Las Vegas Says Sayonara to Sahara

Last week, the iconic Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas officially and completely closed its doors, signaling the end of an era for the Las Vegas Strip, on which the Moroccan-themed hotel was a fixture for 59 years.

The hotel, which had 1,720 guest rooms and 27,000 square feet of meeting space, opened in 1952 as only the sixth resort on the Strip. A favorite of the Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., it was the site of several scenes in the original "Oceans 11" film.

"Thanks, for a wonderful engagement," reads a "goodbye" on the Sahara's website. "Your loyalty to the Sahara is appreciated."

Los Angeles nightclub owner Sam Nazarian purchased the Sahara in 2007 and promised to revitalize the aging property. In March, however, his company, SBE Entertainment, fell victim to the recession and announced that continuing business was no longer "economically viable." It therefore shuttered the property on May 16 and transferred all pending reservations to its "preferred partner," Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, which has agreed to honor all existing Sahara reservations — complete with a complimentary guest room upgrade.

Although SBE still owns it, it has yet to announce plans for redeveloping the 18-acre site.