by Bethan Ryder, The Daily Telegraph, January 6, 2017
The treatments at the Faena Hotel ’s Tierra Santa Healing House spa are “inspired by shamanic wisdom”, but don’t let that put you off - the team here has collaborated with no fewer than seven spa, fitness, health and holistic medicine experts and doctors to devise their programme and therapies. In an exceptional setting, unexpectedly transcendental experiences await.
Within the Faena Hotel, which stands in the heart of the six-block stretch of Collins Avenue that was officially named the Faena District in 2014 after its creator: the all-white-clad, Panama-topped Argentinian Alan Faena - think man from Del Monte, although he's from Buenos Aires. Just a few blocks south is Ian Schrager ’s The Miami Beach Edition .
The hotel is prime oceanfront and some spa treatment rooms face the sea. Faena has a somewhat spiritual and romantic approach to life, reflected in the spa by name, and by nature - it's named after Faena's Punte del Este estate and "Tierra Santa" translates as "holy ground".
The colourful Faena spa reception lounge
Minimalist lovers beware. Film director Baz Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin have lavished the interior of this original art deco building (formerly the Saxony) with leopard print, red velvet, floral motifs and exotic detailing… imaginary mood boards might stretch from Botticelli’s Venus to Frida Kahlo (with a dash of Beryl Cook if they knew her). Some might find it all a bit de trop, more film set than a “home from home” (it even has its own theatre), but for those romantics with an inner hippie who yearn for escapism - it’s your nirvana.
This Latino meets Miami vibe continues in the reception lounge of the Tierra Santa Healing House spa. Fifties-style furniture is livened up by a striped rug, colossal chandelier composed of multicoloured fishing lures and ottomans featuring intricately embroidered textiles designed by locally based Argentinian fashion designer Carolina Kleinman.
The spa’s staff wear her designs as well and she has curated the small adjoining boutique which is stocked with her Carolina K line of boho Mexican and Peruvian-inspired smocks and kaftans. If you ever harboured fantasies of dressing like a Romany gypsy as a child (erm, like me), you'll find her clothes hard to resist.
Hydrotherapy treatment rooms at the Tierra Santa Healing House Credit: Nikolas Koenig
Spa facilities 7/10
By contrast the wet spa is designed as a total relaxation zone, an inner sanctuary of cool soothing marble away from the distractions of the hotel's theatrics and dazzling Miami sun. After giving the initial introduction to the wet spa (where guests acclimatise under the various showers in the “waterfall” area), staff seemed to just magically appear to guide my way when needed, but were otherwise wonderfully absent.
Use of the wet spa is extended to guests undergoing treatments, and it is here that they can undergo DIY "bathing rituals" incorporating the spa's hand-blended, plant-based soap (shaved from a huge block), scrubs, healing clays and oils; all beautifully presented in copper bowls.
The heated Amazonite stone platform at the heart of the hammam
The real showstopper here is a spectacular jasmine-scented hammam with a hexagonal platform of heated Amazonite stone. The 22,000 square foot spa also includes two private hydrotherapy treatment rooms available for wet scrub treatments; a sauna; herbal steam room; two-seater ice parlour where you can cool off and stimulate blood flow and metabolic systems with ice shavings and air; and a tepidarium. Sadly on my visit it was occupied by two other guests still plugged in despite it being a mobile-free zone.
The tepidarium for relaxation
The treatments 8/10
I indulged in the Tree of Life Vibrations, a two-hour signature body massage (or “journey”, as they like to call it) involving the ancient Eastern art of sound massage, delivered by Chris. I’m not normally a fan of male therapists, but his calm, gentle manner immediately put me at ease. Though this was one of the more unusual spa experiences I’ve had, if you keep an open mind you can’t fault the execution or the knowledge and professionalism of the therapists.
The massage took place on a heated bed. A blend of rose and peppermint oil (which I chose at the start) was placed in a bowl below my head and also poured along tension points on my spine, with hot Brazilian rose stones applied to enhance the massage. But the real surprise was the meditative effects of the Nepalese singing bowls, handmade from seven different metals. Four bowls were played by Chris at the start, purely for the soporific sounds (and unexpected braingasm sensations) they produce.
Tierra Santa Treatment RoomCredit: Todd Eberle
Later these were introduced into the massage itself; placed on my lower back, the bowls made my whole body vibrate, gently and deeply. Though my mind usually races even during massages, I drifted off completely and felt a depth of relaxation you might otherwise usually only achieve by illegal means. Spaced out for the rest of the day, I quite happily changed my evening plans for an early night.
The relaxation room where guests arrive and are offered tea post-treatmentCredit: Todd Eberle
Favourite thing: Not having to fill in any kind of tick-box paperwork prior to the treatment made it as blessedly stress-free as dining at a no-menu restaurant.
Could be better: It’s possibly one of the most expensive spas I’ve ever visited. Faena’s escapism comes at a price, one can only hope the pound gets stronger.
Value for money: 6/10
Double rooms from $600 (approx. £490) per night including taxes in low season; rising to $800 (approx. £650) per night including taxes in high season. Facials from £$195 for 50 min Hyper Customised Facial and massages from $175; Tree of Life Vibrations (120 minutes) is $400.
Elsewhere there is a fitness room and 1,000 square foot yoga studio; for more on the hotel experience, read the Telegraph’s Faena Hotel review .
Tierra Santa Healing House, 3201 Collins Avenue, Faena District Miami Beach, FL33140, T: +1 786 655 5570; faena.com
This article was written by Bethan Ryder from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.