Inner Balance, Outer Beauty
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort offers a personalized wellness experience.
By Michelle Franzen Martin and Madison von Sonder
Rising and floating behind an opulent marble reception desk, an artistic wall of coral plays to the senses as guests enter the Remède Spa at The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort. Sensory experiences converge in well- orchestrated harmony throughout the resort, part of the effort to transport visitors to a place of relaxation and tranquility.
Relax and Rejuvenate
Upon arrival at Remède Spa, the heady scent of lemon verbena stimulates the olfactory senses. Lemon verbena is long-recalled after the spa day is done and has a similar effect as a “travel scent”—the phenomenon experts recommend when traveling, switching the usual perfume with a new scent for a particular trip so as to recall it at a moment’s notice. It instantly takes one back to a moment of bliss and opens the floodgates to travel memories.
Upon closer inspection, the spa’s coral wall is painstakingly made of hundreds of feet of expertly wound wire. Curated by Yabu Pushelberg, renowned interior designers for The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, the wall brings design continuity from the octagonal lobby space forward into the Remède Spa.
Before an attendant guides guests through marble corridors—where they will find a steam room, sauna, four large shower cabanas and well- lit vanities stocked with Remède and Phyto hair products—the staff presents a welcome cocktail blend of watermelon and fruit with an oshibori hand towel, artistically arranged with a large yellow orchid.
Each of the spa therapists has been rigorously auditioned for their role, chosen based on their expertise and talent held by a minor percentile of spa therapists that can create a purely transformative experience. They take massage to another level, offering the Remède Customized Massage for a truly bespoke experience. Therapists combine several modalities and massage techniques to deliver specific effects on various parts of the body that all carry tension unevenly. Hot stones can be incorporated upon request, and therapists always include a warm paraffin foot wrap and hot towel headrest as part of the treatment. After deep relaxation, therapists guide guests to hushed male or female relaxation lounges or to the bright, airy open-air co-ed relaxation lounge overlooking a series of tented cabanas.
While Remède Spa is the center of wellness and rejuvination, its beauty counterpart is of equal glamour and focused results. The new Privé Salon is a bastion of pampering inside the spa.By making an art out of creating flawless looks, even with South Florida humidity, day-to-night obligations and jet-set lifestyles, the dynamic duo of manager/stylist Jordan Charron-Foucher (who started his own salon in his native France at age 19) and stylist Eduardo Bravo (runway hairstylist for Custo Barcelona, Ports 1961 and Elie Tahari, and named “best in bridal hair” by Washingtonian magazine) has built a loyal following.
“We transform the everyday girl by always following one steadfast rule: Less is more,” Charron-Foucher says. “You can have the runway look every day. Often, all it takes is one little secret of what you can use to achieve a relaxed look and still be dressed up and sophisticated, professional and fashionable.”
Traditionally, the “little secrets” make the most difference, yet are so fiercely guarded by top stylists that to pry them out of their hands is a near impossible feat. These treasures are a hallmark of all Privé treatments, from the consultation, intensive Prive mask and expert blow dry 60-minute treatment, to a full-blown 120-minute consultation, haircut, in-salon exclusive hair treatment (“a facial for the hair”) and blow dry.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort’s beachfront location also provides the perfect training ground for health and wellness, led by V-Art of Wellness, the holistic training venue created by husband/wife celebrity trainers Tracie Wright and Christopher Vlaun. Under their auspices literally comes a new dawn each day. On a typical morning, moments before the sun begins its ascent above the horizon, a small class of guests gathers on the beach. Facing east, the direction of the sunrise, the group begins a series of yoga poses and postures. As the ocean waves gently wash over the white sand, stress is reduced; guests have a greater feeling of mental clarity.
“It is absolutely magical for the guests,” says Tracie, who teaches the yoga classes. “They get to do sun salutations, watching the sun rise in 70 degree weather on the beach or in the cabana area surrounded by white curtains blowing in the breeze. It is absolutely a dream.”
Vlaun and her husband, Christopher, founded V-Art of Wellness to provide a personalized fitness and wellness experience that impacts both the mind and body. In this case, V stands not for Vlaun, but for “vibration”—a way to raise the body’s vibrational energy and health.
“The objective is to raise vibration, whether it is a person’s well-being, heart rate and circulation or metabolism,” Christopher says. “We nurture the whole scope of wellness.”
Before joining The St. Regis Bal Harbour, the couple worked with a diverse range of clients, from celebrities and athletes to corporate executives and housewives. Tracie, a former model and actress, started training in Capetown, South Africa, and practiced yoga in various locations throughout the world. Christopher, whose fitness certifications are displayed alongside his college diplomas, is regarded as an innovator in outdoor fitness and natural training.
The couple’s client experiences, combined with their own fitness and wellness regimens, enable them to create a customized wellness program that meets the needs of every guest. This includes offering guests a personalized nutrition plan so they can continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle long after they leave The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.
This tailored approach extends far beyond any personal training session—it’s a part of every fitness class, which includes cardio sculpt and cardio boxing, paddleboarding, outdoor and beach courses, and a variety of yoga classes.
“Our guests receive personalized treatment, so whatever level each person’s experience, they have the opportunity to achieve a fulfilling session,” Tracie says.
