Spa of­fers place to hang your hat

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties -

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.

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