If you’ve ever wanted to visit the inside of a toilet bowl, simply hop the next flight to Vegas and check into the nearest casino. I recently spent three nights and four days on “The Strip” and was truly traumatized as a result. Yes, the shopping is spectacular; the ceiling at Cesar’s Palace does look like the sky, there are some great restaurants, the fountains at the Bellagio put on one heck of a show, the pastrami at the Carnegie Deli is authentic and Cirque de Soleil is amazing—well Beatles Love is; Viva Elvis is a travesty (Our hotel sent us for free so I guess it wasn’t as bad as it could have been).
But the thing that made me the craziest, next to the sky-high prices, indoor smoking, the constant dinging of the slots and bumping and thumping of bad music, was how frigging life-sucking the air is there. True, Vegas is in the desert but there is something about the recycled overly air-conditioned air pumped into every room that literally steals years away from your life. Under these circumstances, my bags, wrinkles, lines, red splotches and puffy under eyes grew to epic proportions. And even my husband, who has none of these issues and looks like a kid, was starting to show signs of his age. My skin was so dry and reactive that I couldn’t even use my regular vitamin C and retinol-based skin care products. In fact, it is so dry in Vegas, that I had to stand under the shower for a full 10-minutes before my body even remotely started to feel “wet.”
So I did what any New York Beauty Editor would do and checked myself into the Spa at our hotel, the Aria. And true to Vegas’ motto of “thou shalt be over-stimulated at all times”, the lounge wasn’t exactly Zen; it was outfitted with two blaring TVs set to different channels and a stereo blasting bad music. Yes, I am fully aware I am starting to sound like a grumpy old woman. Not attractive is it? But Vegas has that effect on me.
The services were God-awful expensive but very respectable and the amenities are just lovely. The salt room is pretty amazing. I had an excellent massage ($245 for 80 minutes!) and a really good facial ($225 for 80 minutes!) and a first class mani/pedi ($60/$95). The body scrub/wrap ($175 for 50 minutes) wasn’t the best ever, but it was fine. But pro-body scrubs are tough because somehow you always end up wet and shivering on the table as salt is rubbed into your shaving nicks and cuts. I am flummoxed that more spas don’t use sugar-based scrubs.
But for my money, I would rather go to the Claremont Spa in Berkeley any day of the week and twice on Sunday. It is less expensive ($200 for an 80-minute massage) and way quieter. All of the services I have had there have been terrific—even the body scrub/wrap. And FYI: Janvier is a spectacular massage therapist.
Excellent facial aside, what truly rescued me and my skin from Vegas fall-out was Clinique’s Comfort On Call, which really eased the dryness and irritation that the city of sin left me with for several days after my return to Oakland. This is a really nice cream for over-stressed skin. And so on that note, I am going to stop drinking the Vegas hater-ade and spread a little new-product love for some of the other “ah-ha” beauty solutions that I’ve recently come across.
Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Smooth Shave Gel: It really, really helps you to shave less often. I may be a little late to the party on this one but I am glad I’ve arrived. This is a great product. It minimizes shaving irritation and bumps and truly maximizes your time in between shaves. Target’s copycat Up & Up Smoothing Shave Gel, btw, is just as good and a little bit cheaper.
Pacifica Body Butter in Malibu Lemon Blossom: Rich, thick, super emollient and absolutely delicious-smelling. It makes your skin feel heavenly. Love!
NYC’s Completely Bare Spa: I’ve already written about how much I love Completely Bare for hair removal, but I have to mention it again. On a recent trip back East I stopped in at the Lower Fifth Avenue location for a Brazilian and an Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL) touch up of areas I had previously treated 10 years ago, and once again I was floored. Renata, who runs the place, is the most wonderful woman ever and Jen did a painless--and I mean painless--wax (no numbing spray required) and thorough IPL job. And since the hairs were so sparse and fine, the treatment didn’t hurt at all, and now those hairs are history. But even when IPL hurts, it’s so worth it. Completely Bare could be one of my favorite places on earth and at least for me, it definitely trumps Vegas. Ciao for now my friends. Stay happy and healthy.