Story by Sharon Spence Lieb
Photos courtesy Mandarin Oriental Miami
A Luxe Oasis:
Pedal to the metal, our sleek Prius buzzes through Miami’s maze of mirrored high rises. These skyscrapers are so dazzling, you can check your lipstick from the car. After sunning on world famous South Beach, we’re searching for luxury and serenity somewhere in this energetic city.
Quick turn onto a private island called Brickell Key, here’s our luxe oasis: Mandarin Oriental, Miami. This elegant AAA Four Diamond Award winning hotel welcomes jet setters, royalty, moguls, celebrities and ok, fun lovers like us. A breezy check in and minutes later, I’m floating blissfully in the oval infinity pool, gazing at Miami’s azure sky. Seagulls soar over placid Biscayne Bay as the sun melts into a raspberry margarita. Cheeky ravens dart along the pool’s edge, as kids happily splash away the day.
Time for our gastronomic splurge at Azul, the resort’s award winning restaurant. All we have to do is glam up for our much anticipated 8pm reservation.
Azul is a romantic 120-seat waterfront restaurant, with stunning views of Biscayne Bay. Chef Joel Huff’s eclectic menu offers Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, with intriguing specialties like yogurt marinated swordfish with toasted pita & tomato salad. We’re thrilled to see our favorite appetizer- succulent fresh Florida stone crabs, which arrive expertly cracked. We extract each tender bite, savoring this classic Florida treat.
My bacon wrapped yellowfin tuna entrée is perfect, as is Warren’s Moroccan inspired lamb. For dessert, we splurge on “chiboust,” a heavenly dark chocolate marvel, complimented with tiramisu ice cream and caramel sauce. Our service is so attentive and friendly, we chat for hours, not wanting the evening to end.
Lighter Cuisine And Cocktails:
If you’re in the mood for the Mandarin’s 4:30-7pm Happy Hour, Café Sambal is the cool place for flavorful cocktails, gourmet bites, and lively music. Get comfy on the outdoor terrace overlooking Biscayne Bay and Miami’s sublime skyline. Sip your “Pom Paradise,” a delectable cocktail made with vodka citron, pomegranate puree, and strawberry liquor; or enjoy the “Kiwi Martini,” a refreshing blend of kiwi/cucumber puree, gin, and peach/apple liquor. The Happy Hour menu features Peruvian-style ceviche, dim sum, Thai chicken sate, and a variety of sushi.
Happy hour happens every Friday for residents and hotel guests.
On Sundays from noon to 6pm, the Oasis Beach Club offers a fabulous Beach Party. Enjoy cocktails, beer, and favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs, sushi, and salads. Guests are invited to play badminton and paddleball or relax in a private cabana with a spa massage or manicure. Or just float in the sublime infinity-edge pool, daydream in a hammock, or snooze on the beach daybeds. It’s all perfect.
Just waltzing through the beautifully designed Mandarin is a visual feast. Live bamboo forests, delicate purple orchids, and lighted orbs on tables radiate a soft glow. Even the hall carpet is a work of art, with birds flying gracefully to each guestroom.
Our room, newly redesigned in chic décor by Atlanta based designer Jan Clausen, is a haven of comfort-silk pillow shams, luxurious Anichini bed linens, and Asian accented furniture. There’s a state of the art Bose sound system, cordless phones, wireless high-speed access, flat screen TV, and a DVD player, even an IPod Sound Dock Music System.
But we romantics steal away to our balcony, gazing at twinkling stars, Miami’s glittering skyline, and shimmering Biscayne Bay. We’re mesmerized for hours, way, way past bedtime.
Miami never sleeps, so you’ll be happily entertained for many a day and night. Cheer on the Miami Heat at an NBA basketball game (during basketball season, the Mandarin concierge will arrange your box seats); browse the Miami Design District; dance the night away at South Beach’s sizzling night clubs; bird watch in nearby Everglades National Park; explore Biscayne Bay on a gleaming yacht.
But don’t forget to relax in the Mandarin’s deluxe three-level 15,000 square foot holistic spa. Discover why Forbes 2010 Travel Guide awarded only this spa in Florida, with their Five Star Award. Innovative and restorative treatments from around the world are offered, inspired by ancient traditions of Chinese, Ayurvedic, European, Balinese and Thai cultures. I enjoyed the “Kundalini Journey”: a totally relaxing massage with aromatherapy, color, gemstone, and sound therapy. I could barely make it back to my hotel suite after this lovely treatment.
Want to look years younger? Treat yourself to the Spa’s “Opulent Rejuvenesence”. Experience a unique facial designed at the clinic of plastic surgeon Dr. Ivo Pitanguy, who caters to some of the world’s most famous faces. This facial uses over ten products from Brazil and Switzerland, and promises your skin will be “illumined like a precious stone polished by undulating waves of the Brazilian sea.” I’ll book this amazing facial on my next visit, believe me!
This incredible Spa has 17 treatment rooms, with six stunning suites overlooking Biscayne Bay. There’s a fully equipped fitness center, sauna, steam, designer boutique, outdoor massages in private cabanas at the Mandarin’s Oasis Beach Club, and classes in yoga and samba. The Thai Massage Academy offers classes and certification in the art of Thai massage.
After rejuvenating at the Spa, you won’t want to leave this sublime hotel. So stay a second night, and indulge in more of Chef Huff’s extraordinary culinary delights.
IF YOU GO
Mandarin Oriental, Miami is featured on Conde Nast 2010 Traveler’s “Gold List of World’s Best Places to Stay”.
500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group operates or has under development, 41 hotels representing over 10,000 rooms in 24 countries, with 16 hotels in Asia, 15 in the Americas, and 10 in Europe and North Africa.
© July 2011 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.