When you think of wellness travel, where is the first place that springs to mind?
Perhaps it is Tahiti’s Bora Bora in the Indian Ocean? Or how about an exclusive Thai retreat, or spa on a deserted Balinese beach?
Las Vegas? A Nevadan city situated on the edge of Death Valley? Not so much.
But you’d be wrong to write off this tourism industry stalwart too quickly.
Over the past few years the city has ridden the wave of wellness travel – a sector now worth between a few billion US dollars and several trillion (depending on who you believe) – to diversify its offering.
Formerly a city solely dedicated to vice, Las Vegas now offers visitors a chance to recover from their sins and begin again.
During a flying this winter I was able to sample some of the new highlights.
From our base at the Park MGM Las Vegas, we were perfectly placed to explore the whole of the famous strip – beginning with the hotel room itself!
Each comes equipped with features that minimise the impact that travel has on your body and features a shower head infused with Vitamin C (apparently to neutralise chlorine and promote healthy hair and skin), the latest air purification system to reduce allergens and an energy light therapy bathroom mirror designed to help with jet-lag.
Also on offer is automatically adjustable room lighting to improve the body’s internal clock and an all-natural mattress made without harmful toxic chemicals.
All in all, this was the perfect setting to relax and recharge after an 11-hour flight direct from London.
Closing the curtails I was able to grab a few hours sleep before we began our tour of the latest attractions on offer.
Take a tour through the treasure of the Aria Las Vegas
Next door to the Park MGM, reachable through a warren like maze of indoor tunnels, is Aria – one of the hippest properties on the Las Vegas Strip.
Here the Aria Hike offers a chance to burn off a few calories.
A 60-minute indoor jaunt around the property, the activity doubles as an art tour.
But do not be fooled into thinking this is an easy stroll glancing at a few painting, just because it is indoors.
A certified fitness instructor will have you climbing steps and doing lunges, planks and squats, and you will break a sweat after a few minutes no matter what your fitness level.
My advice is to take the trainer up on the offer of a towel before you begin.
During my experience, which covered nearly 5,000 steps over three miles, and saw me climb 26 flights of stairs, I burnt around 1,000 calories.
This was made slightly easier by the art tour, showcasing the US$ 40 million collection dotted around the hotel.
We are told by our enthusiastic guide that the activity is extremely popular among newlywed couples looking to work off that post-Vegas wedding pot belly.
SoulCycle is growing from its New York base to take its brand around the world
For a more intimate experience, head down to SoulCycle at the Wynn for an upbeat, high-intensity cycling class that will lift your spirits as well as your glutes.
A cardio-led workout incorporating muscle sculpting and strength training elements, the activity sees us pedal our way to personal best times while listening to a carefully selected playlist of modern and classic hits in a candlelit studio.
Certainly a novel experience for me, at least.
SoulCycle is much more than your bog-standard cycling class and the brand also has international ambitions, having just announced plans to a number of properties in London this year.
Take in views over Las Vegas with a yoga experience in the High Roller
But if, like me, you prefer a workout with a view, then Las Vegas offers an unparalleled experience.
Branding itself as a yoga movement offering a memorable, playful and inspiring version of the activity that infuses practice, community and music into each event, the concept was developed by Dray Gardner four years ago.
Equipped with headsets transmitting the instructor’s voice, alongside music from a curated live DJ set, you are treated to an amazing birds-eye view of the Las Vegas skyline as you perform your sun salutations.
The glass pod fits six, plus the instructor, allowing plenty of space for even the most elaborate poses.
There is plenty of time during the class to stop and enjoy the scenery, or to simply relax during a second rotation.
Witnessing the last rays of sunshine illuminate the Spring Mountains in the distance makes for an unforgettable sight.
Las Vegas Convention Centre is currently undergoing a renovation and expansion
All these new attractions have been paying dividends for the tourism market in the Las Vegas.
Last year the city welcomed over 42 million visitors, with 16.5 per cent of those arriving from the UK, the largest overseas market.
Indeed, the move to wellness has been part of a wider trend, as the city seeks to rebrand away from a gambling-led destination into one more concerned with business travel, in particular the MICE market.
For this reason, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority board recently took steps to begin work on the convention centre’s latest expansion.
As Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority chief executive, Steve Hill, told Breaking Travel News: “We are really excited to be adding about 35 per cent more space to the nearly two million square feet of exhibition space that we have now.
“We broke ground on our expansion last year and it will be open by the end of 2020.
“We will have about 60,000 square metres of exhibition space and about 50,000 square metres of meeting space in a beautiful facility.
“Once that is done, we will go back to the space that we currently have and do a real renovation of that space to bring it up to the same standards.
“By the end of 2023 we will have over three million square feet of exhibition and meeting space combined in a what will be a beautiful new facility and a great Vegas experience for our MICE guests.”
Best Friend has been a revelation on the Las Vegas culinary scene
Meanwhile, back at Park MGM, the final stop on our tour took us to Best Friend, a Korean BBQ joint run by Roy Choi, creator of the gourmet Korean taco truck, Kogi.
Here we are treated to a feast of Korean classics with a Mexican twist.
Kimchi Bibimbap (or Bibimboombap as it is known here) is a wonderfully fragrant dish, with a spicy kick, while the spicy pork shoulder in gochujang will make you want to order seconds as soon as it reaches the table.
We followed this with a whole grilled sole with garlic ponzu and veggies, which was again superb, all complimented by the many varieties of Banchan and washed down with a side of plum Soju.
A wonderful way to undo some of the hard work from earlier in the day!
The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority is charged with marketing southern Nevada as a tourism and convention destination worldwide, and also with operating the Las Vegas Convention Centre & Cashman Centre.
With nearly 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas alone and more than 11 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide.
The UK serves as the largest source of overseas non-stop flights into Las Vegas with as many as 30 weekly flights from London, Manchester and Glasgow on Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Thomas Cook and Norwegian Air.
Las Vegas is considered World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination by voters at the World Travel Awards.
Find out more on the official website.