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August 19, 2014

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LAKE LAS VEGAS:

Amid the decline, decadence for the feet

Image

Steve Marcus / FILE

The Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas has filed for bankruptcy protection, one of several setbacks suffered by the upscale community.

“You have really good feet,” Sonja said.

She went back to filing, trimming, scrapping, sanding and buffing. Later, she would apply toner “to close the pores and make your feet look young,” Sonya explained. And nail polish.

There was a glass of Guinness.

Oh, sure, a “gentleman’s pedicure” doesn’t sound macho but “and beer tasting,” well, that makes it all right, right?

It was my first pedicure, an activity that, in regard to my own feet, always sounded about as useful as trash-can decorating or shovel polishing.

So there I was, glass in hand at 9:30 in the morning (like college, almost), experiencing ill-advised decadence at our local capital of ill-advised decadence.

Lake Las Vegas.

It’s a man-made lake surrounded by waterfalls and golf courses and subdivisions, an artificial oasis that attracts desert wildlife onto its roads so well its mascot could be a jackrabbit converted into a bloody streak of fur.

In its way, as much as anything that isn’t a towering Strip hotel can be, Lake Las Vegas was a symbol of the boom years.

There it was, a brand new lake with manicured landscaping in a land that gets four inches of rain in a year. Celine Dion lived there. A Hummer in every driveway. The high end could only go higher end, luxury more luxurious, and everyone would make a giant pile of cash, never mind the $1.9 million annual water bill. Go ahead, everyone said, embrace decadence.

Turns out, there was hubris, too.

A year ago, the place was foreclosed on. Last summer, the new owners filed for bankruptcy protection. Homes and condos have gone on the auction block. One of the golf courses just closed. Everything is on the table. There were even worries (since averted) that lack of maintenance would cause the lake to drain.

The hotel that hosts the pedicure-providing spa, the Ritz-Carlton, filed for bankruptcy protection in April.

Ten years ago, when the resort was opening up, who could have imagined such a thing? Or, for that matter, a “gentleman’s pedicure and beer tasting”?

As she got on with the sugar scrub, Sonja said she wasn’t worried. It would work out.

“Only happy thoughts,” she said.

In general, Sonja said, the spa gives more pedicures to men than to women. Men are easier, too, because they don’t wear cute shoes. Comfort, not callouses.

For the curious, the “gentleman’s pedicure” and the “gentleman’s pedicure with beer tasting” cost the same: $75 (before the mandatory 20-percent tip). So go with the beer, although that’s not so much of a “tasting” as a “drinking,” because what you get is three bottles of beer you’ve almost certainly had before. But it will make you more relaxed for a procedure that lasts about an hour and takes place in a chair and foot bath that, for a 6-foot tall man, are about as comfortable as a tricycle is for a bear.

But there is a foot massage. And there is even a “scent spray.”

Smell, odor, stench — finally, after all these years, “scent.”

For a little while, anyway.

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