By Matt Villano, on August 26, 2014

SLS, Delano join Vegas hotel scene

Change is a constant in Las Vegas. For most of its modern history, the city has welcomed new attractions, restaurants, and hotels at a steady clip.

Earlier this year, for instance, Las Vegas ballyhooed the opening of The Cromwell, a boutique hotel on the Center Strip. Before that, headlines boasted about the High Roller, the largest Observation Wheel in the world.

The late summer of 2014 will be remembered for two different milestones: The opening of SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on the North Strip, and the rebranding of the suite-only tower at Mandalay Bay Casino as the Delano Las Vegas. Both casino resort hotel openings are big news. And both present great options for Vegas visitors to consider before booking their next big trip.

The SLS gamble

Las Vegas is a favorite destination for many residents of Los Angeles to unwind. And the SLS is about as L.A. as the Strip gets.

A room at SLS

For starters, the casino resort’s owner, Sam Nazarian, is founder and CEO of parent company, sbe, which owns a bunch of nightclubs in Los Angeles. Second, the facility boasts a number of uber-L.A. restaurants, including Umami Burger and more. Third, the resort is home to the first-ever Vegas outpost of Fred Segal, a Los Angeles institution. Finally, the 1,600 rooms are about as Los Angeles as they possibly can get, with white décor, ornate touches that evoke 1950s Hollywood, and lots and lots of mirrors.

Whatever you do, don’t call the SLS new. Yes, the place did not exist before its late-August opening. Technically, however, the property is utilizing many of the same structures once occupied by the Sahara Hotel & Casino, which closed in the early part of last decade.

(Poetically, the Sahara was a popular hangout for members of the Rat Pack, who were Hollywood darlings.)

All told, Nazarian’s company spent US$415 million to spruce up the old place and transform it into SLS. The results are stunning: One of the hippest casino floors in all of Vegas, tons of nightclubs (which is not surprising), a rollicking pool area, and more.

Perhaps the only potential challenge for the SLS is location—if the proposed Resorts World Las Vegas property opens as planned, the SLS will be in the middle of the Strip’s most happening stretch later this decade. Currently, however, the resort sits in a bit of a no-man’s land between Encore Las Vegas and the Stratosphere Casino & Resort Hotel.

Delano deluxe

Just as the SLS draws inspiration from all things Los Angeles, so, too, will the Delano (pronounced DELL-ah-no) draw inspiration from South Beach when it opens formally Sept. 1.

Viewfinder Tip: Be prepared to take cabs from hotels on the far South Strip or far North Strip. These properties are farther from the Center Strip than you might think.

In the 1,100 rooms, that means everything’s white, including furniture, closets, and tufted headboards behind each bed. In the lobby, this means giant plantation shutters, columns decorated with (white, of course) drapes and—gasp!—natural light. (No matter how hard you try, you can’t link the lobby’s giant 35,000-pound boulders to anything that comes from South Beach. Especially because they’re from nearby Jean, Nevada.)

The new all-suite South Strip property represents an US$80-million refresh of THEhotel. The irony here is that THEhotel was notorious for poorly lit walkways and rooms; the new iteration definitely turns that characteristic on its head.

Delano aims to create other luxury experiences. The old nightclub, miX, will transform into Rivea, another Alain Ducasse restaurant. The new lobby bar, dubbed Franklin, will serve craft cocktails and employ live bands or live DJs. There’s even supposed to be a coffee and tea bar at which servers will dole out finger sandwiches in the afternoon and cocktails and small plates in the evening.

Next spring, resort officials also plan to open the Delano Beach Club, a private pool for Delano guests only.

Perhaps the only drawback to the Delano is that, technically speaking, the resort is non-gaming, which means it lacks its own casino. That said, the tower is adjacent to Mandalay Bay, which boasts one of the most cavernous casinos in all of Vegas.

The more you think about it, that’s the beauty of Las Vegas—nobody is ever more than a few minutes from a casino.

(Speaking of casinos, be sure check out our handy and mobile-friendly guide for casino-bound travelers.)

What is your favorite casino resort hotel in Las Vegas, and why?