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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review: Canyon Ranch Spa Las Vegas

I’m a big fan of spa days, and going with my mom and sister to the spa is a tradition. So when we went to Vegas for a girls’ getaway, the spa was high on the list. Trying to choose a spa in Vegas is like trying to pick a restaurant. There are so many amazing choices it’s hard to know where to start looking. So we went with the convenience of the spa in our hotel, and the known factor – Canyon Ranch.

We stayed at the Venetian (read my review here), and the spa is between there and the adjoining Palazzo hotel (with all those hallways it’s hard to tell). The exercise area is at one entrance (near the Venetian’s pool), and the actual spa entrance is in the Palazzo. Trying to find your way there, with blistered feet, is a feat in itself.

As spa guests, we could use the exercise facilities for an additional fee. They have an indoor climbing wall (photo on right), exercise classes and machines. But I think we literally walked a mile between the two entrances, negating any need to pay for fitness. The other upside to the walk was viewing Canyon Ranch’s art collection in the hallway.

Before we get to the massage portion, I’ll cover the highlights of the day spa. It was enormous, with single-sex waiting rooms, a “conservatory” for both sexes, a wave room, salt grotto, and the spa area.

Highlights of the rooms:
Conservatory – when I think about a room called the Conservatory, I can’t help thinking of the game Clue. As in Professor Mustard in the Conservatory with the Rope. The conservatory is open to all spa guests – i.e. if you come to the spa with your heterosexual partner you can hang out in there together, drinking water, tea and eating fruit.

Salt Grotto – we called this the salt lick. The mosaic tiled room is off the Conservatory. Half the room is a tiled bench (supposedly heated), where you sit back and get misted ever so slightly with salt water. Or nothing happens if the nozzles are plugged, like they were in the area we sat. You face a trickling fountain and tiny lights on the ceiling change colors. We sat in there for a few minutes and then said “now what?” We didn’t get the point of the room.

Wave Room – this one is also off the Conservatory. It’s a circular room with individual recliners. The middle is a raised pool of water, reflecting onto the domed ceiling. You sit back in your chair and meditate on the reflections. This room was awesome, unless you get motion sick. Part of the fun is watching others try to get out of the chairs once they’re reclined. There’s a trick to it, and if you haven’t figured out the trick, you’re good for a few laughs. But you’re supposed to be quiet in there, so don’t laugh out loud. We liked this room a lot, especially when others started snoring.

Canyon Ranch features Aquavana, a "European-inspired aquathermal oasis" with an igloo, herbal laconium, experiential rains and more. When you enter, you’ll get a brochure on how to take advantage of these (the order, timing etc.) and if you commit it to memory, you’ll get stressed out. Instead, we just hopped between them to check them all out. In no particular order:

Igloo – this room has three “arctic mist experiences enhanced by twinkling fiber optic lights.” Basically it’s a slightly large blue-hued shower that’s supposed to snow on you, but instead just mists you with cold water.

Herbal Laconium – (picture on left) this small, tiled room has a few seating areas, where you sit your body is “gently warmed” through warm herbal-infused steam. Didn’t do anything for us.

Finnish Sauna – this dry heat sauna “lit by colored light refracted by crystals” (looked like Lite Brite to me), was the most exposed sauna I’ve ever seen. Instead of small door leading in, the entire front was glass, making me feel like I was in a zoo.

Crystal Steam Room – yes, Canyon Ranch is into the crystal thing. This sauna had a crystal in the corner that was usually hidden by the steam. You can meditate on it, or just look at the Lite Brite pin pricks in the ceiling which changed color. Those were cool.

Experiential Rains – (photo on left) This was our favorite, if for nothing else than the novelty factor. Two shower areas (you can fit 2-3 people in there), and you choose what kind of rain shower you want. Complete with thunder and multi-color “lightening,” warm and cold rain, hard driving rain, and mist. The surprise factor is the best part, and throughout the day we would hear yelps and screams from those pelted with cold water when it was least expected.

Hydrospa – otherwise known as a hot tub. For a day spa with 80 massage rooms and additional facial/treatment rooms, this was the smallest hot tub I’ve ever seen (photo is at top of blog post - with a guy in it - there's a reason they only put one person in for the photo - it makes it look bigger). You could squeeze six people in there if they were good friends. Otherwise you probably want to wait til the soakers move on so you don’t violate their space. Plus the jets didn’t go all the way around. Half the spa had a reclining area (near the steps) where you lie down. The area features some egg-shaped heated loungers which looked comfortable.

Canyon Ranch Grill
We had lunch in the Canyon Ranch Grill, which was nothing to write home about. But I’ll cover it here. Unlike most Canyon Ranch facilities, this one serves alcohol (the new Miami Beach Canyon Ranch does too – but it’s a different spa concept). Of course in Vegas you have to serve alcohol, and they have their own bar. Unfortunately for the diners, there was an obnoxious loud guy at the bar waiting for his food, and the staff did little about getting him to quiet down – in spite of all the diners complaining about him.

Canyon Ranch justifies the liquor and soda service by using organic liquor and pure cane sugar soda. We indulged (drinks were yummy) and realized later why it’s a bad idea to drink at the spa. Headache and light headedness in the steam room is not a good thing. The food here was fine, but service was slow and the food slightly overpriced.
Plus we were wearing our robes (as were other diners) but the restaurant is open to the public, which made me feel a little naked.
Back to the spa:
The waiting area for treatments was lovely, however the items served between there and the Conservatory were inconsistent. One was stocked with soy milk for the tea/coffee, one wasn’t. One had bananas, the other only oranges and apples. The coffee wasn’t labeled as decaf or regular.
My massage was fantastic. As with any massage place, the quality depends on the individual therapist. Mine was Alissa, and she was among the best I’ve ever experienced. Which is good because massages at Canyon Ranch are $3 a minute. Alissa looked like was about to give birth at any minute, so by the time you read this, she should be back to work (though very tired from lack of sleep). My mom and sister had good (not great) massages, and were brought to the Canyon Ranch store after by the therapist, who tried to sell them products.

At the end of a massage, the therapist lets you pick a random card (pick a card – any card). The card has a Daily Action with Stuart Smiley type sayings like “Moderation in all things – even moderation.” Or “Exercise – walk if you do nothing else.” Or "Laughter relaxes and energizes. Find something to laugh about every day." I think I just found it!

If you’re at Canyon Ranch Las Vegas, walk you will because there are more than 80 massage rooms (yes, just the massage rooms). Walking from the waiting area to the massage room took what seemed like 5-10 minutes.

Overall, we enjoyed our day at Canyon Ranch. Having been to Canyon Ranch Tucson, however, this one didn’t measure up. It seemed inconsistent, and the Aquavana “oasis” was more show than substance. The restaurant experience wasn’t memorable. Next time in Vegas we'll check out a different spa.

1 comment:

  1. Love your review. Exactly what I needed to read. I'm staying at the Pallazo next week with friends and Canyon Ranch is on our "to-do" list.