ELLE Spa – Eden Roc

Eden Roc Renaissance Miami

When I was invited to cover the grand opening of Elle Magazine’s first foray into the spa business, you can probably guess no one had to twist my rubber arm. The ELLE Spa, launched in Miami’s famed Eden Roc hotel, promised to be both luxurious and relaxing. Although I’d never set foot in the Eden Roc, I did know the name. Who doesn’t? For more than 50 years, the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach has graced Miami Beach’s Golden Mile at 45th Street and Collins Avenue.  Its 1950s and 60s heyday established it not only as a legendary landmark, but as South Florida’s premier resort property sought by many of the nation’s top entertainers and celebrities.

Eden Roc Pool

Today, the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach continues its reign as the Grande Dame of Miami Beach, successfully luring the happening crowd away from South Beach, according to New York Magazine.  As with most great monuments, it is surrounded by a tremendous amount of history, and in some cases, controversy.

Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach was originally designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus, who also designed the Fontainebleau next door as well as the Americana Hotel, now the Sheraton Bal Harbour.  Lapidus was a virtual newcomer to hotel design, specializing in the design of retail storefronts.  His curvy, innovative hotel designs were widely criticized and, though considered daring at the time, later earned the 96 year-old Lapidus national acclaim in which he always insisted his best revenge on his critics was outliving them.  That’s when Harry Mufson came along and bought the Warner Estate (which belonged to one of the Warner Brothers) with a promise to build an even grander property:  Eden Roc. Lapidus was commissioned by Mufson to design the Eden Roc and said,  “I don’t want any of that French stuff you used at the Fontainebleau.  That’s for kids.” Gotta love a man who can crack a funny joke about the French…

As research for this project, Lapidus traveled to the Eden Roc in France; a favorite vacation spot for The Kennedy’s.  While touring Europe, he purchased statues, marble, and Venetian glassware for use in designing the hotel that would later be deemed a vision of the Italian Renaissance. Completed in 1956, Eden Roc was Lapidus’ most lavish design, attracting a stream of celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Ann Margret.  It became the favorite on Miami Beach, successfully claiming the limelight from the Fontainebleau next door.

Eden Roc Lobby Bar

Located just off the pool deck was Harry’s American Bar.  Named after the property’s owner at the time, Harry Mufson, this became the hottest nightclub in town where elites such as Katharine Hepburn, Joe DiMaggio, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, and Ernest Hemingway frequently danced the night away.  Painter Al Hirshfeld captured the essence of these entertainers at the popular nightclub in a famous celebrity caricature mural on the walls of the establishment.

Eden Roc Guest Room

Today, with the completion of its lavish restoration, Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach is shining brilliantly once again with it’s spacious 631 guest rooms, three 2,500 sq. ft. penthouse suites, 18 oceanfront one-bedroom suites, and 15 bi-level bungalow suites with floating staircases. All rooms feature flat-screen HDTV’s, iPod stations & Wi-Fi high speed internet. Their lobby bar is also one straight from the movies with sparkling glass, marble, and Brazilian rosewood columns. Beware of their delicious cocktails (which I happily slurped down with a side of shishito peppers) alongside Marysol from the Real Housewives of Miami, writers from Spa Magazine, and other fun, very Miami-based celebs. And the food at  1500 Degrees, their signature high-end dining establishment…delicious.

Under the direction of Exec Chef Paula DaSilva, 1st runner-up in Season 5 of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, hand-crafted artesian dishes demonstrate ‘fresh flavor combinations that accentuate the unparalleled flavor of fresh farm ingredients’. Sorry, couldn’t have said it better myself. The menu changes daily according to season and features local food products from farmers she actually knows. Small plate offerings ($6-$9) range from roasted beets with seared goat cheese and jumbo lump crab cakes with cilantro slaw and Old Bay aioli, to charred baby Brussels sprouts with mustard sauce and teriyaki beef skewers. Main plates ($25-$42) include: Florida red snapper with mushroom risotto, wilted arugula and aged saba vinegar; locally-raised half-chicken, cooked on the rotisserie, served with Carolina rice, black bean puree and mustard greens; hickory rubbed Palmetto Creek Farms pork loin chop with creamy polenta and roasted lobster with celery root puree, hearts of palm and Florida fruit salsa.

