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Inside Rob Oseland

Hard Hat Touring The SLS Las Vegas

Posted by RateVegas

Don't Stop

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.

Believin'?

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.




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Comments & Discussion:

I wonder if being on the strip yet still somewhat remote would force them to, at least in the beginning, offer up an honest game of jack and some decent VP pay tables. If so, I could see having breakfast at the Peppermill and making SLS an early morning gambling event...after I use the bathroom at Wynn of course. Thanks for the article.

Unvarnished reviews, analysis, and a dash of humor are why I come back to this site over and over. Thanks for your thoughts on SBE/SLS.

This answered some questions (how SLS can draw traffic; what is their business model; how well will the old structures handle new hotel trends and needs; will this be tacky or classy)

... and raises some more (why name it SLS and not sbe; how nimble will SLS be as tastes and trends change; who is making the decisions)

I look forward to seeing the finished product, both online and in person. I imagine I'll still be more interested in spending my hipster hours at Cosmo and Cromwell (and my bankroll at Bellagio), but it's nice to have more options and shiny things to explore.

Thanks, Hunter. I look forward to checking the place out. I'm still a bit confounded at the choice to not use one of the most iconic names in Las Vegas history to build a new brand upon, ie: "SLS at Sahara." C'est la Stardust.

A very enjoyable read. I'm excited that they did get the funding to revamp the property. Unfortunately nothing out of your review changes my mind that they are likely to struggle. While I am intrigued that they are saying they are going to try and strike a price point that is higher end then Riviera and CC, but less then high end mid strip, I just don't see anything that says they will be able to manage the 600lb gorilla in the room.

While I know M resort is (literally) miles away in comparison, I'm not sure it's so different for SLS, and add in they aren't likely to attract many locals (outside of the club ladies but only if their nightlife becomes the 'it' place).

1 mile or 30 miles away from the center of the action, is still away from the center of the action. I wish them luck and I'll be visiting the place and if they are looking for mid tier gamblers I'll even likely stay at the place, but I'm not sure the masses are going to turn out in numbers that matter or are sustainable.

I also had a chance to tour the model rooms - and yes, I agree they've worked a small miracle with a 300 sqft footprint. I thought placing the bed in the center of the room was clever, although if it was me sleeping there I would miss the nightstand. The slide-away shower and toilet compartments were interesting - they brought to mind the kind of space optimizing you would see in one of those micro hotels, or an airport nap room or some such.

So kudos in turning the lemon into lemonade. My fear is that ultimately, size does matter. Vegas just isn't a 300 sqft hotel room town anymore. If I'm deciding where to stay and judging the relative merits of SLS, Cosmo, Wynn, etc., I'm going to remember that oh yeah, SLS is the tiny-room hotel. Monte Carlo had a similar problem when converting their smallish room footprint into a Hotel 32 product. The standard Hotel 32 room is simply too small to command prices comparable to other suites, (which is why it's all comped players up there). Maybe SLS's best play is to comp guests into the tiny rooms, and sell the larger ones for cash?

I'm still bearish overall on SLS, despite really liking the design, the F&B, and having a soft spot for Sahara. The location is just too deadly. Think of how you guys have been blaming Downtown Grand's empty casino on its location - the fact that you have to turn your head 90 degrees from the Fremont canopy and walk for 45 seconds. If that's the definition of a bad location, then SLS is screwed.

Great feature, thanks. Never thought I'd be interested in it but might have to make a monorail trip up this fall to check it out. Also great to have the non-scripted comments from management. Next up in the series: the Loveman Love-in, and Murren on Murren

Having the final stop on the monorail is also nice. I've stayed at the LVH previously and I would consider SLS if it has a place to eat open past 9 p.m.

But my ultimate hope is the SLS will be forced to treat guests like, well, guests. Great deals, great gambling and the like.

Have to give Sam credit...they did pull this off...and as the newest property on the Strip, for the first year, they''ll get traffic as far as people just wanting to see the place...

But if they are looking for their L-A club kids to hop on board, are they going to tell them where this place actually IS in relation to the rest of the Strip?

''WTF'' may be the most Tweeted three letters from there for a while...once people find out that the Monorail is their friend..at $5 a pop..

Some of the food choices will have me there just to check the place out...surprised they will also have a buffet option...