Down Time

Inside the Spas of Coral Gables

By Lizzie Wilcox

February 2019

Is there a better way to reset than by turning off your phone, slipping on a bathrobe, and spending a few hours at the spa? None that we can think of. Lucky for us, there are nearly a dozen spas in the Gables. But with so many options, how to choose? Your life is stressful enough, that’s why you’re heading to the spa in the first place. To make your decision easier, we visiting a half dozen, sampling their recommended treatments. You can thank us later.

Lauren’s Face the Day

Name of treatment: Secrets de Sothys Le Soin Excellence

Cost: $225

What’s the secret to having a soft, smooth, glowing complexion? The “Secrets de Sothys Le Soin Excellence” treatment at Lauren’s Face the Day. Though technically an anti-aging treatment, it doesn’t matter if you’re 52 or 25. If you don’t have wrinkles, the Secrets treatment has benefits like reducing frown lines and boosting collagen. The experience is soothing from the second you step into the spa on Minorca Ave. Imbibe one of their hot teas while you wait in the calming atmosphere; we recommend the fruit sangria.

Once in the dimly-lit treatment room, you change into a sleeveless robe. Even though it’s a facial treatment, the serums and creams are also applied to the neck and collarbone area. On top of the robe, blankets and even fuzzy socks keep you warm. The esthetician, Gloria Taboada, has been in the business for 25 years, so your face is in good hands – literally. Using a brush made of carbon, the dead skin cells are gently removed. Taboada’s magical hands caress a number of moisturizers, exfoliants and cool anti-aging serums into your skin.

While hot stones are used in a typical body massage, the Secrets facial treatment uses cold stones to stroke the face and neck. The coolness provides a soothing effect for the skin, especially around the eyes. Although you won’t want the signature facial to end, there’s no better way to finish it off than with a “lifting mask” to reactivate the skin’s youth. While your skin absorbs the nutrients, enjoy a much-needed arm and hand massage. Now you’re ready to face the day!

The Biltmore Spa

Name of treatment: Rejuvenating Light Therapy

Cost: $210

Though too much exposure to sunlight is known to be harmful to skin and actually causes wrinkles, LED lighting does the opposite. The Biltmore’s newest Rejuvenating Light Therapy facial promotes elasticity and collagen production. Slip out of the cozy Biltmore robe onto the blanketed massage table. The 70-minute treatment begins with an esthetician gently massaging a series of serums into your face, neck and collarbone area to sculpt and firm. The excess lotion is softly wiped away with a warm towel.

A semicircular machine of LED lights then surrounds your face, while a cool cloth is placed over your eyes for protection. Don’t be afraid to tell your esthetician if the lighting is too bright – they will be happy to adjust it to your satisfaction. While your face is reaping the benefits of light therapy, your arms and feet are given a little love with a massage.

Then, the lights are turned off and the face mask put on. While the mask is on, a cool jade roller moves in an upward motion across the face and down the neck. The coolness of the stone aids in decreasing puffiness, under-eye circles and fine lines. The roller also works the serums deeper into the skin. Because the area around your eyes can never get enough TLC, the treatment is finished by softly applying a couple more creams in a circular motion from the eyebrows down to the top of the cheekbone. They recommend leaving the lotions on for as long as possible, so your skin can absorb all their vitamins and hydration. Seventy minutes may seem like a long time for treating just one part of the body, but when you’re being this pampered, you’ll wish it were for 70 minutes more.

Careaga Plastic Surgery

Name of treatment: Swedish Flow Therapy

Cost: $80

You may not typically think of getting a massage from a plastic surgeon’s office, but in the case of Dr. Careaga, you should. No, Dr. Careaga won’t be massaging your back; instead you will be treated by a woman named Vicky, who has been with the team for over a year now. Leading you down a scented hallway and into one of the treatment rooms, you’ll have a private consultation with her. Instead of filling out paperwork, however, you can openly explain the reason for your visit and the areas that need some extra TLC. And TLC you shall receive.

Vicky incorporates all the best parts of spa treatments into one: scalp massage, hot stones, reflexology, you name it. For anyone that has never gotten reflexology, but has squirmed in a pedicure chair, keep in mind that they are two separate entities. Whereas you’d rather have calloused heels than have the pedicurist touch you for one more second, reflexology applies pressure to your feet in just the right spots, relieving tension that builds from standing all day. The hot stones are the perfect addition halfway through the treatment, once your muscles have been loosened a little by massage, adding a pleasant sensation of warmth and weight. Vicky is even certified in aura-cleansing Reiki, and her positive energy is definitely contagious. She also works aromatherapy into the massage session with lavender-scented lotions and sprays. Just remember to drink plenty of water for the rest of the day after your treatment, to flush out the toxins that have just been released from your muscles. You can go in for a nose job later in the week.

