I heard Andrew Gibson, Group Director of Spa for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, talk about future spa trends about a year ago at the 2010 ISPA Conference. One of his observations was about the growing emphasis on ROI (return on investment) from upper management. He noted that spas were being asked to provide and defend the ROI for the areas that do not directly produce treatment income such as wet areas that include whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, etc. This scrutiny extended to treatment room size, which could impact the future of large, luxurious treatment rooms. He noted that these areas cannot be included in typical ROI calculations just as a hotel lobby cannot. These areas feed income into the rest of the spa and the hotel. Spa guests spend more than typical guests and stay longer. The spa facilities may well be the reason. However, these facts do not show up on the ROI calculation. He said that if this trend continued, we would no longer see luxurious new spas such as the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, which was about a year old at the time. He then showed images of those "non-income producing" areas of that spa. They were lovely. I have been to a number of Mandarin Oriental spas over the years - Bangkok, Miami, New York, Washington DC - and enjoyed them all. I was looking forward to the time that I could visit this one in Las Vegas - perhaps one of the last new luxury spas with large, extensive facilities.
I had my chance while in Las Vegas the following year for the 2011 ISPA Conference. My appointment was for 6:45pm, but I was free earlier than I had expected, so I decided to spend the extra time at the spa. I arrived at 5pm. It was a bit of an adventure to get to the spa. First I took the elevator to the 23rd floor Sky Lobby. Then I took a different elevator down to the 8th floor.
I checked in at the reception desk and was invited to sit on a sofa. A nice young man brought a cup of tea and a cool cloth to me on a tray garnished with an orchid. He then brought out a tray with a pair of ObG sandals on it and offered them to me. I, in turn, gave him my shoes. A spa host introduced herself to me and escorted me up the stairs to the women’s changing and wet area. She gave me a quick tour – vanity, locker area, showers, vitality pool, steam room, laconium, experience showers, a lounge area with heated stone lounges and the relaxation area. She showed me how the lockers worked, and I went to one of the private changing rooms to change.
Vitality Pool in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
My first stop was the Vitality Pool. I had experienced a smaller one before in the Mandarin Oriental New York and enjoyed it. I climbed the few steps up to deck, turned on the bubbles and laid on the metal rods that were arranged in a shape of an underwater lounge chair. Once I figured out how not to float off the lounge, I relaxed in the 104˚F water and enjoyed the view of Las Vegas Boulevard for about 15 minutes.
I wrapped up in a towel and sat in the Laconium for a while. I like laconiums. They are warm but not so hot that I have to leave after a few minutes. Heat radiated from the contoured, tiled bench.
I decided to move to the Stream Room and stepped out in the central area where the Ice Fountain was. Rolled washcloths were
in the ice. I took one and entered the steam room. I sat on the bench and put the cloth to my face. A fan blew the steam gently from the ceiling. I liked the sensation of the air moving in that hot room. Five minutes was about all I could manage.
I left and tried an Experience Shower. There was a selection of five shower types that offered a variety of combinations of the overhead shower, 6 wall showers and a high spout from a light sprinkling to heavy rainfall. I could choose from Arctic Mist, Body Spray, Island Storm, Body Drench and Tropical Rain. The showers combined with lights and sound for a unique experience.
Back to the Vitality Pool for another shower then I dried off and relaxed on a heated lounge in the Tepidarium for a while. I put a towel under me and another over me and rolled a small one under my neck. Heat radiated through the towels. This was very comfortable. I could have stayed there a very long time.
Heated Lounge Chairs in the Tepidarium at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
When it came closer to my appointment time, I moved to the Zen Relaxation Room where tea, water and fruit were offered. I laid on one of the lounges, which were like hospital beds. They had controls to raise and lower head and feet and were covered in towels and had pillows. It was fun finding just the right setting, and I was, again, quite comfortable.
Single Treatment Room in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
Pretty soon my therapist, Natasha, came to get me. She led me back down the stairs to the lovely treatment room. The décor was rich and inviting. It's here in the treatment rooms where the "exotic luxury of 1930s Shanghai" design theme is most evident. The shower area was separated from the rest of the room by a large sliding door of dark wood and Chinese style. The cabinets in the room were in a similar dark wood. A Thai Massage mat with a lovely silky piece of cloth and plush pillows was on the floor. The massage table next to it had the same. It was very visually appealing.
