LAS VEGAS -- As any modern mortal knows, stress and tension are equal opportunity annoyers, and they can cause anything from twitches to pain, stiffness, and sleeplessness. In this city, an army of spa therapists is equipped with an arsenal of the latest lotions, potions, and treatment tools. They can soothe, swath , stretch, and pummel your body into blissful relaxation.
For the spa novice or sophisticate, there is a dizzying array of options for body work, so this is a guide to some of the most unusual treatments found in Sin City. If you have never strayed from Swedish massage, now is the time for a little fun-loving adventure. If you are a man who hasn't been initiated into the spa world, rest assured that up to one-third of the people padding around in terrycloth slippers and loose robes are of the male persuasion. If you are a couple, you can go hand-in-hand into spa heaven.
Book these popular treatments as far in advance as possible.
The spa here has gone exotic, and now offers the high-end, two-hour Couples Dreaming Ritual. All the techniques and products come from the aboriginal people of Australia.
First, you both select, perhaps by scent, the oil you want your therapist to use . Then your feet are bathed and massaged. Next you are "smoked" or purified as smoldering sage is wafted over your body.
What follows is a journey into the spa bower of bliss. You are escorted to individual massage tables in a private massage room. You are given an exfoliating salt scrub, then a soothing mud wrap followed by a cleansing shower, and finally the most complete massage imaginable , which covers all areas of the body. This very structured and methodical massage is designed for inner balance and well-being.
After the massage, you receive another sage smoking, and an offer of tea. You can also choose a private Jacuzzi session before returning to the real world.
Cost: $620 for two. 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-891-3077, mgmgrand.com.
One of the most unusual new treatments here is the Thai herbal poultice massage. First, you relax in a eucalyptus-infused steam bath. Then, for 80 languorous minutes, a therapist massages you head to toe.
During the massage, an aromatic hot poultice is applied to your body intermittently. It contains dried organic herbs like tamarind and turmeric that are wrapped in muslin and steamed. The heat is absorbed by the body , and the poultice is said to condition the skin, reduce aches and pains, and increase lymphatic drainage.
When the treatment is over, the therapist presents you with the poultice to take home for infusion in your bath water when you return to daily life. This may be the only Las Vegas treatment to go!
Cost: $220. 3960 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-632-5302, fourseasons.com/lasvegas.
A block off the strip, and less well known than some venues, the Hibiscus Spa at the recently renovated Westin Casuarina offers great value and high-quality treatments.
In the men's and women's dressing rooms, each shower offers a choice of mint, lavender, or sage accessories . In the steam room, you are surrounded by the refreshing aroma of eucalyptus.
The 80-minute Hibiscus Island Paradise treatment is a favorite of both female and male customers. First, a pineapple papaya scrub is applied to your body, and its sensuous aroma whisks you off to a tropical island. Then, while you are lying down, a Vichy swinging shower arm rinses you in warm water.
Next, a therapist performs a Swedish massage on your entire body with coconut-scented oil. Your feet are wrapped in warm towels, and you will probably drift off into a peaceful sleep before the treatment comes to its soothing conclusion.
Cost: $180 with a Swedish massage, $195 with a deep tissue massage, $115 for a 50-minute treatment. 160 East Flamingo Road, 702-836-9775, starwoodhotels.com.
The Aquae Sulis Spa here is less than half an hour from the brouhaha of the Strip, in the upscale suburb of Summerlin.
A man might select the luxurious 80-minute Luxury Caviar Pedicure. It begins with a hot foot bath, while the head is massaged with lavender aromatherapy oil. Then the feet and toenails -- which suffer every indignity from tight shoes to racquetball games -- are cleaned, trimmed, and treated like the noble digits they are.
Next, a green foot mask is painted on with a Japanese brush. The feet are then wrapped in hot towels as the hands are massaged. The treatment is finished with a caviar-laced massage. Tootsies have never had it so good.
Either gender can choose the Fire and Ice Massage, which will form the centerpiece of conversations for days to come. First, hot volcanic basalt stones are applied to your overworked and achy back. Then -- and this is novel -- iced stones are applied. The hot and the cold applications alternate, and most spa-goers drift off into a deep sleep and wake up 80 minutes later, after they have been massaged from scalp to sole.
Later, it's a treat to sit in a recliner and relax like a wet noodle.
Cost: $150 for the Luxury Caviar Pedicure, $175 for the Fire and Ice Massage. 221 North Rampart Blvd., Summerlin, 702-869-7777, 877-869-8777, jwlasvegasresort.com/spa/spa.asp.
The spa at the Ritz Carlton, Lake Las Vegas is a wonderful oasis of calm and class. The 80-minute Mesquite Tree Renewal is a trifecta of treatments that delight s the skin and the soul with waves of relaxation and restoration.
First, your body is exfoliated with ylang ylang extract, which cleanses and smooths dry skin. Then you are wrapped in red clay, which de-stresses, detoxifies, then reinvigorates and energizes. The final indulgence is a full-body massage, which removes any residue of tension and leaves you feeling rested and renewed.
For men, there is a special Gentleman's Facial and then -- the maraschino cherry of body work -- a Four-Hands Massage. The sensuous ballet of two therapists working on one body is sure to leave you deeply relaxed and refreshed.
Cost: $185 for Mesquite Tree Renewal, $125 for Gentleman's Facial, $200 for Four-Hands Massage. 1610 Lake Las Vegas Parkway, Henderson, 702-567-4700, ritzcarlton.com/resorts/lake_las_vegas.
Contact Judith Fein, a freelance writer in New Mexico, at email@example.com .