Exclusive. In a word, that is the Mandarin Oriental. Surrounded by stunning water views on the island of Brickell Key in Miami, it offers visitors a piece of private paradise. And prescription “paradise” was just what the doctor ordered for this overworked beauty queen. I emerged from my frantic day-to-day in the publishing world for an excursion to the spa, complete with an overnight reservation and dinner at award-winning restaurant Azul.
True to its name, the Mandarin Oriental incorporates the principles of Asian design throughout—from the grand floor-to-ceiling windows that blur the line between inside and out, to frequent encounters of the elements of nature—mini-manicured trees, chic piles of rocks, and straight lines of identical flowers on display.
The rooms offer sanctuary for the weary traveler, reflecting these natural, elegant qualities with nature-inspired textiles of various earth colors and textures. Wrap-around balconies beckon one to experience the open air above, the rustle of palm trees below. Next to the private beach, the water quietly ripples by.
It’s the kind of place that is easy to sink into and difficult to climb back out of. For me? I want to move in permanently. Sophisticated, extremely detail-oriented, impeccable service. Could I ask for more? Not really, but I was there for the spa experience, so there was more to come…
I walked into my appointment at the Mandarin Spa not knowing what treatment I was booked for. Worried? Me? Just getting to the front desk was a journey that stimulated the senses. I wasn’t worried at all.
Without question, the 15,000-square-foot spa takes a different approach to the traditional spa experience, offering restorative treatments that both reflect the elements of nature and the ancient traditions of Chinese, Ayurvedic, European, Balinese and Thai cultures. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the many beauties of this spa is that they off er VIP treatment, which provides the opportunity to work one-on-one with your therapist to identify your needs and build around those a custom spa experience. (For those who prefer to stick to traditional spa services, they have those on the menu too.)
But today I was getting VIP services and so, naturally, I was in one of the VIP suites on the hotel’s fifth floor.
The typical spa treatment room is a small, dark, womb-like space. Not here. Walking into the room, my eyes were immediately drawn to the floorto- ceiling windows with a view to a great expanse of blue water framed by swaying palm trees in a gentle breeze.
The room itself was the epitome of Asian-inspired comfort and class, designed with natural textures— from bamboo and rice paper to glass and linens—to achieve harmony and balance.
At the request of my therapist, I sank into a comfy loveseat near the windows to discuss my custom spa experience. “Tell me what you have in mind,” she started. I knew I wanted a massage of some kind and told her as much.
“We have Swedish, which I like to describe as a dance,” she said. “We also have deep tissue, if you have something in particular you’d like to work on.”
As I mulled it over in my mind, she continued. “Or we have a hot stone massage.” Now that’s what I wanted. Stones it was. And how fitting here at The Mandarin. I selected my essence, sweet orange blossom, and disrobed.
I laid down, back facing up in a heated ergonomic chair, and looked down through the face rest at a water-filled bowl with a single floating, orange bloom. The room was still. Then my therapist invited the bell to sound, a call to tranquility, mindfulness, calmness. I heard and was grateful.
Her hands were the most proficient hands I’ve ever experienced, small yet strong, deft. With those heated stones, she released the day’s stress and tension, leaving me relaxed, happy, and grateful for this gift.
From the aromatics to the soft music that gently filled the otherwise quiet room, my senses were engaged and disengaged at the same time. The ultimate state of bliss, and the perfect foray into the rest of my stay at The Mandarin— a six-course chef’s tasting menu, complete with wine pairings and an opulent bed on which to lay my head. Prescription paradise was perfect.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Miami
500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, FL.