Natasha invited me to sit on a chair while she brought a large bowl of water to soak my feet. As we talked, she massaged my feet and lower legs. She explained the
treatment – salt scrub, shower, message with jade stones, face massage and scalp massage with pink mud. She asked me questions about my sleep, nutrition, and other things and, based on my answers, asked me to sniff and make a choice between E’spa facial toners, facial oils and massage oils. The only one I remember the name of is Bloom, the massage oil, because she said it is like a hug in a bottle – opening the chakra up to receive love and give love.
She started with a warm salt scrub using the massage oil. She scrubbed legs, arms and abdomen. My skin felt alive and invigorated. She wiped the oil from my feet with warm, moist towels then turned on the shower. She instructed me to go into the shower area, close the large sliding door and shower off the salt. The shower was amazing. There was a bench with a wall of multicolored lights behind it. Three overhead showers sprayed water down on the bench. Side showers sprayed from every direction. I stood under the water and let the salt melt off my body. My skin was soft, my mind and body relaxed. I turned off the many showers, dried off and returned to the massage table where Natasha had changed the linens. Soon she returned.
Natasha started the massage by having me face down. She put bolster under my ankles. My legs were massaged first with long slow smooth movements. She then went over the leg top to bottom with a warm jade stone. Slowly. Repetitively. Over and over. It was hypnotic and relaxing. This was repeated over the rest of my body.
When it was time to turn over, she raised my head and knees. My sinuses thanked the elevation. She placed warm stones on my chakras, then did a face massage with pressure on the sinuses as well as a décolleté massage. The massage ended with a hot towel to remove oil. It was very nice.
The last step was a scalp massage with pink mud that I left in my hair overnight. It was a lovely, wonderful spa experience. I really expected no less. I was glad I arrived early to enjoy the wet area, for by the time my treatment was done, the spa was closing, and I couldn’t enjoy it afterwards. I did, however, stop in the Boutique to buy a jar of E’spa Relaxation Salt Scrub to take home. This is my very favorite scrub product and my very favorite aromatherapy blend (sadly, it is not available in any other product). I was delighted to find it, for I used to make a special trip to the MO spa when I traveled to NY to get a jar. Sadly, they no longer carry it. I can always order it online but never remember to. Now I’ll be stopping here every time I come to LV – for a treatment and a bottle of scrub.
"It doesn't matter whether you call yourself a salon, a spa or day spa. If you're selling just a treatment - you come in, have a treatment and go out - you're a salon. If you are selling an experience, where it's more than a treatment, it's the whole journey, then you're a spa. If you are selling a memory, you are a great spa. Because that way, you are embedding something in [your guest] that makes them tell everybody else and makes them want to come back."
~Andrew Gibson, Group Director of Spa, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group at the at the 2010 ISPA Conference~
The 27,000 square-foot Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas spans the entire seventh and eighth floors of the property. There are 17 treatment rooms including 7 Couples’ Suites and 10 Single Suites. In addition to the amenities I experienced, there are also a
Chinese Foot Spa, a Hammam,
a Men’s Sauna, a Ladies’ Rhassoul,
The Salon at Mandarin Oriental, the Fitness Center featuring Technogym® equipment, a Yoga and Pilates Studio
Hammam in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
For guests wanting to enjoy The Spa experience with a group, the co-ed Hammam is the perfect place for up to eight guests to relax together. Inside the main steam chamber, guests will find a mosaic tiled room with glistening lights
overhead. A therapist will provide invigorating and exfoliating body scrub treatments to all guests. Steam then fills the
entire space and guests may relax privately on the bench seats that encircle the room. Two Personal Experience Showers
and a comfortable dry relaxation lounge are adjacent to the Hammam, with five comfortable reclining lounge chairs to enjoy
before or after the Hammam experience.
Orchid Suite, one of the Spa Suites in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
Enjoy a private setting with friends or a loved one in a decadent Spa Suite. Named after Mahjong tiles, the three decadent Dragon Suites and luxurious Bamboo, Chrysanthemum, Orchid and Plum Suites consist of steam showers, two treatment tables, personal wardrobes and vanity areas for a relaxing escape. Dragon Suites also offer a deep-soaking couples’ hydrotherapy tub.
Yoga Studio in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
The Salon at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
Swimming Pool at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
Swimming Pool at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas