Mama Mia! Las Vegas has it all!

Are we in Bali? The exotic Jasmine Flower bath, drenching us in a flora-scented cocoon feels like one is a million miles away from the human and automotive-traffic clogged Las Vegas Boulevard. This kind of sensory diversion is a driving force in diverting visitors from the casino tables to the massage tables.

Who could resist a ceremony of love treatment that includes an exotic Jasmine flower bath for two, ideal for couples of any age? This exotic treatment and a dozen more take place at the Elemis Spa, which was designed to embrace the ambiance of a Moroccan sanctuary. The 32,000-square-foot spa, located within the Aladdin Resort & Casino, is an eye-stopping place that transports you to a private palace filled with stunning Moroccan antiques and works of art. With brass vases, oriental carpets and massage tables strewn with rose petals, the Elemis Spa takes the Las Vegas spa experience to the next level, with more pampering panache than anywhere else within earshot of the casinos.

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The number of Las Vegas spas is growing with a vengeance, with a new one coming to the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in 2004. The Westin’s first Las Vegas hotel opened on Nov. 6. This 17-story property (825 guestrooms) debuted the group’s signature, the Heavenly Bed (true to its name, this is a bed dressed in crisp white linens, and it is so comfortable, you hate to leave it in the morning). Add to this the Heavenly Bath, which includes a daunting dual showerhead, a curved shower-curtain rod and oversized bath towels, which are thick enough to make you think about buying a set to take home.

Yet, there is only one hotel I am comfortable with, Four Seasons. Not a fan of gaming or the cacophony of the slot machine serenade that permeates the airspace of nearly every hotel in these parts, I bypass the entire scene by slipping into the not-so-easy-to-find entrance of the 424-room hotel, which occupies five floors of Mandalay Bay. Three express private elevators take you to this retreat in a flash.

Adding a dimension to this ultra-private ambiance is the spa, aptly called, “An Oasis of Tranquility.” Balinese and Javanese rituals dominate the spa menu, which truly takes the edge off being in one of the noisiest cities I have visited. The Four Seasons’ signature treatment ($210) promises to take spa lovers on a “journey through the four seasons of life.” The massage table was resplendent, draped in silk. I can’t recall much more, as I drifted into a dreamlike state for the next 80 minutes. Starting with a cooling scrub on the back, hands and feet (winter leading to the spring season), I was then wrapped warmly. Summer was symbolized by a medley of massage techniques (I selected medium pressure). Autumn, the conclusion, was a relaxing herbal-scalp treatment.

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DINING DECISIONS

After this interlude, I met friends for tea in the Verandah Restaurant, which has a kosher kitchen, by the way. Tea is served daily ($23.95 per person). A pianist was playing our favorites, from “As Time Goes By” to “Isn’t She Lovely.” A three-tiered assemblage of small sandwiches (egg salad by far my favorite) and bite-sized pastries (the lemon curd was outstanding) graced the table. It was positively elegant.

Making a stay here even more enjoyable was a last-minute decision to see “Mama Mia!” at Mandalay Bay. I bought a ticket 10 minutes before curtain call ($49.50), and had a terrific view of this smash-hit musical featuring Jennifer Perry and Karole Foreman. ABBA lovers in the audience adored 22 of the group’s songs.

Mandalay Bay includes one of the world’s greatest upscale food courts. But we made the wrong choice by paying a call on “Red White and Blue.” The bakery looked enticing, but we were disappointed with huge slices of stale bread on dreary sandwiches; howling babies out too late at night and painstakingly slow service. A bad investment for two sandwiches and a salad ($55)! While I would definitely avoid an after-theater snack there, other theme restaurants such as Aurole and Red Square are worthy of your patronage. A far-better choice, we now know, would have been Wolfgang Puck’s Trattoria del Lupo, which has excellent designer pizzas and wines from every region of Italy.

One thing is a sure bet, Las Vegas does have something for everyone’s taste if you just look around the corner!

LET’S GO!

The Elemis Spa at the Aladdin Resort and Casino,

3667 Las Vegas Blvd.,

Las Vegas, NV 866.935.3647

ELEMIS (702) 785.5.SPA

Four Seasons Las Vegas

(702) 632.5000 www.fourseasons.com/lasvegas

(800) 332.3442

Rates start $225 midweek (Sunday-Thursday), taxes are 9%.

Westin Causuarina

(800) 228.3000

Rates start at $139 midweek (Sunday through Thursday) www.starwood.com or www.westin.com

“Mama Mia!”

Tickets: 703.632.7580 www.mama-mia.com

Pamela Price is the co-author of “100 Best Spas of the World” published by the Globe-Pequot Press. Contact her at radiotrav2002aol.com.

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