1500 Degrees

The ELLE Spa, which I was first and foremost there to enjoy, was designed by the owners Paola Chapur, Paloma Ardid, and Tim Williams, the spa director. This joint venture — the first for ELLE and an unprecedented partnership between a media property and a luxury resort — offered a once‐in‐a‐lifetime experience combining the unparalleled history and service of the Eden Roc Renaissance with the style of ELLE and the swankiness of Miami Beach. With floor‐to‐ceiling windows overlooking the hotel’s lushgardens and ocean, four infinity pools and sweeping seascape, the space boasts design and décor inspired by the Mediterranean coastline. High‐coved ceilings, whitewashed walls, natural stone, water and wooden elements create a calm, chic environment for the ultimate spa escape. My favorite part? Free yogurt covered pretzels, copies of Elle Magazine, and a faux fireplace to keep things warm and toasty.

Exit Through The ELLE Spa Gift Shop!

The ELLE Spa offers a range of treatments that come to life through elite, editorially‐inspired treatments such as ‘Doctors’ Orders’ and ‘Forever 25’ –replete with inspiring oceanfront views, rooftop dining, chocolates, champagne, a shared whirlpool tub, rain shower, and cozy beds. Depending on their schedule, guests can spend less than an hour or a whole day experiencing wet spa areas with hot whirlpools, cold plunges, steam sauna and hydro‐experience showers before being escorted to the decadent relaxation lounge.

Jaime King Gets a Pedi

ELLE Spa visitors can also take advantage of an expansive rooftop deck with VIP cabanas, light dining and beverage service. A retail boutique offers the ultimate selection of luxury products, handpicked by ELLE editors. This spa shop is one of the best I’ve seen. So much so, I bought a bracelet and a necklace. The prices, for the quality of the goods, are also completely reasonable.

A range of exclusive products and treatments, curated by skin and beauty experts including Tammy Fender, Yael Alkalay of Red Flower, and Essie feature exclusives from Red Flower, including massage and body treatments and a customizable scrub bar, all which incorporate the signature ELLE Spa scent. In addition, Essie has developed eye-catching custom nail colors—the neon-pink “Eden” and can’t-miss-it-coral “Roc” —to be sold only at the ELLE Spa.

All in all, the trip was amazing. Live music at the beachfront cabana restaurant, rooms with ocean views, high quality in-room flatscreen TVs and the ELLE Spa, made for the perfect balance between relaxing after an evening of Miami’s nightlife and revitalizing myself from a day at the beach under the sexy Miami sun.

Couples Therapy in Paradise

Villa Milagro at Sunset

We’re excited to announce that Villa Milagro, a secluded retreat on the Pacific coast of Mexico, has expanded into a full-scale wellness resort and spa. In addition, Berta Davis, PhD, couple and sex therapist and owner of Villa Milagro, in collaboration with the managing director, Peter Petersen, will offer workshops in meditation, couples therapy, qigong, dance, yoga, surf and other forms of holistic healing. And really… who better to offer such things than a sex therapist??

Sitting solo on a secluded beachfront cove, Villa Milagro is a fully enclosed paradise that is as serene as it is secure. The Villa consists of three spacious thatched-roof buildings open to the Pacific Ocean in the sexy little fishing town of Zihuatanejo. Scenic vistas include the ever-changing sea, acres of untouched tropical landscapes and the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains. Gentle waves are the ultimate backdrop for meditation or the perfect night’s sleep. Gated and enclosed with twenty-four hour security, Villa Milagro is also perfect venue for romantic hideaways, family vacations, destination weddings, and group workshops.

A view from the pool at Villa Milagro

Throughout the year, they’ll offer spiritual, emotional, and educational retreats, including couples and sexuality workshops under the guidance of Dr. Davis, who has been a leader in the transformation process for over 30 years. Structured in collaboration with Peter Petersen and his “moving meditation” practice, Villa Milagro will approach healing with a new and exciting approach. In addition, they’ll also be hosting other healing professionals who combine mind, body, and spirit to help facilitate our mission for holistic healing and education.  Rates are below, so what are you waiting for? Your love life to improve on it’s own. I don’t think so. Perhaps it’s time someone admits that it’s time for a spontaneous retreat, no?

Si.

www.mexicovillamilagro.com

Master Suite per night $450 $275
Sunrise Suite per night $250 $200
Sunset Suite per night $250 $200
Zen Room per night* $200 $175
Garden Room per night* $175 $150
Entire Villa per week $7,500 $5,000

Tuscany on a Budget

Tuscany in the Spring

There’s no better time to visit Tuscany than springtime.  But then again… there’s no bad time to visit Tuscany. After all, it is Tuscany. That said, Springtime is when the days turn sunny, vineyards sprout their first green, markets display their gorgeous produce and sidewalk cafés and restaurants come to life.

