We finally made it down to the Las Vegas Strip, down to the Sahara to pay our last respects to the once grande lady of the Strip and to see how the liquidation sale is going. Both were very disappointing.
The slot machines are gone and the walls are pretty bare. Yet the elevators are running people up and down the hotel towers. If only to see what it once looked like and if anything worth buying is still hiding out in any of the rooms (not).
For me, this was the only time I could get an invite to the Penthouse suite, when the place is closed!! Closed or not, I wanted to see how the other half lived when they came to Vegas. To be in the same rooms where Elvis, the Beatles and maybe even Frank and the boys hung out. To look out from the open patio or bathtub and imagine what the Strip must have looked like from their vantage point, from that era. What a trip it was.
The images weren’t all that hard to conjure up. Wandering around the suites and seeing how they were decorated, you could easily see the Beatles or a late Elvis staying there. The Penthouse suites were all still trapped in the 70’s!! From the shag carpeting to the velvet wallpaper and the gawdy fixtures that were still attached, it all rang of a bad Vegas 70’s movie vibes.
But this was all history walking into these rooms. Las Vegas history. There isn’t a Las Vegas history book worth a read that doesn’t include something about the Sahara. Even with it’s many years of neglect from greedy owners, you can still feel the ghosts of Vegas past.
This is the place where you could come and hear the greats like Louis Prima play in the lounge for free. Where Buddy Hackett cut his comedic teeth opening for the great singers and dancers of the era. The stage where Abbott and Costello played their last gig together. This is where Frank Sinatra was punched through a plate glass window and lost his front three teeth for chasing the wrong skirt. For those of us of a certain age, Yes, this is where Jerry Lewis held court all those years for the Muscular Dystrophy telethon and where Frank Sinatra reunited Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis after a 20 year split. This was the epi-center of Vegas entertainment cool for many years.
At one time, from these windows, one could look across the street and see the El Rancho… the very first resort built on the LA highway (now the Vegas Strip). Look across another street and you are looking into the city of Las Vegas. Sahara Boulevard used to be Golden Gate Blvd and is the dividing line between the town of Paradise and the city of Las Vegas. Look another direct and you used to see resorts with pools, golf courses, and many celebrities mixing with the average tourist.
Now, anyone could walk the halls, peek into the abandoned suites and marvel at yesteryear’s luxury as we wonder what it’s fate will be once every last dime can be rang out of the furnishings and they really do close the doors on the place forever. How far the mighty have fallen.
Till The Last Dime
And they are trying to get every last dime out of the place. Anything and everything is for sale. Just don’t expect fire-sale prices. Expect retail or near new prices for the well-used goods. For some tools and a 10% buyers premium, you too can have the sink out of the Penthouse suite or the light fixture from the common persons room with the funky wallpaper. Want a bed or two or twenty? Not a problem. No price breaks, they are open till its gone and apparently they think there is enough interest from tourists who may want to get a piece of Vegas history to take home. .
We saw places where people didn’t realize that the wall photo of the Beatles or Jimmy Durante is actually a wall photo!! Sorry, you bought it, you need to remove it no matter what! Take the wall with you!
At least Boyd Gaming had the decency to kill the Stardust quickly and let it go fast with a live auction. But not these creatures. Nope. They want every dime possible no matter how long it takes. Bring your best walking shoes and a bottle of water (no air conditioning in most areas).
What’s in the future of the Sahara? Unfortunately the silver spoon trust fund babies who own the place may say they are “thinking it over”, but everything points to the dust pile for the Sahara.
Not sure how much longer they want to keep the “sale” going, so if you want a peek into the history of vintage Las Vegas, get down here quickly. Open until 7pm most days…..
Host of The Vegas Tourist Podcast