Ever since I moved to Los Angeles 18 years ago, my BFF from the UK and I promised each other that we’d meet halfway for a luxurious girlfriend getaway as often as possible. Well, life stepped in as it does, and it took us 18 years to finally get around to it. 2016 was to be the year when we’d finally do it. My friend, Melina, had just turned 50, and she wanted to celebrate. She to escape the grey UK drizzle and find some sun, and so I suggested Miami, because I’d never been there.
After spending a few hours researching hotels and resorts, I felt a bit put off. The vibe of South Beach with its towering Kardashian-style hotels didn’t really appeal. Was it going to be possible to find somewhere that combined the kind of casual luxury we wanted, with and organic/sustainable vibe? Hmmm – and just as I was about to change direction and think about NYC instead, I came across The Palms Hotel & Spa. Its website showed a lovely spa, a healthy menu, and yoga classes in a Tiki hut – okay now we’re talking. After a little more research, vacation booked – done and DONE!
There’s nothing worse than getting to your long-awaited hotel/resort, and finding it to be radically different (in a disappointing way), from the images on the website. And, haven’t we all been there at one time or another? But, there’s equally nothing more thrilling that reaching your destination and finding that every single bit of it exceeds your expectations. That’s exactly what happened with The Palms Hotel and Spa the moment we walked in to the cool lobby. The first thing that washed over me was the warmth of every single member of staff: From the front desk manager to the bell boy who grabbed our bags – it was as if we were being welcomed into a happy family, where everyone was genuinely excited that we were about to have the best vacation ever.
The rooms are lovely. You get to choose a city or ocean room view, and obviously if you can upgrade, go for the ocean (well worth the extra expense), because the views over the swaying palms and across the golden beach, are absolutely breathtaking. The beds are super comfy, with sheets and pillows that you wish you had at home. The bathrooms are well appointed with large rain showers, cozy robes and Aveda products. I’m trying to think if there is anything that I would change about the room, and I can honestly say there isn’t.
After a delicious night’s sleep, my friend and I headed down to the restaurant terrace for green smoothies before hitting a Sunday morning yoga class in a huge open-air Tiki hut. Lying in Savasana, listening to the sound of the birds chirping, and the waves crashing, was pretty outstanding. Breakfast is either a buffet, or you can order a la Carte. Since there is so much deliciousness on the buffet, there really is no need to order anything else. Every morning I loaded up a bowl with granola, melon, berries, walnuts, and a drizzle of honey. The seeded and whole grain breads are all made in house and are irresistible when toasted with a smear of strawberry jelly. My friend, Mel, had helped herself to soft-scrambled eggs, and Greek yogurt. There’s something for everyone at this buffet – from health freak to bagel and lox girl – all are well taken care of.
So, what to do in the day? NOTHING!!! The Palms Hotel and Spa is the kind of resort that encourages you to kick back and chill – and I mean really chill. You don’t need to go off the premises at all…seriously moving from breakfast terrace to poolside, to finding a lounger on the pristine beach is about all the energy you really want to muster as you begin to slowly disconnect from the tension of regular life. Pretty much year round, the ocean is warm enough to play in (we were there in mid May and it was perfect), and of course the weather in Miami is almost always pleasant. It was funny because we kept looking at the weather app, which showed clouds and a thunderbolt everyday, but because you’re right on the beach, we had plenty of sunshine, along with some exquisite thunderstorms.
The Essensia Restaurant is my kind of a restaurant. The ambiance of a restaurant is everything to me when on vacation, and sitting in soft, comfy dining chairs on the airy terrace under the moonlight, was as close to perfect as you can get. Chef Venoy Rogers explained to us that they source as much local, organic food as they possibly can, and some of the food even comes from the garden near the pool (which I investigated the next day). There are plenty of choices for vegetarians, vegans, and Omnivores, so both Mel and I were able to delight in the many offerings. Our obsession? The Avocado Tempura, which is the restaurant’s signature dish, and something I am still dreaming about. If you like fish, there are loads of wonderful local seafood choices on the menu every night, and if you are a veggie head like me, I was thrilled with my flatbread with kale and local mushrooms.
We ordered lunch either poolside or on the beach. The lunch menu is absolutely perfect for a light, healthy bite. Our favorite lunches included the healthy ancient grain salad, the veggie wrap, and the plantain crisps with guac and black bean hummus. Oh, and I had to have my daily young green coconut, served from the poolside bar – awwwww, wish I was still there!!!!
The masseuses at the Aveda Spa are extremely skilled. I am so often disappointed by spa massages, but NOT this time. The spa itself is very Zen, and each treatment room boosts state-of-the-art beds (I could have lain on that thing for 24 hours). My lovely masseuse, Candace Sellman, asked me to choose an aromatherapy blend, which she applied liberally, whilst giving me one of the best massages ever. If you go to the hotel – well worth splashing out in the Spa, particularly on a massage. She also turned me onto an Aveda product called Blue Oil Balancing Concentrate, which is a roller ball that you apply to very tight muscles (neck for me!) and you immediately feel a coolness release all the muscles in the area that you applied it. Loved the steam room and the general feel of being able to hang out in the relaxation area with a cup of sweet Aveda licorice tea.
The Palms Hotel and Spa is special because it’s not part of a chain. It’s independently owned, and thus maintains a unique family-feel that you just don’t find at many 5-Star resorts. It’s a AAA Four Diamond property that also has 4 Green Keys for their environmental practices – always a huge priority for me. The casual feel is such that you are fine in shorts and sandy feet all day, everyday if you so please, but if you want to stick on some heels and a cute dress for dinner, you are equally at home – the pressure is OFF at The Palms because it’s totally unpretentious – you basically dress as you please, and do as you please.
Four nights wasn’t long enough – we could totally have used another 10 days! This is because you are in the heart of Miami where there is so much going on. Obviously the shopping, dining and nightlife is really fun, and we only really scraped the surface of that. Besides, Miami now has a very vibrant and renowned art scene, which I will investigate when we next visit.
The Palms Hotel & Spa works perfectly as a girlfriend getaway, a romantic getaway, a family getaway – whatever. I’ll be back without question – and sooner rather than later.
(BTW – a little tiny head’s up: I may be hosting a Hello Gorgeous New Year’s Life Transforming retreat at The Palms in January. If you are interested in hearing more about this, be sure to message me on Facebook.)