Inside Rob Oseland

Hard Hat Touring The SLS Las Vegas

Posted by RateVegas

In Practical Practice

Oseland told me that they're working hard to make sure that the WiFi AND cell coverage throughout the property is top notch. If this works out, I'll give them a gold star for something that drives me batty elsewhere. Also, I noticed that the room designs featured a lot of electrical outlets. This is always one of my pet peeves as someone who travels with many things that need charging.

I asked about wear-and-tear on all of white furniture and fixtures - will everything look old six months after opening? According to Oseland, they've taken this into account ()"They tell me this stuff is washable") so hopefully it won't all look like a deleted scene from The Hangover after the first weekend.

Later on the tour while we examined the actual under-constructions rooms, I brought up the plumbing. I've heard nightmare stories about older buildings and endless problems. Oseland told me that they definitely had had to replace quite a bit but it varied - at least one Sahara tower was built as recently as 1991 and that required a lot less work than the stuff from the 50s and 60s.

What about noise? They're planning a pool-club concept called Foxtail that sits at the base of the hotel tower. How well will these rooms fare, never originally designed to keep the ooontz out? Oseland admits that they're not sure. He also saw the same thing first-hand at Encore and it sounds more like they see these as problems to be managed instead of solved (i.e. bring ear plugs... or better yet, go downstairs and join in the fun).

We exited the mock-rooms and headed to the actual site a few blocks away. Oseland drove us himself (sorry for getting the dirt on the mats Rob!) We entered via Paradise and what will be their VIP check-in area. Similar to Wynncore/Aria/etc... they have a dedicated tower (and thus check-in) for certain guests. We parked and headed inside the labyrinth.

The Old Sahara Is Gone

The main entry points haven't changed - Las Vegas Blvd. will be a large porte-cochere featuring 'Billy Jean'-esque light-up tiles on your way into the casino. There's the previously mentioned VIP entrance off Paradise plus the self-park and Monorail entry that dumps you out near the check-in desk. This is all similar to The Sahara's layout.

However, if you stand on the main casino floor, you can have a Cromwell-esque moment, imagining the old place as it was. The casino floor is reigned in a bit (60,000 square feet) but generally everything gaming-wise is in the same spot. Some sight lines are new: they removed many walls that weren't load-bearing. Again, you've seen renders so instead of re-narrating what you can get from an image, I'm going to try to describe what it felt like to be inside.

SLS is going for the unfinished warehouse look that is currently at Mandalay Bay and Downtown Grand (probably because it's cheap and lets them do higher ceilings). The floor plan is not all that surprising or unique - a centrally located casino with a bar, surrounded by restaurants and a little bit of retail scattered throughout. The eateries that open up to Las Vegas Blvd include outdoor dining, separated from The Strip by landscaping.

The casino floor was completely empty - the recently laid casino carpet is horrifically ugly and was definitely my least favorite thing about the place. Wires hung from conduits in the ceiling, where security cameras and were to be installed. Slot machines, table games and other gaming equipment should be showing up just about the time you're reading this.

I went looking for special moments.

There's a spot at Encore that I love. As you walk through the casino, past the lobby bar on your left and right before you hit the check-in desk, there's a glass wall that borders the pool. If you take the corner and walk towards the Eastside Bar, there are a few gaming tables there, basked in sunlight. I love that spot - it's one of those that always makes me smile.

I was somewhat surprised to find a similar spot at SLS (at least in my imagination - still lots of work to be done). As we rounded the corner near their check-in area, they've emphasized floor-to-ceiling windows that let in a ton of light from the pool and really made the place look great. If it continues to come together, it could be a really nice touch.

SLS will have two pools. One is on the ground floor where the original Sahara pool was (though it's layout is different - it's optimized for maximum sun). The other VIP pool is on the roof of the casino and integrates with the LIFE nightclub (think an EBC + Surrender or a Tao + Tao Beach sort of arrangement). Both will have a nightlife component.