And—difficult as it is to believe—spring is coming. TourCrafters, a tour company specializing in affordable European vacations, has made a spring trip even more appealing with their one-week Florence and Tuscany Countryside package, which starts at $739 from New York and includes round-trip air from New York, three nights at the 4-star Hotel Roma in Florence, three nights at the 4-star Villa Aurea in Cortona, daily buffet breakfast, three days’ car rental, a free spa course (with sauna, Turkish bath and tea) at the Villa Aurea, a free gelato at Florence’s famous Vivoli, service charges and taxes.

Florence, as everyone knows, is the world’s greatest repository of Renaissance art, but it also boasts great restaurants and fabulous shopping (everything from designer shops on via Tornabuoni to the San Lorenzo Market).  Cortona, a hilltop town of steep, narrow streets and the setting for the popular memoir, Under the Tuscan Sun, also has its art and architecture.  Between the two lies the Chianti region with its hillside vineyards, olive groves, medieval towns and picturesque castles—easy enough to explore with a three-day car rental.

All prices are per person, double occupancy, are subject to availability and do not include airport taxes of approximately $115 and a fuel surcharge of approximately $360.  Reservations must be paid for within 72 hours of booking. Add-on air fares are $40 from Boston and Washington, D.C., $135 from Miami and Chicago,  and $250 from Los Angeles.

For additional information about this and other Hot Deals of the Week, visit www.tourcrafters.it

 

We Ski for Equality

This just blew in from across the pond, so we had to share.  For all of you sexy ski bunnies, Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado is holding its annual Women’s Ski Week March 6-11, 2010, partnering with Capella Telluride to create a great meeting of minds for women around the US.

Accommodations at Capella Telluride can be a little steep (think Blue Diamond) at $495/night, but Capella, founded by the ex-CEO of the Ritz, promises never to let you down.  There are three package levels through Telluride Ski Resort for the various events planned ($480, $780 or $945).  Elements include ski passes, lessons, rentals, spa credits, meals at Capella, and a lecture by author Rebecca Shambaugh (“It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor”), who will be kicking off her book tour for her latest piece “Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton.”

We support anything that helps enlighten men and women to reality that all people, regardless of gender, class, race, or expertise on the slopes, ought to be treated equally. No glass ceilings, no sticky floors, no icy conditions.

Hear us roar – just like that toasty fireplace.

Information on Capella Telluride is available at www.CapellaTelluride.com and details on Telluride’s Women’s Ski Week and the three package options can be found at http://www.capellatelluride.com/telluride-womens-week.php.

Exotic Valentine’s Day Getaways!

We’re so unbelievably romantic… if you saw us you’d say, “Get a room.” So, little angels, it’s time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day.  I know, I know… it’s one of those semi-dreaded holidays. If it makes you feel any better, even when you have a mate you still feel a little uneasy about what to do. Well, stop stressing, we have some ideas for you.  For those who don’t have a lover, next week we have some ideas for you too. Life is a collection of experiences and, as we always like to say, “You can’t take ’em with you, so you might as well live it up now!” (by throwing in a few yacht excursions, a tryst with some guy named Filippo, and hell, go scuba diving while you’re at it, too)

What? It’s only money.

Naladhu, The Maldives

Run away to: The Maldives

Stay at: Naladhu

What:  The romance begins when you step out of the airport and onto the speedboat that will take you directly to this Maldivian island resort. A House Master will lead you to your private house, where Champagne cocktails and fruit are waiting. Spend the day by the pool or snorkeling in the reef then relax with a complimentary coconut milk bath for two.

As if that wasn’t enough: Chocolate cake to share is included!

How much: The “Island Romance” package starts at start at $1474 for an Ocean House.

Visit http://naladhu.anantara.com/Island-Romance/default.aspx for more information.

Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya

Run away to: The Mayan Riviera

Stay at: Rosewood Mayakobá

What:  The five-night “Mayan Romance” package is all about relaxation. Take a Tantric Yoga class and enjoy a Moonlight Massage for two on your suite terrace. Then soothe your muscles in an Aroma Bath with champagne and chocolate and you’ll be on your way to rekindling that fire all day, and night, long. 

As if that wasn’t enough: You’ll also get a Couple’s Massage instruction session with 30 minutes of “alone time.”

How much: Package rates start at $810 per day, minimum 5-nights. Visit http://www.rosewoodmayakoba.com/en/specialoffers.cfm for details.

