I’ve been to Miami a few times, and every time I go, I want to stay someplace I’ve never stayed before, and visit a spa I’ve not tried before either. For this one particular trip to Miami, my man and I were eagerly anticipating this little weekend getaway for some desperately-needed downtime in the sun. So I booked us into the Standard Miami Beach after doing some research and finding out that the whole hotel was centered around their “innovative” and “sophisticated” spa.
“Located on Belle Isle, steps away from the action on South Beach, The Standard Spa, Miami Beach is less a hotel, and more a spa with guest rooms. Set amidst peaceful tropical gardens, the breezy, soothing rooms feature private terraces, many with outdoor soaking tubs, as well as an indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy playground, complimentary to hotel guests. The Spa encourages the communal rituals of ancient bathing traditions and serves as a hub for sessions by some of the world’s top yogis and treatments by expert practitioners.”
I’m going to give you full disclosure here, right at the start of this review: I had a bad experience at the Standard spa on this trip, which left me with some very mixed feelings about the place and how I feel about the role of spa management and that spa’s particular mission. However, it also validated why we need to be posting these experiences on this site (and why we do what we do at Spa Manners), so that others can learn from our misfortunes and adventures. I’ll tell you about the Bad Standard Miami Experience in an upcoming blog post, but for now, I’m reviewing the spa with an honest look at the facilities and treatments without letting the Bad Experience affect my opinion of them. The service has to be rated with the Bad Experience in mind, because the spa staff was involved in it, from beginning to end of our entire Standard spa journey.
The spa facilities at the Standard are impressive, and probably the best I’ve seen in Miami so far for this price range. All spa facilities, indoors and out, are available for all hotel guests to enjoy. They have literally made it so that you can hang out in the spa all day long and well into the night.
All of the indoor facilities are located on the Third Floor of the tower, which houses the Sound Shower, Cedar Sauna, Aroma Steam Room, Hammam, Scrub Room and Treatment Rooms. In terms of relaxation areas, just outside the Third Floor spa entrance, there’s a small outdoor lounge, and inside there is a dark, quiet lounge just beyond the front desk. All common areas of the spa are co-ed.
The centerpiece of the spa is the semi-circular, three-level marble hammam. These heated stone slabs are a great for heating your body and decompressing before or after a treatment, and the spa also uses this area for wet treatments. Yep, you can get wet treatments right there out in the open, next to other spa-goers.
Across from the hammam slabs are four copper bathtubs that are open for soaks and DIY scrubs. They come equipped with bamboo bath trays to hold your bath amenities, which you can purchase at the front desk.
On either side of the hammam, there is a large shower room with several shower heads for rinsing off. There are ice-cold rinsing showers next to the intensely-hot sauna and eucalyptus steam room if you wanted to do the hot-cold circulation circuit. The sauna and steam room are both very roomy and bright and can accommodate several people in there at once comfortably.
Outside on the grounds, you’ll find a “self-service hydrotherapy playground” designed as part of the overall hotel-spa experience. It’s a very South Beach take on modern spa-going. Set in and around the expansive gardens, these outdoor amenities include an infinity pool, an “arctic plunge” cold pool, a falling water shower, Roman waterfall hot tub, a Sun Salute Circle for yoga, and perhaps their most interesting feature — a mud lounge for some DIY mud baths.
We tried almost all of the facilities and amenities that the spa had to offer, both inside and out. We enjoyed most of them, the notable exception being the relaxation areas on the Third Floor (which we’ll explain later as part of the Bad Experience). The hammam is certainly the best thing about this spa, especially if you are with your honey or a friend and can enjoy quiet time together.
I booked two massages at the Standard spa. The first was the 75-minute Holistic Remedy massage ($200) given to me by a young but already very capable massage therapist. I should note that the Standard no longer has this particular massage on their treatment menu, or they have renamed and reworked it, perhaps to the “Standard 75.” At the time, the description sounded great: “Looking to de-stress, equalize and soothe your body? Bring your body into balance to promote health and vitality. We recommend this rebalancing massage infused with a special essential oil therapy blend and a yummy aroma foot ritual.”
As I mentioned, the massage therapist was pretty skilled, and delivered a very firm, deep-tissue style massage. The only thing that I didn’t like was that he was chewing gum, and I could hear him chewing and smacking all throughout my treatment. It was a little distracting.
The second massage was the 75-minute Thai on the Table massage ($200), now just called “Thai Massage.” At the time, the description read: “You like the idea of yoga, but you never get around to it… let us do the work for you. This combination of Thai yoga stretches and firm compressions loosens and lengthens sore, tight muscles. This treatment is a great way to help restore balance to your active body and to combat chronic areas of tightness. Done on our plush tables, rather than a traditional Thai mat.”
