As One Door Closes, Another One Opens

19 May

The history of Las Vegas dates back to the early 1800’s. The Las Vegas valley was founded in 1827 by American explorer, Jedediah Smith, making it the best re-supply point before heading to Los Angeles. The area was named “Las Vegas,” which was Spanish for “the meadows” by passing travelers. In May of 1905, Las Vegas became an official city and “downtown” was auctioned off to buyers. In 1910, the state of Nevada outlawed gambling. In 1930, the first nightclub opened where the Trump Hotel now stands called “Pair-O-Dice.” In 1931, the state changed legislation realizing gambling could be extremely profitable. Fremont Street was the first paved street in Las Vegas and the first gambling license was given to The Northern Club in 1931. The first resort to open on what would become the Las Vegas “Strip” was El Rancho Vegas in 1941 offering a gourmet buffet. Casinos continued to build upon the Strip, The Last Frontier, Flamingo, Thunderbird, Royal Nevada, Desert Inn, Sands and Sahara in 1952.

Fast forward to May 16, 2011, 59 years later, the 6th casino resort, Sahara, closes its doors for good at 2 p.m. With economic hardships, the once “Jewel of Desert” threw in the towel. Sahara was once known as one of the most luxurious hotels on the strip with celebrities such as Elvis and Frank Sinatra & The Rat Pack staying there quite frequently. In 1964, Sahara brought international sensation, The Beatles, to Las Vegas to perform two shows for $25,000. Five days after the Beatles performed, the Sahara had a multimillion dollar fire caused by built up grease. The fire lasted for 40 minutes with 50 firemen putting out the flames. In 1995, Sahara renovated the resort adding over 1,000 rooms, an 85,000 square foot casino, and four restaurants including the NASCAR Café. In 2007, Sahara was bought by Sam Nazariam, CEO of SBE Entertainment in hopes of bringing it back to life. This past March, SBE Entertainment announced it wasn’t economically sound to keep the property open. Over 1,000 people lost their job at the closing, some being unable to find other means of employment. Sahara will remain in Las Vegas history, but for those who truly got to experience it, it will always be a part of their lives. There are no definite plans as to what happens next; however, Nazariam did state it will involve a complete renovation and repositioning. It is rumored that it will target the young, hip crowd like the Palms.

Original Tropicana Resort and Casino

As the Sahara closed, one resort and casino is renovating to bring back its name as a premier location on the Las Vegas Strip. Tropicana opened in 1957 as the 12th resort on the Strip considered the “Tiffany of the Strip,” with 300 rooms and strong ties to the famous mobster, Frank Costello. This resulted in two of Tropicana’s major executives to be banned from the gaming industry. In 1958, Tropicana was taken over by new ownership and an 18-hole golf course, followed by the addition of 150 rooms across the street in 1961. In 1975, owners Gustafson and Smith were forced to sell their shares when FBI investigators found out they allegedly allowed mobster Joe Agosto to divert funds to his mob connections in Kansas City. In 1979, Ramada Hotels took over. The resort was converted into “The Island of Las Vegas,” adding a wildlife department and more luxury rooms and suites. In 2006, Tropicana filed bankruptcy after trying to complete a $2 billion renovation including a water park. In 2009, Tropicana came back with a new CEO and a new plan to renovate the entire resort with a South Beach appeal to be completed next week with the opening of Nikki Beach.

New Rooms inside the Tropicana

If you haven’t had the chance to check out the new Tropicana, I highly recommend you take the time. The hotel has been remodeled with a whole new look including the rooms, removing the old carpet and the signature smell. I went down to check out Nikki Beach this past Tuesday and was extremely impressed. The Beach Club makes you feel like you step out of Las Vegas and into Miami. The all-white décor is accented with rich wood steps and a stainless steel bar. Instead of cabanas, the pool is lined with teepees that are fully air conditioned and the option to let the sun in. The pool is on the smaller side, making the overall feel intimate and inviting. The nightclub is also all white, which makes me wonder how it is going to be keep clean. It is circular in shape equipped with two bars and tables that allow you to see what is going on from every angle of the club. The staff is good looking, much like every club, but happy. It is the first opening I have been to where every employee seems excited to be working there. It is clear what the beach or club has planned for events or lineups with house music DJs like Robbie Rivera, but Nikki Beach stands out as an already successful venue, being the number one pool party in Miami. The grand opening “White Party” is set for Memorial Day Weekend, Thursday, May 26 at the nightclub. If you are interested in partying at the new hotspot Las Vegas is bringing, feel free to contact Adam Sadie for reservations at adam@a5groupllc.com.

Tropicana is also offering specials for Memorial Day Weekend at http://www.troplv.com/. You can check out the site to see the changes made and pictures of the new rooms. The rates on other nights are amazing as well, such as $99 for a suite with a Strip view in a room that is just as nice the new resorts on the Strip. Go out and experience Las Vegas, even if you have lived here for years and remind yourself that it’s not about experiencing “Sin City,” but experiencing history.

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