SAHARA Las Vegas Celebrates 70-Year Anniversary



On Friday, Oct. 7, SAHARA Las Vegas celebrated its historic 70-year anniversary. The event included a presentation by Dr. Michael Green of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, about SAHARA’s origins on Oct. 7, 1952, and vibrant, seven-decade-long history as well as remarks by SAHARA Las Vegas General Manager Paul Hobson.


The celebration concluded with a 70th anniversary cake presentation and champagne toast inside SAHARA’s AZILO Ultra Lounge before guests attended the Epicurean Charitable Foundation’s (ECF) MENUS fundraiser at SAHARA’s AZILO Ultra Pool. At that event, Alexis Meruelo, chief vision and purpose officer for Meruelo Gaming, SAHARA’s parent company, made a surprise $15,000 donation to the ECF, which provides scholarships for students to attend the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ hospitality school.


SAHARA Las Vegas’ anniversary celebration also marked the official debut of “70 Years of Extraordinary Images: SAHARA’s History in Photographs,” an exhibition spanning the resort’s history and noteworthy milestones from 1952 to the present day. The collection of iconic images sourced from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Archive includes vintage images of dazzling entertainers and global superstars, including Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, among many other notable guests at SAHARA.


Over its 70-year history, the world-renowned resort and casino has also hosted other prominent entertainers, celebrities and world leaders, including The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Eleanor Roosevelt, Johnny Carson, Judy Garland, Liberace, Clint Eastwood, Cher, Nancy Wilson, Bon Jovi and more. The property’s interior and exterior were also featured in 1960’s “Ocean’s Eleven.”


Since developer Milton Prell opened the property on Oct. 7, 1952, SAHARA has undergone several expansions and transformations. The property’s first expansion to add additional hotel rooms took place in 1954 and, in the years following, SAHARA has continued to add new facets to the hotel. Two new hotel towers were built in 1960 and 1963, and a third tower was added in 1988.


In 2011, the property underwent a redevelopment as SLS Las Vegas before reopening in 2014. In 2017, Alex Meruelo and his company, Meruelo Gaming, announced the purchase of the SLS Las Vegas and its rebranding to SAHARA Las Vegas.


Since its grand reopening in 2019, SAHARA Las Vegas has been completely reimagined thanks to a $200 million renovation which incorporates extraordinarily elegant design elements conceived by Nancy Paolino of Las Vegas-based Innovativo Design. The all-new SAHARA includes several eateries, including Noodle Den, Chickie’s & Pete’s and the soon-to-open Balla Italian Soul by Chef Shawn McClain, as well as the AZILO Ultra Pool and Ultra Lounge, a purpose-built theater for the popular MAGIC MIKE LIVE production and a spectacular porte-cochere fronting the Las Vegas Strip. The all-new SAHARA Las Vegas offers style, sophistication and a playful sense of possibility embodying the spirit of Las Vegas — all while bringing the iconic Las Vegas experience to a new generation.


“We are so grateful to celebrate 70 iconic years of SAHARA Las Vegas history,” said Hobson. “Newly renovated and completely reimagined for the future, we look forward to what the next 70 years will bring.”