South Floridians know what to do when summer storms erupt every afternoon like clockwork: hit the spa. They’ll find the industry has entered a whole new era where simply feel-good treatments are souped up through wellness programs, medical advancements on par with Robin Cook thrillers and a national holistic renaissance that has everyone and her mother juicing. “Wellness is to today what spas were 15 years ago,” says Marco Selva, general manager for the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, whose program launched in May. “Guests want healthy fun.”
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Whether life coaches or personal trainers, wellness centers are partnering with top health gurus. Miami Beach’s The Standard Spa, which pioneered the principal (not many boutique hotels claim an on-site acupuncturist!), hosts retreats and events all summer. Lately, it’s been on a soul-searching kick. Having built a following for her eight-week courses, resident life coach Jennifer Grace penned "Directing Your Destiny." Her book signing on June 22 is part of the spa’s Summer of Soul series.
With 16 years under her waist-watching belt, Ashley Pearson, The Breakers Palm Beach’s new wellness coach, can tick off just about any related certification, from Pilates to pantry makeovers. For her Spring to Balance Spa Package, guests receive one hour of yoga, meditation or guided imagery; one hour personalized consultation, and fresh pressed green or fruit juice. The Spa Detox Package offers mindful eating tips, private yoga, detoxifying mud wrap with scalp treatment or foot mask, and a spa lunch. “The quest for balance is on the rise, and Ashley bridges spa and fitness,” says GM Tricia Taylor.
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Local versions of Tracy Anderson, A-list trainers Tracie and Chris Vlaun seem to be everywhere. Recently the couple popped up at the St. Regis, where they lead their signature TRX Bootcamp and Aeroga, a hybrid of aerobics and yoga. “They aren’t prone to conventional gym workouts,” says Selva of their preference for outdoor classes, often on the beach, and use of one’s body in lieu of weights.
Twenty-first century treatments have evolved from mere back rubs. Only a few of the 60 massage therapists at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, are trained in a lymphatic drainage technique that boosts circulation and mitigates water retention. Unlike Swedish and deep tissue massage, it is light but more effective, according to spa director Michelle Kelthy. “Detoxifying the body is the most important goal,” she says, further recommending baths and wraps with seaweed harvested off Ireland’s west coast, which works wonders for flushing toxins. “We’re like a European apothecary, dispensing elixirs for issues, be they hormonal or sleep.”
The Boca Raton Resort and Club’s recently rebranded Waldorf Astoria Spa only uses Natura Bisse products, a first-time collaboration for the skin care line. From a trio of exclusive packages with a trendy twist, the aptly named Diamond Experience adds a Shiatsu Lifting Facial and Magnetic Body Ritual, in which diamond dusted mud balances chakras, over five hours folding in massage and a mani/pedi. Most spas embrace Eastern techniques such as Thai massage-inspired Royal Muscle Rejuvenation at St. Regis’ Remède Spa. The Standard adapts the Japanese bathing ritual with double dose treatments, a coconut milk face mask and soak, or blood orange mineral salt scrub and tub. Medically Speaking
For the seasoned spa-goer who’s seen it all, the Delano’s Club Essentia Wellness Retreat is a must-try. Helmed by Dr. Ivan Rusilko, its treatment menu reads like the making of the Bionic Woman—stem cell extracts, IV nutrition supplements and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. He tests and tailors each patient’s needs based on wellbeing versus age. “For example, we customize antioxidant ‘cocktails’ based on skin type and health for collagen-stimulating facials with the Circ-Cell machine,” he says, also introducing Viora’s Trios and Reaction systems, which cover a wider spectrum of applications like body contouring and hair removal.
An alternative to facelifts and fillers, CACI facial toning at Mandarin Oriental Miami’s spa does the job through the machine’s exclusive micro-current therapy. Its long-lasting effects inspired many of the spa’s clients to purchase their own. “Only three of our properties perform the treatment,” says spa director Osa Mallo, who expands with CACI body treatments during summer.
St. Regis’ Selva says it’s easy to drink your way to health, especially if you’re sitting at the hotel’s breakfast restaurant, which offers a fresh juice bar. Among the healthiest concoctions they offer are blends rich in organic berries and muddled herbs. Another bonus: the brand new, gluten-free menu they just introduced. Beet juices and wheatgrass shots also are the rage at the Naples Ritz, whose H2O Cafe reopens in October, with a new chef’s organic menu favoring raw and alkaline dishes. Kelthy says demand was loud and clear. “Books for these cuisines flew off our boutique’s shelves,” she says.