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3 UNEXPECTED EXPERIENCES - LAS VEGAS-STYLE
 
(2012 - Fall/Winter Issue)

Writer: GAIL HULNICK



Las Vegas is known for gambling, entertainment and excitement.

When I visited earlier this year, I expected to experience all of the above, plus the latest in food, beverages and nightlife offerings. I did not expect to find “downward dogs” near dolphins, snow on a triple-digit temperature day, or a high-quality museum dedicated to mobsters.

Yoga Among the Dolphins

Exercise after a night of too much food, drink, loud music and too little luck at the slot machines and sleep sounded like a brilliant idea. I was immediately enthusiastic at the suggestion of yoga, with its combination of balance, harmony and cleansing breath. And when they said we could take an hour-long class in an underwater viewing room beside Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage, I was quick to raise my hand.

Our instructor, Willow Withy, led us through the opening stretches, and suddenly we were all exchanging smiles and exclamations as a young dolphin swam up to the window. He was tipping his head from side to side, Willow said, because he was using his sonar to identify us. In minutes his pool mates joined him and they were our audience throughout the full hour. It was magical, and restful, the perfect contrast to the noise and excitement of Vegas.

Snow in the Desert

A visit to a spa is another way to pace yourself through a vacation or convention in Vegas. The QUA Baths and Spa at Caesars Palace, with its cascading waterfalls and natural light, is one of the most luxurious choices available. After sampling three pools of varying sizes and temperatures, an herbal steam room, a cedarwood sauna, and a tea room, my stress level was lower than Johnny Reid’s voice, and I thought I couldn’t possibly feel any better.

And then we found the Arctic Ice Room.

Now you wouldn’t think you’d much care, coming from Canada, about a cold room in a spa, but I can tell you that when it’s 42 C on the Strip, it’s a compelling option. Cold-treatment rooms (at much lower temperatures) are a staple in European spas but are relatively new in North America. At QUA the mint-infused air is kept at a crisp 12.7 C and I felt as though I were scrubbing my lungs with each breath—and there was, indeed, snow, softly falling in the centre of the room. The flakes fell from a domed ceiling, in front of a spotlight, and the effect was exquisite.

The Mob Museum

In Florence, New York and Ottawa, you expect to find outstanding museums displaying the knowledge, research and display skills of curators at the top of their game.

Museums are not the first thing you think about in Vegas. Officially named The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, this museum tells both sides of the story as you walk through the history of vice in Vegas.

We started on the third floor, with glimpses into the life and times of the gangsters, complete with Tommy gun, electric chair, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall, where Al Capone had members of the Moran gang shot down in Chicago on February 14, 1929. Many of the bricks had been kept in Vancouver, B.C., since the 1960s, and were reclaimed by Mob Museum curators for this exhibit.

On the second floor, we learned about the law-enforcement efforts and the Kefauver hearings held in 1950–51 in 14 cities.

The ground floor drew together the two sides of the story and brought us up to date on crime and punishment in Las Vegas since the 1950s. Biggest surprise for me—how connected the rise of Nevada vice was to the building of the Hoover Dam.

Tip

Canadians arriving in Vegas will come in through the new $2.4-billion Terminal 3, which opened in June. Take a moment to look around at the art collection housed in this building. I spotted an exceptional piece called Sacred Sunrise by photographer Peter Lik and a sculpture called Miraré by Stu Schechter, which features almost 3,000 butterfly sculptures suspended in the shape of two aircraft by approximately 2,400 stainless steel wires. 

Travel Planner

For more information on Las Vegas, contact the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority at lvcva.com.

WestJet: westjet.com

Yoga among the Dolphins: mirage.com/spasalon/fitness.aspx

The Arctic Ice Room—QUA Baths and Spa at Caesars Palace: caesarspalace.com/qua

The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement: themobmuseum.org

 
 
 
 
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