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SAHARA Las Vegas Celebrates 70 Spectacular Years

The historical property rings in seven decades on the Las Vegas Strip.

The iconic SAHARA Las Vegas celebrated its 70th-anniversary last month. Founded in 1952, the resort has seen a storied history, including hosting the Beatles during their first U.S. tour and serving as the setting for the 1961 Rat Pack film, “Ocean’s 11.”

Celebrating 70 Years of SAHARA Las Vegas

“It is so satisfying to celebrate 70 iconic years of SAHARA Las Vegas history with the property in such excellent form SAHARA has been completely reimagined to incorporate extraordinarily elegant design elements coupled with best-in-class features to create a boutique property on the Strip,” Paul Hobson, General Manager of SAHARA Las Vegas told us. “I am honored to be a part of this new chapter for SAHARA while connecting with what makes SAHARA an iconic staple.” 

SAHARA Las Vegas Strip Entrance View | WHERE Traveler®
SAHARA Las Vegas Strip Entrance View (Courtesy SAHARA Las Vegas)

If These Walls Could Talk

While SAHARA Las Vegas has countless stories from its seven decades, some are undoubtedly more memorable than others. “SAHARA became *the* place to see and be seen from its opening date on Oct. 7, 1952, when everyone from Marilyn Monroe to the Rat Pack, The Beatles and Elvis began arriving,” Hobson explained. “SAHARA also hosted an impressive lineup of legendary comedians over the years – everyone from George Burns to Johnny Carson to George Carlin and others came here. Las Vegas’ reputation as the Entertainment Capital of the World arguably took hold at SAHARA with our endless roster of celebrity performers. But my favorite stories are the personal ones of people who grew up in Las Vegas, and this was the first place they worked or where they came with their family for special occasions.”

SAHARA Las Vegas continues to impress with its vibrant atmosphere and commitment to entertainment, making it a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists alike. Even some of the resort’s team members are part of the property’s storied history. “We have team members who can show you where the TV trucks would park to broadcast the Jerry Lewis telethon every year,” Hobson told us. “Team members who still call the roof outside our convention center the “pad” where Bill Bennett would land his helicopter.” 

SAHARA Las Vegas Casino View | WHERE Traveler®
SAHARA Las Vegas Casino View (Courtesy SAHARA Las Vegas)

SAHARA Over the Years

In its early years, SAHARA Las Vegas was a popular destination for famous performers and celebrities. However, the property faced financial challenges and closed in 2011. It was eventually purchased and rebranded as SLS Las Vegas in 2014. In 2016, a portion of the property became W Las Vegas. The property was later purchased by the Meruelo Group and restored as SAHARA Las Vegas in 2019. Today, the resort offers a vibrant atmosphere with luxury accommodations, renowned restaurants and exciting casino gaming options.

“SAHARA was initially evocative of a particular kind of desert glamour,” Hobson said of the transitions. “Before conversion to SLS, it was a more value-oriented property. But for us, the SLS period was like a palate cleanser. The distance from the value era allowed us to re-introduce design elements with a high-quality, updated ambiance. We believe it is more elegant and appealing than ever before.”

These days, SAHARA Las Vegas is restoring the beauty of its former years. “When the property opened 70 years ago, guests would have seen Moroccan desert motifs incorporated into a streamlined, midcentury architectural form,” Hobson explained. “What guests see today pays homage to that original inspiration, while we have updated that theme for a vibrant, fun-seeking 21st-century audience. You can see this in photographs and artifacts on display throughout the property.”

Marra Signature Room at SAHARA Las Vegas | WHERE Traveler®
Marra Signature Room (Courtesy SAHARA Las Vegas)