Saturday, March 8, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

I took a break from cooking, recipe developing and writing this week and joined my husband Bob for a few days in Key Biscayne, Fl. We were lucky enough to stay at the Ritz Carlton. Bob was there to take a law seminar and I was with him to sit in the sun, relax, enjoy a few spa treatments and eat. And the Ritz Carlton helped me to achieve all of my lofty goals.

We arrived at 1:00 a.m. last Sat. morning after a very long uncomfortable flight from Minneapolis. But once we got there it was nothing but relaxing. As I stepped out of the taxi, I was greeted by a very handsome young man and handed an icy cold bottle of water. We were ushered into the candlelit lobby and enjoyed lively Cuban music while we registered. Then we were escorted to our beautiful room where the beds had already been turned down and chocolates, (Belgian) rested on each of our pillows. I of course indulged and enjoyed mine as I unpacked.

Since we arrived in the pitch black it was not until the next morning when I woke up that I got a look at our view. BEAUTIFUL! I was no longer looking at my snowy, frosty Minnesota backyard, but enjoyed a beautiful ocean view. Folks were already walking the beach, chairs were being draped with luscious terry towels for sun worshipers and there were many, many sail boats out already and several cruise ships in the distance making their way to the Miami harbor.

I got my hubby up and the first thing we did was go for a long walk, in shorts and a tank top, I won't be doing that again for a while (temp in Minneapolis this morning 2 below, ugh! Why do we live here???) We found a place to have breakfast and then walked and explored the island for the next several hours. We discovered that there isn't that much to do on Key Biscayne, which was perfect for us, because all we intended to do was relax, and or course Bob had his seminar.

When we got back to the hotel, we decided it was pool time and while one of the pool staff was preparing my chaise lounge I was deciding on which spa treatments I was going to sign up for. First on the list "hot stone massage." But not for a few days, I just wanted to think about it and anticipate the experience.

The Ritz Carlton is all about service, that alone is reason enough to make a visit there, but then there are the two beautiful pools. One pool is reserved for adults, the tranquility pool and one for families. I spent time at both and enjoyed them equally. Then there is their beach which is beautiful, well kept and includes service from the hotel as well. The restaurants are great, Ciopino, is Italian, and our waiter did tell us that they have their fish and cheeses flown in from Italy twice weekly. The beach front eatery is mostly Latin and then there is the Rum Bar a tribute to Hemingway and it is quite beautiful and includes an expensive selection of rums and cigars, for those of you liking those two manly items. But the comfy leather sofas and the Cuban coffee were what got me. Don't miss Rum Bar when you get there.

But the thing that makes this Ritz Carlton really special is the tranquil spa. I loved it and was there daily, not just for treatments, because after all, I do have a spa budget and it is easy to blow it on just one splurge. But just visiting the spa and using the whirlpool, steam room and sauna is a relaxing experience and believe me I did get my monies worth that way.

The spa is candle lit even during the day, setting the mood for the experience, the music is soft and relaxing and their detoxifying tea is wonderful. There are so many small touches that makes this a first class experience. Juices, coffee, teas, infused waters, fruit, pastries are always available. And so are thick towels, toiletries and my favorite, wash clothes in an ice bath with cucumber slices for your use when you come out of the steam room. So refreshing that you have to experience it for yourself to really understand how wonderful it is.

And the "hot stone massage" was heavenly and worth the wait. The spa book describes it as a simple healing practice, stone therapy massage is a complex and highly synchronized treatment that utilizes hot stones with Swedish techniques to re-energize and stimulate the muscles. This experience restores grounding and harmony to the body. Seventy five minutes of delicious pampering. Need I say more? I was completely grounded and harmonized!

The Ritz Carlton, is a totally relaxing experience. If you are in the Miami area make sure and plan on spending at least a night there and treat yourself to a wonderful time.

Oh, by the way, Bob did enjoy his law seminar too.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

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