The original name was Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn. Wilbur Clark originally began building the resort, but when he ran out of money, the Cleveland mob led by Moe Dalitz took over the construction. Clark became the public frontman of the resort while Dalitz remained quietly in the background as the principal owner. Much of the financing came from the American National Insurance Company (ANICO), which at the time had indirect ties to the Cleveland crime syndicate and the Maceo crime syndicate in Galveston, Texas. The resort would eventually be renamed Desert Inn, and was affectionally called the "DI" by Las Vegas locals and regular guests.
The Desert Inn’s most famous guest, businessman Howard Hughes, arrived on Thanksgiving Day1966, renting the hotel's entire top two floors. After staying past his initial ten-day reservation, he was asked to leave in December so that the resort could accommodate the high rollers who had been promised those suites. Instead of leaving, Hughes decided to start negotiations to buy the Desert Inn. On March 1, 1967, Hughes purchased the resort from Dalitz for around $13 million. This purchase was the first of many Las Vegas resort purchases by Hughes.
In 1997, the Desert Inn went through a $200 million renovation and expansion, giving it a new exterior with white stucco and clay tile roofs. Its previous major renovation occurred during the mid-1970s. Unlike other expansions, the 821 rooms were reduced to 715 to provide extra accommodations. The Palms tower was completed and the lagoon-style pool was also added. The seven-story lobby with a vaulted ceiling and large windows was also a major part of the renovation. The hotel was owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide until 1998 and, during their ownership, the hotel became know as the Sheraton Desert Inn. It was also owned for a time by MGM Grand Inc. in the late 1980s.
On October 23, 2001, the main tower of the Desert Inn was demolished to make room for a megaresort that Wynn planned to build. Originally intended to be named Le Rêve, the new project opened as Wynn Las Vegas. The remaining towers, The Palm and St. Andrews towers, were used as a small museum to display some of Wynn's art collection and as offices for Wynn Resorts. It was closed due to poor ticket sales. The Palms and St. Andrews Tower were the last towers and they were imploded on November 16, 2004. The Palms tower was seven years old at the time.
Desert Inn Road, an east-west Las Vegas Valley roadway, still exists. It is the only major east-west surface street on the Strip that does not connect to Las Vegas Boulevard. As of 2008, there are no plans to rename the roadway.
Prior to completion of Wynn Las Vegas, the Desert Inn was the last Strip hotel with its own golf course. In fact, the Desert Inn had its own country club. When the hotel underwent a major renovation during the mid 1970s and reopened in 1978, the property was renamed the Desert Inn and Country Club. It featured full country club amenities open to guests of the hotel including a club house and tennis courts. People owned homes on the far end of the golf course. The large white Desert Inn and Country Club sign on Las Vegas Blvd. (the Strip) which welcomed guests and players to the property was shown regularly on the ABC television program Vega$. Shortly after the show was cancelled, the sign was changed from white to red and only said Desert Inn - and Country Club was removed. The DI's country club's golf course became part of Wynn Las Vegas, after a rebuilding associated with the new resort's opening.
In the 1985 film Lost in America, Julie Hagerty's character Linda Howard loses the couple's "nest egg" at the Desert Inn, leading to a memorable scene in which Albert Brooks' character David Howard tries to convince the Casino manager (Garry Marshall) to give them their money back. David, an ad man, proposes a campaign centered around the generosity of the casino in his case, replete with a jingle: "The Desert Inn has heart....The Desert Inn has heart."
The hotel served as the primary backdrop for the TV show Vega$ which aired on ABC from 1978 to 1981. The lead character, Dan Tanna, portrayed by Robert Urich, lived in the D.I.'s theatrical warehouse which was actually located on the opposite side of the Strip, about 1/4 mile down the street behind Circus Circus Hotel & Casino and a local branch of the Bank of Nevada. Early episodes of the series show Dan turning off of the Strip, and following the road that went between Circus Circus and the bank, ending at the warehouse.
The Desert Inn saw its last commercial use in the film Rush Hour 2. It was converted into the "Red Dragon", an Asian-themed casino set.
Louis Prima and Keely Smith recorded their 1960 Dot Records LP "Louis Prima and Keely Smith: On Stage" live at the Desert Inn.
Bobby Darin's famous album "Bobby Darin- Live! At The Desert Inn" was recorded at the D.I. in 1971.
The hit 1980s NBC TV series, Remington Steele, filmed their Las Vegas episode at the D.I. where both the exterior and interior are shown regularly throughout the episode.
Scott Neuman is without a question the best chef in town. Scott made Oba in the Pearl and Hall Street Grill a huge success. Here are my 10 questions for Scott.
YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE IN THE KITCHEN?
Mother's day 1994 at Hall Street. I had a very ambitious menu and it was my first brunch working there. The doors opened at 10am and 120 guests were sat in 15 minutes!!! I was still cooking brunches when we opened for dinner, so after 450 brunches we cooked 350 dinners. It was crazy from 10am to 9pm.
YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT OTHER THAN OBA & HALL STREET?
In Portland "Neustra Cocina" In Beaverton "Decarli"
YOUR DEATH ROW DINNER?
Heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella salad with balsamic and basil, grilled sweet corn, bone-in rib-eye steak with gruyere potato gratin and a bottle of 1992 Silver Oak Napa Valley cab to wash it down.
LAST BOOK READ AND FAVORITE TV SHOW?
II Peter (TV-Lost)
PERSON MOST INTERESTED IN MEETING?
Auguste Escoffier- Wolfgang Puck- Elvis Presley- Elvis Costello
WHAT IS ALWAYS IN CHEF SCOTT'S FRIDGE AT HOME?
A bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay , a bottle of Argyle Brut and a bottle of habanero hot sauce.
FAVORITE DISH AT OBA? Cuban pulled flank steak "vaca Frita"
FAVORITE DISH AT HALL STREET? Seared sea scallops with onion, lobster beurre blanc and balsamic reduction.
STRANGEST REQUEST YOU EVER HAD FROM A CUSTOMER?
When I worked in Los Angeles, I had a guest order two salads on one plate, then two New York Steaks on one plate, then he finished up with two pieces of cheesecake on one plate. I was curious to see who in the world could finish such a meal, so I looked into the dining room to see Marlon Brando chowing down on the cheesecake!
FAVORITE PLACE TO VACATION?
Spain & Puerto Vallarta
OBA : 555 NW 12TH AVE 503-228-6161
HALL STREET : 3775 SW Hall Blvd 503-641-6161
You can't miss at either location which are both very unique and 5 stars for quality- menu selection and service beyond your expectations.