Planning to include a massage in your Las Vegas hotel visit? You may be surprised by the size, scope and service level now being offered in Sin City spas. In fact, the field keeps getting more and more crowded with properties promoting lavish environments and exotic treatments both on and off the Strip. Separating the best from the rest still isn’t difficult, but ranking the very top facilities becomes challenging — each has some unique features that are hard to compare. In the end, among these, your preferences may weigh your own favorite. Here’s my countdown:
10) The Bathhouse, THEHotel**
The experience here begins from the moment of entry when you are greeted by a soothing coconut/jasmine fragrance. Futuristically sleek and austere throughout, the sensory-soothing design theme features rock beds and walls and opaque glass nearly everywhere in the bento box-like, easily navigable spa area, including around the showers, small steam and sauna, and extra deep hot spa tub and cold plunge. Aquage products in locker room. Keypad lockers, amazing chenille robes. Very well staffed. Retail offers serious product lines like Peter Thomas Roth. jewelry, candles, makeup and more.
I experienced THEultimate massage, incorporating Swedish massage, a scalp treatment and some lymphatic, and the Fire & Ice river rocks (“from the same family”), using safflower and grapeseed oils.
9) Drift, Palms Place
Reflecting the sexy-hip vibe of this Las Vegas hotel, the marble, mica and slate-decorated Drift has a fun spirit from the indoor/outdoor relaxation rooms to the dramatic treatment rooms, and the co-ed domed Turkish “Hammam,” is truly a place to drift off. All the essentials are covered, but service and showers are both a bit underwhelming. A small Michael Boychuck salon, Primp, is adjacent, as is a Sunset Tan outpost, a moderate fitness room, the pool deck, and Simon’s restaurant. Retail includes some whimsical lines.
I experienced a remarkable Seaweed Detox treatment, featuring heat-activated mud, which had a noticeable detoxing effect for days after. Serious!
8) Spa Mio, M Resort
This brand new facility may not be the largest or most impressive on the surface, but like the entire resort, it makes up with elegant mod design, thoughtful touches (cold Perrier, thick terry robes), and very attentive service. Simply laid out, it features a great 3-tier steam room, sauna, et al, anti-gravity chaises in the lounge, extensive products in the spacious locker rooms and state-of-the-art treatment rooms with full Vichy-style showers. Yes, there’s a good looking salon and an airy Cybex-equipped fitness room. Aveda and Schwartzkopf are among the lines available at retail. Day passes are complimentary for hotel guests.
I enjoyed a Coral Body Polish treatment, including an exfoliation, hot towels, Vichy shower and lotion which left my skin softer than anything else I’ve tried. Request therapist Melanie.
7) Aquae Sulis, JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa**
There are two strong elements to recommend Aquae Sulis: an inspiring amphitheatre-like fitness area (which also offers bellydancing, yoga and zumba classes) and a rare private co-ed hot tub, whirlpool, steam and sauna area. The interior locker areas are roomy but fairly average. Watsu and chocolate-based treatments are part of their nicely varied menu.
I experienced the Wine Down treatment, using a fruity sugar scrub with crushed grape seeds, a grape-skin infused mud mask (a bit reminiscent of party dregs) and then a mimosa lotion deep tissue massage — decadent, but allegedly antioxidant-rich.
6) Stirling Club Spa, Turnberry Place**
Impressively spacious and well maintained, the Stirling Club has the intimacy and service level of a private club…since it is one…but now available to non-members for an additional fee (services are still cheaper than typical Strip prices). Highlights include dramatically lit sauna and steam rooms, a spacious whirlpool bath, waterfall showers (and a Vichy), even an enclosed fitness/lap pool — definitely a rarity in LV. The relaxation lounge which clearly doubles as something of a clubhouse for Turnberry residents (can’t say I blame them).
I enjoyed the Sea Holistic treatment, including a sea salt scrub, and a massage using warmed lavender pillows. Soothing!
5) The Spa, Green Valley Ranch
5.5) The Spa, Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa**
A standard bearer for making the most of a smaller space, GVR’s spa wins points for its smart, easy design and attention to details, from a broad retail selection to excellent robes, keypad safes in the lockers, a deep whirlpool and outdoor cold plunge. A separate outdoor entrance makes it possible to avoid the casino clamor; the enclosed outdoor lap pool and Jacuzzi make you want to stay. Resort fee includes full use of the spa for hotel guests.
From the bright, mod reception and retail (Hylunia, Kerastase, Pure Fiji and cute gifts) to the mood-lit steam room, sister spa Red Rock reflects the cool design and ergonomics of the whole resort in a dramatic, easily navigable sensory-deprivation style. A key amenity is the outdoor semi-private lap pool surrounded by cabanas and day beds. Great plush robes, big keypad lockers, and attentive service (though the showers are confusing). Treatment rooms feature robe warmers.
At GVR, I enjoyed a Green Tea wrap, including a geranium/grape seed exfoliation and green tea/ginger/seaweed mud masque followed by protein lotion. Nicely revitalizing. At Red Rock, I experienced an asiatsu massage, in which the therapist uses both hands and (mostly) feet to get at muscle groups normal massage doesn’t. It’s tough getting walked on (!), but a relative value at $190 for perhaps the most effective and relaxing massage you’ll ever have.
