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, Carillon Hotel & Spa is a great choice for a healthy vacation -- provided you're not also looking for nightlife or a happening pool scene.
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 as a Canyon Ranch property, the luxurious, 150-suite Carillon changed hands in the winter of 2014 but still maintains many Canyon Ranch-like elements. There's a 70,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, and fitness classes are offered throughout the day. It features several restaurants with bars but no true nightclubs, so it's a more laid-back luxury option when compared to some of its competitors.
The hotel is flanked on either side by two 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 Carillon is in a sleepy area by design.
The hotel is right on a beautiful stretch of Miami Beach with an entrance off a quiet, narrow part of Collins Avenue. 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 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.
The Carillon Hotel sits on a quiet stretch of northern Miami Beach, which is easily accessed from a beautiful boardwalk. When the hotel was managed by Canyon Ranch, 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 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 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, suites here 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.
Beds have pillow-top mattresses, 400-thread-count Mascioni sheets, and fluffy, down-blend pillows
Suites have 40" Sony HDTVs in both the bedroom and living room
There's an emphasis on pricey spa treatments, but there are also plenty of other features: pools, a gorgeous gym, countless fitness classes, and state-of-the-art thermal therapies.
The entire property, which consists of residential areas, 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.
Wellness Spa features a number of innovative treatments, from Chinese medicine consultations to prenatal massages to Turkish body rituals
Most amazing is Aquavana, a European thermal suite with a Finnish sauna, a crystal steam room, a foot spa, an herbal laconium, an igloo, and Experiential Rains treatments
Experiential Rains are like special effects showers -- guests press buttons to choose from Atlantic Storm, Caribbean Monsoon, or Polar Mist, each a choreographed shower with sound effects, changing lights, and different water textures and temperatures.
Huge fitness center has floor-to-ceiling windows offer ocean views from dozens of cardio machines
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