Throw a hot stone in Miami Beach and you’ll hit a spa with cool factor. What’s harder to find is a little low-key spa gem on the beach whose pool area doesn’t look like a hip-hop video in progress. The Palms Hotel & Spa is such a place.
It’s just north of the South Beach action by about 20 blocks. But that's hardly no-man’s land – its neighbors are the Ritz Carlton Residences, the Gansevoort, and the W Hotel. And instead of Art Deco modern, the 251-room hotel has the feel of a Caribbean or Costa Rican getaway, particularly the jungly pool area, where palm trees are laced with hammocks and there are pockets for private lounging. The small year-old spa has a green bent too, with Aveda and SpaRitual treatments.
The Chakra Balancing massage (75 min, $175), which combines energy-work and a medium-pressure massage, left me so relaxed that my friend asked me if I’d had a facial – all my worry lines seemed softened. The spa also books a lot of scrubs and body treatments in its high-tech HydroCapsule, as well as ashiatsu back-walking massage, done in outdoor cabanas (pictured; 50 min, $160).
Word about the 5,000 square-foot spa is just getting out. And with room rates that cost about a third of the price of the hotels down the beach (closer to $300/night than $900/night), and the popularity of Essensia, the hotel’s very good, high-end organic restaurant, it won't be long until this spa hideaway is in the spotlight. www.thepalmshotel.com
For general trip-planning information, see our Miami Travel Guide.