Therapeutic mud, holistic journeys are among options

The outdoor Mud Lounge at the Standard Miami in South Beach.


The Hammam at the Standard is a traditional Middle Eastern steam room, and facilitates "social spa-ing."

It has long been considered the city of glitz and glam but, more and more, Miami is becoming a "city of spa." Last count, the tally was about four dozen spas — and most of them have rolled out their welcome mats in the last couple of years.

A recent visit landed me on my back on a treatment table at the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, one of the most upscale of the lot. Upon arrival and in true Asian style, my shoes are exchanged for a pair of spa sandals presented to me on a wooden tray. I’m offered a detoxifying tea and a chilled towel each presented on a ceramic plate. Mandarin Oriental spas have a knack for making one feel instantly welcome and at ease.

A quick trip to the locker room to change into a spa robe and I’m escorted to one of the luxurious spa suites for the signature Kundalini. The word relates to energy and human potential.

Creator and spa training manager Catherine Davalle explains, "the treatment is a fusion of different therapies — colour, sound gemstone, chakra balancing and Thai massage — designed to awaken blocked or sluggish energies."

What you get is a two-hour experience (think of it as a holistic journey) that is simultaneously relaxing for the body and mind, while uplifting for the spirit. Comments from guests have included "truly unique" and "powerful." I tend to agree. It’s actually almost spiritual.

Unfortunately, the Kundalini is not cheap. At $340 US, it’s one of the pricier spa treatments. But you can still enjoy this spacious and luxurious Asian-style spa by booking the Mandarin Oriental Manicure at $55 or the pedicure at $75.

At the other end of the scale, $10 will buy you a scoop of therapeutic mud to use in a self-administered treatment offered at The Standard Miami in South Beach. One of the early adopters of the new North American trends to "social-spa-ing," the Standard is a cross between a campus-style hotel and a wellness community.

Along with a full-service spa, it offers regularly scheduled health and lifestyle-related workshops and classes to both guests and local residents.

It’s the type of place you can drop in with your friends for a martini then hang out in the spacious co-ed hammam (a traditional Middle Eastern steam room). Outdoors, the poolside Mud Lounge allows you to choose a mud — pink, gold or green harvested in the South of France — slather it all over yourself (or a willing spa buddy), let it bake under the Miami sun, then wash it off in one of the outdoor tubs.

The campus-style Standard tends to attract a young or young-thinking crowd seemingly keen on this new "social spa-ing" thing. To enjoy the hammam and indoors without any treatments, cost is $25.

Elsewhere in South Beach high-fashion labels are now setting their marks on the spa scene. Prada fans, for instance, can visit the spa at the Ritz South Beach and indulge in the Prada Facial.

Of course, you can expect a couture price. The uniqueness? While facials general follow the same general sequence of cleanse, exfoliate, mask, massage and moisturize, the difference with Prada (beyond the use of Prada products) lies in the application of two masks, and two facials massages, one to reduce puffiness and the other to relax muscles. Each massage is designed to give a temporary visual "lift," and it does. At the end of the treatment, clients get a gift of travel-sized Prada products. If spiritual journeys, fashionable facials, and making mud pies on your abdomen leave you feeling a little "peckish," head to AfterGlo. The restaurant offers a menu designed to "restore cellular health." I cannot personally vouch for that promise, but I can tell you there are ample healthy selections — creative and incredibly tasty to boot!

Anne Dimon is founder/editor of Sign up for her free monthly newsletter for a chance to win a spa visit. Go to

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