What Happens at the Spa… An afternoon at Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo in Las Vegas is filled with Eucalyptus & An interview with ACHS Spa Department Chair Shawn Hallum
By Guest Blogger: Shelly West
We all think of vegas as a party town, but it is also an amazing destination for a spa getaway! A recent mom’s getaway to Las Vegas with a couple of girlfriends was filled with indulgence and excess of a different variety. Rest, relaxation, and pampering was on the itinerary and the Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo was our destination. We opted to hide away from the hustle and bustle of the opulence of the strip, for a bit of eucalyptus-infused Zen, which is almost unheard of in the City of Decadence.
Image: Lemon eucalyptus branches cut for distillation. Photograph by Dorene Petersen
Once we found the spa, tucked far away from the bright lights, gaming, and crowds of people, the promise of some much-needed rejuvenation made our arrival to the ambient reception area that much more of a relief.
After checking-in, we were escorted from the lobby to an anteroom where we were greeted with a spa technician who supplied us with slides for wearing during our spa experience. We were then led down a hallway with the sounds of relaxation music being quietly piped throughout the facility, ensuring that the tensions from the outside world subside.
First item of business was the grand tour of the facilities, which are immense, followed by giving us our locker assignments and spa attire - a luxurious robe. Once we were ready for our treatment, the three of us congregated in the waiting room while our pedicurists prepared the treatment area for our arrival.
The pedicure section of the spa had several glass foot baths in a row with sheer curtains for optional privacy. The chairs, in my opinion, made me feel like a queen in her throne: Vibrating and massaging my weary back while my feet soaked in a sudsy concoction meant to soften and tame my neglected feet. Upon completion of the soaking, buffing, trimming, and painting, my feet were restored to being sandal-ready. Due to health department laws, new nail files and buffers are used with each client who then gets to take the implements home. This we expected at a high end spa, but what came as a pleasant surprise to us was that the Ranch Spa also gifted us the brand-new nail polish that was used on each of us! Good thing too - because I promptly scratched my polish upon leaving the spa and needed a quick touch-up.
Once our pedicures were complete, we were set loose to indulge in all the amenities that the spa offered. The facilities are free to use if you receive a treatment over a certain value. You may also simply pay a day use fee in lieu of receiving a treatment, but what’s the fun in that?
We had about twenty minutes to wait for our polish to completely set before we could enter the Aquavana area. So naturally we went to the relaxation room, grabbed an ice-cold glass of lemon and orange infused water, and rested on cushioned lounges while thumbing through the latest celebrity magazines.
After our nails were dry, we set out to explore and try out the various spa experiences. First up, the steam room. Upon entering we were instantly struck with the warm air swathing our skin while breathing deeply, as the room was filled with a Eucalyptus infusion of therapeutic oils. It wasn’t long before we could no longer bear the heat, so we found ourselves seeking relief by drinking more infused water and ducking into the multi-sensory cooling showers complete with auditory and light sensations as well as more herbal infusions. While the showers were cold, they were also instantly soothing at the same time. Making our way into the Herbal Laconium room, which was another warm, herbal-infused relaxation space – imagine being in a thermal cocoon-like chamber. We continued to make our way through the rest of the Spa, alternating between hot and cold experiences for over an hour when alas, we needed to wrap up our indulgences and return to the world outside to take in a magic show later that night.
The spa also offers showers stocked with all the necessary amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, razors, and shaving cream. My favorite though was the Eucalyptus mist spray they supplied in each shower. You simply pumped the sprayer a few times toward the steam of the shower and breath deeply.
The entire afternoon was filled with herbal infusions - with Eucalyptus as the star essential oil. I loved the use of it so much and wanted to learn more about the use of it in the spa and how I might use it at home. So, I reached out to Shawn Hallum, AS, BS, MS. He is the Professor and Chair of the Spa Management Program at the American College of Healthcare Sciences and former spa director for Marriott in Hawaii and Tahiti. Here is what he shared:
What benefits does a eucalyptus infusion or essential oil serve in a spa setting?
Shawn: “Eucalyptus (usually Eucalyptus globulus) is frequently used to create a stimulating aromatherapy experience for showers, saunas, and steam rooms. On a practical level, this mode of application works very well, as eucalyptus is renowned for its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties (with many people sharing the space, you can see why this is important). Inhalation of eucalyptus vapor directly affects mucous membranes in our nose, throat, and lungs, allowing us to loosen and remove mucus that causes us to feel congested. After all, breathing deeply and without interruption is essential to an effective spa experience -oxygen delivery helps us to relax, aids in healing body tissues through movement and blood flow, and even releases endorphins which reduce pain and improve our sense of well-being."
What spa treatments do you feel are of the most benefit? And why?
Shawn: “Personally, I'm a fan of Sport Massage - think of this style as a traditional Swedish (flowing and rhythmic) with cross-fiber friction, targeted work and stretching to improve joint mobilization. This style of massage will promote relaxation (something we all enjoy), but also improve range of motion. Though the name accurately implies that it is a great choice for athletes who are preparing for (or recovering from) activities that require optimal performance, everyone can appreciate a strategic massage that reduces fatigue, swelling, and muscle tension. Like any massage, Sports Massage can be enhanced with aromatherapy, making the effects even more profound.”
How important is using essential oils in spa therapies?
Shawn: “Essential oils are selected based on the desired outcome of a treatment, and the selected essential oil often influences the actual treatment design. For example, a hydrotherapy bath with ginger may precede a massage because it prepares the body by heating the muscles. Conversely, a bath infused with Ylang ylang essential oil may be used in finale, extending feelings of deep relaxation achieved by the massage. “
Going into cold and flu season, what blends would you recommend?
Shawn: "If you're feeling congested and don't have access to a eucalyptus infused steam room, you can simply add 10 drops of the oil to a bowl of boiling water. Lean over the bowl and loosely tent your head and the bowl with a towel. Breathing in the vapors for 10 minutes should help. Be careful not to burn yourself! You may also enjoy these benefits more subtly throughout the day by adding eucalyptus oil to an electric diffuser.”
I’m hooked on blending a little Eucalyptus with steam or using a diffuser, so I am heading over to the Apothecary Shoppe to get some organic essential oils. I am hoping it will bring a little bit of the Canyon Ranch Spa experience to create my own home oasis.
For more information about the Spa Management Program at the American College of Healthcare Sciences click here.
Note: This post was not sponsored by Canyon Ranch.