WORDS BY SAMANTHA SAMPLE, BE NATURALLYOU
Whenever I mention that I used to live in Las Vegas, it always raises an eyebrow. I am sure it would be less of a shock to say I spent a few years on Mars. Sure, we all understand the concept of visiting Vegas for a weekend of partying, but to live there?!
Would you believe me if I told you that I was the healthiest I had ever been whilst living in Vegas? Would you believe me if I told you that the only time I went to “The Strip” was to spend a day at the Hotel Spas or watch a fab show? No drinking. No gambling. No late nights. No clubbing. No strip clubs. No scandals. Yes, I often think I must be the only human on the planet to have visited Sin City without indulging in all that Vegas is famous for.
What I did discover, was a city that has so much more to offer than the predictable debauchery. You see, the thing is … dancers, strippers and performers all share one thing in common … they like to keep in shape. So the number of fabulous yoga studios, dance classes and gyms was a joy to discover. My favourite haunt was a fab yoga studio just a short drive from the Strip called Vegas Hot. They offer a number of different styles of yoga ranging from Mars Power Vinyasa Yoga – an intensive 90 minute class that is taught in a room at 95 degrees and 40% humidity, and designed to work and stimulate every nerve, muscle, joint and tissue in the body; to Yin Yoga – a 90 minute passive meditative stretching class with low physical effort that is the perfect compliment and balance for those of us who are active. The Mars Power Vinyasa Class quickly became my ‘Vegas’ addiction, and left me dripping with sweat after every session.
The other thing Vegas does incredibly well is Spas, and what a joy it was to sample a different spa each month … from the Bellagio to the Mandalay Bay, to the newly opened City Centre, I bathed, steamed, and indulged my way through the spa menus of a handful of Hotel Spas. The best time to visit … on a Tuesday or Wednesday when the spas are not overflowing with girls preening themselves for the night ahead. My favourite spa: The Bathhouse tucked away in THEhotel, Mandalay Bay. Minimal, elegant, understated, ever-so-quiet and effortlessly chic. My kind of spa. The massages are heavenly. The pedicures leave your tootsies sparkling. But most of all, if you do happen to find yourself at The Bathhouse, or any Hotel Spa in Vegas for that matter, then please remember to get there an hour or two before your appointment so that you can relax in the steam rooms, plunge pools, saunas and pools. It was and still is one of my favourite “me time” treats to spend a half day washing away all the stresses of life in a beautiful hotel spa.
Another Vegas delight is Red Rock Canyon, a very easy 30 minute drive from the city centre. A MUST visit! The vibrant colors will simply take your breath away. The numerous walking tracks offer their own unique scenic experiences of the majestic views of the landscape. There’s nothing quite like going for a hike in the middle of the desert with not a soul in sight. It’s magic!
So what else can I share about Vegas …. ahhh the food! My first thoughts about moving to America were, “yikes, what am I going to eat?” Images of McDonalds, KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut filled my mind. How silly of me. America is most certainly the land of extremes, and it was here that I made the transition from vegetarian to vegan. The variety of good fresh organic and vegan food is to die for. Wholefoods became my “local” not only for filling up the trolley to take home and fill the fridge with, but also for their kick ass protein smoothies, wheat grass shots and once a week the destination for a fab mini massage in the Whole Body section – a 15 minute neck and shoulder rub. Where else can you do your weekly grocery shopping with all these extra perks?
WHOLEFOODS 6689 Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas – (702) 589-7711
A couple of my other favourite Vegas food stops are:
RED VELVET CAFE – yummy vegan food. GREAT salads and wraps.
7875 West Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas – (702) 360-1972?
RAINBOW’S END – a fab raw vegan food cafe. I still dream about the avocado chips (i.e. avocado slices coated in ground flax) and green smoothies. It’s grungy and basic but damn good food.
1100 E Sahara Ave # 120, Las Vegas, (702) 737-1338
So yes, there is another side to Las Vegas. What it did show me, is that you can create your own spa retreat sanctuary no matter where in the world you are. All you need is a little imagination and determination to track down the key components: healthy food, fresh country air (or desert air in this case), a good spa, and the time to piece it all together to create those weeks, days or half-days of relaxation and bliss.
In this case, what happens in Vegas certainly doesn’t have to stay in Vegas.
If I ever do find myself in Vegas again there is one spa that’s on my MUST VISIT list – Qua Baths and Spa at Caesar’s Palace. Qua Baths and Spa is a luxurious retreat that taps into the natural, healing powers of water to bring you a one-of-a-kind experience. Bathed in natural light, accented by smooth stone flooring, dark woods and cascading waterfalls, this tranquil environment uses the natural properties of water to soothe away stress and tension from the every day. And the treatment that I’m signing up for as soon as I get there: Aura-Soma Synergy that just won the Spa Treatment of the Year Award. A 60-minute consultation from Qua’s Aura-Soma ® certified practitioner invites you into a journey of self-discovery bringing clarity, direction, and a feeling of peace. Following the consultation, you select your favorite equilibrium bottle and allow their artisan to customize a 75-minute massage combining Hawaiian Lomi Lomi and Cranial Sacral techniques to cleanse the aura and establish energetic balance. The experience concludes with the healing power of light therapy, and a special take home gift. Sounds absolutely incredible, don’t you think!