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The Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy at Spa Bellagio in Las VegasThe Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy at Spa Bellagio in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Spas: Why Gamble When You Can Relax?

I wasn’t expecting to be pampered in Vegas. Eat too much? Yes. Stay up late? Of course. Dissolve into a state of utter spa bliss? I’d take it, but was that even an option?

There are plenty of Las Vegas tours to check out, along with the glitz and glamour of riding down the strip sticking out the top of a limo.

My image of Las Vegas was that it was a city more accustomed to breaking humans down than putting them back together. What I experienced on a recent visit, however, proved my vision needed a makeover.

Promising Pleasure

Las Vegas in the business of promising pleasure, so I wasn’t surprised that its biggest hotels all have spas built right into them, nor was I surprised that all of these spas offer foot rubs, scalp massages and steaming, aromatic baths.

I was surprised, though, by just how many spa experiences I had to choose from. For example, upon checking in to my suite at the Palazzo, I found a 30-page spa menu waiting for me in my room. The menu listed fitness classes and beauty services available at the Canyon Ranch Spa inside the hotel.

I could have signed up for a Pilates class or a rock-climbing session. I could have analyzed my body fat, met with a nutritionist or ordered a gourmet lunch at the spa café.

But I didn’t want to do any of those things. I wanted a beauty service and it took me half an hour to read through all those choices.

Should I pick a conditioning body scrub with Omega 3-rich flaxseed oil? How about a detoxifying cocoon? Or maybe I should go with the “Sea-Esta” treatment. It promised I would breathe in “negatively ionized sea air.”

Intimidated by all my options, I ended up booking a basic 50-minute massage.

First Impressions

Women's lounge at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the PalazzoWomen's lounge at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo

The next morning, after breakfast, I headed to the Canyon Ranch Spa for my appointment. I was given a locker in which to stash my street clothes. Then I wrapped myself in a plush robe and a slipped on a pair of sandals to wear about the spa.

The women’s locker room was more than I imagined. It was spotless and decluttered. Gentle sounds of a bubbling brook piped in overhead. Beyond the lockers were private showers plus sink space with lotions, deodorants and hair dryers.

Signs pointed to another arm of the locker room with a steam room, sauna and whirlpool. I’d have to come back to that, though, as my appointment was about to begin. I hurried on to end of the hall and the women’s lounge to await my masseuse.

As soon as I saw the lounge, I wished I’d arrived sooner. The lighting was soft. The walls, carpet and furniture were various shades of chocolate, ivory and teal. Pitchers of cucumber water stood ready and magazines were spread throughout the space, just waiting for someone to come along and flip their pages.

A waiting massage table at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the PalazzoA waiting massage table at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo

Serenity Now

Even though I had booked just a standard massage, I was not disappointed. My masseuse worked hard to knead out all my stress.

Once she’d finished with my back, she laid a warm blanket over me as she moved on to my legs. Later, as she worked her fingers through my hair and applied pressure to points on my neck, she laid a heated mask over my face.

At the end of my 50 minutes, the masseuse handed me back my robe, which had been warming in some sort of heating device. It felt absolutely delicious to wrap myself back up in its toasty folds.

The massage done, I was left to my own devices. As a guest, I was given free reign to stay in the spa for as long as I wanted. I could even leave and come back later in the day.

I proceeded straight back to the women’s lounge and those waiting magazines. I cozied up on a lounger, pulled a sheer shade around me for privacy and spent the next hour lost in several copies of O.

The Watsu Treatment at Spa BellagioThe Watsu Treatment at Spa Bellagio

Hurts So Good

I was so relaxed when I left the spa that day that knew I would be back. Emboldened, perhaps, by my good experience, I ventured beyond the basic massage for my next day’s appointment.

For the next day, I booked the “Sole Rejuvenation,” a 50-minute foot-focused rub down. Knowing that I would have access to everything in the spa, I picked an earlier time so that I could linger in the saunas and steam rooms.

Nobody has ever rubbed my feet the way my foot masseuse did. Oh, it hurt so good! As I squirmed, she told me, according to Eastern reflexology charts, which of my internal organs she was manipulating.

