Spa review: Snakeskin pedicure

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vegas? Is it slot machines? Cirque du Soleil? The nightlife? Buffets? High-shine polyester club-wear? All of the above? OK, maybe I’m stereotyping a wee bit, but I never thought of this desert city as a spa destination. However, after a recent trip and spectacular-meets-bizarre treatment at the sleek Vdara Hotel & Spa I most certainly do now.

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Visiting the the 18,000-square-foot, two-level spa and salon at the Vdara ended up being the highlight of my mini vacation. Despite the spa’s central location on the Las Vegas strip, the vibe inside had a comfortable yet contemporary boutique ambience – still cosy but also très chic. As for the treatment, it was one I couldn’t get here in Toronto but was dying to try – it’s called the snakeskin pedicure, bizarre right? Since python is the “it” animal print for fall I thought this was a very fitting time to get the pedi.

The pedicure uses gel polish (Bio Sculpture to be exact, these folks are the creators of this unique pedicure) plus the addition of real ball-python skin that is naturally shed from a healthy and unharmed snake. Once each piece of snakeskin is cut to fit, it’s then adhered with a clear coat of Bio Sculpture. Then it gets really detailed with some hardcore nail art to make each and every scale pop on your pedi.

Warning: If you don’t like snakes or feet, you may want to quickly scroll down as I document the process. Let’s just say I don’t have foot model potential.

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My toes were in incredibly talented hands with Vdara’s in-house manicurist and Bio Sculpture educator, Kozue Fukano. She’s been doing this complex pedi for the last four months – it’s the only spa that offers the service in Las Vegas. My first question was: Where does the spa get access to naturally shed snakeskin? I mean, I know it’s located in the desert, but it certainly can’t be that simple. Fukano told me that the skins are collected from local pet stores and then Bio Sculpture sterilizes them.

The first step was picking out the right shade. Fukano recommended colours in the brown, dark red or nude families. “These shades are a good canvas for the snakeskin, it makes the end result pop,” she says. After some much-needed consultation to steer me away from choosing a bright orange I settled on Cherise Pink.

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After a few rounds under the UV lamp to set my deep red polish, Fukano cut out the snakeskin to fit onto each nail. “I only use the top of the snake because the scales are smaller, it gives greater detail,” says Fukano. After the skin is coated in clear gel polish my nails were once again UV-cured under the lamp. Then it was onto the second colour, Bio Sculpture Baby Salmon.

Fukano said the contrast of this pale pink is the perfect shade for detailing. She then started the painstaking task of outlining every single scale. She stoped after every fourth or fith line to set the nail under the UV lamp to ward off bleeding polish. Her hands were as steady as a surgeon’s.

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The last few steps included the addition of a third shade of gel polish in Midnight Blue to add even more dimension to the nail. Fukano chose select scales and painted inside them. After another go under the UV lamp, the nails were sealed with one last coat of clear polish.

Finally  I was finished. All in all the process took around two-and-a-half hours. Due to all the lady power that goes into this labour-intensive pedi it will run you $180. On the upside it can last you up to 10 weeks, depending on how fast your nails grow. I’ve had mine for three weeks and it still looks like new – ahhh the joys of UV-cured nail polish.

The snakeskin pedicure is available at The Vdara Hotel & Spa.