The Strip’s category killer, Canyon Ranch, a branch of the well-regarded destination spa, expanded to a daunting 134,000 square feet when the Palazzo opened in 2008. Features include a Bridal suite, a multi-station Sisley makeup area in the salon, a separate café and full-service Grill restaurant (with all-organic cocktails!), a men’s barber suite, voluminous retail including custom Mixology aromatherapy, a skin care boutique, and their own sheets, a local art gallery, spray tanning, and large co-ed relaxation conservatory, salt air grotto and wave room with anti-gravity recliners. The wet areas feature computerized hydrospa, an herbal laconium, sauna, steam, multiple rainshowers. And don’t bother wondering where the best fitness facility on the Strip is — -it’s here, no question. Cupping, reiki, and many prenatal treatments are within the extensive menu. Still the array of options is a little dizzying, navigation can confuse, and much of the design feels cold. Day passes are almost twice the average rate, and for some reason, they charge more for services on weekends.
A friend and I experienced the Rasul Ceremony, sharing an ornately tiled two-seat steam chamber, applying five different muds over our bodies and then, after a twilight respite, being rinsed by a hot rainshower. Unforgettable.
Simply put, the Bellagio spa is one of the lesser-noted gems of a legendary Las Vegas hotel; it is the archetype of a large-scale spa, with an elegant, spacious layout, strong amenities, huge marble steam room, sauna and big hot/cold plunges, excellent waterfall-option showers, comfortable lounge, strong retail, fitness and salon offerings and all floor-length lockers. Also a nice balcony view of the conservatory at arrival. Mud baths, thalasso therapy and ashiatsu are among their treatments.
I enjoyed a rare Watsu floating massage treatment that was definitively theraputic, physically and mentally. Absolutely worth $210. Request therapist Alice.
2) QUA Baths & Spa, Caesars Palace**
With rough hewn rock walls and rainshower accents Qua combines modern amenities with classical Roman elements for a memorable experience. The Roman Baths — a warm effervescent mineral water pool accompanied by a very hot spa and cold plunge — are lined with ergonomic heated stone chaises (surprisingly relaxing) and a robe sauna. There is a more standard, (very hot) hot tub area as well, adjoined by a Cedarwood Sauna, Inhalation Room, Herbal Steam Bath, and an Arctic Ice Room — which snows on you! The fitness center is one of the best on the Strip, their retail shop is massive and broad minded (even included Kama Sutra products for couples) and women can get the celebrity treatment in Michael Boychuck’s gorgeous adjoining Color salon (men may opt for the Spa’s barber suite). A nicely varied treatment menu includes several intriguing couples services. On the minus side, lockers and lounges are oddly cramped, showers and overall navigation are confusing, with some long hallways.
I enjoyed the Arabian Nights facial & body treatment, using Arabica coffee and dead sea salt to exfoliate and stimulate, followed by hot towel applications. Next time, I’m getting the banana leaves!
Environment is key in any spa experience, and Encore has truly carved out its territory; As designed by Todd Avery Lenahan, the Spa at Encore is a gorgeous, elegant mid-Eastern meets Regency fantasy that would impress a Hollywood set designer. The arched, shimmering lobby begs you to linger, though the men’s & women’s lounges, locker rooms and pre-treatment relaxation rooms are also inviting, and even the corridor to the treatment rooms is a passage you’d love to be lost in (if it wasn’t so well marked). Treatment rooms themselves are smartly designed, with full mirrors, heated tables, pretty showers. The bath area is a category-killer with multiple plunges and separate alcoves in the effervescent tub. Showers are so well done, they have features I’d never even thought about.
I enjoyed the Good Luck Ritual, incorporating elements of feng shui and aromatherapy with a scalp treatment, mini facial, exfoliating full body, hand and foot massages (using lemon verbena, peppermint, botanicals) — so complete the $250 fee seems a relative value. If this doesn’t revitalize you, nothing will.
**= Best day pass options
Honorable Mentions: Other Las Vegas hotels with notable treatments include The Mirage spa (the signature Volcanic Mud Wrap really fires you up!) … The spa at Trump Hotel Las Vegas (Purifying Diamond massage uses gem-infused oil: Ultimate Kate Somerville facial produces noticeable results)… The spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas (the Prickly Pear Couple’s Ritual includes a sexy tandem bath light show)…The spa at Four Seasons (the Raindrop treatment features exotic oils; Gold powder treatments also offered)… MGM Grand Spa (the couples’ Dreaming Ritual is an Australian-inspired escape)… and Spa Moulay at Loews Lake Las Vegas (the Moroccan clay wrap replaces toxins with doses of vitamin C).
Insider tips: Look for discounted treatments & packages at certain facilities, particularly the Mirage. If you’re in town this week, for another kind of indulgent value, don’t miss the annual Epicurean Affair on April 23 at the Flamingo, an outdoor festival featuring some of our greatest restaurants and chefs.
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A contributing editor at VEGAS Magazine, E. C. Gladstone also interviews top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for other local and national publications and websites. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.