Vegas: Drink Up Before Detoxing


After the hedonism of the holidays come more virtuous times -- diet, fitness and fiscal prudence. But if Puritanism has got you down, it's time to break away and head to the capital of vice: Las Vegas.

It's well-known as a great place to let it all go, but since what happens in Vegas doesn't really stay in Vegas, take heart: The city also offers attractive options to start cleaning up your act again. In other words, you can "detox" after you've "retoxed."

Your Vegas retox options are many, but should certainly start with a few quality cocktails.

Old school: On the classy side of things, the Petrossian Bar at Bellagio is a chilled-out setting with a view of the fantastical ceiling-glass installation by the artist Dale Chihuly. Enjoy a vodka sampler with some caviar to the sounds of a Steinway grand piano. For more creative drinking, head to Palazzo and Bar Charlie, at Restaurant Charlie, by famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter. Enjoy vintage cocktails served in pre-prohibition style, such as a Sazerac (made with absinthe), or an Apple Jack. There are also modern, highly creative cocktails that include ingredients like Manchego cheese, dehydrated cinnamon and soy milk.

The young ones: If the drinking experience is more about, shall we say, the ambience, the young things in Fredrick's of Hollywood catalog clothing can be found in force at Planet Hollywood's Prive and The Living Room, exclusive nightclub/lounges that include the long wait to be selected to cross the red velvet rope. (The entrance is near the casino's "Pleasure Pit," where the gaming tables are attended to by women in lingerie and graced by pole dancers.)

Apparitions: Another sort of view can be enjoyed at Ghostbar at the Palms -- 55 floors up and with a panoramic view of the glittery Strip tapering off into the desert. Out on the patio, there are clear panes on the floor that let you look all the way down. This is something to do before you start drinking.

Tiki to ride: You've got to be in a certain kind of a mood to go for a tiki bar, but if that's how you'd like to take your poison, check out Frankie's Tiki Room. Here, all drinks are $8, even when they include 160-proof rum. Try the bar's version of a Zombie, but beware that there's a two-drink cap per customer.

Is your head aching yet? When you're ready to do a bit of pleasurable penance, the best bet is to a head to a spa, which will make you look and feel a lot better.

The Donald's place: Trump Las Vegas is an excellent hotel choice if you're serious about detoxing: There's no casino on the property, which gives it a more laid-back and quieter feel. The spa is on the small side but offers several treatments designed for people who have gotten their party on. Try the Vegas Recovery Massage, which incorporates acupressure and hot-and-cold packs, and The Morning After Eye Cure, which reduces puffiness and dark circles.

Newest of the new: If it's new you want, Eleven Spa is a popular Delray Beach, Florida, spa that is opening an outpost in Las Vegas at the end of January. While it's well off the Strip, at Town Square Mall, the spa will transport you from the Strip via limo, and also has a helicopter pad available. The Delray location is an indoor-outdoor affair, with an inviting outside courtyard set up with lounge chairs. The desert extremes of weather in Las Vegas makes incorporating actual outdoor space a challenge, but the feel of the outdoors is helped by fountains and carpets made of real grass. Comprehensive body treatments and a hair and nail salon are available, and for VIPs or the intensely private, the spa offers a totally private treatment room with its own entrance.

Last minute: If you're booking at the last moment, chances are the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, shared by the elegant Palazzo and the Venetian, will be able to accommodate you. Reputedly the largest spa in North America in terms of square footage (134,000 square feet), this branch of uberspa Canyon Ranch is designed so you don't notice the size of the place until you're escorted to the treatment area, a veritable maze. This is a place to spend a few hours. The Aquavana complex has a hot tub, sauna, steam rooms and "experiential showers," which use colored lights, water temperature and varied water streams and sound effects to replicate a cold fog, a rain forest and so on. After treatment, there is an array of relaxation rooms in the back where you can mellow out: a salt grotto, where sea-like air is piped in while you recline on a heated lounger; and a wave room, which makes it seem like you're sitting under a canopy beneath the ocean. No, that's not actually possible without drowning, but this is Vegas, and reality is malleable.




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