Spa offers place to hang your hat
Iarrived at Canyon Ranch Miami, a renowned spa brand that originated in Arizona, at 9:30 a.m. on a sunny Miami morning. I was in a severe sleep debt, slightly hungover and seriously regretting the previous night’s excess at a Korean barbecue joint back in Toronto. I arrived prepared for a sharp critique — to be roughly undressed, prodded with calipers and pointedly reminded of my myriad physical flaws and bad habits.
But this isn’t that kind of spa.
Not a single staff member beat me with organic reeds or questioned my personal choices or forced me to fib about how much coffee I drink.
I didn’t experience any sense of deprivation. There is melted cheese and real butter on the premises.
When not hanging out in the extensive 70,000-square-foot spa and wellness facilities, guests do yoga, walk on the beach or lie on comfortable loungers and stare at the ocean.
They drink organic martinis and lattes and eat from an extensive and appealing menu full of healthy and satisfying options.
For three days, I ate fresh fruit and Cobb salad (with veal bacon!) and key lime pie.
I swam in the ocean, I fell asleep during spa treatments, I sat in the steam room, and I very quickly allowed most of the stress and tension to leave my body like sweat through my pores.
I felt refreshed in the morning; my breathing slowed and my head felt clearer than it has for years. Now, imagine living here. In addition to functioning as a hotel for stressed-out city dwellers who feel the call of a temporary ocean respite and the beckoning of strong fingers handy with knots, Canyon Ranch Miami offers one-, two-and threebedroom residences separated into three towers, with floor-to-ceiling windows, full kitchens, walk-in closets and views of the ocean, Biscayne Bay or the city.
About 15 per cent of its residents live here full-time — most are second homes that are part of a rental pool when owners are away from Miami — and Canyon Ranch is busiest from December to May.
About 70 per cent of the units have been sold.
“There’s no real profile when it comes to our residents, which is fantastic” says Eric Schneider, who works in sales for Canyon Ranch.
Ages range from late 30s to late 70s, but tend toward empty nesters rather than families with small children. A large number of residents are snowbirds from New York, Chicago or Boston desperate to escape the winter.
“We have a blend of people, but they’re all here because they want to be healthy,” says Schneider.
“People come here when they hit middle age and start to feel out of balance,” a Canyon Ranch nutritionist told me. “They’re looking for a place that will support a holistic approach to wellness, that will take a lot of the guesswork out it for them.”
Classes for residents are ubiquitous and are included in maintenance fees.
Residents receive a 20-per-cent discount on food, spa and additional health services.
Eileen Nexer, a semi-retired real estate agent who moved from a house in Coconut Grove to live in a hotel suite at Canyon Ranch, was sold on the idea of a holistic, healthy, tranquil lifestyle with like-minded people. “I can have a very busy day and then take a gentle yoga class in the ocean studio listening to the wonderful sound of the waves crashing,” she says.
There’s a deliberate stillness to Canyon Ranch Miami. Rooms are tasteful and uncluttered. Spaces are decorated with a mix of taupes, soft greens and lavenders, oranges and buttery yellows, and light and dark woods.
The simple accents include plants and seashells (which manage to avoid being kitschy). There’s a focus on soft materials, couches you can sink into and deep armchairs that tempt you to curl up your legs.
Architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia admits that it was challenging to make more than one million square feet of space “cosy.”
Public spaces have been split and configured to foster a greater sense of intimacy. “It’s more like a village than an apartment building,” he says.
The waterfront has plenty of outdoor seating, pools, a boardwalk occupied by speed walkers and cyclists with salt-blown hair, a narrow strip of grasses and sea grapes, and then the pristine beach and warm waters beyond. “Canyon Ranch is addictive,” says Schneider. “It’s a no-brainer when you live here; you just live in a whole wellness mentality.”
Nexer agrees. “I’m living a healthier life now,” she says. “I don’t know if it will extend the number of years I live, and I honestly don’t care. I care about the quality of life while I’m here.”
This bedroom at Canyon Ranch Miami has views of the nearby ocean.