Carillon Miami Wellness Resort
By Irvina Lew
Wellness travel is a $639-million industry, according to recent data reported at TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace (IMM) conference held in New York City, in January, 2020. In fact, that figure refers to travelers with different priorities: the majority, 89%, choose to incorporate some wellness experiences–beauty and body services, fitness activities and healthful food–into their vacations or business trips; while only about 11% are primarily motivated by the R-words related to wellness: reboot, recover from a life event, reduce (weight or stress or toxins or blood pressure), rejuvenate, or simply retreat.
The Carillon Miami meets the criteria for all, because it offers all the wellness amenities of a full-service, beachfront luxury hotel & spa resort plus those featured at rare, world-class wellness centers. Carillon is well-located, directly on the Atlantic Ocean within a luxe, all-apartment-hotel on Collins Avenue (between 68th & 69th Streets), in Miami Beach, and features bar, restaurants, four outdoor swimming pools and an oceanfront beach club.
As for the spa component, the two-level facility is the largest wellness facility on the eastern seaboard and it offers an array of typical and non-traditional experiences. It was originally built as a lifestyle destination for Canyon Ranch, which spa-goers know from its well-regarded destinations in Tucson, AZ, Lenox, MA and on Cunard cruise ships. The entry on the 4th floor leads through a coed lounge near the concierge desk, a spa boutique and past the Leonardo Rocco hair and nail salon and an elevator to the open-air, rooftop, adult-only spa pool.
Beyond the concierge desk, there are separate locker rooms for men and women, each of which features European-inspired, Thermal Experiences: multi-sensory rain forest showers, a foot bath, a multi-jetted vitality tub, a scented, Crystal steam room, a Finnish sauna where dry heat purifies, an herbal laconium to detoxify under a starlit ceiling (heat with less humidity than a steam room) and an igloo room. The 3rd floor is reached via an interior elevator (and stairs); it houses a fitness facility with ocean views, the rock-climbing wall, a coed relaxation lounge and 25 treatment rooms.
A Wellness Concierge guides guests who have a choice of more than 20 complimentary group exercise classes, weekly, and wellness lectures. The daily fitness menu displayed on screens indicates Yoga, Barre, Pilates, Cycling and other classes. Guests can schedule appointments with a private trainer, a nutritionist, a life coach, couple’s therapist and others. (Non-resident guests are welcome to book services, use the hydrotherapy circuit, pool facilities and the beach; but are restricted from the fitness floor and classes.)
The point is that The Carillon offers so many transformative signature spa treatments, that you can discover a new therapy that could well enhance your life or—as I did—try things that are interesting experiences, but not necessarily repeat ones.
Spa Director Tammy Pahel, a career-long spa professional, has assembled an impressive coterie of wellness experts and has introduced an array of holistic modalities. I met with Dr. V., Vladimir Turovskiy, a Physician of Oriental Medicine, who oversees the medical wellness program and consults with guests on Chinese Medicine and acupuncture; he introduced me to needles, electric current and ear seeds (and, now, I am considering continuing acupuncture at home.) Then, I met Elaine Kroytor, “a Holistic Therapist, Lifestyle Coach, Registered Diagnostic, Medical Sonographer.” She’s a highly trained aesthetic therapist with advanced certification in electro-sound lymphatic drainage therapy; more importantly, she’s empathetic. After a chat, during which she immediately “got” that I do NOT tolerate cold and would resist whole-body cryotherapy, she adjusted her recommendation to my comfort level and suggested trying a localized cryotherapy facial, which was actually fairly pleasant and did–if only for days–give my face a rejuvenating lift. Next time, I plan to try the lymphatic drainage.
I also tried the Salt Bath Float within an egg-shaped tub in which I insisted that the top be left open; it was filled with luke-warm water and 80 pounds of Epson Salt, which breaks down into magnesium and sulfate, absorbs through the skin and is claimed to relax muscles and loosen stiff joints. The experience was quiet, meditative and it probably did help to detoxify. Floating in the tub was like tasting a Proustian madeleine as it brought a wonderful memory to mind: the unbelievable in-water massage I once experienced floating on the salty surface of Dead Sea waters in an indoor and shaded, salt-water pool.