At the end of that session, instead of heading for the women’s lounge, I relaxed in the co-ed space. I lounged in the Salt Grotto, a warm tiled room filled with sea-salt mist.

I moved on to the Wave Room, where I tipped back in a zero gravity chair and was mesmerized by the sounds of dolphins and visions of dripping water overhead.

The salt grotto at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the PalazzoThe salt grotto at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo

Eventually, I made my way back to the women’s lounge where I dedicated myself to spending time in every single specialized room. There was the sauna, the stream room and the laconium, a space in which the air was heavy with herbal-infused humidity.

Before hitting the shower, I stepped into the igloo and let a chilling mist seal my pores.

When I finally emerged from the spa, I was surprised to open my cell phone and find eight missed calls. I had lost myself for so long that my Vegas travel companions had started to worry. Now that’s what I call a getaway!

Sisterly Tip

My sister-in-law is a spa aficionado who has sampled the services at a number of Las Vegas spas. Before my flight to the desert, she gave me a tip.

Inside the Herbal Laconium at the Canyon Ranch Spa, the air is heavy with a heral-infushed humidityInside the Herbal Laconium at the Canyon Ranch Spa, the air is heavy with a heral-infushed humidity

At Costco, I could buy discounted certificates that were good at a variety of Vegas spas. She did this on a regular basis, spending $80 to get $100 worth of Spa Finder gift certificates.

If I was willing to spend $240 at Costco before my trip, I could get $300 worth of Spa Finder certificates. Once in Vegas, she said, this savings would become apparent as the starting rate for a basic 50-minute massage is generally $150.

See the Spa Finder web site for a complete listing of spas that will accept the certificates. You can also purchase certificates at the Spa Finder site, although for face value.

Where to Spa in Vegas

The Canyon Ranch Spa is part of both the Palazzo and the Venetian hotels. It offers a range of beauty services, fitness classes and nutrition counseling. Spa clients can also dine at the spa restaurant-café.

When you reserve an Aura-Soma® treatment at the Palms Spa, you will be asked to pick four colors you believe reflect your personalityWhen you reserve an Aura-Soma® treatment at the Palms Spa, you will be asked to pick four colors you believe reflect your personality

Canyon Ranch Spa brochure with all treatment options

The spa inside The Palms hotel is called Palms Spa. It offers a wide range of beauty services including a package called the Aura-Soma® treatment. Palms Spa is the only Vegas spa to offer this treatment, which is based on the idea that “you are the colors you choose.”

If you book the treatment, you will choose four bottles of colored liquids (out of 107 options) that you feel represent a specific area of your life. A consultant will “read” your colors. You then choose to have a massage, a body wrap or a foot treatment.

Palms Spa brochure
with all treatment options

Spa Bellagio, at the Bellagio hotel, offers some unique treatments from around the world including Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, where a masseuse will walk up and down your back while hanging on to a pole overhead, among others.

Spa Bellagio brochure with all treatment options

THE Bathhouse Spa at Mandalay Bay specializes in exotic baths.THE Bathhouse Spa at Mandalay Bay specializes in exotic baths.


There are two spas inside Mandalay Bay. The hotel has two separate towers and each tower has its own spa. Spa Mandalay is inside Mandalay Bay. It’s a larger facility with a vast range of offerings, including beauty treatments, lounging pools and fitness classes.

Spa Mandalay brochure with all treatment options


THE Bathhouse is inside THE Hotel at Mandalay Bay. It is a smaller space, but its design is contemporary, sleek and European. It offers fitness classes, lounging pools, massage services and traditional East Indian wellness treatments, known as Ayurvedic treatments.

THE Bathhouse brochure with all treatment options

The Grand Spa at the MGM Grand hotel offers a list of massage options a mile long. If you choose the Thai Raindrop Technique, nine essential oils will drip onto your spine while your body massaged with warm stones and stretched by your masseuse.

Kelly Westhoff


Kelly Westhoff is a traveler, teacher and writer from Minneapolis. see more of her work at


A door and flowers in Mexico Visit our Kelly Westhoff Page with links to all her stories

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