You should totally bid for this on eBay!

The W sign went up in Oct. 2016. Yep, less than two years ago, making it one of the weirder Las Vegas casino stories in quite some time. (We’re looking at you, The Quad.)

Here’s a shot of the W sign as it was being foisted into place with much fanfare back in 2016. Or maybe it was hoopla. We always get those mixed up.

W Las Vegas at SLS

Not awkward. At all.

So, W is out. Bygones.

All visible signs of W Las Vegas branding have been removed at SLS, and the W tower has been renamed The Grand Tower.

A news release explains, “SLS Las Vegas will assume full operational control of the resort’s reservations system from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and the SLS Las Vegas brand will discontinue membership as a Starwood Tribute Portfolio Hotel & Resort.”

We have only the most superficial understanding of what that means, so you’re on your own.

One of the more distinctive design touches at the W Hotel valet entrance was a wall fashioned from 20,000 poker chips.

W hotel Las Vegas

No, we didn’t count all 20,000 chips. We have a life. Sorry, we probably should’ve put quotation marks around “life.”

Now, SLS has taken a page from Park MGM playbook and replaced the chips with greenery.

SLS rear entrance

This isn’t the first time a Las Vegas casino has made chips disappear.

Otherwise, the W Las Vegas lobby and bar area remain largely untouched.

W hotel lobby

This is the Living Room at the former W. And just as with your own living room, there’s mismatched furniture, a bartender and possibly prostitutes.

Just in case SLS decides to overhaul the former W Las Vegas lobby area, we would like to call dibs on three decorative items.

First, this dice display.

W hotel dice

You’d be surprised how seldom “dibs” actually works once you reach adulthood. Sorry, we should’ve put quotation marks around “adulthood.”

Second, this textured wall accent, inspired by the bumps on a craps table. Glorious.

W Las Vegas

These “alligator bumps” run floor to ceiling and we absolutely love them.

Third, Belvis.

W Las Vegas Belvis

Belvis is like Zoltar, but much, much cooler.

Wresting back operational control of the W Hotel is just one of many changes happening at SLS.

Owner Alex Meruelo and his team have been aggressive at cost-cutting measures so far, and a $100 million “re-imagining” is planned.

How about this? Imagine being profitable for the first time in four years!

Fun fact: SLS opened on Aug. 23, 2014, so the hotel’s fourth anniversary is the very same day we’re publishing this story. You go, synchronicity.

Part of the resort’s re-imagining will undoubtedly involve a name change, most likely to Grand Sahara Resort. The new name plays off the Reno resort owned by Meruelo, Grand Sierra Resort.

Plans for the hotel’s venues haven’t been announced, but we’ve heard Bazaar Meat and the Northside Cafe are likely to be the only restaurants to survive the transition. It’s rumored Bazaar Meat will not only stay, but will get an expansion.

Bazaar Meat

How serious is Bazaar Meat about its meat? This serious.

Since SLS opened, it’s been rumored the resort’s restaurants generate more revenue than its casino.

Cleo is not only our favorite restaurant at SLS, it’s one of our favorites in Las Vegas. Sadly, our “Save Cleo” campaign hasn’t gained much traction, but only because you probably haven’t dined there yet. Ahem.

We’ve long been a cheerleader for SLS, as the quirky spawn of the classic Sahara has a lot to like, despite its challenging location.

SLS casino chip

The crane will be back for this guy. Dibs.

Here’s hoping the new owners and management can defy the odds, turn plans for a turnaround into action and make the north Strip resort a success.

Including keeping Cleo. Yes, we’re saying it again. Traction doesn’t just magically happen, you know.

30 thoughts on “W Hotel Shown the Door at SLS Las Vegas

  1. Vegas Insight

    I finally made a brief cameo at SLS on July 2. Monday night of a weird holiday week, after 9 p.m….. you can guess what I found.

    I didn’t do a lot of exploring, and perhaps I should have, since I’ll likely never set foot in the building again while it has the SLS name. I mostly saw the casino, which seemed nice and well maintained. There wasn’t much happening there, that’s for sure. The high limit area was laughable. A room with a boss and a couple of dealers, sitting around wondering how they got jobs at the worst casino on the strip, no doubt.

    For all its rundown glory, when I stayed, one night, at the Sahara in Jan. 2007, the casino had a pretty good vibe that weeknight. Lots of table action, lots of people. A weeknight in January, I said.

    Sure, Riviera hadn’t been demolished yet, and Stardust was still standing — in a state of disarray. I could see through the top floors of the building from my balcony. Windows had been removed from the top floors at this point, but there was a ways to go before implosion. But Sahara was an island then, too, even with visible neighbors a long walk down the street.

    Moral of the story: Without being in the epicenter of the strip, without all the fancy finishes, Sahara was doing OK 11 years ago. Now that a bunch of money has been dumped into it, trying to raise it to the level of Planet Hollywood or something like that, the place is empty. You can’t get a refund on the fancy fixtures in the future Grand Sahara, but if you run it like a casino that people will want to gamble in, people will find their way.

  2. CrashVegas

    @VegasInsight Nothing “insightful” about this what I assume is a review of the SLS?
    So you stayed at there for one night and it sucked, got it! I have stayed there multiple times, participated in activities within the convention space and eaten in a couple of their well-reviewed restaurants.
    Most of those times the place had a good crowd and a laid-back vibe which was a nice change from the mega resorts. It’s not for everyone (obviously) but some of us kinda like the place and it’s wonderful employees… and we hope for the best with the positive change coming!
    But, even in that future, I’m sure there will still be in insightful reviews stating “it’s not good enough” or how great things “used to be”.

