Get Fit in Miami

Burn fat at a renovated beachfront resort

BY DON NICHOLS — Summer 2018

y heart’s racing as I work up a sweat in this fitness class called the “Boxer’s Workout.” I’m punching, jabbing, and kicking the nearly 6-foot-tall black punching bag that’s staring me in the face, all the while listening intently to instructions from Adam Wenguer, the personal trainer leading this punchfest, so I don’t injure myself. “When you throw a roundhouse kick, connect with your shinbone, not the foot or toes.”

About halfway through the 50-minute, fast-paced class, I swear under my breath whenever Wenguer ups the intensity by barking orders. “Faster, faster, longer punches!” “Now be powerful for 20 seconds; finish strong!”

When our boxing gloves finally come off, Wenguer instantly switches to nice-guy mode. “Thanks for pushing it, even when it was hard,” he tells us. Pushed I did and I’m beat, but, boy, am I feeling a fitness high.

Beet Salad

Wenguer’s boxing session is one of more than 200 fitness classes offered weekly at the 150-suite Carillon Miami Wellness Resort in Miami Beach, an oceanfront property with a long history that has undergone a sea change over the past year. Opened as the Carillon Hotel in 1958, it became popular with the Rat Pack crowd. It shut down in 1992 and remained vacant until it reopened in 2008 as the Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa, with a wellness focus. After the property faced many hurdles and went into bankruptcy, a new owner bought it in 2015, sticking to the wellness theme but installing a new management team and resurrecting the Carillon name. This past year, yet another newly assigned leadership team adopted a new approach to the resort’s wellness program while also launching a multimillion-dollar renovation completed last December.

“Wellness Your Way,” the property’s new mantra, represents a major shift from the Canyon Ranch days. Certified wellness practitioners — including an acupuncture physician, exercise physiologist, and nutritionist — will still dictate a strict health and fitness regimen, if you so desire as a guest. But you also can just spoil yourself in the 70,000-square-foot spa and maybe take a few fitness classes, or do nothing but lounge poolside or on the beach. “Basically, we now treat everybody as adults,” says Paul Nash, managing director. “We guide them. We’re not forcing them.”

Suite living area. PHOTO BY LENNY KAGAN

If you opt to concentrate on fitness, you’ll have lots of choices to make. Nash has increased the variety of classes, adding more types of yoga sessions and Les Mills workouts, which emphasize strength, body flow, and body pump. Besides boxing, other holdover classes have names such as Barre, Let’s Dance, H20 Strength, Rockwall Bootcamp, Tabata, and Tread & Shed.

The renovation work focused on connecting the Carillon to Miami and the beach. Throughout the property, designers replaced a color scheme heavy in brown, purple, and green with beachy colors such as pale gray, blue, and beige. New midcentury modern furniture better matches the local vibe. The public areas look dramatically different, in particular, especially the signature restaurant off the lobby reception area. Shutters that once blocked the ocean view are gone, revealing floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the outdoors in, creating a bright and welcoming space for dining.

Along with its new look, the restaurant has been renamed the Strand Bar and Grill and rebranded. Formerly an Asian concept focused on wellness-oriented dishes with calorie counts listed, it now serves health-conscious New American cuisine with no mention of calories. Chefs prepare dishes such as Roasted Chicken With Asparagus and Spring Mushrooms using little fat and organic ingredients from
local boutique farms.

“Canyon Ranch didn’t embrace the location. They put this fortress on the beach on Collins Avenue and then closed out every part of the sun, sea, and beach. That’s 180 degrees different from what we’re doing,” says Nash.

From $495. 866-800-3858; carillonhotel.com

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