It’s so easy to take where you’re from for granted.

South Florida regularly ranks in the the world’s most popular tourism areas and is home to the #1 and 2 largest cruise ports, but my time here is usually jam-packed between suburbia and trying to keep in touch with old friends. I make a point to enjoy the nightlife, shopping and beachfront brunch, compare new dining digs to food in California and marvel more each time at how much Wynwood is changing, but am generally not taking advantage of all it has to offer.

A day at the Acqualina Resort + Spa on the Beach in Sunny Isles was a bold reminder why I should be.

The 4.5 acre beachfront luxury property tucked quietly between Miami and Fort Lauderdale is the essence of south Florida luxe. Home of the first ESPA facilities in the United States with 20,000 square feet of holistic tranquility, dining that attracts the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and a private Atlantic beach with the only direct access along the Miami-Dade or PB coastline, this is why Miami makes international top 10 lists. There’s no questioning why Acqualina collects Forbes’ Five Star and AAA Five Diamond awards.

My bestie Kristin and I were booked for the Winter Glow treatment at ESPA as a refresh from the holidays, and in addition to being a perfect start to 2015, the day was a crash refresh for me on Miami lifestyle. Quite nice around five months of living out of a suitcase…


acqualina-resort-and-spa The Acqualina Spa changing room itself is a playground of personal indulgence, complete with a dry-heat sauna, crystal-infused steam room, near full-circle experience showers with body jets from each direction and a flowing full-wall fountain of crushed ice to soothe skin. I was first introduced to crystals by a healer roommate in San Francisco and have been mesmerized with them ever since, so I was so excited to see them in use down here! (Any of you guys into crystal therapy?)

The Relaxation Room for pre and post-service lets in a flood of natural light, dimmed politely over floor-to-ceiling starbursts that overlook one of the property’s three private pools and jacuzzi area. There’s a small selection of organic snacks and teas to enjoy and bamboo dividers offer a subtle addition of privacy between lounges.

One floor above is a Private Spa Suite for two with a personal steam shower and ocean-view balcony for an even more intimate experience.



The Winter Glow is a special package for January including an active peel facial and exfoliating body polish. As someone with notorious combination skin, I try a lot of facials (phyto, relaxing, acne, microdermabrasion, deep-cleaning, oxygen boost to name a few) and would easily rank this in my top 3. My skin was dewy for days and even though there’s no cleaning component to the peel, a couple problem areas were noticeably brightened.

Treatment rooms are large and inviting with deep colors, natural light, personal showers and a selection of jazz, spa or classical music. Therapists review damage areas with you under a UV light to assess your peel level, and the active enzyme solution addresses pigmentation, lines and wrinkles — all especially beneficial if you’re a sunshine state native! A cool, smooth rose quartz is used to soothe pores at the closing.

The body wrap was first up. Similar in format to a massage, the therapist applies exfoliants and essential oils with a horse-like brush and ends with an invigorating scalp massage before sending you into a private steam shower to prep for the facial.



This property represents why Miami is such a prime international destination.

Mediterranean design throughout, starting with the valet pillar shading an impressive luxe car collection, spacious, stocked lobby bar with a gorgeous ocean backdrop, proximity to Bal Harbour Shops, that body jet shower, attentive service (actually, that’s pretty unique around here) and private, exclusive-access options for everything.

It’s all about the experience, and Acqualina definitely has the details down.

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Anddd, in case you’re not on Facebook or Instagram — inspired by my refreshed eyes for south Florida… I booked my first Port Miami cruise! Starting tomorrow, I’ll be on deck with Carnival to Key West and Cozumel as a last hurrah before making the big return home on the other coast to San Francisco for a few weeks. Would love to hear any excursion or on-deck recommendations if you have ’em!

Have you guys ever visited somewhere that refreshed your eyes to a travel spot? Where at?!


currently exploring was welcomed as a guest of Acqualina, but opinion + re-infused wanderlust is my own.