|Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, Florida|
There are really two resorts at Doral - the large resort and the small resort. The large resort is the 650-acre main Doral Golf Resort where golfers come to "The Kingdom of Golf" to be challenged on the five championship courses and the Jim McLean Golf School, tennis enthusiasts come to the Arthur Ashe Tennis Center, children come to Camp Doral and the new Blue Lagoon Water Park with its 125-foot long, 35-foot drop waterslide, and businesses come to have meetings and conferences. The small resort is the self-contained, beautiful Spa at Doral - set apart on 35 lush acres of the main resort located next to one of the golf courses. Accessible to main resort guests and local day visitors, The Spa at Doral also has it's own luxurious accommodations for overnight spa guests.
"Small" is only accurate when comparing it to the main resort. Large enough to be a stand-alone resort, The Spa at Doral has a separate, gated entrance. In addition to the spa itself, it features 48 exclusive guest suites with living areas, comfortable beds, private dressing areas, marble bathrooms, Jacuzzis, wet bars, complete entertainment systems and great views of gardens and golf courses. There are four types of Spa Suites:
Premier: Largest 2 bedroom suite with golf course views, wrap-around balcony or terrace, 2 bedrooms adjoining large parlor area with video entertainment center and dining area. Luxuriously furnished, each bedroom offers a private Jacuzzi and shower, and separate entrance. Master bedroom with king or queen bed. Also wet bar with refrigerator.
Grande: Large 1 bedroom suite with golf course views. King bed and same amenities as Premier.
Master Suite: Spacious, beautifully furnished oversized suite. Complete with private entryway, salon/living area with dining table, separate bedroom area, private balcony or terrace, one or two private Jacuzzis and separate shower, his and her dressing areas, two private safes, wet bar with refrigerator and complete entertainment center. One king bed or two queen beds.
Executive Suite: Luxurious, with combined parlor and bedroom area. King bed, Jacuzzi, balcony and entertainment center.
The resort adds a service charge ($16 per night, per room at the time of my visit) for daily newspaper, gratuities for bell staff, house keeping, limited local calls plus 800 calls and use of resort fitness center.
Of all of the rooms I've stayed in while visiting spas, the suite at The Spa at Doral is one of my favorites. While it was full of luxurious amenities that I fully appreciated, it was the simple touches that left a lasting impression - having breakfast on the patio overlooking the golf course; being able to individually adjust the plantation shutters to provide privacy and a lovely view at the same time; and, of course, being so close to The Spa.
The Spa itself is designed to evoke the charm of a Tuscan villa - terraces, curving stairways, fountains, and formal Italian gardens. The four-level, 148,000-square-foot building has a 75-foot central atrium topped by a huge skylight and contains 52 treatment rooms (facial, massage, Thai, couples, wrap, wet, teeth whitening and more); a full-service beauty salon; two aerobics studios; a fully equipped 1,200-square-foot fitness center; an indoor running track; spa boutique; and the Atrium Restaurant. Three heated swimming pools include an indoor exercise pool, an outdoor lap pool and an outdoor, formal pool with hydromassage Roman showers. Separate men's and women's lounges offer changing areas with lockers; showers; vanity area, wet areas with saunas, steam rooms, hydrotherapy whirlpools, cold plunge pools, body wrap rooms and wet treatment rooms; nude sunbathing decks - private and group; waiting/relaxation room, and outdoor patio. A variety of fruited water and iced and hot teas and fruit are available throughout the lounge.
The Atrium Restaurant provides gourmet spa cuisine. Low-cal, low-fat, and low-cholesterol dishes are served, as well as specially prepared meals for vegetarians, diabetics, and those on low-sodium diets. A social table is available for guests traveling alone. Nutritionists visit the tables and offer suggestions and advice on meal plans, weight loss, and wellness.
The Spa offers daily cooking classes and nutrition lectures. I sat in on one where Chef Dianna prepared delicious recipes that we got to sample. While Chef Dianna prepared the food, dietitian Kathie Graham, MS, RD talked about cooking methods, bioavailability, and behavior modification. One of the suggestions Kathie made was to keep track of how much you walk each day. Kathie wears a pedometer and knows how many steps she takes in an average day. She says she knows if she doesn't get her steps in, she will gain weight. If she wants to lose weight, she adds steps. She sets a daily step goal. If she doesn't have her steps in at the end of the day, she takes a walk. Pretty simple! Here are some of the cooking and nutrition tips she shared:
Chop garlic 1/2 hour before use and it will retain medicinal properties (lower cholesterol) while cooking
Onions can reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer
Eating 5 fruits and vegetables per day can reduce risk of cancer 20%
Which is healthier - a cooked or raw tomato? The answer is both! The raw has vitamin C which cooking destroys, but cooking makes lycopene available.
