W Hotel brand will vanish from the Las Vegas Strip on Friday

Marriott International’s W Hotels Worldwide brand will leave SLS Las Vegas Friday after a 1½-year run as a four-diamond-rated “hotel within a hotel.”

Control of the 289-room Lux Tower, renamed the Grand Tower after the W Hotel opened in December 2016, will be taken by the property’s new owner, the Meruelo Group, the company announced late Wednesday.

Meruelo is investing $100 million in renovations at the three-tower, 1,616-room property acquired in April from San Francisco-based Stockbridge Capital Group for an undisclosed amount.

The SLS, which comprises three towers, features a 50,000-square-foot casino floor with 600 slot machines and 60 table games.

Meruelo also is taking over 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. Reservations booked beyond Friday will continue to be honored.

“Gaining full operational control of the resort is an exciting step in achieving the vision Mr. Meruelo has for this property,” Scott Hobson, general manager of SLS Las Vegas, said in a release on the transition.

“Acting as a fully independent operator, we can continue to build upon the great foundation that has been set at SLS to create a unique, boutique experience for our guests unlike any other on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Meruelo Group, a minority-owned and operated holding company founded in 1986, has interests in 35 companies across a host of industries ranging from construction and engineering to hospitality and gaming, media, real estate, and food services.

The Grand Sierra in Reno, Meruelo’s only gaming business, has 1,995 guest rooms and a 100,000-square-foot casino and once was the largest hotel in the world.

The Strip property, formerly known as the Sahara, is undergoing a transformation under Meruelo, which owns the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. Permits acquired from Clark County are listed under the name “Grand Sahara Resort,” but company officials say they haven’t renamed the property.

When the Sahara opened in 1952, it became the sixth casino on the Strip. Over its 59-year history, the Sahara hosted concerts by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. The Beatles stayed at the property when they made their appearance in Las Vegas in 1964.

The hotel’s heyday was the late 1950s and early 1960s before the opening of Caesars Palace in 1966 on the other end of the Strip. A new tower completed in 1963 was the tallest in Nevada at the time.

The relationship between Marriott and SLS was similar to other “hotel within a hotel” deals, including the Four Seasons and Delano brands at Mandalay Bay and NoMad at Park MGM.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Todd Prince contributed to this story.

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