Shanghai Surprise

The luxe new spa transports guests to Shanghai in the 1930s with Asian-inspired artwork and accents.

In Las Vegas, travelers can easily shed their everyday personas and slip into a worldly character of their choosing—walk just a few blocks, and it’s possible to venture from New York City to Paris to Italy to Monte Carlo, and more, adopting a different personality in each and every place. Now, with the opening of The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, Sin City visitors can be transported across oceans and back in time to Shanghai in the 1930s.

The 27,000-square-foot spa, which opened in December in the much-talked-about CityCenter complex, is a haven of retro-Asian inspiration, with a design theme that combines sleek and opulent Art Deco elegance with elements of a rich Chinese culture. “The spa features a design scheme filled with rich fabrics and surprises of color against a backdrop of dark woods and mood lighting,” says director of spa Jennifer Lynn. “Shanghai in the 1930s was of particular importance to our parent company Jardine Matheson’s history, as the company opened a treaty port there at that time. It was a decadent time with a fusion of fashion, glamour, and the Jazz Age, which inspired our designers.”

The inspiration is evident throughout the spa. Each of the seven spa suites, which include two treatment tables, personal wardrobes, and vanity areas, was named after a Mahjong tile, a game popular in Asian countries. The couples’ suites (Bamboo, Chrysanthemum, Orchid, and Plum) feature private steam showers and sweeping views, while the Green, Red, and White Dragon Suites offer water experiences with two private steam showers and personal soaking tubs. The 10 single treatment rooms are called Bunds 1 through 10. “Bund is a term used to describe the neighborhoods or clusters of businesses in Shanghai, and our single treatment rooms are in small clusters,” says Lynn. The 90-member spa team (45 full-time and 45-part-time) is also outfitted in Asian-inspired uniforms created by designer Vivienne Tam, and bright sunlight that streams through the spa’s floor-to-ceiling windows casts a light on furnishings and artwork inspired by the era.

The spa menu is equally influenced by the Far East, featuring Mandarin’s famed Time Rituals (starting at $330, 1 hour 50 minutes; starting at $480, 2 hours 50 minutes), which are available in all Mandarin locations, including the Asian outposts, and during which guests purchase a block of time receive an experience customized to their need. But there are several signature services that are exclusive to Las Vegas. Among the most popular is Mahjong Balance (starting at $365, 2 hours), which includes a welcoming foot ritual, a body exfoliation, a massage with warm jade stones, and an Oriental head massage. Pearl powder, which is commonly used in Asia, is incorporated in the Luminescence Massage and Body Treatment (starting at $270, 90 minutes). Guests can also enjoy the Chinese Foot Spa area, which is located to the left of the spa’s main arrival space. Ideal for those who want a speedy cure for feet that ache from traversing the city streets, Chinese Foot Spa (starting at $85, 25 minutes; starting at $110, 60 minutes) hot foot baths are infused with invigorating or relaxing herbal blends. Inspired by the foot spas of Asia, each soak concludes with a reflexology session, a neck and shoulder massage, a heated herbal neck wrap, and a cup of tea, all of which is enjoyed in a plush lounge chair that offers views of The Strip. “The spa is truly able to harness the authentic and healing traditions and treatments from the Far East,” says Lynn. “Our Oriental heritage and traditions are exotic and welcomed in a city built on fantasy and escapism.”


While Asian inspiration is key, the high-stakes late-night locale is not forgotten, and to help guests recover from crazy Vegas nights is Lucky Eights (starting at $365, 2 hours), a revitalizing treatment for eyes and feet, one of several services designed to ease locally induced ails. The spa’s sky-high perch above Las Vegas Boulevard also reminds guests of their high-energy surroundings but provides them with a serene escape from it. “With majestic views of Las Vegas Boulevard and the pulsing streets below, the peaceful sanctuary inside the spa is quite a juxtaposition as the city rushes by and everyone inside the glass quietly reflects,” says Lynn. “The intimate and refined level of service and attention to detail are cherished in a city where volume and high occupancy are prevalent. Our guests enjoy the perceived feeling of having the spa to themselves.”

Among the spa’s many amenities is the Chinese Foot Spa.

Whether guests are seeking an exotic experience or relief from a little too much Sin City fun, the spa provides plenty of opportunity for relaxation thanks to a number of thermal experiences that can be enjoyed in both the men’s and women’s areas. Water facilities include vitality pools, steam rooms, and ice fountains, which help relax tired muscles and revitalize dry skin. Five different Experience Shower journeys, in which spa-goers select a choreographed encounter that combines light, water, and sound, are also available. Another popular pit stop is the Laconium Room, a heated relaxation area with contoured bench-style seating and temperature-controlled tepidarium chairs that are aligned with views overlooking the city. Guests who want to continue their wellness experience can enjoy nailcare and haircare services in the neighboring Beauty Salon or work out in the spacious Fitness Center that comes complete with Technogym’s Kinesis training system and a studio for yoga, Pilates, and other activities. Two outdoor lap pools surrounded by 20 cabanas provide ideal places for guests to chill out and soak up the desert sun before and after spa services, and the Poolside Café serves fresh, healthy cuisine.

Though Las Vegas has taken a pretty serious hit from the recent economic downturn, Lynn and her team are working hard to get the spa to its maximum capacity of 120 guests per day, courtesy of creative promotions. Right now, approximately 70 percent of spa clients are hotel guests, 20 percent are those from neighboring hotels, and 10 percent are locals. Along with room and spa packages with flexible credits to use toward the spa, Lynn has forged partnerships with travel companies to create destination packages that include rooms, dining, and spa experiences. “We are reaching our area market with special workshops and stress-reduction opportunities appealing to local guests’ desire to stay in Las Vegas and feel like they are on vacation,” says Lynn.

Lynn is also counting on the spa’s appeal growing as the buzz for the CityCenter project takes off. “I believe CityCenter will quickly become the epicenter for Las Vegas lifestyle, shopping, dining, and entertainment,” she says. “Las Vegas has become a spa destination, and Las Vegas visitors seek out memorable experiences, which is what we have to offer.”



OWNER: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
SPA DIRECTOR: Jennifer Lynn
OPENED: December 2009

60% female, 40% male

27,000 square feet;
17 treatment rooms

aromatherapy, body treatments, chromatherapy, couples’ treatments, energy work, facials, fitness, hammam, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, makeup application, massage, guided meditation, nailcare, outdoor treatments, Pilates, prenatal services, salon services, scalp treatments, waxing, yoga

Mahjong Balance (starting at $365, 2 hours)

Mandarin Oriental Signature Spa Suite Experience ($800, 4 hours), which includes a consultation and customized experience using oils and treatments tailored to the guest’s current state of mind, as well as nutrition and exercise tips

Akhassa, ESPA, Private Label, Somme Institute, SpaRitual

Chadsworth & Haig, Living Earth Crafts, OKA b., SpaSoft, Technogym
Kohn Pedersen, Fox Architects (New York City)

Tihany Design (New York City)