I got this massage immediately following the Bad Experience, and had a massive headache by the time I got to the table. I told my massage therapist that I had a headache, so she restructured the entire massage to help ease my pain. So, there was no stretching or firm compressions of any kind, just a lot of relaxation-style techniques like Swedish strokes and some acupressure. While I appreciated all of her efforts to help me feel better, it seemed that this headache was bigger than a 75-minute relaxation massage fix. I wished I had gotten my original Thai-style massage because I probably would have come out of there feeling a lot better having done some gentle stretches in combination with massage.
At this point, the Standard wasn’t playing around anymore because it was after the Bad Experience and a lengthy discussion about said Experience with the spa director. The last treatment we got was the Standard’s way of making things right after some things had gone so wrong. I think we were given the best couple’s treatment and the most senior/most experienced therapists because everything from this point on was impeccable. They also became aware that we reviewed spas during our discussion with the spa director. (this is why we are anonymous spa-goers, so we won’t be treated any differently than any other spa guests)
This last treatment was called the KISS 90 (90 minutes, $250), and this was a couple’s treatment I shared with my boyfriend. KISS stands for “Keep It Sensual and Satisfying” and this multi-part experience began in the Hammam for some warm-up time. So we relaxed for a bit in the Hammam and then when our muscles were warmed up nicely, our therapists lead us into a cozy treatment room to receive a 60-minute Standard Massage.
The Standard 60 is described as “anything but standard.” In this treatment their holistically-focused practitioners combine multiple bodywork techniques, hydrotherapy, essential oils and awareness to “create a highly individualized therapeutic massage experience.” Both my boyfriend and I received pretty high-quality massages from therapists who knew exactly what they were doing, and knew how to deliver them in a manner befitting a high-end spa with discerning guests. Our massages didn’t involve hydrotherapy, as that would come immediately after in the Turkish Hammam Rub and Scrub.
This last part of the experience was pretty cool. We watched our therapists quickly set up our treatment area in the Hammam, off to one side, away from most of the other guests. We laid head-to-head on towels set down on the warm stone, then the therapists got to work. They lathered us up with warm soapy water, scrubbed us with one of the spa’s signature scrub mixes and gently rinsed us off with cascades of warm water. I should mention that we were wearing swim wear during this treatment, as we were in an open co-ed area of the spa. The swim wear didn’t interfere with a getting really relaxing and restorative treatment though. It was a great way to spend time with one another, and it helped to put me on a path where I could put the Bad Experience behind me.
I’ll try to make this as uncomplicated as possible. Part of my Bad Experience at the Standard included apathetic, incompetent and less-than-stellar service from the front of house spa staff. At the time we visited, the Standard staffed their entire spa front of house with Millennials who were clearly not in the service mindset. It seemed that working at the spa was a J-O-B, a way to earn some cash before they got to their “real” jobs. Some of the therapists were also pretty young, probably straight out of school, and at least they were somewhat better trained at service because people are literally trusting them with their bodies. While I was there, the spa reception staff managed to bungle my appointments, behaved unprofessionally by gossiping and chatting in front of guests instead of working, and gave zero fucks when presented with a complaint. To make matters worse, they had no idea how to problem solve on their own.
When the problems we had were escalated to people who could hopefully, actually do something, it took a couple of tries to get some face-to-face time with the spa director. The spa director was the only person in the entire spa staff that was empathetic, competent, able to problem solve and lead his staff to do well in their jobs — all qualities that should be inherent in anyone in service, and especially in the spa industry. After he got involved, like magic, everyone that we came into contact with stepped up and performed their job as if they worked at the best luxury spa in Miami — which the director proudly told me he thought the Standard was.
So the uncomplicated version is that the Standard went from a 4 out of 10 to a 10, but it took a hell of a lot to get to the top.
I would hope that everyone learned some kind of lesson from this and that things have improved at the Standard. If you want a decent hotel with great spa facilities and a dizzying array of excellent treatments, then you should give the Standard a try. If hanging out at the spa all day, or going in for a little evening quiet time is your thing, then the Standard’s adult spa playground should have everything you need.
- Steam Room
- Turkish Hammam
- Mud Lounge
- Saltwater Outdoor Pool
- Cold Plunge and Rain Shower
- Whirlpool Hot Tub with Waterfall
- Treatment Baths
- Yoga, Meditation and Integrated Wellness Programs/Classes/Workshops
- Fitness Center
$$$$ – Luxury
The Standard Spa is located in the Standard Hotel, Miami.
40 Island Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
HOURS OF OPERATION
It doesn’t say on their website what the hours of operation are and when I called no one answered, probably because it was after hours. On their facebook page, it says it’s “always open.” If I recall correctly, you could use the spa facilities on the Third Floor until 11:00 pm on the weekdays and later on the weekends. The first appointments start at 8:00 am and the last appointments are at 5:00 pm. Your best bet to be sure is to confirm when you check in to the hotel or to call the spa at (305) 673-1717 between 8am and 5pm Eastern Time.
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Call the spa at (305) 673-1717 or book online.