Las Vegas Sun

November 18, 2017

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SLS Las Vegas preview: Dancers in birdcages; 30-foot Cleopatra; peekaboo glass showers


Tom Donoghue /

SLS Las Vegas.

SLS Las Vegas Tour

SLS Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

From Sahara to SLS Las Vegas

From the Sahara to SLS Las Vegas on the Strip. Launch slideshow »

Hotel tycoon Sam Nazarian promises that his new SLS Las Vegas will be “legendary” in every sense of the word as it opens Friday at midnight. He’s betting more than $500 million on the sleek chic casino resort that’s been transformed out of the 18-acre site of the old Sahara that closed in May 2011.

My preview of the champagne-and-caviar grand-opening celebration Friday night was posted Wednesday.

The new luxury hotel has 1,620 guest rooms created by cutting-edge French designer Philippe Starck, but it’s the restaurants, pool and nightclubs that will have the town really talking. Philippe is even bringing the celebrity-hit, hip-hangout Katsuya from Los Angeles to SLS.

Star chef Jose Andres, who already established his Las Vegas reputation at the Cosmopolitan (Jaleo, China Poblano and E), will reign over SLS with Bazaar Meat and Ku Noodle Bar. Danny Elmaleh, who is one of our guest columnists today, will run the sparkling standout Cleo.

Additionally, there’s the SLS Buffet and an array of other eateries: Umami Burger, 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, Perq Coffee Shop and Griddle Cafe. Dining is whenever guests want it any time around the clock.

There’s no shortage of drinking zones with Monkey Bar, Shot Bar and Beer Garden. For nightlife, there’s Life nightclub for dancing on the rooftop pool and Sayers Club concert hall and nightclub. Shows also will be presented at Foxtail Pool Club — Iggy Azalea premieres it Friday night — with its street art decor.

For shopping, pull out your credit card at Fred Segal from chic Beverly Hills and for betting British bookie William Hill has set up the sports book. Global design firm Gensler led the overall aesthetic of the new property in collaboration with Philippe and SBE founder, Chairman and CEO Sam Nazarian channeling myriad inspirations from the trio’s SLS Hotels in Beverly Hills and South Beach.

Philippe views the property as a seductive cocktail with a range of enlivening flavors that will immerse guests in an original design and hospitality experience.

“There are some legendary, classic cocktails: the Manhattan, the Gimlet, the Cosmo, and there is a brand new one — SLS Las Vegas,” he said. “It’s strong and sparkling with millions of bubbles of life, stories, adventures and surprises. It’s fire and leaves you burnt of pleasure. It’s soft and romantic and leaves you a taste of love and honey in the mouth.

“It’s acid and you will lose your mind but so elegant that it shall change your life. Making this hotel was like making an incredible and astonishing movie that is filled with passion and emotions.”

Sam vows that SLS Las Vegas will be different from his other hotels. “The city is filled with a nonstop energy around the clock, and the hotel will be part of that and show that in everything we do — ambitious and innovative. SLS Las Vegas will be a different level of energy than Miami and Beverly Hills. The entire place is designed to forget daily life, just have fun and be somebody else.”

Philippe has designed the three all-suite towers The World, The Story and The Lux with a French appeal, plus, huge sofas and crazy chandeliers. Each tower is highlighted by its own distinct design elements. He promises surprises wherever guests look. Admire your partner in full-length mirrors on either side of the bed or take a shower knowing that there’s a sneak-a-look window into and out of the bedroom. Hang out on the bed because the vanity is a swivel minibar. “All very cozy, very sexy,” said Philippe.

The Lux Tower has been designed for the leisure and gaming traveler who’s looking for a more lifestyle-driven room experience, whereas the rooms in the World Tower are designed with the business and convention traveler in mind with state-of-the-art, in-room technologies.

The Story Tower is home to Las Vegas’ most ambitious and innovative room design to date featuring a multifunctional bed as the space’s centerpiece specifically for the younger, entertainment- and nightlife-seeking crowd for socializing at or on the bed, which also serves an entertainment area for guests to gather and connect.

SLS Las Vegas Exterior

An eye appears to keep watch on landscapers at the SLS Las Vegas Thursday, August 7, 2014. The new resort, formerly the Sahara, will open on August 23. Launch slideshow »

SLS Las Vegas

An artist’s rendering of SLS Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

The restaurants have dramatic, drop-dead designs, too. At Cleo, there are Moroccan-tiled floors and Egyptian wall coverings with a 30-foot image depicting Cleopatra. Gaze and decide was that Elizabeth Taylor or Vivian Leigh in that movie? The booths in Katsuya for Japanese dining will look like Japanese helmets with kimono-draped statues flanked by gold columns. Call this geisha chic. At Jose’s all-white Ku Noodle, marvel at the cherry blossoms and Koi fish artwork set against a backdrop of old Chinese newspapers.

“While SLS is staying true to the core appointments of a Las Vegas-style resort and casino, there is no mistake that Sam Nazarian has brought his visionary passion to ensure that there are unexpected twists contained in every guests' experience,” said Beth Campbell, Gensler Design’s managing director and principal. “It's a captivating time in Las Vegas; the Strip continues to grow and redefine itself, all while downtown Las Vegas is experiencing a rebirth.

“SLS Las Vegas’ position along the north edge of the Strip will be a key intersection between the Strip and downtown developments. This combined with easy access to the I-15 and the Monorail makes it an ideal location for tourists arriving in Las Vegas.”

“The brilliance of Starck and Gensler lies in their ability to view design through a truly original lens and create an aesthetic that connects to an authentic story,” added Sam. “With SLS Las Vegas, we’ve taken that approach to the next level by creating spaces that showcase SBE’s premier food-and-beverage brands in an undeniably unique setting and blending that with a room-and-suite product that’s groundbreaking for the Las Vegas market.”

Channeling his cocktail metaphor to describe his whimsical vision for the SLS Las Vegas rooms and suites, Philippe added: “They’re so smart and sophisticated that the ingredients remain secret, but you know you can only find it in another SLS. It’s high quality and almost good for your health.

“It’s on the rocks, but the rocks of rock and roll. The recipe comes from an island you cannot even imagine. It’s a long drink, but you’ll leave thirsty and addicted to it, and you will come back again and again. Let’s dance!”

At the Foxtail pool club, the influence of the French raw, industrial rock and roll scene of Paris is instantly felt. There are oversized brass birdcages for dancers, silver dome fixtures, white neon, a black-and-white checkered dance floor and walls brought to life by the French graffiti art of Tarek Benaoum.

In contrast, Monkey Bar evokes the feel of a classic English social club with rich, warm woods covering the walls, a wood-carved bar with a marble inlay and distressed leather sofas with French marble cafe tables.

The guest list for Friday’s fabulous fete includes Sam Nazarian, Jose Andres, Philippe Starck, Lenny Kravitz, Sharon Stone, Jamie Foxx, Iggy Azalea, Aaron Paul, Emile Hirsch, Dita Von Teese, Brittany Snow, Jhene Aiko, Adam DeVine, JoJo, Pia Toscano, Shane West, Samantha Ronson, The Righteous Young, Chuck Liddell, Jermaine Jones and more to be confirmed.

There’s something different for everybody at SLS Las Vegas at any time day or night, so become your own legend when it opens this weekend. We’ll post a report and photo gallery Saturday from Friday night’s epic VIP celebration, so check back to share the excitement of Las Vegas’ newest arrival.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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