Spa fancy: Palm Garden
If you'd rather skip the pomp with your pampering, head to this simple sanctuary at the South Seas hotel.
By Kathryn Wexler
The lowdown: Palm Garden Spa is little more than a small wooden deck at the far edge of the hotel property. There's a massage table, a few lounge chairs and some outdoor furniture. White tents with optional, weather-proof curtains and a few palm trees provide shade. The area is obscured from the winding beach walkway by scrubby vegetation and from the hotel pool by 100 feet of sand and some hammocks. The menu is refreshingly basic. There are massages (a combination of various modalities, straight-up shiatsu and area-specific rubdowns) and body scrubs. That's it. If you're more nurture-lover than nature-lover, stay away. The restroom is next to the restaurant and open to everyone, although a tiny changing room is strictly reserved for spa-goers. Flip-flops are provided, as you must traipse across the sand to get to your massage.
But if you've tired of the dim interiors of most spas, try this, perhaps the most beach-y of South Beach spas.
Waves break within earshot and you can't shut out the ocean breezes.
The 'hood: South Seas Hotel is sandwiched between the Richmond Hotel and the Marseilles Hotel. Collins Avenue can get pretty congested along that block, but South Seas has its own valet service. For the month of
November, spa-goers get the discounted valet rate of $10 for two hours, but stay longer than that and the charge rises to the regular price of $20 for the day.
The vibe: Ahhhhh.
The highlights: Happy feet is an intense reflexology session by Kevin Young, one of the spa's two masseurs ($70 for 30 minutes). Get Stoned is a full-body massage with heated volcanic stones ($130 for 60 minutes). Body scrubs are offered in the following combos: French lavender and sea salt, coconut and mango, coconut and white ginger lily, and for men only, Mana'ia ($60 for 30 minutes).
Palm Garden Spa at the South Seas Hotel, 1751 Collins Ave. Miami Beach 305-538-1411
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