Erik Kabik / Retna / ErikKabik.com
Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 | 3:01 p.m.
SLS Las Vegas grand opening/Christopher Rauschnot @24KMedia on Twitter
The star power on the red carpet for the midnight opening of SLS Las Vegas was as bright as the dazzling fireworks before Sam Nazarian, SBE founder, chairman and CEO of SBE, the parent company of SLS, joined by his father and SBE partners and executives, cut the silver ribbon so that gaming could begin.
As he’d promised at the start of his seven-year dream, Sam delivered an incredible epic gala to relaunch the old Sahara. He paid $800 million for the site and another $420 million for its terrific, modern and cutting-edge transformation. The nearly 12-hour party — guests were still rocking at 6 a.m. today — was a super shot in the arm for the long-forgotten area of the Strip now coming to life in a big way.
Thousands of Las Vegas locals lined up on the north end of the Strip for the midnight fireworks and rush to be among the first to enter the new casino property. But VIP guests had been partying for six hours in advance at the spectacular parties in the hip hangouts that dot the property. Think of this as an incredible food-and-beverage resort with hip hotel rooms rather than just another Las Vegas casino.
The new porte cochere front entrance is dominated by a giant whimsical sculpture. Smaller-sized versions dot the interior walls and carpets. Designer Philippe Starck, who also created 100 crocodile heads for the walls and mirrors, told me: “The sculpture represents a subversive man who I have named Saam (yes, two A’s) like our founder Sam Nazarian, who has fun meeting every challenge and fighting the odds in unique, unexpected and unorthodox ways. That’s the attitude that built Las Vegas and keeps it on top.”
In addition to scratch-and-sniff wallpaper outside The Griddle Cafe and Jose Andres’ Ku Noodle, guests will find “mirrored boxes” in the casino floor where you can peek in on a video burlesque show. This sure is a Las Vegas hotel with unique touches!
The star-studded preview party began on the red carpet with actors Aaron Paul, Emile Hirsch and Kellan Lutz, singer Lenny Kravitz, burlesque entertainer and lingerie pinup star Dita Von Teese, UFC star Chuck Liddell, actress Brittany Snow, “Extra’s” Maria Menounos in the clingiest, curve-hugging gown imaginable, Holly Madison, tattooed temptress Sabina Kelley and “Purple Reign” at The D Las Vegas beauty Jennifer Romas.
Partygoers enjoyed tastes of the resort’s signature food-and-beverage offerings and performances from rocker Lenny in The Sayers Club, who designed a handful of the resort’s top-tier suites, and rising-star artists including Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora, who performed their current-hit collaboration “Black Widow” poolside at Foxtail. JoJo and Jhene Aiko also were at Sayers.
Also there, the prime minister of the Bahamas who over private champagne and caviar with master celebrity chef Jose told me that he will welcome the next SLS to his island nation. Gloria Estefan’s husband Emilio Estefan told me that he’s working with Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson shows director Jamie King, also in attendance and not the “Sin City” actress (that’s Jaime King), on Gloria’s live show there to open the new Bahamas resort complex of hotels.
We’ll have all the inside secrets and gossip from the SLS opening on Monday, but meantime enjoy all the photo galleries and videos (also check back later for more of them).
“This is the beginning of a new era for the Strip,” said Sam. “We are thrilled to throw open our doors and show the world what we’ve been working on for the past several years. It feels good to be back in the former Sahara space, and we look forward to creating new, legendary memories as SLS Las Vegas.
“This is a very exciting day for us. SLS Las Vegas is the embodiment of a dream that began seven years ago when we purchased the Sahara. To see this legendary property come back to life in the vision that we created all those years ago is nothing short of incredible, and I am grateful for all of our visionary partners and the incredible community support we have received during this transformation.
“We invite everyone to be legendary and join us at SLS Las Vegas.”
Sam promised a high-energy resort, and he’s delivered it in spades in his high-style collaboration of all-original concepts with James Beard Award-winning chef Jose and design visionary Phillippe Starck partnering with globally acclaimed architectural firm Gensler.
Highlights of the property include Jose’s Bazaar Meat, a twist on his hugely popular concept Bazaar; the second location of The Sayers Club, one of Los Angeles’ best-loved live-music venues; celebrated restaurants Katsuya, Umami Burger, Beer Garden & Sports Book, Cleo and The Griddle Cafe; seven Fred Segal outlets; and Life Nightclub.
Additionally, there’s the main Foxtail pool and the smaller, exclusive Life Beach Club Pool with a superb turnout of pink-clad sexy servers atop the roof of Life Nightclub.
SLS President and COO Rob Oseland, who was seen socializing at the grand-opening party, summed it up best: “We’re incredibly proud of our partners and our approachable mix of amenities.
“As a result, we have a property that speaks to everything that the 40 million tourists who find their way to Las Vegas every year expect while at the same time stays approachable and welcoming to the vibrant community of Southern Nevada.”
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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