InterContinental Miami

Ah, Virginia Key at sunset. There's nothing more Miami than heading out on a buddy's sailboat and drifting toward Brickell while sipping champagne from the bottle. What could be more relaxing? Hanging out with your bros, listening to the soporific sounds of the gently lapping waves, drinking a liter of liquid. Uh-oh. Maybe you shouldn't have focused so hard on the gently lapping waves, huh? Stop. Don't panic. Consider your options. Peeing off the side of a boat would ruin the classy vibe if you're a dude — and is a logistical impossibility if you're a chick. Remember: The water is choppy, and if you fall, none of the drunk bros with you will come to the rescue. You have a dinghy, though, and there's a small ladder near the InterContinental Hotel, just to the right of the floating art gallery. Perfect. Motor over there, emerge from seemingly nowhere, scare the bejesus out of some loitering teenagers, and bolt for a beautiful bathroom in the lobby. It's well-lit, stocked with an absurd amount of paper towels, reasonably clean, and potentially life-saving. Maybe drink a little less champagne on the way back.

We know the story: You've tried a half-dozen Groupons, you've scouted out the neighborhood options, and maybe you've driven all the way to some far-flung suburb. And in the end, you've decided that laser hair removal just isn't worth the hassle. It's OK! Laser Center of Miami will restore your faith in science's follicle-destroying powers. Myriam Barrero started out as an electrologist and then opened Laser Center of Miami in 1993; she has been a laser technician for more than 16 years. All of her hair-removal specialists are certified medical electrologists (meaning they know what they're doing), and they have a resident medical doctor, Elena Valor. Not only are they punctual with their appointments (which come with regular email reminders), but you will also be out of there in time to grab lunch and make it back to the office before your break is over. Prices vary widely depending upon the areas where you want hair removed and how many treatments you'll need, but the consultation is free and the services are competitive. And while you're at it, you can also get a hydra facial (for $48.99), vein treatment, or even lymphatic drainage (costs vary depending upon the customer).

Some people go to the dermatologist for cosmetic reasons: Botox, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, fillers. Don't worry — Barba Dermatology has all of that good stuff. But Dr. Alicia Barba is also there for true medical skin emergencies, like a nasty case of tinea versicolor, when the yeast that lives on your skin gets a little out of control. Whether the appointment is to erase wrinkles or to eradicate that skin condition, Dr. Barba and her staff will make you feel at ease, assure you she can solve the issue, and send you on your way with whatever meds you need to head back to the beach in no time. Your skin is important — don't let anyone but the best mess with your bodysuit.

A wooden communal table adorned with a silver vase and ivory hydrangeas divides the manicure and pedicure sections of Gloss Nail Bar, but there's no strong scent of acetone. Instead, the room is filled with a whiff of lavender and eucalyptus oils. Though fresh flowers, earthy decor, and natural aromas aren't the usual accompaniments at a nail salon, those touches represent the deeper concept at Gloss, Miami's top spot for organic nail products. There are more than 100 colors to choose from, all of which are natural, nontoxic, biodegradable, preservative-free, and packed with nutrients. Even the nail polish remover is soy-based. With so many lacquers on hand, choosing a color isn't an easy feat. But because Gloss posts almost all of its manicures on its Instagram page, having a visual will help you decide whether to choose daffodil yellow or Monticello peach. The nail bar offers five types of manis, including the Gloss Essential basics ($20 for 25 minutes) and the Gloss Express for those on the run ($15 for 15 minutes). But the Gloss Sumptuous ($30 for 35 minutes) offers the entire package: nail care, shaping, and polishing, an organic raw sugar scrub, and a ten-minute hand and arm massage. It's a splurge, but you'll spend the next hour of your life sitting on a comfy couch at your personal nail station while getting pampered with citrus oils and drinking red wine. In the end, you'll feel as if you've walked out of mani heaven.

Facials might seem like a Real Housewives of Miami-esque splurge best suited for the rich, famous, and heavily Botoxed. But in a city where tropical heat combines with makeup to spawn blackheads that border on tar pits and eye bags reach Dame Maggie Smith levels of realness, professional assistance is often a medical necessity. Problem is, Miami offers a frightening abundance of facials, from strip-mall walk-ins to high-end promises of alien DNA injections. Thank the skin-care gods for Cleanskin by Isa, a comfortable, no-nonsense practice nestled in a quiet corner of Coconut Grove. After acquiring her aesthetician license in 1997, proprietor Isa Salvador worked in dermatology offices and spas for years before breaking out on her own. Her formula is simple but all too rare in the Magic City: She looks carefully at your skin, recommends whatever she thinks you need, and gives you all the options without aggressively upselling the latest in sci-fi gene technology. Plus, in addition to her wealth of skin-care knowledge, Salvador leaves ample time between appointments, meaning she won't rush you out while tackling that strange bump you just know your doctor is wrong about. Facials start at $75, with milia extractions and extensive extractions available for $20 and blue-light application (which can eliminate P-acne bacteria and reduce sebum production) for $10.

