A New Classic

The Shelborne, a landmark Art Deco Miami hotel, Blue Harmony Spa.There’s a new beauty in South Beach, and it’s not a scantily clad twenty-something. In fact, it’s a 75-year-old grand dame that recently received a spectacular $150 million makeover. The Shelborne, a landmark Art Deco Miami hotel built in 1940, recently reopened as the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach (FL), and the new-and-improved property is making a spectacular splash on the scene with an update that has restored it to its chic roots but with a contemporary twist.

The oceanfront hotel initially debuted more than seven decades ago under the design direction of architect Igor Polevitzky and was later updated in the 1950s, incorporating the vision of Morris Lapidus, of Fontainebleau Miami Beach and Eden Roc Miami Beach fame. Over the years, it had lost some of its allure and reputation as a high-end haven. But the times are a-changin’. The recent renovation, led by rising design star Meg Sharpe, has unveiled an elegant Art Deco escape with a magical modern twist. The updates included a total revamp of the 200 guest rooms, the debut of a hip restaurant and apothecary-style drawing room, updated meeting and event space, and the addition of Blue Harmony Spa. Though establishing an unforgettable spa in a property created in a time when the concept was not part of the architectural landscape might seem to be a daunting endeavor, spa director Eddie Olivares says the spa is a perfect fit for the newly restored property. “Much like other spas in our area, we were faced with the challenge of creating a beautiful, warm, soothing space within the confines of that era,” he says. “The solution, in our case, happens to be fairly easy. We have embraced the glamour of that golden era and infused it with our contemporary space. The outcome is the retro-chic appeal guests enjoy when staying at our property.”

Like the rest of the hotel, the 2,400-square-foot spa pays homage to its Art Deco roots, as well as to its picturesque seaside locale, hence the spa name. “The menu and overall theme of Blue Harmony Spa is a reflection of the beauty found in our surroundings,” says Olivares. “We have made a connection between the importance and loveliness of the blue skies and seas to the healing powers of spa.” 

The Shelborne, a landmark Art Deco Miami hotel, Blue Harmony SpaAccording to Olivares, the spa is reminiscent of a classic beachside estate, featuring natural soft colors, weathered wood floors, and textured walls. A vintage shell fountain, which was part of the resort’s original design, is also on display. Services are performed in one of three suites, where guests are able to customize music selection, room temperature, and lighting for their ultimate comfort. The spacious Oasis couples’ suite features side-by-side service tables for massages and facials, a private lounge area, and a jacuzzi where bath butler services are provided. The Purity suite was created specifically for skincare, and the multipurpose Immersion suite was designed with Reiki principles in mind. “While enjoying a service, one can almost feel the ocean breeze permeating through the walls,” says Olivares. “A unique sense of home is felt. Very much like the hotel’s retro-chic appeal, the spa transports guests to a better time long ago.”

The ocean and air inspired the menu, as well as the design. As such, services using Natura Bissé products that offer marine- and oxygen-based benefits are among the most popular. A highlight is the Grand Sea Salt Massage ($165, 50 minutes; $235, 80 minutes), which incorporates techniques inspired by the essence and fluid motions of the sea, including rocking, kneading, and pumping and the use of warm sea-salt sachets. A standout skincare service is the Red Mangrove Rejuvenating Facial ($145, 50 minutes), which uses Hevia MD Skin Science products and protocols created by local cosmetic dermatologist Oscar Hevia, M.D. “Partnering with Dr. Hevia has brought us great success,” says Olivares. “We have created this first and only spa experience based on his product line. He has compiled extensive research utilizing the patented red mangrove extract in his products, which allows for incredible skincare results.”

The spa also offers an exclusive spa cuisine menu created by the Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and his team from the property’s onsite flagship restaurant. The thoughtfully crafted dishes incorporate a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, and seafood selected from local markets and farms. In addition, guests are able to receive services beyond the spa and throughout the property, including in guest rooms, in poolside cabanas, and beachside. “All requests are prepared to the guest’s specifications prior to their arrival,” says Olivares. “We have created an environment in which the guest is not only making a reservation for physical therapy; instead they are reserving an entire getaway. As healers, we feel that it is crucial for our patrons to disconnect from the everyday, in their very own unique way.”

On a typical day, the spa sees around 25 guests, though Olivares says it can accommodate as many as 40. To keep the spa top of mind with clients, he and his team are active on social media and also promote the spa locally and with hotel guests with special offers and seasonal services. Plus, the spa staff works hard to maintain communication with guests long after they have received a service. For these reasons and more, Olivares believes Blue Harmony is well on its way to being a top-rated retreat in South Beach and beyond. “We believe that now, more than ever, it is part of our responsibility as service providers to focus mainly on the individual’s health and wellbeing—physically, mentally, and emotionally,” says Olivares. “It is our priority to make sure that every guest who enjoys a service at Blue Harmony Spa has a life-altering experience.”

Spa Director: Eddie Olivares  

Opened:  Fall 2014



70% female

30% male



2,400 square feet; 3 treatment rooms



BocaTerry, Comphy Co., Hevia MD Skin Science, Natura Bissé



Advantage Fitness, Cybex, Living Earths Crafts, SpaBiz, Technogym



Meg Sharpe, Meg Sharpe Interior Designs (New York City)



WTS International (Rockville, MD)