MoDo Does SoBe’s Canyon Ranch

Maureen Dowd, the New York Times's drama queen of frivolity, takes a vacation in SoBe and pens Canyon Ranch in Miami Beach – What Recession?.

Choice bits:

To find out if spa guilt is rampant, Alessandra and I spent a long weekend at the new Canyon Ranch in the old Carillon Hotel in Miami Beach, which bills itself as the first condo, luxury hotel and wellness spa “of its kind!”

Like other spas, Canyon Ranch hopes to alleviate spa guilt by stressing the holistic benefits of “a deeper wellness,” “a healing energy,” “a Shamanic journey” — rather than simple exfoliating, waxing and cycling. It boasts a sensual 70,000-square-foot spa “where body meets soul” (while money leaves wallet).

But wait, it gets better.

I’d seen someone execute a daring escape from a spa once. Many years ago, when she was single, Nicole Miller, the pretty red-headed clothing designer, had broken out one night from the puritanical Golden Door in Escondido, Calif., and shown up the next morning with a cute guy and a satisfied smile.

At some spas, going AWOL produces a Mother Superior scowl from management. Here, the easygoing staff seems to expect it, even enable it. There’s a hair salon that will wash the massage oil out of your hair, give you a great blow dry and reasonably priced sun streaks, and send you on your way out into the warm night with some cheap dangly earrings.

I called the only person I knew in Miami and asked him to bust us out of there on Saturday night. Fortunately, he was chief of police, my pal John Timoney, so the great escape from Canyon Ranch went flawlessly in his white getaway S.U.V.

Gosh, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard something about Chief Timoney and his SUV? Could it be The Lexus Leprechaun in which the New Times wrote about his unethical and illegal acceptance of a free SUV from a local Lexus dealer? Could it be Miami's Top Cop Breaks the Law in which they described his stonewall when asked to testify about it? Or maybe is was when he had to buy the car at its $54K sticker price? Or that his ethics case was settled for a weeks pay and a $500 fine — which isn't much, but was the largest ethics fine in the history of the county (don't say it)? Or that there were suggestions the Chief might have committed perjury in a sworn statement in the case?

Not that MoDo lets on any hint of all that in her article. And why should she? The Chief took her somewhere nice:

Chief Timoney took us over to the most over-the-top spot in this over-the-top city: the leopard-skin-swathed, stained-glass-filled, Medusa-head-branded Versace mansion, a testament to what one man accomplished by reducing antiquity to a throw pillow.

The mansion, Casa Casuarina, had been turned into a private club but is now open to the public, with a restaurant on its patio that started out in September, and tours of the mannerist upstairs suites. We had a drink in the ornate bar with the owner, Peter Loftin, a mountain of Southern charm, a retired telecommunications mogul who bought the house for $19 million in 2000. Then we ate a sampling from the kitchen: a mound of succulent Kobe beef, fried pork belly, sea scallops with osetra caviar, black grouper, blue prawns cooked at the table on a salt block, foie gras with a riesling-pineapple-coriander emulsion and Meyer lemon tart and crushed amaretti mousse with vanilla-bean meringue, washed down by Champagne (Krug, Clos de Ambonnay 1995), at one of the outdoor tables under a tent by the elaborately tiled pool.

… did the NYT (or the Chief) really buy a champagne that costs $3,500 / bottle at retail? Somebody, or two somebodies, seems seriously overpaid. But then the Chief has long been known for high living and bashing into protesters and others. And it seems he makes $4,300 per week, so I guess he can afford it.

Having been fed and watered (no word about whether “Alessandra” came along), MoDo went back to work:

I had a massage where a woman walked on my back while holding on to rails in the ceiling — not relaxing — and another where I was rubbed down by a cute young Latino massage therapist wielding a mushroom-shaped ball wrapped in linen.

Aren't you glad that Maureen Dowd had a good time? And, in case you are wondering, we never do find out if “spa guilt” is “rampant”. Perhaps next time.

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