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Another Classic is Gone...
May 16, 2011 11:58 am

Following the path of so many before it, the Sahara closes it's doors at noon today after 59 years. In honor of the loss of yet another of the Vegas Classics, I am reposting a trip report of my last stay back in 2003. It makes me sad to think that I didn't get the chance to stay there one last time...

June 21 - 23 2003

Our last few trips to Vegas have been less pleasure and more work than a usual vacation. With all the planning for the wedding and then finally having it, it was going to be nice to go and not have to do anything! The plan was to eat, gamble, lay by the pool and drink frozen tropical beverages.

June 21

We hit the road on Saturday about 10:15AM. It was pretty crappy in Orange County as it had been for the past month. We even hit a little drizzle out on the 15 in Ontario. Luckily, traffic was still light and by the time we got over the Cajon Pass, the sun was shining. We stopped at In-N-Out Burger in Victorville and we were at the Sahara by 2:30PM. 4 and half hours wasn't bad considering the construction that is taking place on I-15. It didnt cause many problems except up the longer grades. Those damn truckers who insist on passing another truck at precisely 1 MPH faster than the slower guy!!

Check-in at the Sahara was no problem. There was only 1 person in front of us and we were up to our room in no time. I didn't try the $20 trick because I wanted to see what a standard room was. I had asked for a decent view or a balcony and was told they had no smoking rooms with a balcony but was given a room on the 26th floor of the Tangiers Tower facing the Hilton. It was a fairly standard room that was larger than most new hotel rooms. The furnishings were a bit worn but functional. The bed was actually quite comfortable. Something bigger than a 19" TV would have been nice but Im not in town to watch TV! All in all, it was better than we were expecting from the Sahara. We quickly unpacked and went down to the pool. It was surprisingly cool for late June in Vegas. It was only in the mid 90s with strong breeze. We enjoyed the ice cold pool and the frosty drinks for a few hours then I hit the casino for some VP. I tried playing the odd version of Bonus Poker that pays 175 for all 4 of a kinds but the damn double up option just sucks! I havent played one in a while but it is just too annoying to deal with that a few hundred times an hours. I switched back to standard BP machine for the rest of the trip. After a short bit of play, I went back to the room to get ready for dinner.

We headed over to the Ellis Island for the $4.95 sirloin steak dinner. We got there rather late expecting it to be busy but at 8:30 we sat right down and there were quite a few open tables. It was just as good as the last time I had it and still the best meal deal in town. Lisa actually opted for a Chef's Salad instead and it was of course gigantic. The EI restaurant is definitely serving up the deals, steak or otherwise. After dinner, I wanted to take a few pictures so we headed over to the Riviera just because we usually never end up there. The casino layouts of old are definitely different compared to the new mega-resorts. We strolled around a bit, crossed over to Slots A Fun then just headed back to the car. It was a nice way to walk off dinner. It was back to the Sahara for some gambling. We both sat down and almost immediately, Lisa hits a straight flush followed by a four of a kind a few hands later. She is pretty excited by now. I don't hit much of anything and now its paying to have 2 people play to even out your swings. After about an hour, Lisa hits her VP limit and we pick up some snacks and head back to the room. After about a half hour, Lisa notices that I dont seem like I am in "getting ready for bed" mode and says "Youre going to back down, arent you?" with a smirk. Yep!!! At home, Im in bed at 10PM, not in Vegas! I managed to win a bit of money over the next couple of hours and call it a night with us doing pretty good so far!

June 22

I woke up Sunday morning and did my usual routine, coffee and video poker. The Sahara has a decent coffee place that is open 24 hours, which is a rarity even in Vegas. The decent string of VP continued and I managed to get about 2 hours play out a $20. Afterwards, I went back to the room and Lisa was awake so we decided to order some room service. The prices were fairly reasonable and they dont hit with that 18% service charge on top of the $3 surcharge. Another score for the Sahara! The breakfast was delivered fast and was pretty good. We then got ready and went down to the pool. It was once again incredibly pleasant for June. The pool was still pretty empty and we enjoyed some more frosty drink and sun for a few hours. After the pool, we both played some VP for a little while, losing just a bit. We then went over to the NASCAR Cafe to ride the roller coaster and the stock car simulators. Speed the ride is my favorite coaster in Vegas. The are now selling all day passes for just $10 and we had the 2 for 1 coupon from the slot club funbook. There are actually a few decent coupons in the funbook, including 2 for 1 rides and buffet and a few gambling coupons. One of the better ones is the $50 bonus on any top jackpot. I was carrying this one around all weekend, just in case! We did the ride twice, both the front and back. Go for the back on this one. It is definitely better. We also gave the simulators a try. It was an interesting experince to say the least. I hope the real stock cars are easier to drive because I was slamming into the wall the whole race! It was soon time to get ready for the Las Vegas Advisor meet at Main Street Station. It was a fairly good sized turnout. The MSS Brew Pub is a great place and everyone had a good time. We were there about 2 and half hours then it was back to the Sahara.

