By E.C. Gladstone
Several new Las Vegas hotels have opened since my last spa review (Top 10 spas), so I decided it was time for the difficult task of reviewing the new spas. Each unique in size, decor and treatment options, these luxurious spas all add something to the already impressive array of pampering and relaxation options in Vegas.
Reliquary, HRH at Hard Rock Hotel
Dramatically different, the Reliquary “water sanctuary & spa” takes designer Mark Neff’s gothic motifs to delicious extremes, centering on a coed Roman Bath that wouldn’t look out of place in Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian London. Locker rooms and the all-Cybex fitness area are more modern (check out the cool steam room lighting), with tall multi-option showers, plush fleece robes, thick Corinelli towels and other solid amenities. They even have iPod docks in all of the gorgeous treatment rooms — bring your own music if you want — and Tempurpedic memory foam tables.
While my assistant Ashley took in a pedicure in one of the Brannon salon’s state-of-the-art massaging pedi thrones, I experienced one of this Las Vegas hotel spa’s several unique treatments, the Ancient Cane Ritual, using sugar cane juice, crystals and oil to treat the skin and polished bamboo rods for deep massage and activating trigger points. I also enjoyed the Power of Pumpkin anti-aging facial, an 11-step process with pumpkin, yam and fruit-based Eminence products that showed visible results. Request Emma.
From the moment you step into this spa’s modern Asian reception lounge, you know you are in for a different experience. After an offering of hot tea and footwear exchange, you are escorted downstairs to the modest-sized but high-style ebony wood and white marble locker rooms with picture windows overlooking the Strip. (How often do you get a view in a spa?)
Contoured seating and color-changing lights add to the steam experience here, along with sauna, ice bath, laconium, computerized experience showers (try the warm jets), a “vitality” spa pool with contoured airjet beds, “tepidarium” with heated tile chaises facing the Strip-view windows, and a small opium den-like relaxation lounge. Amenities begin with ultra-plush black robes, and a complimentary toilet kit including razor, shave cream, toothpaste, toothbrush and comb. Service level is exceptionally high. The fitness area at this Las Vegas hotel spa — with Technogym equipment and top-notch trainers on hand at all times — includes one of the nicest yoga/Pilates studios I’ve ever seen. The Time Ritual experience starts (in some of the most elegant treatment rooms ever) with a ritual foot bath and then consultation tailoring the treatment to elements tied to your intentions for the service. I chose “Flourish,” with an aromatherapy blend of coriander, cardamom, lemongrass and lemon, a full-body massage combining Swedish, Thai and Shiatsu elements, followed by dietary and stretching recommendations. Creative selection of retail items too. Request Natasha.
The Spa at ARIA
The most expansive and design-intensive of the spas within the new Las Vegas hotels at CityCenter, the ARIA spa experience starts with an entryway bathed in salt air, then a large but sedate retail reception leading you past the glass-enclosed fitness area (regular classes in Kettlebell training, Pilates, spinning and meditation are offered) to special spa suites for a unique couples or party treatment. Single-sex treatments happen upstairs, where there are big locker rooms with full amenities, and a solid (but simple) wet area. The facilities include coed salt air laconium and Japanese stone sauna “ganbanyoku” infrared beds. I enjoyed a Thai Poultice massage, using pestles covered with pillows of eucalyptus and lemongrass leaves, hot towels, grapeseed massage oil and a variety of deep tissue massage and stretching for a relaxing but invigorating effect. Request Renee.
Oleksandra Spa & Salon, TI
One of the many changes at this Las Vegas hotel since Phil Ruffin’s purchase was the remodeling of the spa, overseen by his wife Oleksandra. While not a huge facility, Oleksandra avoids feeling cramped in any respect, and wins points for its simplicity. Service level-sauna, eucalyptus steam, spa tubs and leather relaxation chaises are all solid. There is a well-equipped, good-sized fitness room. Signature therapies here include the envigorating Banya sauna treatment, Pressotherapy for cellulite, and Intraceuticals skin care. Their own product line is organic and Kosher! I enjoyed a Hawaiian lomi-lomi ritual, using hands, forearms and elbows in constant motion over the whole body (front and back at the same time!) to revive and stimulate. Request Stephanie.
Vdara Health & Beauty
Another more intimate Las Vegas hotel spa, the Vdara spa, elegantly designed in teak and marble, emphasizes all-natural treatments, and features one of the most attractive coed relaxation lounges I’ve seen. It features sauna, eucalyptus steam, spas and Aveda amenities in the locker rooms. They have an excellent Cybex fitness room and even a Veuve Clicquot Champagne/espresso bar in the arrival lounge. I enjoyed the Pure Results Facial, an impressively thorough skin treatment using 11 different Naturopathica products in a 60-minute service. Request Dana.
Spa at Primm, Primm Valley Resort
As unlikely as it may seem, yes, there is a spa at Primm, the small collective of casinos (and outlet shopping) at the state line about 30 minutes from the Strip. Also newly opened, in the Primm Valley Resort, this Aveda spa is fairly no-nonsense-clean, bright, easily navigated and moderately sized, with spa bath, cold plunge, steam and sauna, Precor-equipped fitness room and particularly well-designed showers (better than some above). With a friendly staff and rates starting at $40 for a half-hour massage and $10 for a facility pass, the spa at this Las Vegas hotel is an incredible value, well worth the drive. (They also sell the full Aveda retail line.) I had the Chakra Balancing Massage, incorporating aromatherapy, deep tissue massage, hot towels and foot reflexology tailored to my needs. Request April.
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Veteran entertainment and travel writer E. C. Gladstone writes regularly on top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for many local and national publications and Web sites. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.