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What a $300 Massage Feels Like: The Spa at Mandarin Oriental

By MikeE on Monday, 4th January 2010 1:27am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 6


The Spa at Mandarin Oriental

It's terrible. I mean awful. This place sucks. Stay away from this 27,000 square foot slice of heaven. I want it to myself.

In all seriousness, I was initially shocked about the $100 facility fee. The verdict: worth it down to the last dime. $250 massages? A value.

So what makes the space so incredible when at less than half the square footage of Encore's spa, they're charging triple the prices? In short, amenities that aren't new age, I-can't-feel-the-benefits-bullshit (*cough*Qua!*cough*) and service, service, service.

It was around 3pm. The concierge made a 4pm appointment for an 80-minute massage and informed the spa that I would be heading down ("down" to the 8th floor from the 23rd floor Sky Lobby). The elevator doors open and a young lady greets me with a deep bow: "Hello Mr. E. We've been expecting you. Welcome to the spa at Mandarin Oriental."

They bow a lot here. And you instinctively start to bow back. And before you know it, the bowing gets out of control. It reminds me of that one Simpsons episode: "Now with 20% more bowing!"

I was seated in the gorgeous lobby and told to remove my shoes and hand them to my hostess as a "Chinese symbol of leaving all your cares behind when entering the spa." She probably just made that part up. I was then given a brief form to fill out indicating health issues and specific areas I'd like my massage to focus on. Why other spas I've been to don't do this, I have no idea. Having your therapist know exactly what you need beforehand so you can just lay at her mercy and melt away is nothing short of awesome.

My personal attendant arrives and greets me with delicious tea as I complete the form. He then takes me on a full tour of the facility. The locker area is a bit cramped, but you get a full toiletries bag (yours to keep) and an incredible, alpaca fur-lined robe. Amazing.

You'll find the standard amenities of wet and dry saunas as well as a lanconium room (overheated dry sauna), experience showers, an "ice fountain" to rejuvenate between heated facilities, and finally, a hot tub with champagne bubbles.

We've already seen experience showers at Encore. They are sensory overload, but take a rocket scientist to figure out. Mandarin's, on the other hand, are completely idiot proof. Select "Tropical Rain" (or their four other "experiences") and hit "OK" to start. They're short and novel and not necessarily relaxing, but a cool amenity nonetheless.

The hot tub with champagne bubbles is the real highlight. A pool built to the very edge of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the strip, you lie down in one of the underwater loungers with your head elevated just above water level and press the button behind you to begin the experience. It is the closest feeling to floating in mid air and pure heaven - I spent a solid hour in this thing. Unfortunately, the views are hindered by moisture naturally accumulating on the windows - to go so far as to build the first spa with strip views, but no exhaust mechanism is a glaring error.

The space itself doesn't compare to Encore's, but is nevertheless beautiful. The waiting room for treatments is unmatched with beds lined in cashmere sheets, more strip views (and no moisture to hinder them), and a selection of delicious teas. As for the treatment itself, let me put it this way: despite the therapist practically putting a thumb print on my kidneys, I fell into a deep sleep and drooled like a baby. It was out of this world.

As discussed earlier, the spa isn't cheap. I walked out spending $320 total: $250 for an 80-minute Swedish, $50 in gratuity to the therapist, and $10 to each of the two spa attendants. But its high prices also give you the advantage of practically having the spa all to yourself. Not once did I see another patron in there which meant true personal attention. You won't find buckets of ice towels, but seconds after entering the steam room, an attendant walked in with an ice towel for me. When the massage was over and I made my way back to the waiting room, my favorite tea was at the ready. It's like they've got their eyes on your every move and predict what you want before you even know that you want it. It's these little things that justify the highest prices in town.

Schedule a treatment at Mandarin's spa and make an entire day out of it. It's money well spent.



Comments & Discussion:

$300? You got ripped. There's an oriental spa out by the truck wash that'll get you all tightened up for $60.

They say there's nothing like it in Vegas, but half the phone book says Asian Massage so I'm not sure I believe 'em.

ever head of a place called Thailand?
guess you don't get away from Vegas.
but thanks for supporting Dubai's bailout with your contribution

Enjoyed the review Mike, although I'm still skeptical on it being worth it, but I can understand your perspective. It's all a manner of what you are looking for. Sounds like the spa pool was nice though, I like the idea of the loungers in it. While Qua does have it's issues, the roman baths room is still the selling point for me, with the heated loungers that I believe Aria's has as well, being the perfect fit to the waterfall sounds of the pools.

To the point that no one was at Mandarin, while nice, I think it's as much a result as the price, limited number of rooms for the property in comparison and the newness of it. How would the spa feel if there were 10-15 people in there? After all, just head to the IP spa during a weekday if you want facilities to be enjoyed by yourself.

All this is well and good, but I\'m still very skeptical how long MO can hold out in Vegas with this level of service and pricing. The experience might be great, and it actually might be a fair price if you consider the level service, but how many people are really going to spend like that these days? And is Vegas attracting many those refined and super high end tastes? This isn\'t NYC, London, Hong Kong, etc. where you have that established high society clientele that would actually take notice of something like this. I bet most average Vegas visitors don\'t even know what \"Mandarin Oriental\" is, much less appreciate the details of a high quality spa experience like this. Not that MO wants the average Vegas visitor, but like I said, how many true high end folks are still flying in for the weekend?

High end places like Wynn can scrape by on low room rates, and begrudgingly take in a more middle class crowd, because they have the casino to fall back on (even if that isn\'t taking quite what it used to). In 2006 yes, I\'m sure this would have been a winner, but I just don\'t think they have a wide enough appeal or price point to keep this place afloat without the free spending ways of the credit/housing bubble. You can \"splurge\" on luxury for less than this at even Wynn or Bellagio.

I honestly think the top end joints in Vegas are making money now off the people coming that couldn\'t afford them in the boom days. Vegas is one of the few places I could actually consider staying at a 5 diamond resort, because places on that level in other cities are 300 a night. It\'s luxury value these days. MO definitely isn\'t following that pricing scheme, for better or worse.

If convention business gets going again, I could see it benefiting from that... Taking in high end clientele that might feel above the perceived tackiness Vegas, or just loyal to the MO brand from their more familiar big city haunts.

Don\'t get me wrong, the place looks great and I hope is succeeds. I think it provides an interesting addition to the strip, but the realist in me can\'t help but wonder the feasibility of it, especially with Aria pulling attention right next door.

So is 'Delicious Teas' the new euphemism for a happy ending?

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