Sunday, June 24, 2012

Time for a Shvitz

Need to kill half a day in Vegas by yourself but are down to your last $25?

That pretty much rules out gambling, with the possible exception of five cent video poker.  If you really want a taste of the high life, why not spend a few hours at a spa.

Granted, this may not be for everyone.  However, my trip to Vegas is never complete without a visit.  A spa in Las Vegas is an easy way to experience a level of luxury and decadence which anywhere else would require that you stay in a hotel that may cost five or ten times what you spent on yours.  By that measure, it may just be one of the best values that Vegas has to offer.  This might also be a good option for people who don't otherwise seem to care for Las Vegas, or those who just need some peace and quiet.

Aren't Spas for the Ladies?

Yes, and they are for the gentlemen also.  In Las Vegas, every spa (that I am aware of) has separate men's and women's facilities.  Speaking only for myself, I am sufficiently comfortable with my masculinity to risk entering a men's spa without worrying whether someone would consider me a metrosexual.  

Why would you want to do this if you are a dude?

Here is a perfect day in Vegas in my book, for a visit in the fall.

8:30 a.m.: wake up, tell the Mrs. (or other traveling companion) that you are invoking previously-negotiated alone time privilege and excuse yourself

8:45 a.m.: head to the sports book and bet $11 on each of two college football games that will be on TV starting at 9:00 a.m. pacific time

9:00 a.m. go to the gym.  

Why would you do an imbecilic thing like that when you are on vacation?

Relax, you'll understand shortly. Frankly, it's a little easier when you are headed to the spa afterwards.  Or, why not skip it altogether.  What doesn't happen in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

 9:05 a.m. Begin a moderate/easy workout (bike perhaps) while watching both games you had put a bet on.  Working out is a big drag, but it's easier when you know what is coming next.  Before you know it, you are thorougly engrossed in the game and it is...

9:45 a.m. give or take:  head over to the spa.

At pretty much every hotel that has one, the men's spa has the following amenities:

  • Shower
  • Steam room (the "shvitz")
  • Sauna
  • Jacuzzi, perhaps several at different temperatures
  • Lounge with TV and complementary snacks and juice
  • Grooming area (for shaving, etc)
  • Locker room, usually with robe and sandals for your use during your visit
  • Freshly folded towels just about everywhere you might need one
Halftime is a good opportunity to shower after the gym.  Then, why not spend 10 minutes in the shvitz (the steam room).  Meanwhile, you can imagine the rich uncle you never had negotiating a deal in 100% humidity.

Need to sneeze but not near a Kleenex box?  Fortunately there is a clean towel within arm's length, as well as a conveniently located laundry bin and plenty more clean towels.  

After that, take a dip in the jacuzzi.  Since it is not co-ed, it is clothing optional.  Go in however you feel most comfortable.  People will not judge.  There may be a hot pool as well as an ice cold pool, if you dare.  I don't.

Luxor Nurture Spa Jacuzzi area
Once upon a time, the Luxor and Hilton spas had a television right in the jacuzzi area.  I haven't been to either in a while so I don't know if they still do.  However, I fear that\ with humidity-sensitive HD technology that may be a thing of the past.  

I bring this up because there was really nothing more decadent than sitting in a jacuzzi naked while watching the football game you have a bet on, with an attendant serving you juice.  For me, this is what Vegas is all about, and something that I have never quite been able to recreate anywhere else.  If you know of a spa that has a TV in the men's jacuzzi room, please let me know about it.

South Point Costa Del Sur Spa Men's Lounge.
These are models; hopefully they won't be there when I am there.
In any case, once you have gotten your fill of the jacuzzi, you can plop down on a chaise in the lounge and watch the rest of the football game.  Even if your bet loses, by that time you will be so relaxed it will hardly matter.  Enjoy some of the complementary snacks, and why not a second glass of juice?

Before you leave, you can shave and freshen up, maybe take a final shower, and then you are ready to get dressed and meet your travel companions for brunch, feeling like $1 million.  Hopefully they didn't wait up, because you didn't rush yourself at all.

Wait, you didn't get a massage?

Jacuzzi room with two pools at different temperatures.
The two areas in the back are solo tubs you can use also.
I'm a bottom feeder, so I usually skip the massage, which are very expensive at Vegas spas, usually $100 to $150 for a 50-minute massage.  This is more than twice what I can get it for at home (or at a day spa outside the hotel in Vegas - keep an eye out for Groupons, etc).

That said, my wife always gets a massage, and swears by the chocolate massage at the Orleans spa.

The Finagle

Many hotel spas will let you as a non-hotel guest buy a day pass, although many restrict non-guests to certain days of the week (such as every day except Saturday).  The day pass ranges from $15 (Orleans) up to $35 (Caesars Qua).  This typically includes use of the fitness center and all spa facilities for the entire day, and you can come and go as you wish for that day.  For me, this is a great value because I usually hang around for a few hours sampling as much of the facility as I have time for.  They will usually also give you a locker, robe, and sandals upon request.  

The Las Vegas Advisor has a list of spas and their phone numbers.  Be sure to call ahead and find out what their facility use policy is regarding non-guests, and ask about any details that will make or break your visit.

There sure are a lot of them.

I've only been to about eight spas but I have been pretty happy with all of them.  They are, in order of preference (starting with my favorite):
  • South Point
  • Mirage
  • Luxor
  • Bellagio
  • Orleans
  • Hilton
  • Mandalay Bay
  • Golden Nugget
  • Monte Carlo

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Monte Carlo's spa, but I liked the others even better.  Bellagio's spa is now about 15 years old and starting to look a little dated, and it was quite busy when I visited.  I really liked the South Point, mainly because it had very few people in it and had a really nice jacuzzi room and lounge and friendly, welcoming staff.  The Mandalay Bay has the fanciest jacuzzi area of all of the above, but the day I was there, there was a used food tray that was never cleared for the entire time I was there, which I thought was pretty gross, and the staff wasn't that friendly.  Maybe I was just there on a bad day.  

They all have separate men's and women's spas, with the aforementioned facilities. Some of the less expensive spas may not have robes.

Anything else?

A few final thoughts:
  • The quality of spas in Las Vegas is of a high standard generally.  Even the more moderately-priced spas, such as the Orleans, are more sumptuous than you might expect and you are not likely to be disappointed.   
  • It's hard to get good information on the exact facilities at each spa, other than calling and asking questions.  I haven't found anything in the way of a web site that details facilities.
  • If you do get a treatment other than a standard massage, make sure you understand what you are ordering.  My wife has been disappointed by the more exotic wraps, etc.
  • Be sure to tip your therapist, and also the attendants if you use the facilities.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy yourself.  Chances are you won't be back for a while, so don't rush it.  Stay for the 4th quarter and overtime.

1 comment:

Please post as if your mother would read it.