Maybe SLS stood for “Still Loving Sahara.”
It really never stood for anything, which is why the hotel had some fun with the SLS acronym — Saucy Little Surprises and such. But the Sahara name has returned to the 67-year-old property on the corner of the Las Vegas Strip and Sahara Avenue, effectively closing out the SLS Las Vegas era dating to the hotel’s re-opening in August 2014.
Hotel owner Alex Meruelo made the official announcement at a pool party at Foxtail, a remarkable event as Meruelo doesn’t often speak publicly (at least in front of the media), and also for a dazzling Intel-sponsored drone show that showed off the hotel’s new “S” logo.
That image actually looks like a slot-car track from the 1970s, and that is a compliment.
A few highlights, quotes and morsels from the fete:
Strip standoff: Expect an ongoing, and energetic, debate between Meruelo’s team and the execs at the Strat about which hotel marks the northern borderline of the Las Vegas Strip.
Meruelo threw down the gauntlet at the end of his speech Thursday: “As we say, the Strip starts here!” That was the title of, and social-media hashtag for, the event.
But kitty-corner and to north, Golden Entertainment CEO and chairman Blake Sartini’s officials insist the Strip actually starts at the Strat — the looming tower (or, rather, SkyPod) is typically shown in landscape pictures of the Strip.
Both top-level execs have a nostalgic view of the neighborhood. Meruelo said he recalls being captivated by the lights of the Strip on his family visits from L.A. at age 6, when he began dreaming of owning a hotel on the Strip. Meruelo also told the crowd of about 700 that he proposed to his wife, Liset, in Vegas. Sartini’s family moved to Las Vegas when he was 5 years old and he graduated from Clark High School and UNLV.
• A ‘Blanc’ slate: SLS/Sahara general manager Paul Hobson confirmed that the acrobatic, adult-themed “Blanc de Blanc” production is due to open at the Foundry in August. “ ‘Blanc de Blanc’ is on its way, it’s a really fun and exciting entertaining show that has played internationally to great acclaim,” Hosbon said. “We had the perfect venue for what they are trying to pull off.”
Hobson was less committal about “Magic Mike Live” moving into the hotel, though such officials from “MML” co-producers Base Entertainment as Brian Becker and Mark Maluso attended the naming party. “Magic Mike” is not selling ticket at Hard Rock Hotel past November, and there is buzz at the property about a new venue being built specifically for the show.
• Eddie’s in play: Hobson said The Sayers Club is to remain a comedy venue, headed up by resident stand-up Eddie Griffin, who was on the red carpet at Thursday’s event. “It’s a great room for comedy, and Eddie always brings fresh material, fresh takes on events, every night.”
• Deja vu at Casbar: As I arrived at the hotel, I headed to the newly minted Casbar Lounge, a contemporary, chic haunt whose design is in line with such nightspots as Clique at The Cosmopolitan and Trago Lounge at the Trop. Casbar plucks its name from Sahara’s original legendary space where Louis Prima and Keely Smith with Sam Butera and the Witnesses made the lounge scene a Las Vegas entertainment destination. I ran into veteran Vegas entertainment booker and producer Steve Beyer who actually fronted a band at the old Casbar Lounge in the 1980s. “Hey!” he called out. “I’m back!” It was a throwback moment, caught only at the old/new Sahara.
Emmet navigates the Barge
Pop-opera sensation Daniel Emmet, a top-10 finalist on Season 13 of “America’s Got Talent,” is the latest headliner announced at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace. His “All That I Am” show runs six nights, from Aug. 25-26; Sept. 1, Sept. 6 and Sept. 22-23. All shows are 8 p.m. Mr. Emmet has graduated to a higher-rent district, in line with his rare vocal chops, with tickets running $59-$79 (not including fees). Tickets will be on sale 10 a.m. Monday at any Caesars Entertainment box office or at ticketmaster.com.
Emmet is also making a guest appearance with Marie Osmond and the Utah Symphony at the Deer Valley Music Festival in Park City, Utah. The connection: Jerry Williams, Osmond’s music director, is also working with Emmet.
Cool Hang Alert
The live-music and dance performances at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at The Cosmopolitan. They run Wednesdays through Sundays, and Saturday night is the last night you’ll see Mikalah Gordon in the show. The 2005 “American Idol” finalist has moved to L.A. full-time. Skye Dee Miles and Malik Pointer (son of Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters) appear nightly, with Noybel Gorgoy subbing on select nights. No cover for the show; the food is amazing.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.