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W Las Vegas Leaving the Strip, A Brief History & A Possible Future for the Struggling Casino

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W Las Vegas Leaving Strip
The shuttered Sahara Hotel & Casino

W Las Vegas Leaving Strip

Back in 1952 the Sahara Hotel & Casino opened on the Southeast corner of what is now Las Vegas Blvd. and Sahara Ave. While the 1990s/2000s saw the implosion of a number of iconic Strip hotels such as The Dunes, Desert Inn and Sands, the Sahara held on.

Indeed the Sahara would have a different fate. After being purchased by developers in 2007, the property soldiered on for a few more years due to the Great Recession. Eventually though, it was shuttered in 2011 but it would not be imploded. Instead, the plan was to spend about $400 million to renovate the property and open it under a new name.

W Las Vegas Leaving Strip
SLS Las Vegas World Tower (mid-tier) room.

Transition to SLS

During the renovation much of the old casino building was torn down and rebuilt. The newer areas (where the Nascar Cafe and the roller coaster were) were kept and converted. Perhaps the biggest thing to note about this renovation is that the Sahara’s three hotel towers were gutted, but left standing. The idea was to open them up with budget (Story Tower), moderate (World Tower) and luxury (LUX Tower) options.

In 2014 the SLS Hotel & Casino reopened without much fanfare. The hotel sits on the North end of the Strip bordered by half built and shuttered projects. In other words, the location isn’t good considering the lack of other new casinos in that area. Naturally, it struggled and in 2015 it was sold.

W Las Vegas Leaving Strip
SLS W Concept Art. (Photo: Business Wire)

Moving to SPG & The W Rebranding

As part of that sale it was announced that the two non-luxury towers would become Starwood Preferred Guest Tribute hotels while the LUX Tower would gets its own lobby along with some minor renovations and then become a W hotel. That did indeed happen in 2016, but apparently it wasn’t meant to last.

Essentially the hotel has struggled ever since reopening and back in March it was purchased by yet another company. Along with the change in ownership, the hotel has decided to go back to the way things used to be. According to their website on July 20, 2018 the W Las Vegas will revert back to the SLS and will continue to be a Tribute Portfolio Resort. Essentially, all 3 towers and the entire property will be branded back to the way it was in 2014 when it reopened.

W Las Vegas Leaving Strip
Could this name be coming back?

A New Name Coming?

The SLS name is owned by the original company that redeveloped the hotel and rumors have been flying that perhaps a name change could be coming. The new owners have agreed to keep the name the same through next year, but it’s likely that a rebranding will come after that. Right now the popular rumors have the hotel’s former name (Sahara) coming back according to the Review Journal. Only time will tell.


With several large scale hotel projects coming to the North Strip, the SLS should improve over time. It’s clear with two ownership changes and now another re-branding of the LUX Tower, that it isn’t quite as easy as once thought to attract affluent clients to this end of the Strip. While the W is gone, the property remains with Marriott/SPG for the time being.

What are your thoughts on the crazy history of the Sahara/SLS? Are you bummed that the W is disappearing from the Strip? Let us know in the comments!

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Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. I am glad is keeping the relationship with spg this hotel is my way to go for points earning last year alone i was able to get close to 120000 spg starwood points not bad using several points incentives not bad and i did start in September. Not the best hotel location but $35 a night and a $51 dollar food and beverage credit to outset the resort fee charges not bad at all.

  2. I have stayed there many times since they opened. At one time Hilton was managing it. I stayed strictly for SPG credit and it is near the conventions I go to. From the very opening by the old owner, I could tell they were nuts. The location pretty bad and the original plan was to charge strip type rates for the small rooms that are now hip. Sell them to hipsters and all the Southern CA fans of SLS will go there. That never happened. The W (WING) also didnt make any sense whatsoever. What were they thinking with that? I cannot see that location being able to draw people. I just dont see it.

  3. Guys I was there two days ago and they are working like crazy on the W branding everywhere in the W tower.. it looks like it’s there to stay!

  4. I stayed there once and was nice, but the resort fees were almost as much as my room! I was doing them a favor my staying there and they want me to pay a resort fee? Naw…they can close down for all I care….

    • Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time. The SLS/W’s location, coupled with its desire to position itself as a luxury option are two strikes against it. I’m still trying to figure out why there’s a statue of Kirby (a Nintendo reference) out front?!? Perhaps current management should consider lunching with Stratophere execs to see how they’ve survived.


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