In Vegas, sometimes bigger is just bigger, but in the case of the recently opened 80,000-square-foot spa at the Aria Casino Hotel, bigger is indeed better. With 62 treatment rooms, a full-service salon, a 16,000-square-foot advanced fitness center, boutique, fire lounge, poolside spa cabanas, and the first co-ed spa balcony in Las Vegas history, The Spa at Aria is a goliath in a city where size absolutely matters. As you enter this desert retreat, massive floor-to-ceiling windows magnify the sense of spaciousness. Once inside, Japanese influences abound, including a stone and water garden adorned with sacred Japanese Aji stones, blessed in Japan, to inspire calmness and tranquility upon arrival. Though a wide range of massages is on offer at the Aria, the standouts are the ones steeped in Asian traditions, like the Thai Poultice Massage (50 min/$180) where the century’s old Thai tradition of using heated muslin parcels infused with lemongrass, ginger, and prai extract, is combined with a warm oil massage to create a transcendent experience. Of the mix, the Ashiatsu massage (50 min/$180), which blends Shiatsu and Swedish techniques for pressure lovers, is perhaps the most unique experience on the menu. Other highlights include the Shio Salt Room where salt-infused air commingles with a wall of illuminated salt bricks and salt lamps to create an environment that promotes the healing of skin irritations and upper respiratory problems. There is also the Ganbanyoku Stone Bed Room—the only one of it’s kind in the US—which promises all manner of holistic benefits ranging from improved blood circulation to increased metabolism. During the Ganbanyoku treatment, negative ions and far-infrared rays are emitted as you relax on a bed of heated black stone that sooths muscles and almost mystically dispatches aches and pains from the body. No matter what you believe, there is indeed something spiritual about the experience.
—Duane Wells