Living in a testosterone-filled world requires finding some girl time and escaping to paradise. You see, I have two teenage boys plus two teenage bonus sons. My sweet mother-in-law, Joan, raised three boys. This equals lots of testosterone. Neither of us have the luxury of grabbing a daughter to take shopping, watch a chick flick or take for a mani/pedi. Instead we get to go to sporting events, or iFly or enjoy cannon ball contests in the pool. Girl time is a foreign language to us. So, we decided to do what all boys’ moms should do … escape to the beach and spa heaven.
What exactly is spa heaven? Spa Heaven is the most gloriously relaxing beach resort in Miami, Florida., Carillon Miami Wellness Resort. We are fortunate enough to visit Miami at least once or twice a year and it has fast become one of our favorite vacation spots.
The Carillon is situated on a 750-foot stretch of private beach along the shores of Miami Beach.The resort exudes the “luxury of wellness” by focusing on aligning physical, mental and spiritual health. Its spa is the largest in the region at 70,000 square feet and has a one-of-a-kind thermal experience, plus an integrative medical wellness center.
As we prepared for our week away, we knew that things on the home front should be organized first and with swiftness. I arranged for the kids’ activities and created a calendar so my husband would be well prepared. Joan went into high gear making sure the kitties were booked for boarding as well. Now with those details out of the way we could plan our escape.
We visited the Carillon website and reviewed the lists of activities with the goal of relaxation to reboot the brain and body. The hotel advises booking spa services before arrival. First things first — book that massage, NOW! There are many to choose from and each have detailed descriptions.
Once we had our massages and facials booked the countdown begins. Three more weeks, two more weeks, four more days and finally we are off.
It was a glorious day as we prepared to board our flight to Miami. No boys: just girls, a spa and no agenda.
Two tickets to paradise
We arrived at Miami International Airport around 2:30 in the afternoon and grabbed a cab for a 20-minute drive to the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, aka PARADISE. Upon arrival, we entered the gorgeous neutral-colored marble lobby and were greeted with “Welcome to the Carillon, Mrs. Hammers. May I offer you a glass of hibiscus tea?” Aw, this is already paradise.
The wonderful aroma of eucalyptus, lavender and other wonderful clean sea air scents filled the air. We were directed to a very kind and helpful guest agent that guided us through all there is to do while at the resort. Of course, we were most interested in how to get to the spa and the beach. She also reviewed the extensive selection of classes we could choose from each day. Most of the exercise and wellness classes are offered at no charge for guests and do not require pre-registration. If the urge to learn how to belly dance hits you then just pop into that class and learn to belly dance. I must say, that urge did not hit us this trip, maybe next time. It was refreshing to know that I did not have to make any decisions right then and there. We could take the schedule to our room and review at our leisure.
The bellman showed us to our room, or should I say suite — a lovely 1,200-square-foot suite containing a nice kitchenette and living area with two bedrooms, two luxurious bathrooms and a balcony overlooking the ocean. Spoiled, yes you can say we are already feeling quite pampered. Now what should we do? We smiled and said, “No boys. No agenda,” popped the Prosecco and toasted to Hammer girls in paradise.
Healthy organic cocktails
We decided to go to the bar and restaurant on the property, called Thyme, which offers craft wellness cocktails with organic alcohol and a combination of organic ingredients selected for their respective health benefits. I chose the most wonderful organic martini while Joan stayed to true to her scotch and water. The restaurant features the award-winning executive chef, Fritz Zwahien, who creates the most delicious seasonal cuisine for both foodies and the health-conscious alike. The choices all sounded delightful but we finally landed on the decadent lobster risotto and the redfish. We were as happy as little clams.
Day two was Joan’s birthday and a day of total relaxation with no real agenda until we venture out to Gianni’s for dinner. Breakfast was delightful at Thyme where the choices are plenty and the fresh fruit and smoothies were a great choice for a refreshing start to the day.
After breakfast Joan headed to the spa for the Carillon Couture Facial and I head to the beach. At the spa, Joan is greeted with a very comfy terry cloth robe, slippers and her own locker. The facial is great for all skin types and combines traditional European methods with advanced marine biotechnology formulas to refine your skin’s texture, cleanse and revitalize. As Joan is being pampered, I am enjoying my chaise lounge on the beach. Nothing but the sound of the ocean waves crashing and a book and I am in pure heaven.
Gianni Versace’s mansion on Ocean Drive
The afternoon comes to a close with the two of us totally relaxed and looking forward to dinner. We get dolled up and head to Gianni’s at the Villa for dinner, aka Gianni Versace’s mansion on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach. The mosaic tiles are imported from Italy and the gorgeous gardens and courtyards are a true sight to see. We sat in the Onyx Bar for a glass of wine and cocktail before dinner. We had dinner out by the famous Versace pool, tiled with a thousand mosaic tiles and, of course, Gianni Versace’s famous medusa in the middle. We dined on mouth-watering filet mignon and lobster gnocchi, and concluded the meal with an amazing carrot cake topped with warm chocolate and ice cream. It was a night to remember.
Day Four was a day for exercise and massage. After breakfast, I hit the gym for a run on the treadmill and 45 minutes on the elliptical, and Joan took off to the spa. This time she chose the Abyanga Massage. Based on the principles of Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of natural medicine, this holistic treatment involves manipulating the body’s marma points (vital energy centers). Abhyanga is designed to release toxins and to free the flow of energy through the body and mind.
After my morning exercising I chose Sound Massage Therapy. This unique massage therapy is said to result in reduced stress, improved sleep, pain relief and a unifying of the physical, mental and emotional self. Music, healing vibrations, aromatherapy and expert massage techniques come together to create a soothing symphony of relaxation that will abolish even the toughest of tension and stress. It was a very relaxing and melodic experience.
Last activity of our relaxing day was to meet up for the Thermal Experience, available to all hotel guests every day, all day. There is the Herbal Laconium where guests sit in a warm ceramic room with heated seats and a starlit ceiling; a Crystal Steam Room which is a scented room where the soothing power of steam is enhanced by aromatic essential oils, refracted colored light, and a large clear quartz crystal; or one of my favorites, the Experiential Rains where guests enjoy — or are shocked by — multi-sensory cooling after exposure to heat to improve circulation and slow the aging process. There are three storm shower experiences: Atlantic Storm, Caribbean Monsoon and Polar Mist.
I also enjoyed the Finnish Sauna, a classic sauna lined with fragrant wood that emits dry heat. One of Joan’s favorites is the Thermal Heated Loungers. She might have taken a nap or two on these loungers, but no one will really ever know. The Atlantic Spa is available also, enhanced with bubbling jets, contoured seats and small pressure-point river pebbles to relax the body. Finally the one thing that might have caused me to let out a squeal, the Igloo Experience. Three Arctic mist experiences—menthol, mint and eucalyptus—help to cool the body, improve circulation and re-energize the soul. Each day it was my perfect way to end your Thermal Experience.
Carillon Miami Wellness Resort has won the Hammer girls’ hearts, minds, souls and bodies. As we prepared to leave there was a bit of sadness but anticipation of our next stay. So yes, we will be going back. Until next time, “Namaste, Carillon.”
6801 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Fla.