Inside Rob Oseland
Hard Hat Touring The SLS Las Vegas
Over the course of the tour, it was abundantly clear that SLS has worked really hard to keep their costs sane, despite having produced more investment than they predicted via the EB-5 program.
Oseland believes that if SLS Las Vegas can fill their 1,600 rooms (and capture the F&B and casino action that comes along), it will cover most of their monthly expenses. They may have to keep their heads down and run hard for awhile, surviving until all this new neighborhood upside (Rock In Rio, Resorts World, Fontainebleau's eventual destruction) comes online.
Have I changed my outlook on SLS? When I started writing this, I thought that yes, I probably had, at least somewhat... but then, we saw an ad for the Foxtail club show up online.
I don't personally like nightclubs very much but I can look at a place like XS and recognize the enormous amount of taste that was exercised in its design. It's easy to mock the Cosmopolitan's marketing as too closely targeting a niche of contemporary culture, but it's also clear that Lisa Marchese and the team there have good taste and a high bar for quality - and while I might disagree on their target, they hit exactly what they were aiming for.
The Foxtail ad seems to be the opposite: a tasteless mess of copycat-ism. It reminds me of a second-rate metal band from the 80s, making videos full of hot cars and nearly naked women while at the same time thoroughly misunderstanding why Motley Cr¨e is so popular and thus they're copying the wrong stuff.
Frankly, the fact that someone inside she approved that ad makes me start worrying all over again. It's just one data point but it's not a good sign. For an organization that seems to have a lot of marketing savvy, I expected more and thus that ad is a red flag to me. You gotta have good taste.
Will SLS work? I have no idea. They've got a smart, charismatic president in Rob Oseland who doesn't seem to be lying to himself about the challenges ahead. Their food brands are financially successful. They've got Jose Andrés doing tasty sounding stuff. They can market their nightlife to a huge audience in Los Angeles. They're embracing their constraints instead of burying their heads in the sand.
If they have indeed been smart about their finances, they work super hard and they get a little lucky, they could end up being the beneficiaries of a surge of North Strip development. Maybe SLS Las Vegas will turn Sam Nazarian into a billionaire. At one point I never could have imagined such a thing but now...
Lastly, I wanted to thank the SLS folks for the tour. They know what sort of writing ends up on VT: non-PR approved and candid. I'm sure they won't love everything I've written above and as such, I appreciate that they want to embrace this community instead of pretending that we don't exist.