February 22, 2013 7:29 pm

Life looks better from a spa, even in Vegas

Can you have a rest in Vegas? It turns out you can
An illustration by James Ferguson depicting Mrs Moneypenny's Vegas spa experience©James Ferguson

A wiser woman than I once advised, “When in doubt, spa”. These were words I remembered recently when I found myself alone in Las Vegas. I had briefly considered using the time to write the definitive guide to “how to spend the weekend alone in Las Vegas”, but I had to admit that it wouldn’t have much of a market. So to the spa it was.

It was not supposed to have been thus, of course. In fact, I should have been in the excellent company of Long-suffering Lily, as well as Bright, Bespectacled Betsy, who is helping me research my next book. After my tour promoting the current one had got to Boston, we had two days to kill between Chicago and Seattle, and settled on Las Vegas. The girlfriend who suggested the city even e-introduced me to Elaine Wynn, a businesswoman who is on the Forbes billionaire list. Alas, Elaine was out of town but we planned to go anyway since none of us had ever been to Las Vegas. BBB wanted to see how craps worked; I wanted to see how the whole place worked.

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Mrs Moneypenny

LL, BBB and I rocked up at Logan Airport to fly to Chicago for another event on the tour, before flying on to Las Vegas, thinking how clever we were to be flying out of Boston just before the worst snowstorm in history was due to hit. Hordes of people had descended on the airport like refugees fleeing a war zone, and we were feeling pretty smug, having booked our flights several weeks in advance. But check-in did not proceed smoothly. LL, in a rather blonde moment for a brunette, had booked us on the right flight – but for one calendar month hence.

So instead of making plans for our first night in Las Vegas, we became numbers 45, 46 and 47 on the standby list. Three hours later, we gave up and retreated to the Holiday Inn. I got up at 4am to get the last seat out on a flight to DC and then on to Chicago. BBB and LL took the last train out of Boston to New York before they closed the railway. After 24 hours awake, I ended up in Vegas, alone.

I need a rest, not a party, I thought, as I surveyed all the people checking in with me at the Wynn. Can you have a rest in Vegas? It turns out you can. As well as the spa (wise words indeed), I found the gym for the first time since before Davos. I also set out to find a small, quiet and peaceful place to eat with no gaming machines, and found it – at the Wynn’s own golf club. Which, by the way, also had food of a standard with anything I have eaten elsewhere in the US.

Somewhat refreshed, I even found the strength to take myself off to see the Cirque du Soleil Beatles show, which delivered smokestacks, an iron bedstead and Union Jack flags. I imagined the whole experience was like finding yourself on stage in the middle of Danny Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony. On this occasion, I was not exactly alone, having taken a companion with me – a giant margarita. What more could a girl want?

After my solo sojourn in Las Vegas, I flew on to Seattle, where I was reunited with LL (BBB having sensibly gone home) for another leg of my book tour, which concluded in Los Angeles. I fear LL might possibly be jinxed, US-travelwise, for not long after we had settled in our seats, fumes were reported in the cockpit and the flight was diverted for an emergency landing – to Las Vegas.

We were put up for the night at a rather basic hotel that smelled distinctly of horses. It turned out that we were installed in the main rodeo venue. (I did wonder how likely it was that fellow passenger Ryan Seacrest, host of American Idol and officially famous, was also accommodated here.) After taking LL on a 3am visit to the Strip, we went early to the airport to fight our way on to an alternative flight home. So LL got to see Las Vegas anyway and we both had our nails done at the airport. As I said, when in doubt, spa.

mrsmoneypenny@ft.com

‘Mrs Moneypenny’s Careers Advice for Ambitious Women’ is out in paperback

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