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Comments & Discussion

I wonder if being on the strip yet still somewhat remote would force them to, at least in the beginning, offer up an honest game of jack and some decent VP pay tables. If so, I could see having breakfast at the Peppermill and making SLS an early morning gambling event...after I use the bathroom at Wynn of course. Thanks for the article.

Unvarnished reviews, analysis, and a dash of humor are why I come back to this site over and over. Thanks for your thoughts on SBE/SLS.

This answered some questions (how SLS can draw traffic; what is their business model; how well will the old structures handle new hotel trends and needs; will this be tacky or classy)

... and raises some more (why name it SLS and not sbe; how nimble will SLS be as tastes and trends change; who is making the decisions)

I look forward to seeing the finished product, both online and in person. I imagine I'll still be more interested in spending my hipster hours at Cosmo and Cromwell (and my bankroll at Bellagio), but it's nice to have more options and shiny things to explore.

Thanks, Hunter. I look forward to checking the place out. I'm still a bit confounded at the choice to not use one of the most iconic names in Las Vegas history to build a new brand upon, ie: "SLS at Sahara." C'est la Stardust.

A very enjoyable read. I'm excited that they did get the funding to revamp the property. Unfortunately nothing out of your review changes my mind that they are likely to struggle. While I am intrigued that they are saying they are going to try and strike a price point that is higher end then Riviera and CC, but less then high end mid strip, I just don't see anything that says they will be able to manage the 600lb gorilla in the room.

While I know M resort is (literally) miles away in comparison, I'm not sure it's so different for SLS, and add in they aren't likely to attract many locals (outside of the club ladies but only if their nightlife becomes the 'it' place).

1 mile or 30 miles away from the center of the action, is still away from the center of the action. I wish them luck and I'll be visiting the place and if they are looking for mid tier gamblers I'll even likely stay at the place, but I'm not sure the masses are going to turn out in numbers that matter or are sustainable.

I also had a chance to tour the model rooms - and yes, I agree they've worked a small miracle with a 300 sqft footprint. I thought placing the bed in the center of the room was clever, although if it was me sleeping there I would miss the nightstand. The slide-away shower and toilet compartments were interesting - they brought to mind the kind of space optimizing you would see in one of those micro hotels, or an airport nap room or some such.

So kudos in turning the lemon into lemonade. My fear is that ultimately, size does matter. Vegas just isn't a 300 sqft hotel room town anymore. If I'm deciding where to stay and judging the relative merits of SLS, Cosmo, Wynn, etc., I'm going to remember that oh yeah, SLS is the tiny-room hotel. Monte Carlo had a similar problem when converting their smallish room footprint into a Hotel 32 product. The standard Hotel 32 room is simply too small to command prices comparable to other suites, (which is why it's all comped players up there). Maybe SLS's best play is to comp guests into the tiny rooms, and sell the larger ones for cash?

I'm still bearish overall on SLS, despite really liking the design, the F&B, and having a soft spot for Sahara. The location is just too deadly. Think of how you guys have been blaming Downtown Grand's empty casino on its location - the fact that you have to turn your head 90 degrees from the Fremont canopy and walk for 45 seconds. If that's the definition of a bad location, then SLS is screwed.

Great feature, thanks. Never thought I'd be interested in it but might have to make a monorail trip up this fall to check it out. Also great to have the non-scripted comments from management. Next up in the series: the Loveman Love-in, and Murren on Murren

Having the final stop on the monorail is also nice. I've stayed at the LVH previously and I would consider SLS if it has a place to eat open past 9 p.m.

But my ultimate hope is the SLS will be forced to treat guests like, well, guests. Great deals, great gambling and the like.

Have to give Sam credit...they did pull this off...and as the newest property on the Strip, for the first year, they''ll get traffic as far as people just wanting to see the place...

But if they are looking for their L-A club kids to hop on board, are they going to tell them where this place actually IS in relation to the rest of the Strip?

''WTF'' may be the most Tweeted three letters from there for a while...once people find out that the Monorail is their $5 a pop..

Some of the food choices will have me there just to check the place out...surprised they will also have a buffet option...

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