Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SLS Vegas: A First Impression Fall 2014


The renovations at SLS are impressive, no doubt about it. Especially when you know what they had to work with. However, SLS is clearly less successful at doing what Cromwell did, mirror Cosmopolitan. Regardless, it still looks great. 

The vibe is where SLS falls flat. Other than a few pit bosses & dealers, this place has no energy. They may have renovated the old Sahara but were able to successfully retain the "funeral procession" vibe it had towards the end.  We were there at around 4-5pm on a Wednesday but I've felt more energy in most casinos at 4 am. It was sad and empty. 

SLS has no public entrances on the strip.  The porte cashere is the main, and pretty much the only, way in. Other than the monorail, the only other ways in are through restaurants and/or clubs without clearly marked entrances. The concept appears to be a better take on the The Crystals forced traffic pattern but less successful at actually driving foot traffic. 

The property does have two clear reoccurring themes throughout. One is remarkably narcissistic and the other is confusing and unclear to even those that work at the property.  

The porte cashere has a large, one-eyed, smiling, arms outstretched to the sky, Pokemon meets Sponge Bob Squarepants character as its center piece.  Its said this is an artists representation of SLS figurehead Sam Nazarian's personality. Considering Steve Wynn has a $30 million dollar Popeye statue, you come to expect a little eccentricity from your Vegas personalities. And if that statue was all it was, you could...but it isn't. You'll find a head shot version of the character, with mouth agape and tongue exposed as slot bank toppers all around the property. The other memorable slot topper is an oversized handheld ornate mirror. The final egomaniac touch you'll find in SLS is the 10 foot tall marquee of Nazarian's model girlfriend dressed up as Cleopatra, used as the primary signage for the properties restaurant Cleo. In truth, it isn't as creepy as Wynn's new wife's giant color changing eyes used as the centerpiece of the restaurant named after her but still a adequate representation of his megalomania. 

Sam is always watching
The last WTF item are the monkeys. They are everywhere. On the backs of the employee's vests, on the blackjack felt and in a lounge called the monkey bar to name a few.  But what allows an odd choice of design to become something you wouldn't be surprised to find in the home of a serial killer is the fact that no one knows why they are all over the place. Dealers, waitresses, pit bosses and floor managers either simply say they don't know or those that think they do don't have consistent stories. Its bizarre.

And then there was, what appeared to be, one waitress covering the entire casino floor and the nonexistent customer service at Umami burger's bar but you'll find things like that at any property. This is about a morticians work on the dead. For those of you still mourning the lose of Sahara, fear not, because even though she looks almost unrecognizable, SLS Vegas has resurrected her spirit, just like she was, just before we lost her. 

You are still missed
I hope this is just a case of personal taste, an off day or even simply not being part of the properties demographic. Hopefully this property finds its market, caters to it well and becomes a big success. I wish that for almost all things Vegas (fuck you Gordan Ramsey & Guy Fierro). But one thing is crystal clear, SLS, in this incarnation, is NOT for me.

Now that doesn’t mean I’ll never go back or that they’ve committed some unforgivable sin.  However, I’ve been accused of being a Vegas casino apologist.  Some have gone as far as accusing me of never seeing a casino I didn’t like.  So I felt it was important to document, at least on my first impression, that I don’t like SLS Vegas.