While the rest of the country shovels its way through snow, I feel almost guilty pulling up to the palm trees and ocean views that welcome me at the beachfront Sunny Isles location Acqualina calls home. There are rows of Rolls Royce lined up on the sides of the valet ramp, not unlike other places in South Florida. What is rare, however, is the peaceful respite that takes me in once I walk past the front desk and make my way to the spa. I’m welcomed with mint tea and and a fresh towel for my face and hands. And for the first time in about an hour and a half of traffic and typical Miami congestion, I am able to really exhale.
Considering all the talk I’ve done on getting rid of the “mom guilt,” agreeing to check out the spa (for work research, of course) is an immediate “yes” leaping from me and my tired, puffy eyes. Which I feel are the exact right conditions under which I to conduct said research. Because the plush robe and fluffy slippers that act as my uniform for the day feel like a warm hug and a pat on the back. I sit back in a chaise, indulge in a lavender cookie, and wait for my therapist to arrive. She gives me a friendly greeting and we immediately hit it off, becoming my favorite companion for the next hour and a half – a much-needed luxury for someone who works from home in her yoga pants with only a Pomeranian to converse with.
A dimly lit room awaits with potions & elixirs, and a cushioned couch that I’m afraid I’ll never want to get up from. I pick out the scents that appeal most to me, indulgently choosing between orange blossom and lavender, eucalyptus and lemongrass. And it dawns on me that this is probably the last thing I could have pictured myself doing on a weekday morning, but certainly one of the greatest. The older Lucy gets, the more I have to remind myself that a mental break now and then is not just nice; it’s necessary. And once I realize that, it’s easy to really enjoy the process and accept that it’s ok that someone is actually giving me a foot massage while I sit back and contemplate how I got so lucky.
The foot massage is followed by a mini facial and a balancing massage with volcanic hot stones – and I relish every single second. When it’s over, I rinse off and put on that robe again, appreciating the simplicity of not having to think about yoga pants and worn-in sneakers. Stepping onto the private spa terrace, I regret not bringing along a bathing suit, but still enjoy the view and a bento box of perfectly cooked salmon and a side of fresh fruit. The beach beckons but so does my toddler, so I take in the scenery and one last relaxing breath before heading back to the locker room to change, making a mental note of the color therapy sauna for the next time.
With ocean views, beachfront dining, and a world class spa, Acqualina is definitely a splurge. But it’s the kind of spot that feels like a destination much farther away, drowning out the noise of the traffic and the street chatter, and all the familiar sounds that make Miami the kind of place you need to seek refuge from sometimes. And this is, by far, the way to do it.