Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good-bye, Sahara Las Vegas

If you live in Las Vegas, you've undoubtedly read that another Old Vegas hotel casino is getting mothballed. May 16, 2011, will be the Sahara's last day. "It's a rare and dying breed," observed my 12-year-old. He's a true Vegas native.

Feelings about the Sahara's closing are mixed. Some lament the demise of yet another classic Vegas joint, and others are glad to see it go. Take this comment from one of my pals on Facebook, for instance: "Why wait...Lets implode that rat-infested non-profit earning eyesore now and create some construction jobs....Just my thought..." No plans have been announced for implosion, by the way.

I never spent much time at the Sahara. My major memory of the Sahara is from the days of Wet 'N Wild, in those happy times when I would float around all day in their many heavily chlorinated water attractions, and I would look up at the Sahara's clock and temp display and think, "Can it really be 115°? It feels so nice and cool here." Then, of course, they demolished Wet 'N Wild. No more lazy river, no more pondering the time and temp at the top of the Sahara.

My other major Sahara memory? The Adult Entertainment Expo, back when everyone thought it was an actual part of CES because both conventions happen at the same time of year (and still do--but in those days, the Adult Expo was at the Sahara, easy walking distance from the Convention Center). This was long, long ago, back in the days of my prior career.... at the police department. After using our falsified passes to CES (which had nothing to do with my employer of the day, incidentally), we'd tromp on over to the Sahara to gawk at the porn stars. Ah, the memories.

I recently read an trenchant observation about the fate of budget-priced, Old Vegas hotel casinos. Before the Great Recession, they offered an affordable alternative to the fancy New Vegas resorts. Now, even the big, fresh, glossy places have cut their rates and offer deals. Will there be a place for the Old Vegas hotel casinos remaining—in particular, the Riviera—or will they all go the way of the showgirl?  
Photo courtesy of John Griffiths

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