Hotel Review: Canyon Ranch Miami

August 22, 2014

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Occasionally on this blog, I will review hotels.

Countless times in a week, I am asked, “Where are you from? …No, where are you really from.” Perplexion ensues once they learn my parents immigrated from Hong Kong, but I have never step foot on Asian soil. Two weeks to commit to a vacation across the Pacific was ridiculous. My parents did the best they could to give my sister and I a wonderful middle class upbringing with vacations scaled back to the East Coast. In my teens, we did the unthinkable and ventured to the Caribbean. It was during the rise of the all-inclusive luxury cruise liners. Other than that, destinations were limited to Orlando, Toronto, and my very first memory: Hershey Park. Those whiffs of chocolate as I rode on the giant Hershey’s Kiss during the chocolate factory tour were magical. But my mind always goes back to our night at the Marriott. The soaps! All of the cable channels! Room Service! It was a home away from home in every essence of the cliche. My night at the Marriott was legendary. And thus, the infatuation with hotels began. Unfortunately for my wallet, my tastes have changed since the nights at the Gettysburg Marriott. I still appreciate the dependable hotel chain, but I love boutique, independent properties just as much, if not more.

So now, enough with the back story. To the review!

King sized bed in the Master Bedroom. Pillowpet not included.
King sized bed in the Master Bedroom. Pillowpet not included.

THE HOTEL: South Beach hotels never resonated with me: they feel cold, stale, and quite frankly, douchey. In the midst of all the SoBe hotels attempting to one up each other in trendiness is the Canyon Ranch Miami. The hotel is not directly in South Beach because it sits far north on Collins. To get into the heart of Sobe, Lincoln Road, it is a 15 minute cab ride away. Founded by Mel and Enid Zuckerman, the lifestyle centric brand was influenced by Mel’s personal health. He opened the flagship property of Canyon Ranch in Tuscan, Arizona following a successful stint in a “fat farm”. The Miami property is an interesting choice because amid the gluttony of buttery foods and excess alcohol is this detox property above Collins.

THE ROOMS: My room category over the weekend was a two bedroom suite overlooking another hotel’s alleyway.If you care tremendously about the view, the property does offer beach view rooms as an upgraded category. The two bedroom suite is prefect for families or friends that need their respective privacy. A spacious living room and kitchenette is nestled in between the master

The master bathroom.
The master bathroom.

bedroom with a full bathroom, and a smaller queen bedded room with a half bathroom. To my statement earlier about hotels representing a “home away from home”, Canyon Ranch Miami truly embodies that. There is plenty of natural daylight to create a welcoming environment. The decor is in no way over the top. Its palette consists of light colors accented by touches of warmth through bright greens, royal purples, and wood accents. The exception is the masculine master bathroom with dark woods and marbles all around. Highlights of the bathroom: the deep soaking tub, vanity mirror, and double headed shower.

Pros: spacious rooms, very comfortable bedding, kitchenette fridge allows for savings by stocking piling essentials (water!), large SONY flat screen televisions that double as a desktop computer, master bathroom is more than generous for two (even four) people getting ready at once

Cons: outlets are not placed next to the nightstand in the bedrooms, does not offer 24 hour room service, could have offered healthy mini bar snacks and drinks in the room, very slow wifi 

Tuna tartar and my favorite of the weekend, shishito peppers with bonito flakes.
Tuna tartare and my favorite of the weekend, shishito peppers with bonito flakes.

THE FOOD: Healthy options were beyond plentiful. It escalated to the point where I was craving a fat, juicy burger. My meals at the hotel were limited to lunch and drinks. The food was delicious, but the small portions combined with a lack of carbs, butter, and fatty oils in their dishes was felt barely two hours after meals. Our group would find ourselves hungry again despite devouring everything. Meals are moderately priced at $15 – $25 an entree for lunch, but drinks were overpriced. A frozen alcoholic drink was $16, not including the automatic 18% gratuity and Florida State tax. If you’re looking for a meal in the hotel, certainly try. A drink? Head over to another hotel bar.

Highlight: While ordering a frozen mango daiquiri at the hotel bar, the bartender asked if I wanted it with Bicardi or “JAM”. I don’t know if I’m even spelling it correctly, but jam is an organic alcohol. He advised me to get the Biccardi. Also, grab the shishito peppers with bonito flakes from the Canyon Ranch Grill. 

THE POOL, SPA, AND FITNESS CENTER: On property, there are four pools. Two are located on ground level, and the remaining two on upper floors. The pools on ground level are noisier, and mostly populated by families with young children. For those looking to tan in a quieter atmosphere, the upper pools are your sanctuary. Included in your sleeping room rate is access to the Aquavana spa with a jacuzzi, steam rooms, saunas, foot soaks, and hot stone beds. For a large property, the size of the Aquavana spa is lacking. The jacuzzi became crowded with people. Waits formed because there were only three hot stone beds. At one point, eight people were in line to shower. Most enjoyable parts of the Aquavana was the Atlantic Salt Water Mist within the spa shower, and the immaculately clean showers in the locker room. Also incorporated in the sleeping room rate are complimentary fitness classes. Some classes do charge an additional fee, but the majority are free. The fitness center has a rock wall built in, and offers “Rock Climbing Bootcamp”. It was a unique class that completely kicked my gluts, thighs, and arms. Take advantage of the rock wall! Then, head to the Aquavana or pool to cool down.

Our group after the "Rock Wall Bootcamp" class. There is intense exhaustion behind those smiles.
Our group after the “Rock Wall Bootcamp” class. There is intense exhaustion behind those smiles.

OVERALL: Don’t come to Canyon Ranch Miami if you’re searching for the party atmosphere of SoBe. Of the four onsite pools, only one has a bar. The lobby is serene at all hours of the day. It is maintained by postings of “Silence your cellphones” throughout public spaces. After a night out at Mansion Night Club on Saturday night, I walked into the hotel lobby feeling like every footstep was disturbing the receptionist. I would highly recommend Canyon Ranch to those seeking peaceful solace,  a corporate retreat, or family vacation. Service is amazing at the hotel. Our trainer was professional and encouraging as we slouched through squats, and the spa staff was especially lovely. The onsite amenities and fitness classes included with the rate add value to your stay. Be sure to take advantage of the classes, or else you’ve paid a whole lot of cash (or credit) for a somewhat bland hotel. Come to this property with the mindset that you will be at their spa, on  their rock wall, and kickboxing during the heat of the day. But drinking elsewhere at night.

FINAL: 4/5 RATING, $$$$

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