One Man's Eyes

I'm an early 30's engineer with delusions of adequacy. From here, I'll share my perspective, usually through words, sometimes through pictures, of the view of the world from one man's eyes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Las Vegas Trip - Travel Report...Part 3

Alright, time to get back on this report. When we last left our heroes, they had just returned from an all day adventure to the Grand Canyon.
Knowing this would take a good bit out of us, I decided that Tuesday would be something unique. Honestly, had it not been for reading some Las Vegas review sites and the Tripadvisor forum, I don't think it's something I would have come up with on my own. We scheduled the major part of the day around the Qua Spa at Caesars. As seems to be the case with most of the Vegas hotels, access to the fitness center requires a separate daily fee. Caesars, along with most, give access to the fitness center if you also get a day pass to the Spa. And, above that, at Caesars at least, if you schedule a treatment, such as a massage, access to the Spa and fitness center for that day are also included. The reviews of Qua in particular were good, so I decided that, since we were staying at Caesars, we ought to try it out. Jen and I each scheduled a classic massage for the early afternoon. This allowed us to sleep in, catch a late breakfast, and then head over.
We were actually feeling pretty good after breakfast, and both spent time at the fitness center first. I had a good workout, starting on what was probably the nicest treadmill I've ever seen, followed by a round on the various weight machines. The fitness center itself is coed, so Jen and I were together for this portion. After that, we were each on our own as the Spa area has separate areas for men and women. We agreed on a time, a few hours after our treatments, to meet back at the room. We had a good hour and a half before our treatments to explore and use the spa. I definitely agree with the recommendations that I read to get to the spa before the treatments to take advantage of the facility.
There were several dry and wet steam rooms, along with "Arctic Ice" cold room, and the Roman Ritual baths. I spent time in all of them before my massage session. Having never been to such a place, we talked with the advisor when we scheduled our sessions about the etiquette of the area. On the men's side, I was provided with a robe and a locker to put my clothes into. I wore a towel for the most part when in the steam rooms, but went bare when in the tubs. That was pretty typical, though there were a few who wore swim trunks the whole time. The lighting is subdued and relaxing. There's water and towels available everywhere, along with fruit, teas, and juices in a central room where you can relax and wait to be called for your session. I enjoyed the scented steam room and the Roman Ritual Baths the most. The "Artic Ice" room was brisk, but the "snow" consisted of soap bubbles blown into the room and I found they irritated my nose. I noticed this was the case for a few others as well. The Roman Ritual Baths have three jacuzzi tubs. The largest is the Tepidarium, where the water temperature is about body temperature. I spent a good bit of time relaxing there. This is the launching point to the other two tubs, one hot (the Caldarium) one very cold (the Frigidarium). I could handle a fair bit of time in the hot tub, but just a few minutes in the cold. That cold tub definitely wakes you up and appreciate the return to the Tepidarium.
I used the showers to get cleaned up and relaxed in the lounge with a banana and juice when my appointment time drew near. There were a few of us with appointments at the same time and we were escorted back to the treatment room area and introduced to our artisans. When scheduling the appointment, we were asked if we had gender preferences for the artisan doing the massage. We both decided we didn't have a preference. Mine turned out to be a young woman.
Getting massages is something that my wife and I had talked about getting done for a long time, but we just never pursued it. I decided that, being in Vegas with access to these facilities, it was a good opportunity to give it a try. My treatment was essentially a full body "classic" Swedish massage. The room had subdued lighting and calming New Age type music played. I even recognized a few tracks from my own music library. The artisan asked if there was a particular area that needed focus. I figured my lower back was probably in need of most work. However, after she worked up to my neck and shoulders, it was clear that I was extremely tight there. The artisan paid extra attention to my head, neck and shoulders. Man, was it fantastic. When she was done, I felt more relaxed and loosened up than I can ever remember.
While we paid for the treatments when we scheduled them, as in a restaurant, there was a slip in the room at the end to leave a gratuity for the artisan. I was quite happy to leave a good tip. Afterward, she escorted me back to the spa area and I spent another hour or so enjoying the tubs and relaxing before heading back to the room. While, on the one hand, it is something of an annoyance that access to the fitness center and spa are a cost adder, I appreciated the fact that it also meant that the facilities weren't overcrowded with people and I was able to enjoy the space. I would have to say that Qua was probably our favorite part of our Caesars experience.
Since I had picked Le Reve as our "water show" for this trip to Vegas, I decided that we also would see an actual Cirque du Soleil show as well. Cirque is running a summer special in Vegas for all their shows - buy a regular price ticket, and "bring a friend" for $25. Based on a number of good reviews, and it's proximity to where we were staying, I had booked tickets for Mystere at Treasure Island for our evening's entertainment.
Having been through the Forum Shops a few days before, we decided to have dinner at The Cheesecake Factory before the show. Both our meals were very good and we each chose a different cheesecake for dessert. We ended up with extra time before the show and extra cheesecake, so we took them back up to our room to save for breakfast.
The showing of Mystere was at 9:30p and seating opened at 9:00p. We got there around 8:50p. Having walked up and down the area, I had picked up a few shortcuts (or at least paths to keep us out of the heat). We would typically walk through the Forum Shops to get to the strip. Near the main entrance, there was a covered walkway to go into the Mirage, which sits between Caesar and TI. There is a tram that runs back and forth between the Mirage and TI and we used it to complete the journey in relative ease. I learned that lesson the hard way coming back from Le Reve on Sunday. At night, TI features their "Sirens of TI" show a couple of times each night. When it is going on, passage in front of TI, and even across the street from it, is just about impossible. We never actually saw the show, but we did get stuck in the crowd trying to move through. The tram made it possible to avoid all of that.
When we arrived at the Mystere theater, there was a line almost all the way across the casino. We waited for about fifteen minutes for the line to pass so we could go in. Even though it was moving pretty quick and steady, the end never seemed to appear. People would keep walking all the way to the end and coming back with the line. Finally, we did the same, though it wasn't terrible. We got to our seats pretty easily and thankfully didn't become victim of the clown. Most Cirque shows feature some sort of clown element, in this case, it was a man in a rumpled tuxedo. Before the show, he would go to the main entrance where ushers pointed people to their seats. He would randomly take couples to "show them to their seats". He would end up taking them on long circuitous routes and cause mischief to the amusement of the rest of us who were already seated.
The show was not a complete sellout, but the theater was still pretty full. I was quite happy with our seats. The theater was such that you'd have a hard time finding a place where you didn't have a good view.
The show itself was impressive. The stage area had several animated sections that would raise and lower to bring in and take away various set pieces and groups of performers. This show was much more pure acrobatics than Le Reve was. If you've seen any of the traveling shows like Allegria or Varekai (which I've only seen myself on video), then you'll be familiar with the kinds of performances that happen. But still, having a dedicated theater for the show allows everything to be an order of magnitude more impressive than the traveling shows can provide. The stunts were impressive, though there were at least three miscues during the performance where jumps or catches were missed. Still it was very entertaining. The only real negative we felt was the amount of filler. The main clown made several appearances between acts and there were also several by a "baby" doing different tricks and causing mischief. The segments for both of them would tend to run too long and their entertainment value was not so high. Still, we enjoyed the show and were glad we went. After that, we took the secret path back to our room to turn in for the night.
I was going to try to get through two days with this post, but I ended up having a lot to cover with this one day. I should be able to get the final day and a half into the next post and then I'll finish with a summary as well as some general observations that don't fall specifically into the chronology of the trip.

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