LAS VEGAS The year was 1993, and Las Vegas was in the process of
reinventing itself yet again. The boom was on and everywhere you
looked on the Strip a new “mega-resort” was sprouting up from the
Luxor to the Excalibur to the MGM Grand and finally to the
swashbuckling Treasure Island.
Located next door to the Mirage Hotel, Treasure Island was an
immediate success, and became much more than just “an overflow
hotel on the Mirage footprint,” as some executives imagined it at
the time. The pirate-themed resort with a large video-game arcade
was especially popular with families. Maybe too popular, as it
Last month, Treasure Island celebrated its 10th anniversary and
the culmination of its efforts to carve a new identity for the
hotel, moving away from its image as a family resort.
Gone is the famous skull-and-crossed-swords marquee, along with
the treasure chests that made up much of the old decorations. The
video arcade is almost nonexistent now and the hotel is opting for
a more sophisticated, “Caribbean flavor” decor.
But perhaps the biggest change has taken place outside the
hotel, in the area called Pirate’s Cove, where a new pirate battle
called “Sirens of TI” has replaced the staged battle that ran since
the opening of the hotel.
“We mark TI’s 10th anniversary with the debut of ‘The Sirens of
TI,’ not only to celebrate the 10 years that have past, but also
the 10 years to come,” said Scott Sibella, Treasure Island’s
president. “In recent years we’ve created a number of experiences
that energize TI and give visitors reason to return again and
But it’s unclear whether the move will in fact “energize” the
hotel or simply alienate its core clientele.
The “Sirens of TI” production is a collaboration between
Emmy-Award-winning director Kenny Ortega and producer and
songwriter Emilio Estefan. The show features scantily clad sirens
doing battle with hunky pirates with pyrotechnics, geysers of water
shooting into the air, pirates high-diving into the water and sexy
dance numbers all to a blaring rock ’n’ roll and hip-hop
The production attempts to promote the hotel’s new adult image,
and in case anyone missed the point, despite the script’s innuendo
and the dancers’ fish-net stockings, the show ends with the lead
siren encouraging the audience to step inside the “new TI,” an
“adult candy store.”
The show, performed three times nightly and running about half
an hour, will seem a lot longer if clients have to arrive early to
claim a good spot along the fence in order to see it. It’s also
loud and a bit hokey.
The Las Vegas Sun reported that the show’s premiere drew a crowd
of over 5,000. It also reported viewer reactions were mixed, with
some in the crowd saying they enjoyed the show and others saying it
After viewing a preview of the new “Sirens” production on a
recent hosted visit, I asked a grandmother of six who refused to
give her name what she thought. She gave the new production the
“I don’t like it,” she said. “And I don’t see what was wrong
with the old one.” The woman, who said she had been coming to the
hotel regularly since it opened, was not happy with many of the
“The people who work here are so nice, and they really look
after their guests,” she said. “It is a family place, whether they
(hotel executives) like it or not.”
Her opinion of the production seemed to run against the grain,
however, at least on this night. Most people interviewed said the
show was an improvement over the last one.
Not surprisingly, Vince Davidson, who plays one of the pirates
in the show, thought it hit the mark.
“It’s got action, comedy and beautiful women,” Davidson said,
“what else would you want?”
Another man in his 60s stated what the hotel executives were
surely going for: “It’s like a Broadway show right out on the
street,” he said. “And I think young people will love it.”
Thanks to technology that barely existed 10 years ago, visitors
can decide for themselves what they think of the production without
ever visiting TI. All performances of the show are being broadcast
across the Web in live streaming video. The show and broadcast
takes place nightly at 6, 8 and 10 p.m.
The effort by Treasure Island to spice up its image is often
mentioned along with recent efforts to promote the “Sin City” side
of Las Vegas. Not true, said Manny Cortez, president and chief
executive officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors
“Las Vegas has never claimed to be a family destination,” he
said. “We never have children in our ads and we’ve always said
we’re the place that will make you feel like a kid, not to bring
It seems Treasure Island executives are banking on just this
message for the hotel’s next decade.