Pecan’s Day Spa

Name of treatment: Power Peel Microdermabrasion

Cost: $165

With a boutique-like atmosphere, Pecan’s Day Spa offers an intimate, relaxing experience. And the Power Peel offers younger, healthier looking skin. The Power Peel consists of a mini facial and then microdermabrasion of the face and the eyes, cleaning your skin from the inside out. Yes, a microdermabrasion can be done by a dermatologist, but the hour-long service at the spa is twice as long and infinitely better. The reason being is that most dermatologists will do just one or two “passes,” meaning the exfoliating machine goes over your skin once or twice. But at Pecan’s Day Spa, they do it three times, and it really makes a difference – all part of going beyond a perfunctory treatment. “We’re big on experience here,” said Tass Vorous, owner, masseuse and esthetician.

Hot stone massages are a staple treatment at Gables’ spas. The heat from the stones eases muscle stiffness and increases circulation

The treatment sounds more aggressive than it is. The machine that is used to remove dead skin cells feels like a cat’s tongue licking your face. But in lieu of a hairball, you get soft skin and a clean complexion. Vorous recommends anywhere from four to eight microdermabrasion treatments, depending on how damaged and wrinkled your skin is. As Vorous is also a masseuse, she also incorporates a heavenly shoulder and neck massage, along with a reflexology that even the ticklish can appreciate. The benefits of the Power Peel are visible after just one treatment. Don’t be surprised if your friend, or in my case my boss, asks: “Did you get a facial? You’re glowing!”

Spa Bar Miami

Name of treatment: Ultimate Triple Shot Facial

Cost: $150

No matter how overwhelmed you may be prior to your appointment at Spa Bar Miami, every worry will immediately melt away the second you step through the door. From the peaceful, scented, oil-diffused atmosphere to the citrus-infused water you sip while filling out the paperwork, the experience is calming from the get-go. And it only gets better from there with the Ultimate Triple Shot Facial. While it sounds like a Starbucks drink, the treatment minimizes pores and lifts, tightens and tones the skin.

To start, a number of gels and serums are worked into your skin by the esthetician’s soft hands. We had the pleasure of being pampered by Natalia during our visit.

The facial includes a microdermabrasion, where a light, foamy cleanser is applied to the skin and sucked away by the microdermabrasion machine. After all the dead skin cells are gone, a cool gel is applied to the skin and rubbed in with a heated roller. The different temperatures of the two create a cool, yet cozy feel. This treatment may not be for the claustrophobic: the finale consists of a wet hydrating mask, which is painted on your face and then dried with LED lighting. For those who can relax with a machine surrounding your head, you may actually fall asleep, coaxed into a near comatose form of relaxation from a shoulder, neck, arm and hand massage. The Ultimate Triple Shot Facial leaves you with immediate visible results, and the skin will even improve as the days go on from the infrared lighting, which takes time to activate the skin’s natural ability to produce collagen.


Name of treatment: Madera Terapia

Cost: $85

Have you ever felt like your muscles are so tense that you need someone to take a rolling pin to them? Then this is the treatment for you. Though known for its facial treatments, Skintique’s wide array of body treatments should not be overlooked. The Madera Terapia, or wood massage, uses several wooden devices to loosen tight muscles. It is recommended for those who want to lose weight, as it also reduces cellulite. But it has so many benefits beyond body contouring, like stimulating blood circulation, lymphatic draining and relaxing the mind and body that it’s effective for overall improved health.

The handheld wood tools massage the body in a way that hands just can’t. Among those in the box in the corner of the treatment room is a roller with two separate wheels. Rolled up and down the back, it gets to the muscles surrounding the spine without putting any pressure on the vertebrae. What looks like a bowl with a handle is used on the back and calves. Cupping the muscles in an upward motion, it “scoops” the pain right out of the body.

The device that felt the best looks like it came straight out of William Sonoma – a rolling pin. When rolled down the back, arms and legs, it reduces tension in muscles you didn’t even know were tight. The tools allow the masseuse to get deep into the tissue without causing any pain. You’ll walk out of Skintique feeling calm, yet awake, relaxed and revitalized. Either that, or like a relaxed pile of rye bread dough.


The Biltmore Spa

1200 Anastasia Ave.


Massage Envy

256 Miracle Mile


Pecan’s Day Spa

385 Alhambra Circle, Suite A


Elemis Day Spa

330 San Lorenzo Avenue, Unit 2345


Skintique Miami

4100 Salzedo Street


Spa Bar Miami

475 Biltmore Way, Suite 309


Lauren’s Face the Day

386 Minorca Avenue


Camelot Salon + Spa

2600 Galiano Street


Velour Med Spa

136 Madeira Avenue


Mint Wellness Center

349 Miracle Mile


Careaga Plastic Surgery

220 Alhambra Circle