Vegas’ Sahara Hotel Casino Says Goodbye

All Images on Sarah Hotel blog by C London

The Sahara Hotel Casino may well have been the star studded jewel of the Las Vegas Strip in its heyday, but the recession and changing times spelled closure for the retro resort this Monday ending a nearly sixty year run as the premiere location to play and stay.

Opening in August of 1952, the property has undergone many ownerships and physical changes, yet when you speak to locals there is nearly always a fond word for the welcoming atmosphere and friendly employees. Many of the long time workers have been gobbled up by fellow casino, Stratosphere, many still left looking for employment in an economy that has not come close to recovery.

Such greats as the Sinatra/Martin/Bishop/Davis’ Rat Pack, Don Rickles, Elvis, Johnny Carson, the Beatles and a twenty year tenure to Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Telethon have called the Sahara home. Every star that was one–stayed there.

photo of image on Sahara Hotel wall by C London

Alas, even the addition of two hotel towers are now dwarfed by the mega resorts.

The Moroccan themed property still has a special feel.

The looming tower of the Stratosphere throws its shadow across the pool’s aqua blue water and the vacant lot next door might footnote the end, but a note taped to the glass doors at the main entrance, written by Sahara executive Sam Nazarian, reading, “Be Back Soon! Thank You For 59 Years” is a mini-manifesto to be remembered.

As I strolled through the casino, there was a definite air of melancholy.

Even the Nascar restaurant and bar bathed in red light echoed of dreams realized and imagined.

Dale Ernhardt’s reign ended in an instant largely through his own failure to adhere to safety procedures.

So too the understandable resistance of the Sahara to morph into a carbon copy of the oft garish, loud theme park atmosphere of its newer neighbours. The appeal to the hundreds of nostalgic patrons that returned this last weekend for one more hoorah was palpable. One can’t help but yearn for that simpler time when glamour ruled and you could still run into Jack Benny coming out of an elevator.

Will the Sahara resurrect from the ashes of fiscal defeat? Perhaps. Until then–sleep well behind locked doors you ghosts of the by-gone days of legend.

photo of image on Sahara Hotel wall by C London

photo of image on Sahara Hotel wall by C London

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4 Responses to Vegas’ Sahara Hotel Casino Says Goodbye

  1. DA Kentner says:

    Great pictures. Thank you.Hard to imagine how the Sahara was orginally an isolated building and idea – the seed that grew a city and a legend.The first time I was there, I was too young to be allowed in. So my parents took turns sitting outside with me while the other went inside just to say they were there.

  2. That is a great story, D A– a memory and a great indicator of the mystique of the Sahara. Amazing!Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  3. Hi, Christine,I read about this… sad to see a legend disappear, but I guess change is something nobody can stop.Were you really there the last day?I think that maybe the best way to memorialize the Sahara would be to write a story set there, in its heydey.Warmly,Lisabet

  4. Yeah..I was really there the last day. Folks were pocketing the menus from the NASCAR cafe and buying up used decks of cards like mad. Have to confess to buying a dozen decks myself. Who knows…maybe E-bay will love them sometime in the future.:)

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