We say the spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami is worth a visit for the VIP suites alone; there are six of them, all with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Biscayne Bay. (Tip: If you book a treatment toward evening, you’ll witness some splendid sunsets over the water.)
The signature treatment is the Oriental Essence massage, which includes a consultation with the therapist and a full-body customized treatment. An interesting half-day program, drawing on Miami’s heritage, is the Latin Rhythms spa package, which includes a private Samba class followed by an exfoliation of lime, mint and sugar, and a hot stone massage. A Spa Mojito cocktail and a Latin-Asian bento box lunch are then served poolside. Detox-Retox, we’re all over that!
Spa Director Osa Mallo suggests reserving treatments a week in advance for weekends and holidays, though last-minute requests are usually accommodated. E-mail her at [email protected] or call her at 305-913-8331 for insider tips.
Considering a bridal shower or other special event for you and your BFFs? Consult Spa Sales Manager Stephanie Menendez ([email protected]; 305-913-3806), who is an expert at setting up suite and spa buyouts for bachelorette parties and other smaller groups. Note: If your client is traveling with children, there are yoga programs for those aged 5-11 and teen treatments that include manicures, pedicures and facials, as well as belly dancing and salsa classes.
Staying at the hotel? If you want your room to have an inviting and peaceful spa vibe, opt for the one-bedroom Mandarin Suite, which has a living room, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen and a large private balcony accessible from every room. There’s also a spa serenity room with fabulous views of Biscayne Bay. If that’s taken, insiders tell us the Deluxe Veranda guest rooms are the hotel’s best-kept secret. They’re a step up from Deluxe Bay View rooms and have oversized terraces with views of the bay and the Miami skyline—perfect for entertaining the girls. Note: All rooms at the hotel have private balconies; the most popular are the Biscayne suites with stunning views of the bay and the bridge.
Chief Concierge Guillerme DeMelo ([email protected]; 305-913-3794) can procure a Vespa scooter for your Girlfriend Group to tool around Miami; he’s also known to have arranged for a private jet to fly a guest and his date to Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys for a romantic dinner. His most famous feat, however, was shipping 100 palm trees to a guest’s home in the Middle East.
After our stay, we say that the cozy Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove is a gem of a boutique hotel. It’s a best bet for women traveling solo as the service is attentive and it’s close to one of Miami’s most interesting dining and shopping districts. We’re talking walking distance.
The spa may be petite (just 6,000 square feet) but houses separate men’s and women’s lounges, saunas and steam rooms and six treatment rooms.
If you go, try the time-saving Tandem Treatment, which, for 50 minutes, employs two therapists who work together to serve up a signature facial and pedicure that includes a foot and leg massage, as well as a shoulder, neck, arm and scalp massage. Be sure to request appointments at least six hours prior to each service.
Spa Director Laura Kain ([email protected]; 305-644-4684) can recommend the top therapist, including Danilo Toledo, who is most requested for the Signature or Hot Stone Massage.
The size of the spa makes it ideal for buyouts for a wedding party or other group event. Know a bride considering a wedding in South Florida? Contact Jeysa Plana ([email protected]; 786-470-1202), who can detail the nuptial venues on site.
After the pampering, you and your BFFs will want to retire to the top digs in the house, The Ritz-Carlton Suite (a.k.a. the Presidential Suite). It has two bedrooms, private balconies, a living and dining room, an office, private butler service and great views of Biscayne Bay and Coconut Grove.
We found our Executive Suite to be a fine place to crash for several days (request No. 529, 629, 729 or 829 for the top vistas), courtesy of its large living and dining area. Note: The hotel was modeled after the nearby Villa Vizcaya (the posh former estate of magnate John Deering), so rooms and public spaces have an elegant and regal ambiance. If clients must book a standard guest room, they’ll take heart in knowing that a private balcony awaits.
Note: If you’re sailing in or out of the Miami cruise port, a 15-minute drive away, the hotel has a Sail Away package that covers accommodations, breakfast for two and transportation to or from the port.
Those arriving via private chopper or jet can land at Kendall-Tamiami Executive General Airport; contact Airport Manager Michael J. Handrahan ([email protected]) for details. Another option is Opa-Locka Executive Airport; contact Chris McArthur ([email protected]).
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