A diverse range of fitness offerings give guests an opportunity to sample what interests them. The resort’s yoga classes, for example, include Aeroga (aerobic-power style yoga that Tracie developed), Hour of Power (an intense, fitness-based approach to yoga) and Yoga Flow (for beginners).
Christopher believes that outdoor elements— particularly the beach—are the key to achieving natural health and fitness goals. And there is no shortage of beach fitness classes at The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.
V-Art of Wellness’ Beach Fit Camp integrates the body-mind-spirit connection using Eastern and Western training philosophies. The class combines aerobic and functional strength training with basic yoga poses and meditation.
“We go through every muscle component in the body,” Christopher says. “The sand is a catalyst that helps stabilize muscles. As a result, you get more energy out, and more calories are burned. It’s a camaraderie-based class—a collective workout— but still very much customized for each guest.”
These classes, and all others offered by V-Art of Wellness, focus on functional movement and training, which rediscovers natural movement through promoting muscle strength, balance and flexibility.
“Instead of isolating a muscle group, you incorporate multiple planes of movement to allow the muscle groups to work together,” Christopher explains. “It’s for human performance—so you’ll have a stronger core, better balance, stronger endurance and a more flexible, lean and balanced technique.”
Functional training is a cutting-edge fitness practice among athletes, as it works to train the muscles used in everyday life.
“The top athletes are practicing functional movement and training,” he says. “It gives people better control of their bodies. The thing that is unique with us is that we have the St. Regis’ amazing natural elements surrounding us. We try to get what the gym inside offers.”
The Athletic Center at The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort uses cutting-edge technology to give guests the best possible workout.
“It isn’t built like an old-school gym,” Tracie says. “The St. Regis went above and beyond with the Athletic Center. It incorporates a high-tech health and wellness approach.”
Split into two rooms—one dedicated to cardio, the other to strength training—the suite features floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the resort’s main pool and ocean. Top-of-the-line Technogym equipment ensures an ergonomically correct workout. Incorporating functional training, the gym’s kinesis machines address the kinetic gain of muscles and are easy to use, even for beginners. The stations are the most advanced and ergonomic, Christopher says. The machines guide users through the movements to ensure proper form. The elliptical machines have personal television screens and Internet access as well as connections for iPods and iPads.
Other amenities in the Athletic Center include treadmills and rowing machines, along with complimentary bottled water and headphones.
With such custom-designed classes and top-quality workout equipment, it’s no surprise that guests change their lives and routines after training at The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort. “Already, in a short period of time, guests have come back down here because they want the St. Regis experience again,” Christopher says. “Whether they’re living in New York or Chicago or Toronto, they know that when they come back into town, they will have a great aerobic session, which is Tracie’s specialty, or Beach Fit, which I developed, custom-ready for them. They remember their experience the first time, and they want to come back and continue it.”
V-Art of Wellness, a holistic training program tailored to meet the needs of every individual, includes offering St. Regis Bal Harbour guests a customized plan for healthy eating. Christopher Vlaun and Tracie Wright Vlaun, who founded V-Art of Wellness, share a few of their healthy eating tips:
“One of the most simple things, without having to count calories, is to think about ‘energy in, energy out,’” Christopher says. “Think about what you’re going to do the next day, and prepare for it. Eat for it.”
If you know you have a busy day ahead, eat small meals throughout the day to keep up your energy.
Christopher explains: “I use this analogy: Your body is a bonfire—if you keep feeding your body the right foods, like putting logs on a fire, your body will burn them at a faster rate. If you put a heavy meal in there, it will just sit there.”
The Vlauns recommend eating natural foods.
“If man made it, try to eat it,” Christopher says. “If it’s packaged and preserved, avoid it.”
Tracie suggests shopping the perimeter of a grocery store—avoid the processed and preservative-laden items inside the aisles.
“The more fresh it is, the better,” she says.
The Vlauns like fish since it’s high in omega 3s, which burn fat. But if you’re not a fan of fish, opt for lean meats such as turkey and chicken.
“Beef can be lean if you find the right cuts,” Tracie explains. “You can find beef cuts that are 95 to 96 percent lean.”
No matter what your meat (or fish) of choice, always eat your protein first, the Vlauns say. Protein helps you feel full faster, so you won’t overeat and your insulin won’t spike.
They also suggest eating frequent meals to keep up your metabolism and burn more fat.
“A constant influx of protein will keep your muscles from atrophying,” Tracie explains. “Lean muscle mass is essential for keeping your metabolism revved up.”
Outside of the Fitness Suite
If you need a workout but want to see other areas of Bal Harbour, try a run on the sand path north to Haulover Inlet, personal trainers Christopher and Tracie Wright Vlaun suggest. The 1.5-mile, round-trip path starts just behind the resort.
And when you arrive at the end of Bal Harbour, consider upping your workout while taking in the view.
“There is a great pier with a wonderful view and platform to perform calisthenics, plyometrics and yoga,” Tracie says.
If you take the path in the opposite direction, you can enjoy a great power walk or run while enjoying some wonderful ocean views.
“It’s about four miles heading south along the beach,” she says. “It’s quite beautiful.”
Another place to get in a workout: The tennis courts in Surfside are a great choice, the Vlauns say. Visit the concierge desk at The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort for details and directions.