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SAHARA Las Vegas welcomes Chef Shawn McClain to culinary lineup and reveals new resort pool plans

LAS VEGAS, April 8, 2021 -- As record-number crowds plan their return to Las Vegas this summer, SAHARA Las Vegas is revving into high-gear, accelerating the resort's $150 million transformation with the announcement of Ballo, a new dining concept from James Beard award-winning Chef Shawn McClain, and the unveiling of the resort's new Azilo Ultra Pool.

Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here:

"As Las Vegas continues to evolve, we plan to be on the forefront of that evolution as we continually refine and enhance the guest experience at SAHARA," said Paul Hobson, senior vice president and general manager of SAHARA Las Vegas.

Joining the resort's award-winning culinary lineup is Ballo, a new Italian concept from James Beard award-winning Chef Shawn McClain and partners Richard and Sarah Camarota of MC Hospitality. With Ballo, the group will use their acumen for redefining established genres to create an experiential, high-energy destination restaurant featuring seasonal Italian cuisine representing a number of Italian regions. Ballo promises to offer everything you know and love about Italian cuisine made bold and fresh in a vibrant setting that celebrates Italian culture and la dolce vita. Signature dishes will include Ballo's selection of aperitivos, handmade pastas, Roman pizzas, an array of fresh seasonal vegetable dishes and salads, and rustic fire-roasted meats and fish, as well as a Euro-centric, eclectic wine list, unique cocktails and playful desserts featuring espresso liqueurs. The restaurant design will boast bold contemporary Italian art to create stylized spaces for authentic gatherings for both intimate and sizeable social parties. Ballo will also feature a live-action kitchen complete with a pasta-making window and a takeaway deli.

No stranger to Las Vegas, Chef McClain is an outstanding restaurateur who has opened multiple renowned and critically acclaimed restaurants in Chicago, Las Vegas and Detroit. His portfolio consists of both fine dining and casual restaurants each offering ingredient-driven cuisine served in chic, high-energy atmospheres. Winning both critical acclaim and establishing smart, sustainable businesses have been the hallmarks of his career.

"We're entering this next phase in Las Vegas with renewed gratitude, energy and purpose," says McClain. "We are inspired by Alex Meruelo's vision for SAHARA and are so excited to join the culinary line up and work hand in hand with this amazing property team to bring our vision to life."

"We are continually seeking to set the standard with our culinary program," said Anthony Olheiser, SAHARA Las Vegas vice president of food and beverage. "Shawn is both a highly-decorated chef and a clever operator, making the perfect addition to our exceptional restaurant portfolio. We can't wait for our guests to explore all Ballo has to offer when it opens later this year."

As SAHARA continues to raise the bar for its culinary program, property leadership is similarly preparing to elevate the full resort experience with the total transformation of the main resort pool. Construction of the new Azilo Ultra Pool is nearing completion to prepare for a summer 2021 opening.

Under the strategic leadership of veteran entertainment executive Yannick Mugnier, who recently joined the Meruelo Group to design and create the entertainment vision for SAHARA and its sister property Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, Azilo's flexible poolscape and event space will combine to create Las Vegas' most immersive Ultra Pool offering an ideal location for party seekers, sunbathers and event planners. Featuring an intimate poolside experience, sexy Moroccan décor, lush greens and an alluring atmosphere, Azilo will serve as a principal feature of the resort boasting state-of-the-art visuals, lighting and sound packages that combine to envelop guests in a beautiful desert sanctuary.

Azilo's main focal point will be its giant LED walls that wrap around the pool perimeter. The featured portion of the LED wall stretches two stories high and spans the length of the pool's south side. Totaling more than 10,000 square feet, Azilo's LED wall is one of the largest to be featured in a private setting on the Las Vegas Strip. Designed for any event you can envision, the wall's multiple screens can be synchronized, while the main screen can be partitioned into several smaller screens, giving guests the ability to watch multiple games or events simultaneously. The screens will also have the ability to live stream events at the pool for guests to watch in real time. Azilo's cutting-edge technology, combined with its flexible features, will allow for a variety of special programming including headlining concerts and live sporting event broadcasts, making it the ideal setting for private meetings and events.

Boasting nearly 35,000 square feet of poolscape, Azilo will include VIP cabanas each outfitted with HD TVs, private pools, spas and restrooms; daybeds; lily pads; three bars; and plenty of lounge seating. Azilo Ultra Pool will be open to both resort and outside guests operating daily, including engagements on Friday and Saturday evenings.

"Azilo Ultra Pool and Ballo, along with the other many updates we've made to the resort, create an elevated guest experience that is unique to SAHARA," adds Hobson. "These new additions will help create complementary, personalized experiences that can be enjoyed in tandem or individually. Guests can spend a day at Azilo that leads to a night out at Ballo. Or, dinner and drinks at Ballo become a pre-show experience ahead of catching a performance of Magic Mike Live. These additions, like our other newly enhanced amenities, have been designed to create a crafted, boutique experience that our guests can customize to suit their tastes and truly make their Las Vegas experience their own."

These new additions come on the heels of the full renovation and expansion of the resort's 50,662 square foot casino floor, which included the addition of a new poker room and CASBAR Lounge; new hotel lobby amenities including the upscale grab-and-go eatery, Prendi, and brown spirits-focused cocktail bar, The Tangier; guest room updates in the Blanca and Marra towers; and new additions to the culinary program including popular Philadelphia crab house and sports bar, Chickie's and Pete's and Noodle Den helmed by renowned Chef Guoming "Sam" Xin, which will both open later this year.

SAHARA Las Vegas features 1,615 guest rooms, more than 85,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and a collection of entertainment venues, lounges, two rooftop pools, the luxurious Amina Spa and acclaimed restaurants, including the award-winning Bazaar Meat by José Andrés. To follow the transformation of SAHARA Las Vegas or to book your stay, visit

About SAHARA Las Vegas
SAHARA Las Vegas is an all-encompassing resort and casino with 1,615 guest rooms and suites in three distinctive towers – including the AAA® Four Diamond Alexandria Tower, more than 85,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, two rooftop pools and a collection of acclaimed restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. The inviting casino occupies 60,000 square feet and features approximately 600 of the latest slot and video poker machines, 50 classic table games, Infinity – a premium gaming lounge, The Poker Room at SAHARA Las Vegas and a sports book operated by global gaming leader, William Hill. An impressive selection of culinary and cocktail offerings include Bazaar Meat by José Andrés™, named "Best Restaurant in Nevada" by Business Insider; CASBAR Lounge; Bella Bistro; Uno Más; Northside Café & Chinese Kitchen; Prendi; The Tangier; and more. Additionally, SAHARA Las Vegas is home to MAGIC MIKE LIVE Las Vegas presented by Channing Tatum. SAHARA Las Vegas players can also enjoy the perks of an Infinity Rewards membership, a joint loyalty program between SAHARA and its sister property Grand Sierra Resort and Casino Reno, that gives players the opportunity to earn and redeem rewards across both destinations. SAHARA Las Vegas is a minority-owned business certified by the Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council. For more information, please visit and stay connected on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 

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