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Sam Nazarian, Founder And CEO Of SBE

Oct 1, 2008
2008 / September 2008

Global Traveler: How did you transition to the hospitality industry from the nightclub segment?

Sam Nazarian: I began as a hotel investor and was also involved in restaurants. SBE was in the industry through its investment in the Kor Group and other properties. We wanted to launch a brand, not just a hotel. Additionally, it made sense to co-mingle the segments so our patrons could utilize any or all of our hotels, nightclubs and restaurants.

We will open the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills first and use it as a stepping-stone. We have plans to open properties in South Beach, Las Vegas and beyond, but right now it is too early to say where they will open or if we will remain as a private company or franchise the SLS brand.

I started out as a small investor, and I feel I have matured beyond the target audience of the “W” brand. I wanted a hotel that could address my needs as a traveler, and that is why I am launching the SLS luxury hotel brand.

GT: Why have you selected Starwood’s Luxury Collection as your management company?

SN: We bought the Beverly Hills property [from] Le Meridien Hotels. Starwood bought the brand, but did not take all the properties. Starwood does not have a hotel in the area and the mutual relationship was pure luck. In addition, we benefit from the Starwood Preferred Guest Program. So before the brand was even developed, we were enrolled in the best frequent-stay program available. We also have the flexibility of introducing our current clients from SBE-managed rooms in Las Vegas to our new property.

GT: What will the SLS brand offer the business traveler?

SN: We think business and high-end luxury travelers are searching for a unique place to stay. Through our restaurants and collaboration with chefs such as Michael Mina, the properties will boast the best dishes from around the world. Philippe Starck created great atmosphere. We expect 40 percent group-based clientele due to the 12,000 square feet of function space inside and 11,000 square feet of outside rooftop space. The balance will be comprised of individual business and luxury travelers.

The building was a hodge-podge, and we were able to take the best that was there and greatly expand on it. The Bazaar in the center will feature a collection of dining experiences in one unique space — with three restaurants, retail by Moss and a central lounge. The property will have a 5,000-square-foot spa called Ciel at SLS, and Arnie Morton’s steakhouse will be returning next door.

GT: Tell our readers about your career.

SN: I started my career with Platinum Wireless, which quickly became the No. 1 Nextel distributor in Southern California. From there, I conquered real estate. In 2002, I founded SBE Entertainment Group (now SBE). As CEO, I oversee the hotel, restaurant, nightlife and real estate divisions, as well as Bolthouse Productions and Element Films. SBE now owns and operates six restaurants (three Katsuyas, Foxtail, The Abbey and XIV by Michael Mina) and four nightclubs and lounges (Area, S Bar, Hyde and upstairs at Foxtail). In addition to our launch of SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, we have a hotel property under development in South Beach and are in the initial stages of a major redesign of the Sahara Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.


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