It’s rare I get time to spa on holiday in the US – we’re either charging from A-B or, the prices terrify me and so I don’t book myself in – but I was determined to head to at least one spa on this trip to Las Vegas – after all, I do a whole spa section on this blog now, I’ve kind of got to go to them or it’s going to be worryingly empty. Obviously, I didn’t just want to go to a normal spa though, I can soak in a hot tub or get a massage anywhere – I wanted something a bit different. I narrowed it down to two possibles – Qua at Caesar’s Palace which has a room where you can push a button and it snows on you – or The Spa at Aria. Aria won.
There was two reasons for this – one was I could offset the normal entry price against the cost of the Indoor Hike I wanted to book, but primarily, because they had Gabanyoku beds. I had really wanted to try one of these when I was in Tokyo a few years ago but, when I got to the onsen I had to choose between that or being buried up the neck in sand – and the sand won. I decided Vegas was going to be my Gabanyoku moment.
I checked in before my indoor hike and was given my locker, some shoes and a dressing gown. I had a while to kill before I had to be at the gym so I wandered about getting my bearings. There’s four main areas….an outdoor soaking pool with sunbeds that is for both men and women; an indoor soaking area with three pools and two hot rooms that’s women only (I guess the men have their own version), the Gabanyoku room and a Salt Room (both co-ed). At 8.45 in the morning almost all of them were empty and it was blissfully peaceful.
Having time to wander also gave me a chance to check out the extras – there’s was cool towels, hot tea, lots of other drinks and the changing rooms were stocked with little extras like toothbrushes in case you’d forgotten what you needed. From that side of things it was the best stocked of any spa I’ve been to. They also had all the main US daily papers so I got to catch up!
When I came back after my ‘indoor hike’ it was shortly after 10am, the sun was out and so my first stop was the outside soaking pool. The temperatures in Vegas when I was there weren’t great – a maximum of 60F (15C) but the sun was shining directly on the pool and soaking in the hot water was blissful. I can stay in a hot tub for ages – I’m part reptilian – but eventually I dragged myself onto one of the sunbeds next door and reclined for a while. In the direct sunlight it was actually warm enough to just be in your togs. If I’d brought a book I might still be there – but, I hadn’t and so I decided it was time to hit the indoor soaking area.
NYNHB tip: Pack sunglasses – the sun shines directly at the outdoor pool and you’ll need them
I prefer steams to sauna – and the steam room here was enormous. I have been in smaller hotel rooms. Despite this it managed to stay super hot and with a hefty kick of essential oils to boost your breathing. I was soon sweating nicely. Because my next stop was the Gabanyoku beds though I then hit the sauna as I wanted to dry off my swimming costume a bit – I have nothing exciting to say about this; it was the same as all the other saunas I’ve visited (woah – incredible insight there Helen) but the iced towels just outside the door were a nice touch.
Now, it was time to get to the bit I really wanted to try. Gabanyoku. Gabanyoku is also known as rock-bathing – that’s a bit of a misnomer (this is rock-bathing) – it should really be called rock-lying as all you’re really doing is lying on a heated bed made from stone – it’s more comfortable than it sounds. It’s said that not only do you get warmth from this but also health benefits from infrared rays given off by the stone the bed is made from. Sadly I didn’t have a mineral detecting device about my person so I couldn’t tell you exactly what type of stone the Aria’s beds are made from but they are very snuggly.
The list of Gabanyoku’s supposed benefits reads a bit like a top-to-toe makeover – they claim to raise immunity, improve circulation, tackle wrinkles and fight pain. That last one is definitely true – lying on the bed would completely soothe any aches. As with the hot tub, I could happily have spent all day there – if fact I’d like one in my house – but, you do sweat on them and lying in a puddle was not massively appealing so I think I spent about 15-20 minutes in all before moving on to the fourth area.
NYNHB Tip: The indoor soaking part of the spa is clothing optional. Most people had their togs on though – except in the steam room
My last stop was the Shio Salt Room – something else I hadn’t yet tried. This is a relaxation room where one wall is lined with salt bricks. The theory of salt rooms is that the salt in the air helps open the airways and purify the skin – that’s a bit hard to judge really so I can’t say if it works – however it wasn’t the salt that gave me the biggest boost in the Shio room that was the mix of sound and vibration they use in there. I didn’t really notice it at first and even now I can’t quite describe it, but there’s like a background hum which undulates gradually getting louder, then softer. I only noticed it at first when it disappeared but once I heard it I realised how relaxing it sounded. Now I have a hum in my house that drives me nuts (particularly as The Boyfriend can’t hear it so we can’t stop it) but this hum was different – tuning in to it was hugely meditative – and I don’t do meditation as my mind is too busy but I was seriously zonked and blissed when I left that room.
One final trip back out to the outdoor spa and I was done…..well I wasn’t, but I’d been in there over two hours and The Boyfriend was waiting to go for lunch – I could easily have spent at least another hour soaking, steaming and sunning. Things were getting busier before I left though so my top advice is that if you can get in there early in the morning, bearing in mind this is Vegas a land not known for early mornings, I would definitely advise it to ensure you can make full use of all the amazing facilities. I’ve read reviews online of people coming in the afternoon and not being able to get onto the Gabanyoku beds for example. Of course, there’s also a full range of treatments to try if you have the extra cash.
On which note – how much does it cost?…..The normal price for a day pass to use the above facilities is $40 if you are staying at the Aria or one of its sister hotels (The Vdara and Mandarin Oriental). For everyone else it’s $50 – but when I booked if you booked a treatment or service for more than $50 the day pass fee was waived so do check if they have any similar special offers. You can reserve online although I booked my visit via Aria concierge by a mix of email and phone call. I thought it was brilliant value for money – but I do say again, go early if you can to make the most of everything on offer.
NYNHB tip: One of the hardest things in any Vegas hotel is finding your way round. You will find maps of Aria online though. They help.
If you don’t manage to get a map, here’s my directions.Come in the entry closest to The Vdara. Look up and right and you’ll see a juice bar, take the escalators under this. At the top, walk straight, away from the juice bar and past Starbucks, head toward the wall and big bits of stone. Turn left and on our right you’ll soon find the spa shop – the fitness reception is at the back of this. Check in there and they’ll send you to the spa.
Have you been to a fab spa in Vegas or one that did something a bit different? In which case what did I miss and where shall I go next time? Or are there any more unusual spas/treatments you’d like to see me review here in the UK?