Pounding ocean waves and wind whipping through the palms are creating such a racket that we can barely hear Sadhu’s soothing voice guiding us though a Prayanama breathing class. The weather in Southern Florida has been usually cool over the past few weeks, but here at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach (www.canyonranchmiamibeach.com) one hardly notices. There are so many daily activities – from fitness classes to lectures – to keep guests busy beyond the beach.
Opened a little over a year ago in the restored and historic Carillon Hotel, this is the third hotel/resort property that flies the Canyon Ranch flag. The other locations are Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Massachusetts. In all three properties the emphasis is on education, lifestyle modification and a holistic approach to health.
The 4th floor spa reception is where most of the action begins. Here, guests meet with program advisors, sign-up for classes, enjoy the wet area, select from an extensive menu of spa treatments and book medical sessions. “We help guests figure out the focus of the stay,” says program advisor Kristina Kelsey. “Be it relaxation, medical or fitness.”
Spread over two floors there are treatment rooms, a large, state of the art gym, fitness studios, a medical facility, locker rooms and separate wet areas for men and women.
A large oceanfront studio in one of the three towers that make up the complex is where the yoga classes (like my Parayama breathing class) and some of the more boisterous classes, such as kick-boxing, take place.
There are features here that you don’t find at many spas – a rock wall, a Kinesis wall and classes in things that I’m never even heard of before such as Stick Fusion (described as western kick-boxing and martial arts), and Yamuna Foot Fitness for those parts of the body that we most neglect. Classes tend to be smallish and, not surprisingly, most guests are women.
However, if there is one thing that sets Canyon Ranch apart from many other spas it’s the medical and healing department. Headed up by Karen Koffler, MD and integrative medicine specialist, the staff includes a nutritionist, acupuncturist, psychologist, energy healer and physical therapist. The team of wellness professionals offers everything from lab work to nutritional evaluation based on blood tests, to genomic testing – to see what conditions or diseases one might be pre-disposed to – and tests for bone density, heart rate venerability and cardio stress.
“Different people resonate with different therapies and the issue is finding the one that works,” says holistic nurse Melissa Roman. The key words are integrated, preventative and holistic. Holistic therapies such as reflexology, sound therapy and neuromuscular massage are also included on the spa menu. Along with holistic therapies there are also the ultra high-tech tests such as the computerized skin analysis that can read sun damage below the skin surface.
And, even if you’re not booking a medical session there is access to the medical staff – with daily lectures. During my recent stay, guests sat classroom style to listen to an informal talk by Dr. Koffler on keeping the heart healthy. Another day, guests are invited to meet over a cup of tea with acupuncturist/massage therapist Jim Rohr. The nutritionist leads a session called Organic Food. Should I Switch?
Unlike the other two Canyon Ranch locations, this is not an all-inclusive facility. Food is a-la-carte but food plans are available and there are certainly ample options available round-the-clock through room service, the all-day café serving wraps, salads, the signature Canyon Ranch coffee, cookies and snacks, and the main restaurant where the emphasis is on wholesome, seasonal and fresh local ingredients. A bar area overlooks a theatre kitchen so guests can watch the culinary action and partake of the occasional cooking class. Organic wine and alcohol are also served.
Most people come here “to find their sense of wellbeing,” says Dr. Koffler. “Our job is to inspire guests to enter fields of new possibilities.” Like concentrating on the breath, listening to the sounds of nature and being mindful of the moment.
For more on visiting Canyon Ranch Miami Beach, go to: www.canyonranchmiamibeach.com.
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