Run away to: Moscow

Stay at: Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow

What:  For the lovebirds who are itching to get out of the nest, this city was made for you to explore together.  Visit Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Squareand the Kremlin in the old city center. For a classically romantic evening go ice skating on Gorky Park ponds, transformed into rinks for the winter.

As if that wasn’t enough: The “Romance at the Park” package allows a 4PM checkout, so spend the afternoon in bed!

How much: Check http://moscow.park.hyatt.com for best available rates.

Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos

Run away to: Turks and Caicos

Stay at: Parrot Cay

What: Leave your boots behind and grab your swimsuits! After an afternoon of white sand beaches and turquoise waters, rent out the COMO Shambhala Cottage for your Valentine’s Day dinner. This screened-in cottage overlooks the nearby wetlands and is decorated with candles and tropical flowers.

As if that wasn’t enough: The resort lets you set the mood with your own music!

How much: Rental cost including service is $400 (excluding food and beverage) and rates start at $775 per night for a Garden View Room. Visit http://www.parrotcay.como.bz/rates for booking details.

Run away to: Geneva

Stay at: La Réserve Genève Hotel and Spa

What:  Fashioned along the lines of an African Lodge by renowned designer Jacques Garcia, La Réserve Genève is sophisticated yet playful. Withten acres of private gardens and beaches on the shores of Lake Geneva, you’ll find everything you need including two excellent restaurants, a stylish bar with live DJ, a full-service spa, and even its own vineyard.  For added romance, arrive to the hotel by Venetian motorboat – a complimentary service that whisks guests to and from Geneva.

As if that wasn’t enough: Reluctant to leave the little ones behind? Bring the kids to La Petite Réserve, where they can play in an open-air playground, a magical tree house, or the indoor childcare center.

How much: Rates start at $450.

Visit http://www.lareserve.ch/english/ for more details.

Santa Barbara: The Four Seasons Biltmore Restored

Candace PooleBy Candace Poole

Writer/Contributor, Candace Poole, has traveled the globe from Hong Kong, Thailand, and Israel to almost every state in the great USofA. With an expert background in interiors, when reviewing five-star properties, she brings her fine eye to Jaunt Magazine.

Ty Warner is to historical property restoration what the very best plastic surgeon is to the rich and famous.  As my sister and I made our entrance to the Four Seasons The Biltmore in Montecito, the favorite haunt of our parents during their young marriage, the property met us with one of those wonderful remembrances of time having stood still.

Four Seasons Santa Barbara BiltmoreA glamorous escape to the 1930’s, you can almost imagine secret liaisons behind silk drapes and dark wood floors. There is good reason why this property is home to high-end weddings and romantic escapes.  I hadn’t been back in years so, on this assignment, Jaunt Magazine wanted to know, “Is the Four Seasons in Montecito really as romantic as they say?  Has the restoration truly held onto its integrity?”  The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

Mr. Warner, the current owner, has managed to show yet another side of his multi-faceted life.  The dazzling success of the restoration of the hotel (redesigned and improved by Reginald Johnson in 1927) has indeed been brought into state of the art amenities without one trace of the operation. No keloid scars, no surface pulled too tight. Even the approach from the street had been altered and it took me awhile to put the changes together.  Now the entire surface of the drive is brick and Santa Barbara sandstone and the valet parking area has been lowered to enhance the ocean views of Butterfly Beach.  There is a beautiful fountain designed by Ty Warner and Susan Van Atta.  Once inside, I was taken aback by the beautiful murals.  Over the front desk and the Concierge desks, in graceful arches, are beautifully rendered paintings of the Channel Islands.

Four Seasons Santa Barbara Guest RoomWe went to our room we were delighted with the detail of the Spanish Colonial Revival décor delivered with grace and dignity. The tiles reflected the subtlety of the fabrics and furnishings and we made special note that even the air vents of the room were sculpted cutouts in the plasterwork with the Spanish and Moorish influence of the building being honored.  There was not an unsightly metal vent to interfere with the flow of the space.  We were also shown a cottage on the property with its deep walnut floors and tastefully designed eclectic group of antiques and antique replications appropriate to the style of the original hotel.  Even the Asian influence, so part of the Arts and Crafts movement, was not ignored. Beautifully designed silk hand knotted rugs abound. In the past, there were long-term guests who lived in these cottages at the back of the property.