I sampled the LightStim bed; a bed with infrared lights topped with a hard, flat, plexiglass-like surface, but was more comfortable seated facing a portable infrared light directed on my face. Infrared therapy is said to help “detoxification, pain relief, reduction of muscle tension, relaxation, improved circulation, weight loss, skin purification, lowered side effects of diabetes, boosting of the immune system and lowering of blood pressure.” I also briefly tried lying on a sheet atop a bed lined with teeny, mini-quartz stones, which are supposed to restore energetic balance. I didn’t feel particularly comfortable and my masseuse quickly moved me to an idyllic facial/massage table which moves to raise/lower knees or back.
My all-time favorite three services are the familiar basics: a scrub to exfoliate and moisturize (here, I relished a much-needed ginger coconut scrub, from Kim, the lead aesthetician), a massage and a facial. (As a massage-aficionado, I am a believer that this form of hands-on, touch therapy increases circulation, relieves tension, reduces stress, relieves anxiety, improves sleep, and helps me feel good and age better!) At Carillon, I received a long, 130-minute massage and facial which Jessica choreographed on that one, wonderful facial/massage table. She incorporated the head, hands and foot massages from the Kombucha Radiance 80-minute Facial into an extended massage and used the rest of the time for face massage, masque and extractions, (which, I’ve noticed, the usual 50-minute spa facial rarely includes).
Each day, after a soak in the Jacuzzi, I signed out my spa robe and wore it upstairs to my suite, which was a luxurious, renovated and contemporary one-bedroom apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows and two separate balconies and Atlantic Ocean views. Each of the spacious one-or-two-bedroom options (720 to 950 square feet) are outfitted with a full-service, well-equipped kitchen with an island, a living room with a sofa bed, a bedroom (mine had two queen beds, but there are king bed options) and a large bathroom. Mine had two balconies with chairs and views of the beach and the city. The accommodations are so comfortable, that even families spend weeks at a time here and I could easily spend months…or forever, especially because the storage facilities are terrific, with deep drawers large enough to stow a soft carry-on.
On my first evening, I dined at the bar, where I sat next to a repeat guests who was going out to dinner and two friends who live-in-the-building and were sharing a huge steak served—with fingerling potatoes and veggies–on a family-sized wooden carving board. I’m a carnivore; so, one look at beef and I ignored the wellness option that night. I ordered a small and succulent rare filet mignon, which arrived perfectly prepared with grilled vegetables. The breakfast buffets are easy for anyone watching their weight, with fresh fruits, smoked salmon and scrambled or hard-boiled eggs. At lunches—outdoors at The Strand–I ordered from the wellness menu: a fabulous cold gazpacho; a delicious mango and shrimp salad, a succulent serving of roast chicken plus fruit salad. The typical wellness menu includes a choice of 5-ounces of protein plus vegetables (I also tasted my guest’s thin-crusted pizza Margherita).
Dining options are on the ground floor–indoors and out–at The Strand at Carillon Miami, The Corner Store, or via In-Suite Dining. There’s a full menu, a prix-fixe menu and a wellness menu. The registered nutritionist, Staci Shacter, gives talks on Sunday morning and develops individually-designed meals, which the chef executes for clients who meet with her. Vegan? Keto? Whole 30? Weight Watchers? Menus can be individually designed and the chef prepares delicious and nutritious food.
The Carillon is easily reached from Miami or Fort Lauderdale airports or the train. And, there’s no need for a car. Miami Beach provides a free trolley on Collins Avenue (from 44th to 88th Street) and others that do South Beach loops. Plus, UBERs are really inexpensive. The hotel is very well-located, within walking distance of Prima Pasta, a neighborhood Italian restaurant, and those, such as Carpaccio, at Bal Harbour (97th) and South Beach (23rd St south): Bazaar, OLA, Joe’s Stone Crab and countless others. The resort offers family-forward events; kids can ride bikes on the paved and landscaped oceanside “boardwalk,” climb a climbing-wall, swim at three of the four pools and, at age 14, participate in classes and the fitness facility.
Whether you try a wellness vacation with the family or with friends (I was happy alone for much of the time), or for a long weekend escape or a dedicated spa stay, you’ll find the Carillon a welcoming go-to place worthy of regular return visits, especially if you love wellness, warmth and the beach.