“Observe carefully what may be happening right now in your brain,” the voice says, just as the dazzling cosmos I’ve been floating in dissolves into the skull’s interior. Neurons pulse. Synapses crackle. And my actual brain wraps itself around its beautifully abstracted and digitized representation inside a virtual reality headset.
The VR is part of an opulent spa treatment just unveiled at Qua Baths & Spa inside Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, marking the fifth anniversary of Nobu Hotel. The boutique tower on the Caesars campus was the first property in the exploding hospitality brand from celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and partner Robert De Niro, and their Oct. 19 celebration at its rooftop villa extended to the kickoff of Nobu Go at Qua.
Go is the Japanese word for “five,” and the 100-minute treatment’s 10-minute VR journey honors five fundamental elements: earth, water, fire, air and metal. It was created by Barcelona-based Natura Bissé (the exclusive skincare partner of Nobu Hotels) and showcases an increasingly popular industry trend: virtual reality.
Called Mindful Touch, the video transports clients to a realm of raw nature, eye-popping vistas evoking the elements through wind-whipped clouds and lush forests, cracked earth and molten rock. The world is reduced to pure elements that seamlessly morph, like some hypnotically gorgeous, non-freaky version of Stanley Kubrick’s “Star Gate” sequence from "2001: A Space Odyssey" mashed up with "Planet Earth."
For repeat guest, there are two versions of this cerebral adventure, which Qua aesthetician and massage therapist Amra Lear says is unique to the individual.
"Each person sees a different image. The mind connects to what it wants to see," Lear says, adding that one regular client found that some of the visuals sparked anxiety. "That is the experience—to evoke emotions, awake the body to feeling, creating sensations from our touch on their body to connect with their mind." The guiding voice of Mindful Touch reminds that whatever you feel is exactly as it should be. Observe, accept, release.
Clients experience the VR after Natura Bissé detoxifying seaweed masks are applied to their feet and the skin over their spines. Instructed by the soothing, disembodied voice, they embrace “thoughtful awareness” to heighten both relaxation and sensation.
“Now breathe in deeply. Acknowledge how, in this precise moment, the aromas, along with the power of touch, are boosting your sense of wellbeing,” it tells me. Sweet lemon and warm patchouli hit the air, Lear presses her strong hands into the back of my head where tension pools. She moves down my arms and legs and up the other side as the voice continues: “You can see how each contact with your skin triggers a release of neurochemicals linked to serenity, tranquility and happiness...”
Lear, who has been with Qua for 11 of her 22 years in the industry, worked with Natura Bissé and fellow treatment coordinator, Yuki Asami, to design a cutting-edge facial capturing the spirit of Nobu-style luxury. Lear called on her background in Japanese shiatsu and holistic traditions as she and Asami conceived the all-consuming luxury escape.
“When your body is at rest your skin is at rest, and that’s when it functions better. So when you’re resting, all of these products will penetrate more,” Lear says.
Following the detox masks and immersive sights, sounds, smells and therapeutic bodywork of the Mindful Touch experience, hydrating cream and paraffin are applied to the feet and hands while the multi-step facial works its magic. Skin is double-cleansed and toned in preparation for a peel of malic, tartaric, citric, lactic and glycolic acids to strip dead cells, followed by a lifting peel with botanical extracts and a cupping treatment to increase circulation on the skin's surface. That primes the face for Natura Bissé’s line-inhibiting proprietary serum and gel mask with hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture. The Mindful Touch voice pops in throughout, reminding the client to focus on the moment.
Next, a mask of 24-carat gold dust, crushed pearl and rose is painted on the face, neck and décolleté (upper chest and shoulders). Lear says the gold is a natural anti-inflammatory that calms the skin. Once that is removed, along with the paraffin from the feet and hands, a product with the power of snail mucin (essentially snail slime) is applied to enhance all the lifting and firming.
The finale is a Natura Bissé travel gift to help maintain the Nobu Go effect. The package runs $555 (a nod to the anniversary) and is the only Mindful Touch experience on the Las Vegas Strip.