Treasure Island Rebooted and Ready to Wow

Before Las Vegas became the major destination it is today, the city's casino resorts were still trying to decipher the most effective formula for attracting guests. Back in the early 1990s, the mega-resort concept was still brand new, and developers didn't have an accurate handle on what the city's personality really was and what feelings its resorts should evoke.  Cirque du Soleil's Mystère at Treasure Island

It was the start of something new, and it was then that Steve Wynn started to develop a follow-up to his massively successful Mirage. Originally conceived to appeal to a broader family audience when it debuted in 1993 at a cost of $450 million, Treasure Island has gone through a massive re-branding effort during the past few years. The casino resort has successfully shed its overtly family-friendly image for a more sophisticated and sexy persona.

Formerly located in a no-man's land at the very end of the Las Vegas Strip, Treasure Island's redevelopment by current owners MGM-MIRAGE Corp. coincides with a wellspring of new projects getting built right around the property. Not only has the Mirage next door been completely redesigned, but also a new 3,000-room mega-resort dubbed Palazzo (sister to The Venetian) opens adjacent to Treasure Island later this year.

Meanwhile, Wynn Las Vegas, which opened across the street two years ago, is building a new resort dubbed Encore. Several other upscale properties are also being planned in the immediate vicinity, making TI—as it's nicknamed—one of the best and more affordable locations on The Strip.

At TI, the resort has everything on site, so for those not wanting to leave the property, there are plenty of entertainment and dining options right there. It's also connected to the Mirage via tram.

TI's "elegant Caribbean hideaway" theme has been toned down significantly, successfully shedding its Pirates of the Caribbean-like heritage in favor of a more modern flavor. There are still plenty of dark rich woods and island flair throughout, giving TI a definitive sense of place, but it's no longer an overtly obvious approach to design.

Suites are currently being renovated while Deluxe Rooms will get a complete overhaul set to start before the year is out. When booking a reservation, ask for a newly refurbished room; since there are 2,883 rooms, more completed rooms are being put back into inventory regularly.

Entertainment

The only element of the resort that hasn't really changed is Mystère, which debuted in December 1993 and kick started the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil entertainment revolution. Now ubiquitous, when this show opened it was an entirely new concept for The Strip. Mystère features 72 performers in an acrobatic show filled with miraculous feats of strength and agility set to a New Age soundtrack. It plays twice nightly at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance by calling 800-392-1999 and tickets are $60, $75 and $95 per person, including tax.

 

The pedicure spa at Treasure Island's Wet

The centerpiece of the resort's entertainment is Sirens of TI, a reconceived version of the old swashbuckling adventure that features a seafaring battle between two tall ships. Originally developed as a way to lure tourists into the resort with some free entertainment, the show—although definitely edgier—is still okay for a younger audience.

Combining stunts, pyrotechnics and a host of scantily clad "sirens," the show runs several times a night weather permitting. Note though that the show is cancelled frequently due to high winds. If your clients must see this attraction, recommend they first try to view it earlier in their trip.

Nightlife

Hovering over the lagoon in front of TI is Tangerine Lounge & Nightclub. Smaller than some of the other mega-clubs on The Strip, Tangerine is more approachable in the sense that you don't have to be freakishly gorgeous to feel like you fit in. The club features an indoor lounge and an outside deck, affording great views of The Strip, and injects revelers with a dose of high energy. To heighten the scene, there are burlesque dancers performing throughout the night and a DJ specializing in combining rock and dance.

The more subdued Mist evokes the spirit of the corner bar. Watch sports or music videos on the oversized screens while sipping a specialty cocktail.

Dining

Perched above Tangerine (to which guests can get VIP access), Social House is a great place to enjoy sushi, sake and some great outdoor dining with views of The Strip. Tip: Make reservations 30 minutes before the Sirens of TI show for unobstructed views. If not eating sushi, suggest highlights from the Pan Asian menu such as citrus peel miso marinated cod. Dinner is available nightly from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. and until 4 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Also try Isla Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar. There are several tequilas stocked, and the food is light and tasty. Signature items include grilled Mexican spiced chicken breast with corn dumplings and pico de gallo and crispy red snapper with cactus salad and citrus epazote vinaigrette.

Francesco's is an upscale Italian eatery with an open kitchen. There are fresh pastas, antipasti and Mediterranean-style seafood, while The Steak House features top cuts of beef and fresh seafood.

The Social House's terrace

More casual options include Canter's Deli, a version of the acclaimed Los Angeles Jewish delicatessen. And at the tropically themed Kahunaville, clients can relax amidst dancing waterfalls and a lush garden-like atmosphere and choose from a Caribbean-inspired menu.

Chill Out

There's a tropical pool with private cabanas, lounge area and an oversized hot tub that accommodates up to 50 people.

Its spa, Wet, is a full-service facility offering a variety of treatments and services. Although Wet closes at 8 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, it's open until 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

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