Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Walks the line between health services spa and luxury beach resort. Usually it works, but guests expecting solely one or the other may be disappointed.
Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore. As at other high-end Miami resorts, there are the Lamborghinis and Ferraris parked out front, and the usual, super-attentive service.
Opened in the fall of 2008, the luxurious, 150-suite Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach negotiates a fuzzy line between health service spa and beach resort. It's more relaxed than the other two Canyon Ranch resorts in Tuscon, Ariz., and the Berkshires. It serves alcohol, allows children, and doesn't have minimum stay requirements. But it's still very much a spa. The restaurant serves health food with detailed nutritional information next to every item on the menu. There's a 70,000-square-foot spa and fitness center. Dozens of fitness classes are offered throughout the day. And there are lectures by physicians, nutritionists, and spiritual advisers.
As such, it's a great option for those who want a healthy vacation without the intensity of a traditional destination spa. You can do yoga by the beach, undergo skin imaging, spend the day in the sauna -- and then escape to South Beach at night and, if you so choose, get wasted. That said, few guests seem to go to such extremes. For the most part, the resort is extremely peaceful and quiet -- perhaps too quiet for some.
The hotel is flanked on either side by two Canyon Ranch Living residential facilities that, according to a staff member, are popular as third homes. Residents use hotel facilities along with hotel guests, and some hotel facilities are actually in the residential towers.
The beachside Canyon Ranch is in a sleepy area by design. There's little around to distract guests from healthy, peaceful pursuits.
The hotel is right on a beautiful stretch of Miami Beach with an entrance off a quiet, narrow part of Collins Avenue. The concierge told me the spa is intentionally located in a somewhat isolated area, and its sleepy location certainly feels many yoga classes away from the action in South Beach.
For rebellious spa guests, there's Dunkin' Donuts across the street and Norman's, a local bar and grill. For food shopping, there's a Publix market across the street. That's it, other than a few other strip mall tenants.
Guests more interested in hitting a bar scene than practicing yoga should probably consider another property. South Beach is 15 to 20 minutes by taxi ($20). Shopping is closer. The Bal Harbour Shops, a high-end mall with both a Neiman's and a Saks, is a seven-minute, $10 cab ride -- or a 25-block walk via a beautiful, new beachfront boardwalk that Canyon Ranch helped fund. The resort also offers a free shuttle the Bal Harbour shopping area.
Canyon Ranch sits on a quiet stretch of northern Miami Beach, which is easily accessed from a beautiful new boardwalk. The property's developers donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund the boardwalk's extension, so that it now stretches all the way from South Beach to Bal Harbour up north.
Chaises and Canyon Ranch white-and-tan umbrellas are loosely arranged on the beach, staking out a casual claim on the plot of sand directly in front of the facility. The larger beach itself is open to the public, as is the boardwalk, and the atmosphere is one of inclusion, not exclusion, to the general public.
The sand is nice, though slightly coarser than the stuff they truck in to South Beach. A staff member told me that's because the sand is actually natural and native to the beach. Imagine that!
Waves are small, but the ocean is less placid than farther north in Sunny Isles. A beach attendant told me they have occasional jellyfish problems. In short, a small but lovely beach area for swimming and sunning.
Large and exquisitely decorated, suites at Canyon Ranch strike a perfect balance between stylish and homey.
While the rooms at many high-end Miami hotels rely on Liberace-esque or novel design to feel special, Canyon Ranch suites are designed to make guests feel at home -- if home were decorated by an innovative downtown New York design shop. The work of the Rockwell Group, the same firm that did the W New York, rooms are chic yet warm and inviting. Beautiful teak is used for crown molding and cabinetry. It looks absolutely stunning against ecru-colored walls with purple, green, and orange accents. The feel is fresh and contemporary without trying too hard -- a welcome change from many other Miami hotels.
Some of the more expensive suites have better views but are also a bit smaller. All rooms are suites and feature full kitchens. Surprisingly well-equipped kitchens feature the following:
While the entire Canyon Ranch facility, including the residential Canyon Ranch Living portion, has four pools, only two are designated for hotel guests. The tranquil-but-popular Cabana pool offers food and drinks service and is open to all ages. The Atlantic pool, open only to those 16 and older and featuring a large HydroSpa with jets and contoured seats, is even more peaceful. The spa also has a salon where guests can receive hair, nail, wax and makeup services.
The first Canyon Ranch to allow children has made notable attempts to make the resort family friendly while also remaining an adult retreat.
While the other two Canyon Ranch resorts in Tuscon, Ariz., and the Berkshires don't allow children, Canyon Ranch Miami is open to all ages.
The spa offers teen services for guests ages 14 to 17. Canyon Ranch also offers family fitness classes -- for children 5-13 and their parents too -- which can be booked as private or in small groups, and children can also participate in their own classes. The hotel offers complimentary classes for children 5 to 8 (Kid Fit) and 9 to13 (Youth Fit), while those 14 and up are free to use the hotel's fitness and mind-body classes at their leisure.
The Canyon Ranch Grill has a children's menu that can be ordered from at the grill itself, around the pool, or from room service.
Canyon Ranch Grill serves dinner in a pleasant setting. The menu is health-focused and heavy on the fish, especially ceviches and tiraditos (so flavorful, so few calories!). Everything on the menu is accompanied by detailed nutritional information.
The property also has a juice bar called Eezz's in the fitness area, and a casual, over-the counter café and bar, off the lobby called the Carillon Lounge, which features organic, sustainable cocktails and happy hour specials.
Dining options outside the hotel are sparse, but spa escapees can binge across the street at Dunkin' Donuts or Norman's, a local bar and grill. For stocking the suite kitchens, there's a Publix market nearby.
With some of the most beautifully decorated large rooms in Miami, a beachfront location, a great spa, and a huge fitness center with a rock-climbing wall and dozens of daily classes, Canyon Ranch is a great choice for a healthy vacation -- provided you're not also looking for nightlife or a happening pool scene.