|Spa at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, Florida|
I had a chance to visit the palatial Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables this spring. The historic hotel was opened in 1926 for $10 million. One of the main attractions of the hotel has always been the colossal swimming pool. In the 1930s, The Biltmore's pool was world renowned for its water ballets, fire divers, comedy acts, high divers, and water polo.
Performers included Johnny Weissmuller, Emmet Kelley, and the Great Wallendas. In the 1940s, swimming sensation Esther Williams performed there. Today, at 700,000 gallons, the pool is the largest hotel pool in the continental United States and is frequently used as a backdrop for movies, fashion spreads and video shoots. The Biltmore Swimming Pool is reserved for hotel guests only and is not open to the public, even when receiving spa services.
On the morning of my visit, I had an opportunity to experience Water Pilates, one of a number of aquatic classes offered in the pool. More than 40 exercise classes are offered each week at the Fitness Center, including Pilates, Yoga, and body sculpting. The 15,000 square-foot Fitness Center is located on the same level as the pool. It has one area dedicated solely to cardiovascular exercise with programmable treadmills, Stairmasters, lifecycles, Elliptical cross Trainers and more. It also includes a free weight room and two additional rooms of plate loaded and selectorized resistance equipment (Body Master, Cybex, Hammer Strength, Nautilus and more). Fitness assessments and personal trainers are available by appointment.
I visited The Spa in the afternoon. The location of The Spa is a bit awkward - smack in the middle of the Fitness Center. I checked in at a desk near the exit to the pool, walked through the Fitness Center - past the cardio area and the weight room filled with loud, pulsing exercise music - until I arrived at the spa door. It was locked. A sign instructed me to ring the bell. I did, and I was admitted. On the other side of the door, the atmosphere changed dramatically. It was quiet and the lights were low - much more tranquil.
The Spa had been recently been renovated. It included separate men's and women's locker rooms, each with a sauna, steam room, showers and a dressing area. There is also a waiting area, five massage treatment rooms, one wet room and two facial treatment rooms. I checked in at the spa reception desk in the spa entry area and was escorted to the women's locker room. I changed into a robe, walked back through the entry area and settled in the waiting area.
At the appointed time, my therapist, Marcelino Sotolongo, came to collect me. He was going to give me a neuromuscular massage. This type of massage is recommended for people with acute or chronic muscle tension and its associated pain. My shoulders constantly bother me, so I thought this would be worth a try. Neuromuscular therapy uses deep compressions or pressure trigger points to break the stress-tension-pain cycle. Its purpose is to relax the muscle so that circulation can increase and the body can return to normal neuromuscular integrity and balance. Marcelino located a number of tender areas or trigger points on my body. He applied pressure on each point for about 10 seconds to deactivate them. It was momentarily painful, but felt great afterwards. After he was done with the trigger points, he massaged in Sombra pain-relieving gel enriched with capsaicin, camphor and menthol. He then gently stretched my muscles to complete the relaxation process. While the shoulder pain did not go away permanently, I found the neuromuscular massage did give temporary relief to it.
Other services available at The Spa at the Biltmore include:
- Massage: Swedish, Aromatherapy, Deep tissue, Neuromuscular, Shiatsu, Reflexology
- Body Treatments: Seaweed Body Contour Wrap, Detoxifying Body Wrap, Body Glow -- Salt Exfoliate, Body Gommage, Counturing Mud Wrap
- Facials: Petit Facial, Biltmore's Le Grand Classique, Biltmore Fresh Fruit Facial, Gentleman's Active Facial
- Hair Removal
- Beauty Salon Services: Hair Care (Cut, Blow Dry, Style, Color, Up-dos, Conditioning Treatment), Nail Services (Manicure, Signature Manicure, French Manicure, Pedicure, Signature Pedicure, French Pedicure, Change of Polish, French change of polish, Paraffin)
- The Biltmore Ultimate Package (7 hours): Body Polish, 80 minutes Biltmore Signature Massage, Biltmore Le Grand Classique Facial, French Manicure, French Pedicure, Wash & Blow Dry, Make-up, Lunch at La Cascade restaurant
- Relaxing at The Biltmore ( 3 ½ hours): 50 minutes Aromatherapy Massage, Biltmore Le Grand Classique Facial, Signature Manicure, Signature Pedicure, Lunch at La Cascade restaurant
- A Day for HIM at The Biltmore (3 hours): 80 minutes Deep Tissue Massage, Gentleman Facial, Manicure
- For the Brides on that Special Day (4 ½ hours): Body Polish, 50 minutes Swedish Massage, Signature French Manicure, Signature French Pedicure, Up-Do, Make-up
In addition to The Spa at The Biltmore and the Pool at the Biltmore, The Biltmore offers an 18-hole, par 71, championship golf course designed by world-renowned golf course architect Donald Ross adjacent to the hotel. Opened in 1925, the course provides preferred daily tee times for hotel guests and minimal charges for green fees. The latest state-of-the-art video training equipment is used for personal lessons. Full practice facility, private instruction, golf academy, equipment rentals and pro shop are available. Corporate groups can organize tournaments and preferred group tee times through the hotel's Concierge.
The Biltmore also offers ten lighted courts at The Biltmore Tennis Center. They are free to hotel guests. Court times can be reserved through the Concierge desk. Tennis instructors are available to schedule private lessons. Tennis balls are available for purchase at the center.
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