Biscayne Bliss

It is often said that location is everything. and in the case of the ritz-carlton spa, key biscayne, the tranquil oceanfront setting couldn't be more ideal. Key Biscayne, a seven-mile barrier island, is just over a causeway and 15 minutes from downtown Miami, but it feels about a million miles away. "Even our local clients feel like they're getting away," says spa director Sonie Boyce.

 A candlelit bath can provide the perfect antidote to life's daily stresses
A candlelit bath can provide the perfect antidote to life's daily stresses

Opened in 2001 in the 402-room Ritz-Carlton hotel, the 20,000-square-foot spa features a sea-based theme. "With the Atlantic steps away, we created an experience providing a true reflection of our surroundings," says Boyce. At the Wellness Center, guests take yoga, tai chi, or Pilates classes while gazing upon the water. Or they can experience a massage in a private cabana on the beach with the soothing waves lulling them to sleep. There are also nutrient-rich sea-based treatments like the Oceanic Detox Body Mask ($170, 60 minutes), in which guests are wrapped in warm, detoxifying sea algae.

The treatment rooms are designed to offer a welcoming haven.
The treatment rooms are designed to offer a welcoming haven.

What also sets the spa apart are touches like the pedicure suite, a private room with a plasma TV and stereo where champagne is served, and the three relaxation rooms (co-ed and separate male and female ones), which have floor-to-ceiling windows. To accommodate male spa-goers, which make up 40 percent of the clientele, a special gentleman's menu was incorporated into the new brochure, which features more than 60 treatments. It's no accident that the men's selections appear first. "Men don't like to look through menus," says Boyce. Specially designed treatments like The Art of Shaving Facial ($150, 50 minutes) use a variety of products to soften skin and calm irritation from shaving.

The oceanfront setting is an ideal spot to relax pre- and post-treatment.
The oceanfront setting is an ideal spot to relax pre- and post-treatment.

The spa also uses a number of skincare lines, including Aromatherapy Associates, Phytomer, Skinceuticals, and Payot Paris. "We're looking for unique products," says Boyce. When it comes to selecting new lines, the spa takes a group approach. After confirming that other spas in the area aren't featuring the brand, the skincare company in question is invited to come and present the line before the entire staff. "The estheticians and massage therapists sell the products, so it's important they're happy with them," explains Boyce. "We try them and decide as a team."

The spa offers a variety of yoga classes, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Zen Yoga.
The spa offers a variety of yoga classes, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Zen Yoga.

However, in January 2006, the spa began offering the skincare line Prada Beauty when all full-service Ritz-Carlton Spas in North America partnered with the company. According to Boyce, the teaming of Prada with Ritz-Carlton is the ultimate marriage of luxury brands. But the products, which contain scents of bergamot, lotus, and magnolia, speak for themselves. "I like Prada, not just because it's a name that everyone says 'wow' to," says Boyce. "A name doesn't get results. It's an excellent line, and it took us four days of training to learn."

With three facials and one body service, the Prada Beauty treatments include deep breathing and stretching. During the facials, the esthetician presses key shiatsu points and makes 42 movements along the face. The ultra-hydrating Prada Exfoliant Visage ($275, 90 minutes) includes a gentle peel and exfoliation with products containing glycolic and lactic acids, which help soften and smooth the skin. Guests follow up with an eight-day at-home exfoliating treatment. With the Prada Replenishing Body Facial, ($250, 90 minutes), there's a crystal exfoliation, a stone-clay wrap, and a hydrating cream massaged into the body. Guests who experience the Prada treatments take home complimentary products in a Prada bag.



With 33 full-time and 33 part-time employees servicing 150 clients in a day, sometimes the greatest challenge is accommodating the hotel guests visiting from all over the world. According to Boyce, 90 percent of spa visitors are hotel guests. Fortunately, in-room massage is an option for when the treatment rooms are full. Another challenge is teaching guests the benefits of the hydrotherapy tubs. "Until you educate them, they think it's just a Whirlpool," says Boyce. "But if you have back or shoulder pain, it can be set to pinpoint that part of the body and really help."

Because of its idyllic beachfront locale, Boyce hopes the spa is considered more of a destination spa than a resort spa. "We'll design any experience guests want from private, customized classes to a personalized menu created by a nutritionist with the resort chef," says Boyce, who explains that the spa thrives on providing flexible and friendly service. "We enjoy listening to guests' needs and designing programs for them." And for Boyce, there's nothing like watching a guest transform from check-in to checkout. "The magic word I like to hear is 'wow,' she says. "It's nice knowing that my team can make people feel that."

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