Stop whatever you're doing. Put down the newspaper. Close your web browser. Breathe. Relax. OK, now you can read again. Don't you feel better? Now imagine that feeling times 1,000. All you need to do is make some time in your packed schedule to leave the real world and visit Eména Spa, a fully equipped parallel universe created solely to meet all of your pampering needs. Not only do they give delicious massages (starting at $100), facials (starting at $115), and mani-pedis (starting at $88), they're also ready to cut, set, and style your hair in their salon. The shelves in this Design District locale are stocked with all the best in beauty and skin-care products, which you can peruse while sipping some champagne or wine while you wait for your friendly specialist to whisk you away into complete relaxation. Schedule a one-time appointment, or get the most out of your spa experience by snagging a membership, which costs $99 to $299 a month. At the higher end, you can share that membership with friends and loved ones, which means the next time your mom comes to town, you can send her to Eména. She'll love you forever.

The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
Photo by Dan Forer / Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton South Beach

You've had a long workweek — hell, it's been a long month. A relaxing cup of chamomile tea with honey won't cut it. It's time for the nuclear option for tense muscles. Pull out that red telephone and dial the emergency code. At the other end is the Spa at the Ritz-Carlton. From the moment you walk in, your soul will be soothed. The employees speak in soft, hushed voices just above the enchanting melodies echoing throughout the spa. In the locker room, you'll slide into a plush robe with that fierce — yet calming — Ritz lion embroidery. In the steam room or the sauna, your tense tendons will melt away while you wait for your soon-to-be-best-friend masseuse. Once those magical fingers do the tango all over your back, shoulders, neck, legs, thighs, feet, and hands, you'll be liquid. They offer various massage packages, but the most basic 50-minute deep-tissue massage starts at $165. The nuclear option ain't cheap, but damned if it's not effective.

The Standard Spa, Miami Beach
Adrian Gaut/The Standard Spa

Despite the fact that our grandparents still call it that "hippie human-porcupine stuff," Miami has bought into acupuncture big time. But even for true believers, steady hands and expertise are all-important when it comes to letting a stranger stick a bunch of needles in our skin. That's why it's so great that Lori Bell, a doctor of Chinese medicine and a Miami Beach native, brings 23 years of experience and a gentle, intuitive approach to each session. Bell's practice, which includes a gig as the in-house acupuncturist at the Standard Spa, is a mixture of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and astrology. When you walk in for a session, Bell will study you intently — from your walk to your facial expressions to your breathing. She's looking for clues into any hidden ailments and into your natural responses. She'll probe your energy levels, sleeping habits, and diet and then skillfully insert needles along your neck, back, and legs. Novice or not, don't worry: You'll hardly feel the tiny pinpricks, while a slight heat applied to your back and the sounds of rain and wind in your headphones will send you into a lovely doze. Don't tell Grandma, but you'll even feel a little stoned by the end. A 75-minute consultation comes to $165. For an extra pick-me-up, try the B-12 boost ($25).

Toute Division Botanica & Masonic
Photo by Jacob Katel

Vodou, the native religion of Haiti, has gotten quite a bad rap in popular culture thanks to Hollywood movies. But pay a visit to a legit Little Haiti botanica — Toute Division — and you just might find you like this religious practice. Vodou, built at the nexus of ancient African and Catholic rites, is really a study in the power of intent, the subconscious mind, and that which lies beyond it. Whether you're interested in an out-of-body experience or looking to build your first altar, the double-wide opening to this spiritual oasis is a portal into the next dimension. One second you're on 54th Street in the city of Miami; the next you're deep in the heart of the island jungle. But instead of tall trees and dense foliage, you're surrounded by statues great and small, racks of potions, and more powders, elixirs, and accoutrements of faith than you can count with your third eye open. The artistry of these stunning visuals are beyond belief, and the handcrafted, hand-carved, and handmade items for sale pay tribute to Jesus, Guedes, Loas, and whatever else your heart desires. The friendly proprietors will happily guide your purchase and seem to know the contents of your soul as soon as you enter their domain. Whether you seek to honor a guardian or are looking for a means to manifest fortune, fame, or love, Toute Division is the botanica that's ready to shift your thinking about the Caribbean's spiritual lifeblood.

Love hurts — but that doesn't mean it has to remain painful. Just ask psychic Nicole, who for the past 25 years has built a practice on helping customers suffering from heartache. Her spiritual counseling and love spells are designed to strengthen relationships and ease weary souls. From her charming midtown shop, nestled next to an arepa emporium and neighborhood barbershop, Nicole dispenses advice on not only intimate matters but also business and money problems, health concerns, and negative influences that sully the spirit and mind. The spiritual healer immediately sets you at ease with her warmth and attention and also offers services including palm and tarot card readings, past life regression, aura cleansing, and chakra balancing. Skeptical? Just dial Nicole for a $25 tarot card reading or one free question answered by phone for first-time callers. Prices for services vary, and you'll also discover plenty of crystals, candles, and other items at her shop to soothe your mind and body, not to mention heal that wounded heart.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®