Miami


16
Jan 12

Detoxing Celebrity-style at the Canyon Ranch Miami

 It would be fair to say that after three back-to-back trips in less than a month, followed by a Christmas and New Year feasting frenzy, I could now happily weigh-in alongside a team of Russian shot-putters and am a prime candidate for gout, in fact if I carry on at this rate I will have no feet by February. So, something has to be done and I’ve come to the shocking conclusion that I am going to have to eat less and move more. And where better to start this radical new regime than at the Canyon Ranch Miami Beach, Hollywood’s favourite wellness retreat.

Now, I do love a trip to the spa but I’ve never really felt the urge to use my holiday time to detox. It just doesn’t sound much … fun really, but with a guest list that includes Shakira, Eva Longoria, Terri Hatcher, January Jones, as well as Jason Statham and Gerard Butler (spas aren’t just for the ladies any more!), the Canyon Ranch promised to be more than your average health spa. There may be 230 classes a week, resident doctors, nutritionist and physiotherapists, and a lofty keep-fit philosophy but there are also lashings and lashings of luxury and a fair amount of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On arrival, I was pleased to see that the lobby was definitely more Kenzo than Tenko, showcasing original Art Deco features of the original Carillon Hotel alongside the upscale elegant designs of New York architect David Rockwell. The rooms too were plush, inviting and surprisingly large – even by American standards – each with vast living rooms and kitchens, spacious spa-style bathrooms and broad balconies overlooking the ocean.

So far, so good. And after a good night’s sleep in my jumbo bed I’m up and at ‘em. The Canyon Ranch does have a reputation for taking a serious approach to health and fitness though so I fully expected warm cabbage-water and wheatgrass for breakfast but no, instead – and much to my delight – I’m presented with a plentiful plate of organic blueberry pancakes, coming in at less than 300 calories, including the syrup! So this is how those celebs manage to stay so skinnylicious! Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out yourself (you really should). And if you love this recipe as much as I do, you can find more here

Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes with Fruit
Ingredients
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1/4-1/2 cup 2% milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup berries or chopped fruit  (Blueberries and bananas work well in this recipe.)
12 tablespoons pure maple syrup Instructions1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a medium bowl combine remaining wet ingredients and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
2. Lightly coat a griddle or large sauté pan with canola oil. Place on burner over medium heat until hot. Portion approximately 3 tablespoons batter on griddle and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon berries or chopped fruit. Cover fruit with 1 additional tablespoon batter and cook until bubbles form. Flip and cook other side to golden brown.
3. Serve 3 pancakes topped with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.Serving Information
Makes 6 (3-pancake) servings, each containing approximately: 365 calories, 70 gm. carbohydrate, 6 gm. fat, 54 mg.cholesterol, 10 gm. protein, 469 mg. sodium, 4 gm. fibre.

Loving the idea that eating healthily could taste so good (this Canyon Ranch even allows alcohol, unlike its sister resorts in Tuscon and Lenox, but, of course, here the cocktails are organic, the beer biodynamic and the red wine green) I’m now convinced the keep-fit side of things will be a breeze too.

 

 

 

 

 

I bypassed the enormous indoor rock climbing wall, the spectacular state-of-the-art gym overlooking the ocean, and the four swimming pools and instead opted for my first ever Zumba class. Zumba was invented in Miami and claims to be an easy-to-follow, Latin inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Sounds fun right? I thought so. I like a party and, although the only time I really dance is on nights-out when copious amounts of alcohol seem only to serve to enhance my natural dancing ability, I felt sure I could hold my own. Not so. My first ever Zumba turned out to be a somewhat humiliating experience as within moments I came to the sudden, stark and sober realisation that – I can’t dance! While the rest of the class, including a couple of nip-tucked octogenarians, pranced around the room in a series of highly-coordinated hip-shaking movements, I found myself flailing about like a mad jellyfish, facing the wrong way (more than once) and gasping for air like a guppy. Strangely though, I loved it and by the end of the sessions I was caught up in the feverish good fun of it all and happily ran around the room high-fiving strangers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was only one thing to remedy this sudden outburst of American-like enthusiasm and that was to head to the spa for some calm downtime. A 70,000 sq.ft shimmering, mosaic-covered sanctuary awaited me. Two floors of gently-lit sumptuous rooms, tropical “experiential” showers, pools of healing waters, thermal cabins, soaking tubs, laconiums, and an igloo (yes, really) made for a fabulous A-list experience. The massage too (just about) lived up to its $240 price tag with a hundred minutes of pounding, pressing and pulling inspired by ancient techniques used on Thai warriors.

Needless to say, as I enter into 2012 I believe that these celebrities have got the right idea and from now on I will be stuffing myself with pancakes, embarrassing myself at Zumba and all-day spa-ing wherever possible. Who’s with me?

GO THERE

Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa, Miami Beach: Tel 305-514-7000; http://www.canyonranch.com/miamibeach/; From $400


2
Jan 12

New Year’s Eve at The Setai Miami

Well, we may tightening our belts and pinching our pennies over here in the UK but it seems that the shimmering beachside city of Miami may have missed the memo about the worldwide economic downturn. Over in South Beach, the limos are lined up and the champagne is chilling for the inevitable influx of super-celebrities ready to hit the famous New Year’s Eve party scene – Lady Gaga, P-Diddy, J-Zee and Beyonce, Gwen Stefani and Owen Wilson are amongst a huge list of stars that have chosen Miami as the place to “bring in the bells” over the last few years. And the hottest ticket for 2012? The Midnight in Marrakech Ball at The Setai.

