Did You Know? Fun Facts to Ponder as You Spend Your First Night at the SLS
Sentiments run high for the Vegas visitor who has been flying in and out of McCarren Airport since it was not much more than an airstrip. With the SLS grand opening upon us we ponder the spot where it stands and the rich history its predecessor the Sahara had during its run.
The Cost: The Sahara Hotel was built in 1952 by the Del Webb Corporation for the bargain price of $5.5 million. In today’s market that would be the equivalent of around $48 million. Not bad when you consider that Sam has spent over $600 million to turn the property into the SLS.
Big Acts: It is rumored that when approached by the Sahara to be the top act for the Congo room, Ray Bolger’s wife instructed him to ask for a salary that she thought they would never meet. Scared by stories of mobsters roaming around Vegas, she convinced Ray to ask for 25 grand a week. He asked, they said yes and the hotel had the hit show it needed.
Swan Song: Comedic geniuses Abbot and Costello appeared on the Sahara stage for the last time together in 1956. Not long afterwards they parted ways for good.
Movie Credits: Unlike other Vegas hotels, the Sahara was a shy one and did not make many on-screen appearances. Except of course for the 1960 version of Ocean’s 11. This rat-pack stacked movie based around the premise of a big casino heist is said to have just been an excuse for Frank, Dean and Sammy to spend the bulk of their time hanging out with show girls.
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today(ish): In the same month that we celebrate the opening of the SLS we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles 1964 Las Vegas appearance. The Sahara’s facilities were too small to host the grand two show event. Instead, the fab four waved to fans from the balcony of their room at the hotel and played their rock and roll at the nearby Las Vegas Convention Center.
Neon: When it first opened, the Sahara had bragging rights to the biggest free standing neon sign in town at 100 feet. That’s really nothing compared to the new largest sign on the block which stands at 279 feet tall in front of the Las Vegas Hilton. Six miles of fluorescent and neon cover a surface area of over 70,000 square feet.
Casino Shares: By the mid 1960’s the Sahara had become part of a much bigger picture and their parent company, the California-Sahara Corporation, became the first publicly traded company that operated casinos.
Every hotel in Vegas has its own unique story to tell. The Sahara is one of the last of the first to close its doors forever and make way for bigger and better different things. While the rooms may be posher and the nightclubs cooler, there is nothing that can ever replace the integral part of Vegas history that the Sahara hotel has been.