Standing in the Vichy shower inside The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, with water washing over my body from all directions, I feel a million miles away from the traffic and pedestrians crowding Las Vegas Boulevard. After drying off, I head to the expansive treatment room, which, unlike other spas in Vegas, is awash with sunlight thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows.
Tepidarium chairs looking out to Vegas
According to The Spa’s director, Jennifer Lynn, the idea was to make the most of the sun’s natural healing powers during the day. Then, when the sun goes down – and when you’re in a post-treatment, Zen-like state – the windows are perfect for watching the city pulsing by. I take in the view: eight floors below me the vibrant blur of modern life on the CityCenter sidewalk could not be more of a contrast to this tranquil haven of ancient Oriental practices. Spicy scents heighten the sense of calm, and I feel my body begin to unwind even before my massage therapist, Kimberly Jolley, applies the warm jade stone to my body.
Since Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas opened three years ago, its 2,500 square metre spa, featuring 10 single treatment rooms and seven spa suites, has received prestigious awards, from the Forbes Five Star to the AAA Five Diamond. Designed by Adam Tihany, with the art deco spirit of Thirties Shanghai playing muse, the sleek dark-wood interior is punctuated with pops of olive green and ornate latticework. Also nodding to Chinese culture are the therapists’ uniforms created by designer Vivienne Tam, who is renowned for her East-meets-West style. And the warm and welcoming staff exude Oriental hospitality – Western handshakes are replaced by a discreet bow with palms pressed together, prayerlike.
The goal of The Spa – which fuses traditional Eastern philosophies with Western applications – is to provide guests with a sensory experience that nourishes the mind, body and spirit. All manner of wellbeing rituals are offered, from massages to beauty treatments, and use of the Tian Quan Thermal Experiences is encouraged prior to treatments. Meaning ‘heavenly waters’ in Chinese, Tian Quan promotes relaxation, boosts the circulation, detoxifies and prepares the skin for oils and creams. Included in the experience are steam rooms, vitality pools, ice fountains, a large hot tub, tepidarium chairs (complete with views of the Strip) and showers enhanced with light and sound.
The spa’s hammam
Afterwards, spa guests can retire to the dry relaxation lounges – again with spectacular views – before embarking on the treatments. These can include a traditional hammam, featuring full-body exfoliation and cleansing using authentic products sourced from Turkey, or a detoxifying rhassoul clay treatment for two. Indeed, the treatments I received on my visit were nothing short of dreamlike.
The goal of The Spa is to provide a sensory experience for the mind, body and spirit
The first, the blissful two-hour Mahjong Balance, which focuses on pressure points and energy centres, begins with a traditional foot bath; then it is on to the massage table for a salt exfoliation, which leaves my desert-parched skin silky-smooth and nourished. Next comes a therapeutic massage using warm jade stones, which are believed to help remove negative energy. As my therapist works her way over my body I nearly drift off to sleep, but this massage is too enjoyable to miss. Instead, I focus on the sensation of her hands as they knead my back, releasing the tension accrued from hours of sitting at a desk. This is followed by a face massage using a sweet floral toner made of lemon and rose and, finally, a pink clay scalp treatment with grapefruit and ginger. As the concoction is slowly worked into my hair, focusing on the pressure points in my scalp, I feel my body sink deeper into the table in a state of total relaxation. A bell signals the end of my treatment and I feel better than I have in a long time.
The yoga studio
For the next treatment I am led to the Chinese Foot Spa for a leg and foot massage. This 45-minute procedure begins with a 21-mineral sea salt soak, followed by a lemongrass and rosemary foot scrub – total bliss after a long day spent pounding the Strip. Next, therapist Shannon Farr shows me to a luxuriously plumped-up chair and works her magic. She uses a jute fibre mitt to exfoliate my feet and then applies a detox mask with wasabi ginger and black pepper. ‘This is to help with water retention and swelling,’ she explains, as she removes the mask with hot towels. To finish, there’s a heavenly deep pressure-point massage with lemongrass foot cream.
At the end of the treatment I don’t want to move. I just want to sit and gaze at the view, marvelling at how effectively an afternoon at The Spa has made me tune into myself, despite all the action outside. Upon my return to the changing rooms I am greeted by my smiling spa guide, who shows me to the reception. And, as I slip on my flip-flops I am returned to reality – but a far more relaxed one than before.