We were enjoying not having anything to do so much that we didnt even know where to eat dinner. We managed to fall asleep for a nice 45 minute power nap while thinking it over! After waking up, we just decided to give the Sahara Buffet a shot and used the 2 for 1 coupon in their slot club members funbook. The buffet at the Sahara was what most people described, pretty bland, basic food. Nothing was all that good although not terrible. It was sustainance and not much more. I wouldnt pay more than the $5 each it cost us with the coupon. After another late dinner, we went up the strip to Caesars. The word is, that if you play just a little there, the mailed room offers are pretty decent. I have always wanted to stay there but could never justify the price. We signed up for the slot club played a few bucks through their 9/6 JoB Spin Poker, which is quite a different game, slots meet video poker. Lisa had more luck than I did and she really enjoyed playing it. We wandered around a little bit after playing and took some pictures then headed back to the Sahara. It was already quite late but we decided we needed to hit the casino some more. I hit the same bank of BP I had been playing and Lisa hit the Keno machines. I blew through a $20 fairly quickly so I feed in a hundred. The machine started giving me some played and about 25 hands later was dealt 4, 10, K, A of hearts and a low club. It was late so I had to stop and think for a second when I almost held the 4 hearts. I dumped the 4 and the club and much to my surprise, the Royal Flush comes up! Woooo Hoooo! Its been so long since the last one, I didnt think they happened anymore! I luckily had been carrying around the $50 bonus coupon, which was a nice little kicker to the win. I played a quite a bit after the Royal and the machine was still hitting pretty good. I cashed out up even without the Royal. It certainly worked out to be a good night. We picked up some snacks on the way back to the room and called it a night in a great mood.

June 23

Monday morning was the same routine, coffee and VP. I decided to be brave with my winnings and dropped a hundred into a dollar machine. I know I dont have the bankroll to play $5 a hand but what the hell, maybe I will get lucky! Surprisingly, the machine is playing. I managed to get about an hours play with the hundred before it disappeared. I went back to the room, grabbed Lisa and hit the coffee place for breakfast. After breakfast, I called the front desk for a late check out. For $20, they will give you a 6PM check out. We decided to take it and extend out last day a little bit. We wanted to do some trinket shopping so we went over to the "World's Largest Gift Shop" across the street from the Sahara. We then went back to the room and fell asleep again! After yet another power nap, we went downstairs for one last run at the VP machines. Lisa and I took side by side machines and her was hitting pretty nicely, including quad Aces in the first few minutes. After about an hour, we cashed out, Lisa up and me down but still up overall on the session. Since I was told that there werent any slot hosts on, I went over to the slot club booth to settle up before leaving. I cashed in a coupon for a hundred point match and while looking over my account she commented on the play we gave them and said "Let me call my boss and see what we can do for you." They ended up comping us our food bill and 1 nights room. Not too bad considering we were winners for the weekend and were hardly playing like high rollers. We checked out at about 5PM and headed up to the Luxor for the traditional stop at Nathan Famous Hot Dogs. We have to eat there at least once on every trip. They are just that good! After a hitting a 7-11 for some munchies for the ride home, we were on the 15 back for OC by 6:00. There was only a bit of congestion through the construction zones but for many stretches the road was empty. Monday evening is a great time to drive back to California. We made it home in under 4 hours and were unfortunately both back to work on Tuesday!

This is yet another reminder that nothing is forever especially in Las Vegas and you should enjoy the older places while they are still around because you never know when they will be gone. R.I.P Sahara Hotel and Casino 1952 - 2011


Tags: sahara hotel closing trip report review