LAS VEGAS -- The Sahara Hotel and Casino is unique in many ways,
from its exterior signage (complete with the famed camels) to its
Moroccan-themed casino, whose not-so-subtle decor includes crystal
chandeliers, gold-painted ceilings, stained glass and mosaic tiles.
Still, what sets the Sahara apart from just about every other
property on the Strip is its 51-year history.
Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Spencer Tracy stayed here; Tony
Bennett, Marlene Dietrich and Don Rickles made their Las Vegas
debuts here; and Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret filmed parts of
"Viva Las Vegas" here.
Now that's impressive -- at least, Sahara hotel officials hope
clients think so.
The property, which opened in 1952, is one of the few remaining
hotel-casinos in Las Vegas with a past, according to Susan Schulz,
director of hotel operations.
Besides that, Schulz said, what has contributed most to the
property's longevity is its reputation, name recognition and the
value guests receive when they stay here. Average room rates range
from $45 to $50 per night.
"That's definitely a great value," said Michele Yegge, the
Sahara's director of sales.
So much so that guests keep returning year after year.
"We have a large repeat clientele that is loyal to the Sahara,"
Schulz said. "They enjoy the old Vegas feel [of the property] and
want good value -- but at the same time they are looking for fun
According to Yegge, "The nostalgic feel is something that people
really enjoy. One of our showrooms features black-and-white photos
of celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, and people
just love looking at them. It kind of gives you a feel that it's
While long-time clients have become part of the Sahara's
demographic fabric, they are by no means the only group to whom the
"We appeal to the younger age group as well as the middle,"
Schulz said. "We have a good mix of mostly leisure travelers. We're
not homing in on one market."
To keep things fresh, the property periodically updates its
public spaces, something that's been done fairly recently,
according to Schulz.
The Casbar Lounge recently was renovated, and the Sahara
Steakhouse -- formerly known as the House of Lords during its Rat
Pack heyday -- has reverted to its original moniker. (See House of Lords serves up nostalgia.)
In August, Schulz said, the Sahara will embark on a renovation
of the 1,100-room Tangiers Tower that is expected to last until
Besides standard and deluxe room categories, the property offers
several types of suites, including mini and one-, two- and
Room rates usually are commissionable at 10%; however, through
September, the property offers an increased commission program for
travel agents that features 20% commission on deluxe room
To receive the increased pay, agents must book directly with the
hotel via telephone or, in the case of a group, through the sales
department, and mention Code 20%, Yegge said.
"If they mention that code, they'll get that commission, but
rooms can't be booked on the GDS or online," she said. "They have
to be phone bookings."
Construction also is continuing on the property's monorail
station which, when the Las Vegas monorail begins operations in
January, will make the Sahara the route's northernmost point.
In other news, the Sahara's parent company, Gordon Gaming, is
seeking to evict the 75,000-square-foot Nascar Cafe from the
property. Schulze and Yegge declined to comment.
For more information about the Sahara, call (888) 686-2121 or