Thursday, April 14, 2011

Re-branded Sahara might open in 2014?

In a recent LA Times article, Sahara owner Sam Nazarian casually stated that he plans on renovating and re-opening the Sahara under his SLS brand in 2014:

"The plan from the beginning was to close the hotel for renovation. He said he was committed to reopening it in 2014 as an SLS Las Vegas, with six restaurants and two nightclubs."

As soon as the article was published people around the internet were saying how this will never happen, and that the hotel ever opening again was nothing more than hot air from Nazarian. I agree that it's a long-shot, but I want to play devil's advocate for a minute and explore reasons why it could happen:

The date of 2014 is ambiguous and gives plenty of time for a possible Las Vegas recovery. If a major turnaround does occur and the North Strip shows some signs of life with Echelon and Fontainebleau waking from the dead, then NewSahara would be able to take advantage of the resurgence.

Building a new hotel these days is expensive. CityCenter cost $8.5 billion. Cosmo was $3.9 billion. Encore was a bargain at $2.3 billion. Finishing Fontainebleu will cost $1.5 billion and it's already 75% done! Renovating is a lot cheaper. Tropicana spent about $160 million on their recent remodeling. Even if Nazarian doubled that figure to transform Sahara, it would still only be a fraction of the price of building a brand new hotel.

While a hotel can stay open while remodeling, the Sahara brand clearly didn't fit in with Nazarian's other upscale clubs and hotels. Closing and allowing some time for a complete reboot might not be a bad idea. Maybe this is what Nazarian had in mind all along when he bought the Sahara in 2007?