The high-limit room is ready for high rollers at the SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Feature image (above): The Foxtail Pool Club at SLS Las Vegas is the Strip’s newest spot to relax and catch some rays. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Sin City received a shot of Los Angeles flavor with a side of youthful irreverence with the debut of SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on Aug. 23. A $415 million renovation at the hands of L.A-based hospitality group Sbe transformed the former Sahara Hotel and Casino into a gaming, nightlife and culinary powerhouse. The property is the third addition to the SLS Hotel luxury collection, which includes locations in Beverly Hills and South Beach.
SLS Las Vegas is situated at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip and is the first resort-casino to open on the Strip in recent years. It’s also the latest to embrace the Las Vegas boutique hotel trend, following on the heels of The Cromwell and Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace. With 1,613 guestrooms spread across three towers, and 60,000 square feet of casino space, the SLS is compact by Strip standards.
Beloved L.A. brands, such as Umami Burger, Katsuya, Griddle Cafe and retailer Fred Segal, impart West Coast flavor, while quirky touches from renowned French designer Philippe Starck, including eclectic chandeliers and a mix of geometric patterns, produce a playful vibe.
Kravitz Design Inc., founded by musician Lenny Kravitz, designed a handful of suites, adding a bit of a rock-and-roll sensibility. The design, however, is decidedly understated compared to the edgy, avant-garde and ultra-luxe feel of sister property SLS Beverly Hills, a business decision that will likely extend the brand’s appeal to a wider audience.
But what SLS Las Vegas lacks in the level of glitz and girth achieved by peers such as the Cosmopolitan or Bellagio respectively, it makes up for with an outstanding culinary program helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Jose Andres.
“I don't cook,” Andres said. “I tell stories as a way to share my experiences.”
Andres' food conveys a tale of upscale comfort with international flair. Nine restaurants offer options ranging from high-end sushi at Katsuya by Starck to handmade Asian noodles at Ku Noodle. The property’s signature restaurant, Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres, offers a wide array of meats and a few vegetable dishes. Andres describes it as his baby, calling it the “pumping heart” of SLS Las Vegas.
Sleek day/nightlife spaces, including live-music venue The Sayers Club (another L.A. crossover), Life nightclub and Foxtail Pool Club, provide entertainment options. Amenities including saunas and whirlpools are missing from the diminutive Ciel Spa — steam rooms and showers are the only options — but luxurious treatments, such as the “Red Carpet Facial,” are invigorating and on-trend.
In describing his vision for the hotel-casino, Sam Nazarian, CEO at Sbe, said he sought inspiration in the vibe of Las Vegas in the 1960s Rat Pack-era, eschewing superlatives in favor of a sense of intimacy and striving to create a gathering place for friends and family.
“In Vegas, everything has been done before,” said Nazarian. “We don't have the biggest rooms or the biggest conference center. But it's ours, it's sincere, it's well thought-out. There's love in it.”
In those terms, SLS Las Vegas could be considered a resounding success — a stylish, yet comfortable lifestyle hotel and casino, as well as a welcome modern addition to the north end of the Strip.