Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Spa at Viceroy Miami Opening Review (2/12/09)

Patrick Huey is the Spa Director at the Viceroy Miami. He came to Viceroy after four years with the Four Seasons at various stations throughout the U.S. He definitely brings the Four Seasons “polish” with him to the Viceroy. He pays attention to the details (hot towel upon arrival to the spa reception desk) and doesn’t except anything less than perfection (ice cold towels next to the steam room, the mirrors in the locker rooms on two walls are perfectly positioned to provide front and back views when combing your hair).

After greeting me upon my arrival, Patrick took me from the hotel lobby to the 15th floor of the hotel. From here, we walked outside, through the outdoor living room, into café Icon and down a hallway that runs through a residential tower. Along the way, we pass a game room with a pool table and card room for hotel guests. Then, just past a floor-length mirror, we turn right and walk down another short hallway.


“I like to think of this as going down the rabbit hole,” Patrick said as we took a secondary elevator in one of the residential towers down to the fourteen floor where the spa is located. The spa takes up three floors of the hotel and offers 28,000 square feet of space.

There are separate locker rooms for men and women which contain steam rooms and saunas, as well as a pilates room, party room, movie room, cardio/weight training gym, 14 spa treatment rooms, juice bar, and an impressive “floating library” that spans two stories. The spa is enormous, but the treatment rooms remain cozy and inviting.

I had three treatments at the spa and a personal training session during my three days and two nights at the Viceroy. These included the Antilles body treatment (75 minutes, $215), Energy facial (90 minutes, $235), and their signature raindrop therapy massage treatment (90 minutes, $235). An hour-long personal training session was $90.


I started with Viceroy’s Energy facial. My aesthetician Cory was great, really friendly and he is also trained as a massage therapist. The energy facial actually starts with a foot, head and neck massage and is followed by the facial treatment. Remarkable, there is no painful extraction process. I actually fell asleep during the facial, which sounds counterintuitive to its name, but is a reflection of how non-painful and relaxing it can be. My face felt great afterwards. I highly recommend this treatment and I will go back to get it again!

The Antilles body treatment will exfoliate you from head to toe. My aesthetician Carmen started with a massage and then applied sugar and lotion to exfoliate me everywhere. I was worried about feeling sticky afterwards, but this was completely unwarranted. She did recommend that I avoid showering until the next day so that the lotions and potions she work into my skin could take hold. There really was no left over residue and my skin did feel great afterwards.

After the body treatment, I went to the gym for an hour-long weight training session with Axel. Axel is a great trainer, he is knowledgeable and knows how to get the best out of you. Like almost every staff member at the Viceroy, Axel has multiple licenses and is also a massage therapist. Although I hadn’t planned on any more treatments, I thought I would have Axel give me a massage treatment on the day of my check-out before hopping on a transcontinental flight back to California.

Patrick suggested the raindrop therapy massage as it is one of Viceroy’s signature treatments. I will say that I haven’t experienced anything like it before. The hallmark of the treatment is the use of essential oils that produce a unique “cooling” effect on their own, and they produce a “heating” effect when hot towels are applied to your skin. It is a unique sensation that is hard to describe. I found it quite pleasant, but I can see how some people might find it a bit strange at first. Axel is a great massage therapist, and he puts a lot of work into providing the right amount of pressure and his training as a personal trainer gives him special knowledge about which muscles to work on after a hard work out. Although I really enjoyed the raindrop massage, I would probably try something new next time because there are so many other creative treatments on the menu that I want to try.


In summary, the Spa at Viceroy Miami is a world-class spa that could easily become a destination for any self-respecting spa junkie. The staff truly care about providing excellence in all aspects of the guest experience and it shows. I will make it a point to return to this spa every time I am in Miami. Indeed, I might even plan future trips to ensure my ability to visit Patrick and his staff on a frequent basis. They are that good!

About this review: This is an unbiased review from a travel and luxury hotel junkie. I pay for these trips entirely myself and I don’t receive any stipend or financial consideration from any of the properties, restaurants or spas that I visit. In fact, I don’t say that I am a “reviewer” at any point during my stays, and I don’t accept “free travel” deals from anybody, ever.

Why do I write reviews: I enjoy writing these reviews because it gives me a chance to explore new hotels and share my impressions with other luxury-minded travelers. I want good hotels to be successful and to help other hotel junkies avoid bad ones.

Pros: Outstanding facilities, incredibly attentive staff, technically skilled therapists, cutting-edge design, wide range of treatments and activities (pilates, cardio, weight training), delicious juice bar with fresh fruit.
Cons: Prices are on the high side (but provides excellent value), no in-spa dining options (a café would be great!), the toilet paper rolls are four inches too low and your knees hit them when you sit on the commode (this is how detailed I have to go to get any negatives on this spa: toilet paper ergonomics issue!).

No comments: