Last updated on June 4th, 2020
Miami. The American Riviera with its pastel palaces, its swaying palms and Art Deco curves is one of my favourite haunts when I need a break from the slate-coloured skies at home. Eye-popping art and sleek design sit in every corner and crevice of this sorbet-coloured city, so it’s surprising to those who know me that I had an art-free break in Miami recently (well I did cheat a tad, but more on that later). I needed a cultural calm-me down fix, and the Carillon Miami Retreat was just the tonic. Off I headed into the tropical metropolis for a 3-day session of nutrition workshops, pampering, meditation and downtime. Bliss.
The Carillon Miami
The Carillon is located in Miami’s North Beach, about a 20-minute drive from the airport. It’s an oceanfront property with the sparkling sea on one side and the shops and restaurants of the world-famous Collins Avenue on the other. The Miami Boardwalk runs alongside the hotel on which you can walk or cycle (using one of the hotel’s cute bikes) all the way to South Beach.
I came with my daughter, Clarissa Lenherr, who was running a retreat that week: Become the Healthiest Version of You. The aim of the retreat was to nourish the body and mind through a series of workshops led by Clarissa and supplemented with meditation and yoga sessions, delicious food and spa treatments. There was plenty of time for sun-worshipping and “me-time” in-between.
The Carillon is a big hotel but it’s super generous with bedroom size and with its public areas – and yet it feels intimate, and friendly. And for this Londoness with a serious case of directional dyslexia, it’s easy to find your way around. It has both an elegant and casual feel about it. Oh, it’s also pooch-friendly, so a big paw clap for that.
The retreat included our accommodation in a gorgeous one-bedroom suite with floor-to-ceiling windows (there wasn’t a bad view in the place). Each suite comes with a kitchenette, living-room, and a luxury bathroom with a walk-in shower and generous tub.
The kitchen is fully equipped with Nespresso coffee and tea-making facilities (topped up daily), a microwave, fridge, hob with kettle, toaster and a dishwasher. If you feel like dining in, there’s a well-stocked Publix with a Starbucks across the road from the Carillon.
There’s a Bose Wave Radio (which even streamed Classic FM from London), and not that you’ll be using these much during your stay, but there are two TVs in the suite.
A piece of technology which you will want to use is the tablet with online access to the spa, valet, in-suite dining and restaurant reservations.
The Carillon has four pools. The rooftop pool is an adults-pool only and there’s a family pool just off the beach.
Carillon guests have access to a 750-foot private beach from which you can order drinks and snacks.
The Carillon has a 70-000-square-foot spa and wellness centre with one of the most impressive gyms I have ever seen. Use of these areas is included in your stay including unlimited access to the 20 plus fitness classes each day. Classes might include Latin Cardio Dance, Gyrokinesis, Ballroom Dance, Beach Bootcamp, Slow Flow Yoga, and Buff Ballet Booty.
Even the two-storey climbing rock has spectacular ocean views – that is, if you can open your eyes when you’re at the top!
Also included is access to the Thermal Experience, one of the country’s largest hydrotherapy circuits. We relaxed on heated loungers, took showers in Caribbean monsoons and Polar mists (heaven), went for an Igloo drizzle where we were enveloped in cool minty air, and finished off with my favourite, the Herbal Laconium. This room detoxifies the body using heated herbal aromatherapy. You’ll also find all the standard treatments including a sauna, crystal steam, foot bath and a party-sized hot tub. The Thermal Experience is open to all hotel guests over the age of 14.
You can eat at the Strand restaurant which has both indoor and outdoor areas, or you can eat pool or beachside if you prefer. As the retreat included two buffet breakfasts and two lunches at the Strand, we chose to go out for dinner in the evenings. My one criticism of the Carillon was that it did not offer a wellness gluten-free and dairy free menu, and the staff did not seem to be well-educated with allergens on the menu – although they were always happy to enquire on my behalf. They did have a delicious gluten and dairy-free pizza (pictured above) on the menu which everyone happily devoured during the Retreat.
If you want to head out of the hotel for food, there are plenty of neighbourhood places where you can grab a snack. Carrot Express was a favourite amongst the wellness guests, and there are supermarkets and takeaways on Collins Avenue. You could also order from The Strand hotel restaurant or from most local restaurants on Uber Eats if you wanted to dine in your suite. There’s also a Corner Store café located inside the hotel which makes delicious juices and coffees.
The Carillon Retreat
Clarissa led the retreat which included suite accommodations for three nights, two group breakfasts and lunches, two evening socials, a $200 spa credit, four workshops and two retreat group-only meditation/yoga classes. The retreat also included unlimited access to all the facilities and classes in the hotel.
We were welcomed with this gift bag which contained the best gift of all – the Carillon tote, perfect for carrying around your retreat notes as well as sunblock and water.
The retreat kicked off with a tour of the facilities and was followed by a welcome social hosted by Clarissa. We had our first Q and A session with drinks and some very yummy nibbles.
On Day two, we had our group breakfast in the Strand restaurant and then took over one of the hotel’s event rooms for our second workshop and lunch. We also had a healthy snack workshop during which Clarissa taught us how to make healthy lemon, coconut and cashew energy balls.
In the evening, we had our second social in the stunning private Dining Room. We kicked off with an organic wine tasting, paired with scrumptious snacks prepared by the head chef (these included vegan and gluten-free options). During our workshop we discussed the stigmas around food and how to free ourselves from diet culture and its negative connotations.
We had two sunrise yoga and mediation sessions held in the Ocean Studio. The view alone was enough to send me into deep relaxation.
On our final day, we held our workshop just after breakfast on the Strand patio. Over the course of four workshops, we discussed diet and sleep optimisation, gut health, how to boost energy, and choosing good mood food.
We finished the retreat with a flourish – the individual spa appointments. I had an Aromatherapy massage, and I can tell you it was one of the best I have ever had (thank you Mary-Lou!) There’s an extensive spa menu from which to choose with more unusual treatments such as cryotherapy and Ayurvedic treatments.
After three days at the Carillon, I was re-booted. I felt healthier, nourished and relaxed. I survived a full three days of just floating about and having someone else look after me. It was quite hard to pull myself away, so I made myself an absolute promise to come and visit again for an annual chill pill. There might be a little bit of art thrown in, mind. Hasta pronto, Miami.
The Carillon hosts retreats throughout the year – more information here.
Just before I go, I did promise you a little art…
Clarissa and I headed over to Wynwood Walls one evening. The brainchild of Tony Goldman (the man behind SoHo and South Beach revival), the walls are now curated by one of the art dealers inside the walled area. It’s an open-air art gallery featuring some of the greatest graffiti artists in the world and it’s a must-see if you come to Miami.
Note: I was a guest of the Carillon Miami. All views and opinions my own.
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