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SLS casino owner has a strategy to succeed

Reported by: Jim Snyder
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Updated: 8/23 11:27 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- At midnight on Friday, Aug. 22, the SLS Las Vegas officially opens on the northern part of The Las Vegas Strip.

News 3 sat down for a conversation with the man behind the launch of the new hotel and casino to talk history, customers, and their "culture of curating."

The centerpiece attraction of SLS is its new nightclub, ‘Sayers Club,’ which opens onto Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard, a prime corner of real estate.

The corner on the north end of The Strip has been dark since the Sahara shut down three years ago, but managers and investors are banking that tourists will make the trip north, ensuring that SLS is a trendy destination; they believe the locals will come back too.

Sam Bakhshandehpour is president of sbe Entertainment and the maestro presiding over the hectic last minute preparations for the resort's grand opening.

"We started in southern California, so we know our customers are here and they’re starved for a unique experience and they’re scattered all over the Strip. There are many wonderful properties up and down the Strip, but we wanted to capture our customer base and bring them home," Bakhshandehpour said.

In a nod to its predecessor and out of respect to Las Vegans, Bakhshandehpour says the Sahara's legacy is alive and well – the past preserved with great care – co-existing alongside the latest in entertainment, clever technology, and cuisine.

"We literally kept the four walls the way they were, with three distinct towers and the casino floor. It’s an adaptive reuse, but it feels like a brand new property sprinkled throughout with the legacy of the Sahara. That legacy was created because of the locals."

The owners have gambled that history will not only transcend generations, but serve as the tie that binds old and new clientele to the SLS brand.

The SLS is half the size of the mega properties on The Strip, but they don’t call themselves a boutique hotel.

"We focus on the phrase lifestyle – this is a lifestyle property," Bakhshandehpour said. This means the casino gets to know our customer's information likes and dislikes – they’ll be able to curate that experience and customize it.

He says the hotel is not meant to be another giant box on The Strip; it’s meant to be different. "You're going to walk into SLS Las Vegas not knowing what to expect, but knowing something special is going to happen," Bakhshandehpour said.

"SLS is a play on words – you can make it what you’d like it to be – and that’s truly the essence of this building, which is the surprise element and surprise is something in our DNA," Bakhshandehpour said.

The company’s next opening will be their hotel on Park Avenue in New York City. They owners also have projects in the works for Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle.

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