Spicy hot foods increase metabolism by 25 calories (2.5 lbs per year)
The Spa at Doral offers a number of classes including Nutritional Behavior Modification, Personal Menu Planning, Non-Diet Approach, Comprehensive Dietary Analysis, Womens Issues, Nutrition for Men, Vegetarian Diet, Sports Nutrition, Nutrition for Couples and offers a gourmet spa cuisine cookbook. I signed up for the 50-minute Non-Diet Approach with Kathie Graham. It is suggested for people who are are frustrated with their weight, find food an obsession, and/or constantly diet only to regain the weight over and over again. Kathie helps identify triggers that lead to overeating, suggests alternative activities to deal with food cravings, discusses how food may affect your mood and coordinate meal/snack plans conducive to individual lifestyles. Kathie explained that short-term diets are often about denial and tend to encourage the denial/return to old habits cycle. The non-diet approach focuses on more long-term lifestyle changes. The emphasis is on the "can do." You concentrate on experiencing how it feels to eat healthier and have more energy (which encourages exercise). In the non-diet approach, variety is encouraged, which leaves room for the occasional indulgence. Changes are gradual but more likely to be lasting. It teaches you to listen to your body for hunger signals and stop eating when you are full. Planning ahead is very important. Always have a healthy snack handy when hunger hits. Having a plan makes it less likely to eat quick, unhealthy choices. One of the simple suggestions Kathie made for me was to fill half my plate with vegetables first. That way I will be more likely to get those 5 fruits/vegetables in, and there will be less room left for higher calorie, starchy foods.
The Spa at Doral offers a number of fitness classes to choose from. Different classes are offered daily and include Simply Stretch, Shape Up!, Spinning All Terrain, Core Response, Super Splash, Fit Fusion, Get On The Ball, Rock Bottom, Spinning Strength, Pilates, Aquatone, Caliente!, Yoga & Relaxation and Spinning Interval. Personal Training is offered in Basic Sessions (Weight Training, Aqua Exercise, Cardiovascular Training, Stretching Flexibility, and Pre & Post Natal), Specialty Sessions (mat Pilates, Latin Dance, Relaxation, and Yoga) and Ab and Back One-on-One Training.
Other interesting offerings include Astrology Consultation, Tarot Card Reading and Numerology. I had a short Astrology Consultation and Tarot Card Reading from Sharon Frazier. I will just say she was pretty amazing - and accurate. A friend also had a tarot card reading, and Sharon told her she would shortly meet a man named Ralph who would help her. The next day, many miles from The Doral, my friend got an earache and saw a doctor. His name was Ralph.
The spa offers Zoom In-Spa Professional Tooth Whitening which brightens teeth an average of eight shades whiter on the Vita shade guide. It is performed by a dentist and takes about an hour. I have seen tooth whitening products displayed at various spa conferences, but The Spa at Doral is the first spa I have actually been to that offers this service. I'll have to try it next time I visit!
The Spa at Doral offers more than 100 different spa treatments including massage, facial skin care and body treatments. I tried two of them - Trager Therapy and Vitamin A-C-E Antioxidant Facial Treatment. I checked in at the reception desk on the first floor near the spa boutique (there is another one by the beauty salon). I was instructed to go to the desk on the second floor to pick up my locker key. A fluffy robe and slippers were waiting for me in the locker, but I didn't need the robe. My first treatment was Trager Therapy. It was the first time I had an opportunity to try this, and I was curious about what the experience would be like. I was instructed to wear loose-fitting clothes, so I waited in the waiting room in my black yoga pants and tee-shirt - a little self-conscious among the others in their white spa robes. My therapist, Sandra, escorted me to a massage treatment room on the third floor and instructed me to get on the table. For the 100-minute session, Sandra used gentle, rhythmic, rocking movements that loosened my joints and lulled me into a deep state of relaxation. Trager Work helps release deep-seated physical and mental patterns and facilitates deep relaxation, increased physical mobility, and mental clarity. These patterns may have developed in response to accidents, illnesses, or any kind of physical or emotional trauma, including the stress of everyday life. When it was finished, I went back to the changing room, changed into my spa robe and relaxed for a few hours. At the Spa at Doral, you can spend the whole day in your spa robe. It is appropriate attire in The Spa, the Atrium Restaurant and by the pools. The next day I had a Vitamin A-C-E Antioxidant Facial Treatment. I repeated my check-in procedure but this time changed into the robe. I waited in the outdoor patio area. Norella escorted me to a facial treatment room on the second floor and explained the treatment is excellent for all skin types. It uses Dr. Grandel products containing the antioxidant vitamins A-C-E. Over the next 80 minutes, Norella treated me to cleansing, exfoliating, A-C-E cream, facial massage, hand massage, masks and more cream that left my face feeling great and looking brighter. While having treatments in The Spa is great, The Spa at Doral also offers in-room and outdoor massage. Two of the most popular outdoor locations include next to the Roman Showers and under the waterfall at the Blue Lagoon Water Park.
The Spa at Doral offers many day and overnight packages. All include use of the spa facility, exercise classes and lectures and demonstrations. Overnight guests also have access to the rest of The Doral Golf Resort. A weekly schedule is located in the guest rooms and include golf and tennis clinics as well as events in the area (There was a Miami Design Preservation League Art Deco District Walking Tour offered during my visit).
What amazes me is that The Spa at Doral was built in the 1980s - years before the current spa explosion. What visionaries the builders were! Now, ~20 years later, The Spa at Doral is still a fabulous spa and working hard to stay that way. According to Danilo Dominguez, Operations Manager, The Spa at Doral will be working with a spa consultant in 2003 to help develop and better define the spa's theme and return to its origins and water. They will also be adding a Chopra Center on the second floor - the first on the East Coast.
Photos copyright 2003, Julie
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