The Lowdown

Even without a glamorous party on the go, The Setai is one seriously alluring place to be. The gorgeous, design-conscious hotel may have been open for six years now but it still has the heady buzz of a brand new opening so I was thrilled to make it my first stop on my pre-Christmas tour of Miami. Celebrity sightings at The Setai, where the enormous rooms can easily accommodate an extensive entourage, are too numerous to mention. Most recently the X-Factor USA judges, contestants and crew took over the hotel, laying down tracks in the Lenny Kravitz designed recording studio like Jay-Z and Chris Brown before them. Simon Cowell, of course, bagged the best room – in fact he won’t stay anywhere else in Miami – checking into the incredible four-bedroom Penthouse suite complete with rooftop lap pool, Jacuzzis-a-go-go, Baby Grand piano and a wine cellar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t afford to drop $30,000 a night from your Prada wallet then there are another 86 ultra-chic suites to choose from. All have spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows affording views of the city or beach (or both if you’re lucky) and come with designer beds and threads, deep black granite bathtubs, rain showers, Asprey amenities, 50” TVs, Bose sound systems and Illy coffee makers. And the little touches – I love the little touches – each guest is also provided with a gorgeous raffia beach bag, sandals and sarongs. Fabulous.

 

The Highlights

The Setai is a knock-out of a hotel. From the minute you walk through the splendid Art Deco exterior, of what was once the Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel, you’re met with an entirely different South Beach experience. There are no ice-cream colours and squidgy furnishings here, instead The Setai has opted for a cool Asian aesthetic and has totally nailed it. A soothing palette of polished woods, honey-coloured stone floors and perfectly positioned artworks are offset with flashes of oatmeal and orange – including a stunning display of 500 amber-like roses.

 

 

 

 

 

It says a lot about a hotel when you just don’t want to leave, even with a city as spectacular as Miami on your doorstep, but there was nothing else for it. After a morning spent meandering around the hotel’s tropical gardens and flitting between the three temperature-controlled swimming pools, it was time for a Mediterranean inspired lunch at The Setai Pool and Beach Bar. Thankfully the food lived up to my now incredibly high expectations (as did the cocktails) and come three o’clock I had to practically be wheeled to my spa appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spa at The Setai, which carries through the same serene South East Asian vibe, overlooks South Beach and is an intimate, peaceful and stylish space. I booked in for the Ila Kundalini Back Massage which involves working on the spine to unblock the build-up of negative energy caused by stress. Now, I’m not sure if my Chakras were cleansed or any other kind of inner magic replenished but I did fall asleep within five minutes and felt wonderful when I was gently awakened from my slumber an hour later. The perfect pick-up before a night on the town.

Star Style

 

 

The ladies of Miami take their swimwear very seriously indeed so, apart from needing that all important NYE party dress, you’ll be wanting some stylish swimwear. ReallyRee over on the Hello! blog, Attempts at a Stylish Life, put me on to a beautiful beachwear collection from Paolita. If you’ve got the body and the confidence, this gorgeous silver swimsuit from their Spring/Summer ’12 collection is sure to make an impact.

 

Luxur One Piece £140 Paolita.co.uk

 

 

 

 

GO THERE

The Setai; Tel (305) 520 6000; http://www.setai.com/; Rates from US$550


23
Dec 11

Christmas Shopping in Miami

What do you mean it’s Christmas on Sunday? Not this Sunday? Oh dear… Ten days on from my last post and I still don’t have a tree, or tinsel, or a turkey for that matter. Thankfully, it’s not all “Bah Humbug” in the Cobaj household as I did manage to pick up a couple of presents during my trip to Miami last week – and oh what fun it was! They do Christmas shopping differently in Miami; you don’t have to deal with angry elbow-and-umbrella-wielding consumers, sideways sleet or slippery sidewalks – oops I mean pavements – instead things happen at a much more civilised pace. Here, the temperature is set to summer time all year round and if you haven’t already sent your personal shopper out to garner your gifts, you can take a leisurely stroll down through the city’s chic boutiques with the sun shining on your SPF-covered face and spring in your perfectly toned step. It’s no wonder the rich and famous choose Miami as a favourite festive destination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bal Harbour

Bal Harbour is without a doubt one of the swankiest malls in the world and pulls in more revenue per square foot than any other retail space in the United States – beating even New York and Rodeo Drive! Think all-out glamour darling, it’s all about luxury; expect high-end fashion houses, jaw-droppingly beautiful jewellers and gorgeous art galleries. This is the place where J-Lo comes to stock up on engagement rings, Beyonce and Jay-Z like to stop by for a spot of lunch at Carpaccio’s and Kelly Rowland comes Christmas shopping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gee Beauty

My favourite shop at Bal Harbour – partly because it was the only one I could afford but also because of the lovely welcoming staff – was the swish little Gee Beauty salon. Inside its sleek all-white interior it houses a modern make-up and skincare studio that offers Oxygen facials and expert eye-brow threading alongside highly covetable cosmetics and skincare ranges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite product, and the one that I hope Santa will be leaving under my non-existent tree, was the exquisitely scented and incredibly nourishing Rodin Body Oil £68

 

 

 

C Madeleine’s

C Madeleine’s is one of Miami’s best kept shopping secrets. This 10,000 square feet boutique is located off the usual tourist trail on an unremarkable stretch of Biscayne Bay and houses one of the best collections of vintage clothing in the US. It would be a huge understatement to call it a simply a vintage store as it’s so much more than that – it’s a homage to fashion, a magnificent museum of clothing. The shop’s namesake and marvellous curator, Madeleine, personally scours the world for the highest quality pieces so prices aren’t exactly a bargain but even if you can’t afford to spend $6500 on a Dior two-piece it’s still worth whiling away an afternoon amid the extraordinary styles and trends of the last century.  Take a stroll through the decades from Downton Abbey flapper dresses to 1950s Grace Kelly-esqu gowns to “I Dream of Jeanie” Kaftans to Eighties Helmut Lang power suits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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