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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.”
Opening in the location of the former Sahara Hotel and Casino, the SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino boasts a modern, urban vibe. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
SLS Las Vegas beverage director Ryan McCallum presents a drink at The Sayers Club, the casino resort's stylish live-entertainment venue. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
From left to right: Chef Jose Andres, designer Philippe Starck, Lenny Kravitz (who designed several suites with his firm Lenny Kravitz Design, Inc.) and Fred Segal CEO Paul Blumat the property’s grand opening. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Starck’s irreverent sense of humor is evident in the bathrooms at SLS Las Vegas. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Eclectic decor lends a playful vibe. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
The hotel features a 60,000-square foot casino floor. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Diners get a view of the carving action at onsite restaurant Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres, a spin on the chef’s popular Bazaar concept. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Metallic tones and extravagant chandeliers provide a sleek, modern feel to a private dining room at Bazaar Meat. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Handmade noodles are a specialty at Ku Noodle restaurant, also at the new SLS Las Vegas. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
The Hakka Fried Rice Pot dish is a standout at Ku Noodle, another concept from Chef Andres at SLS Las Vegas. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Retailer Fred Segal is one of many Los Angeles-based brands making a home at SLS Las Vegas. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
Shoe lovers rejoice: Fred Segal Collective at SLS Las Vegas offers a variety of glitzy kicks. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
A glamorous clutch beckons shoppers. // © 2014 Robin Rockey
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.