Four Seasons Santa BarbaraOur first stop after checking in was to the terrace of the Bella Vista Restaurant where we nibbled tuna tartar and rested our eyes on the beautiful Butterfly Beach view, the same gently rolling lawn to the wide boulevard and onto the beach that our parents enjoyed so long ago.  At one point, my sister exclaimed, “Look! Porpoises playing along side that boat in the harbor!”

It was a perfect welcoming to the bounty we were about to receive. Bella Vista’s comprehensive wine list emphasizes local Santa Barbara County producers, featuring big reds like a 2006 Babcock ‘Grand Cuvee’ Pinot Noir and an esteemed 2004 Curran ‘Black Oak’ Syrah, which could not disappoint the most sophisticated connoisseur.

While strolling the grounds with Gena Downey, the PR Director, she informed us of the many rare plants that abound the 24-acre ground.  There were gardeners everywhere, keeping things tidy and Mr. Warner again, has brought in an array of rare and exotics that are flourishing. From the Morton Bay Fig Tree, about 120 years old, to the 3,000 species of plants, it truly is a place of refined beauty and peace.  There is even an English country garden filled the various sundry herbs and flowers that are used by the chefs!

Four Seasons Santa Barbara PoolThe walk around the pool was yet another adventure in attention to detail.  The actual pool tiles, Tyles TM, were developed by Mr. Warner and we marveled at the effect of the special iridescent tiles of his own design as they spilled like a million diamonds on the surface of the water’s reflection.  Along side the pool, are two separate hot tubs of differing temps to please the desire of the guest.  State of the art technology allows for no chlorine!  Even the deck of Sweetwater sandstone is a first. It is the first natural stone to be approved by the health department.  The natural teak chaises were designed by Ty Warner as well (and trademarked as such, The Biltmore Chaise TM).

Four Seasons Santa Barbara Romance

When we were then shown the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, I knew where the action was.  While the hotel seemed so quiet and peaceful, the happy noise of young people splashing about in one of the largest pools I’ve seen at any hotel, I knew we were seeing the great effect of the changes made.  There were young families and couples everywhere and so many activities that a weekend would not be enough of a stay.  There is biking, boating, and beaching, and kids have their own special place for hanging out while their parents might be off on a tour.

If you’re imagining a perfect family or romantic get-away, it is here.

Dinner at the Tydes was the highlight of the stay.  We dined outside on the deck with its stunning view of the ocean.  As the Southern California sun set, the happy noise of diners surrounded us.  Our server, Frank Rios and Alessandro Rossi, the Restaurant Manager, performed beyond all expectation. With the Four Seasons, one receives nothing but the best service, but Frank was there for every need without breaking into our own private celebration.  Before we began, the chef delighted us with the compliment of the freshest Cucumber Soup. Absolutely perfect. I had the Sea Bass, floating on a bed of sweet garlic potatoes and spinach, with clams forming the moat. My sister had the duck and fennel pasta (she waxed poetic over it). It was, as she said, like ‘angels bathing in her mouth.’  The fennel was subtle and the hint of garlic was faint as to cause nothing false. Perfectly al dente and snapped with a punch.

Naturally, we wanted to appear to be civilized when the dessert menu arrived. That was a hard one! Everything sounded wonderful but we eventually decided upon a selection of tastes. Each one was, in all honesty, amazing. But now hear this, we had passed on the house specialty, being the greedy little diners we are, but they sent us one anyway. Perla, a white chocolate clam that opens when a warm raspberry sauce is poured across the mouth of it!  Inside sits on one side, a chocolate pearl, silver/white on the outside and deep mocha inside. Filling the other half shell is a beautiful tropical sorbet and tapioca. I wanted all of it to myself! It swam in a raspberry sauce and foam. It seemed almost wrong to eat it. We readily overcame that thought.

A perfect quarter moon hung low in the night sky and the light from the reflection on the water was out of central casting. I could not imagine what more to ask. It had to end and we did not cover nearly what is offered. The Spa was one goal we missed. We were able to view one room and I fixated on the Venetian plaster on the walls, so beautiful I had to keep adjusting my gaze to see it. Another visit can’t come soon enough.

So, whether you’re a swooning honeymooner or two sisters experiencing a special place that their beloved parents shared together, The Four Seasons Santa Barbara The Biltmore is one location not to be missed.

Rooms start at $525/night and starting November 1st, 2009 rates will begin at $375 for the winter season. 

Places to Eat In and Around Santa Barbara

Daytime

Jeannine

Tupelo Junction

Backyard Bowls

Dinner

Brophy’s

Ca’Dario

Arigato

Seagrass

Cafe Luck

Santa Barbara Wine Country

Blush

Root 246