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Sahara hotel returns to Las Vegas in splashy renaming ceremony. Bye bye, SLS

Sahara hotel returns to Las Vegas in splashy renaming ceremony. Bye bye, SLS
Fireworks and lights celebrate the newly named Sahara hotel-casino, formerly the SLS, on Thursday night in Las Vegas. (Denise Truscello)

Like a Las Vegas magic trick, the legendary Sahara hotel-casino reappeared on the Strip during a splashy renaming of the SLS resort Thursday evening. The Moroccan-themed hotel that opened in 1952 and helped shape Vegas’ midcentury glamour, hosting A-listers such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, was back.

Owner Alex Meruelo, who bought the resort last April, revealed the new name — written in all capital letters — amid fireworks and a light-flashing drone show that projected jackpot-winning slot reels (triple cherries and triple sevens) in the sky above.

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The finale spelled out “Sahara” in lights.

The name change comes amid an ongoing renovation of the property with a price tag of more than $100 million. The property’s 1,615 guest rooms, casino, restaurants and bars have been upgraded. Improvements to the lobby and other areas will continue into 2020, a news release said.

The Sahara closed in 2011, became an SLS hotel (short for “style, luxury and service”) in 2014, hosted a W Las Vegas in one of its towers for two years, and now has come full circle with the new-old Sahara name.

In a statement before the event, Meruelo said the hotel played “an important role in the evolution of the destination,” and pledged to continue that tradition “for the love of Vegas.”

Rooms this weekend start at $206 a night, according to the website.

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