Thrills and Chills in Las Vegas

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Bucket List Worthy  

I laid face down on a heated marble slab, enjoying the simple soothing pleasure of having pails of warm water poured over my body. My chin rested on a soft towel, as I watched a shallow pool form in front of me. The water bathed in the brown hue of the marble and reflected the candle-like glow of the soft lights overhead. It looked like liquid amber. I ran my fingers through it, feeling the warm and silky texture between my fingers, and watched the light and colour it mirrored sashay before my eyes.

Tension in my body began to melt away as my therapist lathered me with suds. The soapy foam doubled, tripled, and piled up all around me. Tiny bubbles began to appear in the pool of water before me. I watched their graceful pirouettes, losing myself in a meditative state.

sahra-hammam

The pattern reminded me of a sight I had peeped earlier that morning: green Creosote bushes against dry, red desert flat, appearing like a salt and pepper pattern when viewed from 2,000 metres in the air.

I was flying over the beautiful mountains south of Las Vegas on board an Extra 330LC , the world’s most advanced certified aerobatics airplane at Skycombat Ace. I co-piloted from the front seat of the plane, listening to instructions from my pilot. He coached me through various aerobatic maneuvers – rolls, spins, loops, tumbles, tail slides – and I carried them out, soaring through the air like the star aircraft of an airshow.

It was an intoxicating experience that’s hard to put in words. The sensation was more similar to gliding effortlessly in mid air, rather than the fast and sudden movements of a roller coaster as the website had described it. More like a graceful dance, and less like a fast dash. More like classical music, less like heavy metal. With every maneuver, I let my head rest against my seat as I watched the horizon twirl before my eyes, mesmerized by the sight and consumed by the feeling of gliding smoothly through the air.

Yes, they actually let you fly the plane! And yes, it’s perfectly safe to do so. The Extra 330 is built of carbon fibre construction, which is 9 times stronger than steel. It has zero prohibited maneuvers, which is a testament to its strength and engineering.
Yes, they actually let you fly the plane! And yes, it’s perfectly safe to do so. The Extra 330 is built of carbon fibre construction, which is 9 times stronger than steel. It has zero prohibited maneuvers, which is a testament to its strength and engineering.

 

My attention returned to the fingers of my therapist working gently to exfoliate every inch of my body before enriching my skin, first with a mud mask to detoxify, then a honey mask to hydrate. The Moroccan Journey treatment at the Sahra Hamam and Spa continued with a detoxing session in the eucalyptus steam room, followed by a cooling soak in a whirlpool. The cherry on top? A full body massage combining Thai, Swedish, and Shiatsu techniques.

This is Las Vegas. A destination where literally anything is possible. You can fly through the air at 400 kilometres an hour in the morning, and bask in bliss with a spa treatment a few hours later.

On my first night in Las Vegas, I had the ultimate strip experience: a helicopter ride above the city at night. Our copter gracefully cruised above Las Vegas boulevard, as the lights and neon signs of the buildings along the strip sparkled below us. It was the perfect way to start a trip in Vegas.

heli-tour

Even for a person who sees cars as just a mere means of transport, the lineup of muscle cars at SPEEDVEGAS had me giddy. Lime green Lamborghinis, red Ferraris, and sleek black Porches make up your options as you get ready to speed across the loopy race track with a stunt driving instructor. At home, I avoid any route that requires me to make tight maneuvers, yet on the race track at SPEEDVEGAS, my stunt driving instructor managed to coach me to reach speeds of 213 km/hours as I steered through 12 challenging turns, banking up to 15 degrees, and covering 2.4 kilometres in 86 seconds. The adrenalin rush was indescribable!

speedvegas

Just 30 minutes outside of the city, Bootleg canyon provided a welcomed break from the fast pace of Las Vegas. Sloping valleys and hills decorated with red rock and desert shrubs made up a rugged landscape around Red Mountain. Between the light-hearted jokes of the Flightlinez staff, I enjoyed the gentle silence of the canyon. But don’t think I’d give up on speed even here. Safely harnessed to the zipline, I reached speeds up to 96 kilometres per hour, while enjoying a bird’s eye view of the cajun-spiced vista.

flightlinezbootlegcanyon

When it was time to satiate my appetite, there was no shortage of choices in Las Vegas. Budget-friendly options like Giada and Buddy V’s were every bit satisfying with their generous portions of homey Italian food. Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill may just be the best place in the region to experience first-class southwestern cuisine. For seafood lovers, the expansive menu at The Herringbone is nothing short of a heavenly experience. The creativity and artful plating at Morimoto makes a meal feel like a delicious stage show. Lastly, modernist cuisine at the Libertine Social is course after course of mouthwatering surprises.

food-vegas

Whenever I felt a food coma coming on, I rode it out at one of the city’s countless luxury spas. The Spa at Aria takes facials to the next level, incorporating a gold face mask to hydrate the skin, and plump fine lines. It’s as decadent as it sounds. A Chinese foot massage at The Spa at The Mandarin Oriental is a perfect way to restore achy feet. Hot steam towels and a pressure point massage melt tension and release pain, while a moisturizing mask leaves even the driest feet smooth and supple. For those sweltering Vegas days when a hot tub is out of the question, the snow room at Qua Baths & Spa is a refreshing retreat.

Getting there

Direct Flights to Las Vegas are plentiful from several Canadian cities. Catch the latest flight deals to Las Vegas here.

Stay

Take a break from the hub bub of Las Vegas Boulevard with a stay at the quiet boutique property Vdara. End your nights in Vegas with a view of the Strip from your hotel room window, and let the graceful dance of the Bellagio fountains lull you into a restful slumber.

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About the Author: Zebunnisa Mirza

Zebunnisa is a Toronto-based freelance travel writer addicted to cobblestone streets, fancy architecture, food, and sweeping natural vistas. Follow her adventures around the world @purplescarfgirl

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