IMG 8061Until recently, I didn’t know much about Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.  I knew of it’s pirate theme and decor, I knew it was the home to Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere, the first Cirque show in Vegas, and I knew it for the pirate battle fought out front every 90 minutes or so.  But I had never spent much time there, so that was about it.  

Now that I’ve actually stayed there, I can only ask myself one thing:  WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG?!?

IMG 8149Located just north of the Mirage, Treasure Island was opened in 1993 under the direction of Steve Wynn.  The property was originally intended to house a tower addition to Mirage, but a full-scale hotel began to evolve.  In the 1990’s, many of Vegas’ new mega-resorts were conforming to some overall theme - Luxor’s ancient Egypt, Excalibur’s Arthurian feel, even MGM Grand had a Wizard of Oz theme for many years - all to bring in the family crowds that were being courted at the time.  Treasure Island jumped on the bandwagon, with it’s giant skull-and-crossbones marquee out front, kid friendly pool, and most notably, the Battle of Buccaneer Bay pirate show in the “lagoon” out front, where a shipload of pirates fought and sank a British Naval vessel several times nightly.

In 2003, the pirate theme was scaled back and the hotel began pursuing a younger, hipper crowd.  The resort’s name on the marquee was shortened to “TI”,IMG 8064 the kiddie pool was replaced with an adult party pool, and the pirate battle became “The Sirens Of TI” - a song and dance spectacular featuring an all new battle between the sexy, scantily clad Sirens on one ship, and the hunky, shirtless men of The Bull; the ship on the opposite side.  The stunts and explosions are still there, The Bull still sinks, taking it’s captain down, and the whole thing ends with the cast attempting to get the viewers off the sidewalk and into the casino.

IMG 8144Ordinarily, when I book a Vegas trip, I arrive on a Monday or Tuesday, in order to avoid the weekend crowds.  This time, however, I got into town on a Sunday.  I got to the hotel about 1:30 pm, to find the registration area PACKED!  The line to check in seemed endless, but to my surprise, it moved very quickly and in about 10 minutes, I had checked in and was on my way up to my room!  Their registration staff is to be highly commended!

IMG 7924My room was about 400 square feet, decorated in earth tones - muted golds, taupes, and chocolate browns.  I had a king-sized bed,IMG 7931 two nightstands, and a combination bureau/desk wall unit which incorporated a flat-screen TV.  There was a nice chaise in one corner and a small table with an ice bucket and water glasses.  I had a safe, mini-fridge, and ironing set in the closet, and a spacious bathroom with a indirect lighting, a single sink, and a tub/shower combo that felt enormous.  I hadn’t paid a lot of money, but the room felt very plush!

IMG 8048This was a standard room, but I paid a little extra for a Strip view - and what a view!  From my floor-to-ceiling window, IIMG 7930 could see the Venetian, the Mirage and it’s volcano, Harrah’s, Flamingo, Caesar’s Palace and the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower replica in front of Paris Las Vegas, the Cosmopolitan, and the Rio - almost all the way down past the MGM Grand!  My room also looked out on the TI pool.  Trust me, if you have it in your budget to get a Strip View room, do it!  Totally worth it!

IMG 8127With 95,000 square feet of gaming space, the casino seemed usually to be fairly busy.  Somehow, it also felt rather small, but that may have had to do with the fact that the ceilings are very low.  The pirate village decor has remained in a few spots, and is sort of charming, in a Disneyesque way, but it’s clear that Treasure Island has moved on and tried to modernize.  A variety of clubs and restaurants cater to the younger, giant-sized Margarita swilling crowd, and the overall atmosphere, especially on weekends, seems to be “PARTY!!”  Nightlife options include Kahunaville, the always busy, centrally located Breeze Bar, Gilley’s Country/Western Saloon, and Senor Frog’s, a Tex-Mex style eatery that features huge, fruity drinks, balloon hats, shot girls, live entertainment, and DJ’s.  Finer dining choices include Phil’sIMG 7958 Italian Steakhouse and the kitschy Seafood Shack; a good-sized restaurant decorated with the usual “nautical” touches - fishing nets, cork and glass floats, and a huge anchor in the middle of the dining area.  Still, goofy as the decor might’ve been, the food was quite good and the Hibiscus Margarita was amazing!  Of course there are a few more casual dining choices - pizza, Ben & Jerry’s, and a serviceable 24 hour coffee shop called...wait for it...The Coffee Shop.  You’ll also find a small shopping area and the requisite souvenir shops.  

IMG 8135The resident show at TI is Mystere, by Cirque du Soleil - a fantastical journey through the workings of a child’s mind.  This is the show that started it all for Cirque in las Vegas.  And of course, there’s The Sirens Of TI, which is goofy fun and worth seeing at least once for the sheer scope of it all - the ship that “sails” around the corner onto the Strip, the pyrotechnics, and the sinking of The Bull, all in aIMG 8081 mini-spectacle created by by Dirty Dancing’s Kenny Ortega.
As it turns out, one of my favorite things about TI was it’s location.  To one side is a bridge which crosses over to the Fashion Show Mall and from there you can easily get to the Wynn and Encore hotels. To the other side is the Mirage - the free TI-Mirage tram goes back and forth between properties almost all day long.  Across the Strip, also via bridge, are the Venetian, the Palazzo and most importantly a Walgreens, where you can stock up on necessities.  This prime location helped me save money on cabs and on convenience store markups!   

In my head, Treasure Island started out as a research project.  You know:  “Where should I stay this time?  Oh, well...I guess there’s always TI”.  As It turned out, my six nights there were a lot of fun - I caught up with a few friends, scouted out some new restaurants for QVegas Magazine, even saw Celine Dion’s new show at the Colosseum.  And when I was done for the night, my hotel room was comfy, quiet, and really felt like a home away from home.  

With their fairly reasonable rates, great location, fun atmosphere, and modern, comfortable rooms, I’m looking forward to another stay at Treasure Island.  My recommendation to you?  Heed the Siren’s call...TI awaits!