    1. Vegas Insight

      No, I didn’t stay there one night. I visited on a Monday night in July 2018 and the place was dead. On a Jan. weeknight in 2007 I did stay for a night. It wasn’t nearly as nice, but the place had a lot of gaming action.

      Glad you liked the place for its chill vibe, Crash. Obviously lots of other people do, too, and therefore it’s doing just fine as SLS. Oh, wait.

      Somehow you’re so far out in left field after reading my comments that you’re on Waveland Avenue. Nothing I can do about that. Enjoy the new positive changes that are coming. Although it sounds like they’re ruining NIrvana if they change anything.

      1. CrashVegas

        Yes everyone knows the place hasn’t made money, too bad they can’t all be Wynns and Venetians!
        Was your write up is meant to be an Op-Ed or a review or just a rant? Maybe I am just being a critic of the critic here but it wasn’t insightful or came from someone with a clear understanding of the SLS or any property for that matter.
        Regardless, Vital Vegas appreciates your thoughts and contribution. (keep’em coming)
        Thanks for the multiple mentions below and misquoting me as stating the place is a “success”.

      2. Marcus

        Everytime i visited the place in the first two years it opened, it was very scary to me as it was full of “thugs” sitting around in groups looking you in the eye when you walked by and seemed very aggressive. My wife felt way uncomfortable so we left. I went in with a couple friends once and same thing. Gangster type people hanging around like they owned the place and we were not welcome. I had a friend who went there and his car was stolen out of the parking lot. Never went back. Ill go back after this guy makes changes. Hopefully my car wont get stolen. Lots and lots of cars have been stolen out of that garage. I would say dozens if not more.

      1. wolfdog

        Only took 29 minutes to reply? LOL
        I’ve stayed there twice. Played there many times. Been in there middle of the day; absolutely empty, even at the center bar. It’s not a Strip casino; not a local’s casino. Bad location, location, location. Lousy drink service.
        “great laid-back vide” is putting lipstick on a pig that will continue to struggle.

        1. Vegas Insight

          I’m not sure what the significance of 29 minutes is, but yeah, I check this site a few times most days.

          I’m with you on the assessment, although as Sahara, it didn’t seem to have those issues 11 years ago, but Crash seems to think it’s laid-back vibe is ideal. I know, he’s trolling, and I’m falling for it. It’s fun to play along.

          Or maybe Crash likes pigs with lipstick.

          1. wolfdog

            The new Sahara had the Nascar ride, which was a big draw. And a cheap buffet, until it didn’t. And, of course, the name.
            We went to a Christmas concert there, last year. Played video poker during a couple of hours prior. After a half hour, we finally got a cocktail each. Tipped her a 5 and said, See you soon. Never saw her again.
            Not even better VP paytables will draw us back. Just too many better choices, that are more convenient.

  3. Hank Groff

    I’ve stayed at the SLS Las Vegas and w a few times. I have eaten at Cleo’s numerous times. I agree. Let’s keep Cleo. In fact my friend in Venice named her brand as a singer after the restaurant. Look up Dez Cleo.

  4. Elizabeth Meadows

    Starwood was acquired by Marriott, here is their announcement from 9/ 2016 which may have something to do with them having a short stay.

    ⦁ Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) has completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., creating the world’s largest and best hotel company. Marriott now offers the most comprehensive portfolio of brands including leading lifestyle brands, a significant global footprint, and leadership in the luxury and select-service tiers as well as the convention and resort segment. Beginning today, Marriott will match member status across Marriott Rewards – which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards – and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), enabling members to transfer points between the programs for travel and exclusive experiences when they link their accounts later today.

  5. David D

    About time they got rid of the incompetent ownership. Maybe next they can fire all the high paid and incompetent management who don’t care about the performance of the property, only a paycheck. The new owner is a super aggressive marketer who knows how to actually market, unlike the current group. We will see a huge difference across the board with these grand sierra guys. They seem to be real casino resort operators, not bankers from New York who are clueless on how to run anything other than a motel.

    1. Vegas Insight

      Sounds promising as a Grand property, based upon your experience and knowledge. I’m looking forward to seeing how the property transforms, although for some it will lose the great laid-back vibe that at least a handful of people seemed to appreciate on a recent Monday night.

    2. Drew

      The SBE group which installed the SLS brand was quick to find out how hard it is to actually run a strip resort. Creating a cohesive environment with an HR Dept, Accounting, Engineering, IT, etc. is hard work and takes time. (it’s not just about Nightclubs) The new owner is a legit businessman who got the Reno property turned around (took several years) and can do a lot with a little in the SLS. I hope for the best and want to see everyone do well. Also, it’s good to hear that Bazaar Meat is staying!

  6. CrashVegas

    I take it you didn’t like that I said “laid-back” for some reason that’s why you repeat it so much? I got inspired by your “pretty-good vibe”… How about “a chill atmosphere”!?
    But seriously, I read some of your Vegas blogs and now have a better understanding of your view here.

      1. Joe

        He’s responding to Vegas Insight who justifiably took exception to Crash Vegas offering his opinion that SLS had a laid back vibe because how dare could someone have the nerve to suggest that SLS could have a laid back atmosphere? Obviously, everyone needs to have the same opinion of some random dude who who stayed at Sahara one night back in 2007 and anyone who doesn’t needs to be endlessly mocked.


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