A bit embarrassingly, I've not yet stayed at the flagship Canyon Ranch in Arizona, so I wasn't sure what to expect outside of the positive feedback I've heard from friends and family. In January, I went to Miami Beach for an offsite think-tank of sorts run by the wonderful group to which I belong: Access Circles and now plan to return whenever possible! What a fabulous, healthy, fun, easy, restful experience.
Very different from the Arizona and Berkshire locations, this Canyon Ranch is an a la carte proposition, smack on the beach midway between South Beach and Bal Harbour shopping mall. Feel like taking a few classes a day? As you like. No spa treatments or many? Go for it. Eat super light -- delish and healthy dining -- also easy!
One of the things I valued most was the daily customization I could choose for myself. The best value in the whole of Miami for room sizes, fitness classes galore, 70,000 sq foot state-of-the art spa and fitness center, fresh high-quality and tasty food, four pools, on the beach... You get it.
A fit, healthy at least three-day visit with sun, breezy/balmy pleasure (season depending), and Miami at your fingertips -- if you decide to leave the property that is.
With your love or solo or with a group of friends for wholesome fun.
Super morning workout: Spin class followed by TRX class outside (in the shade) facing the ocean and pool -- after a completely satisfying breakfast -- felt great.
Best time to go
Miami has many beautiful months, the best of which tend to be December through May. I've visited in October when it was lovely and even June is nice.
Again, it's up to you how much you do. One of the East Coast's best medical centers is on-site and truly not to be missed for top-of-the line medical assessments. The medical director, Dr. Karen Koffler, is the personal doctor to many friends who feel they could not be in better hands. I plan to see her mid-March on my next trip!
Good to note
Have a friend or work associate for whom buying a gift is a challenge? I love the idea of purchasing a gift certificate to get them to experience the property. He/she will thank you! (Available via canyonranch.com)
Only suites here -- from 720 sq. ft. to 1,200 sq. ft. -- the largest in Miami with the best value: included in the price are all fitness classes and amenities of the property. David Rockwell designed chic, clean and large bathrooms; every material and design feature is high-quality. They didn't skimp like so many other hotels in the Miami Beach area. How fab that all suites have KitchenAid kitchens so that if you are staying more than a few days you may choose to breakfast or snack in your room.
Service and vibe
I found the general vibe to be professional, informed and friendly. There wasn't anyone I ran into on staff who wasn't "in-the-loop." Services were excellent: from the spa team to class instructors to towel boys and café waitresses. Really.
For those of you -- and I'd bet there are many -- who feel frustrated by how difficult it is to find a high-quality piece of meat, chicken or fish on a supposed top restaurant menu, Canyon Ranch food is 100% assured top pedigree organic/grass fed/free-range/even bio-dynamic where possible. Everything we ate was deliciously healthy and clean, and the mentality of the menu is clear-cut. Desire just a 6 oz. piece of steak on the side of your veggie meal? On offer. A side of quinoa would satiate you? On the way, Madame. Like it -- a lot! Calories, glycemic index, fat grams and sugars where relevant are all listed. Wines are biodynamic; vodkas are organic. Very cool.
Price per night
From $365 to $605, depending on season, for the largest suites Miami has to offer, with living room, kitchen and huge bathrooms.
To Do and See
For ideas on what to do/see/shop/experience in Miami, as there is so much diversity and choice, I recommend buying a fun little guide: LUXE Miami. Upcoming things to do on-property: healthy cooking with the chef, 3 p.m. daily until May 8 and monthly beachfront BBQ. View their calendar for all events.
Sport and Activity
This is my favorite part. Dip in to as many or as few classes and lectures you'd like. From spin to kickboxing to pilates to gentle yoga to wet workout, there are four or more classes every hour from which to choose. There are four large, pretty and varied swimming pools -- each uniquely situated for sun or shade throughout the day. The cardio machines literally look out to the beach/ocean. The stretch of beach is great for walking (including with your pooch), and there are nice community tennis courts a five-minute walk away. In the evenings, there are classes led by experts in sleep, breathing, meditation, cognitive therapy, sex tips and more.
Spa and Grooming
State-of-the-art everything spans 70,000 square feet. Take a look here. Do make time for the Aquavana water therapies, even if you are not treating yourself to another treatment. A full service salon, entrance just opposite the spa, has every basic service on offer. See the menu here.
So many locales to chose from. Here are a few latest, fun, hot spots: The Dutch, Cecconi's at Soho Beach House Miami, Eden South Beach, Hakkasan, db Bistro Moderne, GiGi and Fratelli Lyon
There's an impressive array of galleries and small museums, including my old friends The Rubell Family collection. The lovely Shops at Bal Harbour, an indoor/outdoor luxury shopping mall, provides a complimentary shuttle service to Canyon Ranch to pick up guests. Stroll along Lincoln Road, a pedestrian street lined with shops and galleries and cafes. Get to the Design District if modern interiors are your thing and Brazilian design gets you going! For more inspiration check out Departures: Where to Go in Miami Now.
Approximately a 15-minute drive from Miami International Airport; 30-45 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale Airport -- which tends to be less hassle and stress than Miami and has non-stops from many East Coast locales.