With Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim in full effect, the EPIC Hotel hosted some unique notables including Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, Tennessee Titan Chris Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguar Mike Walker, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman of Boyz 2 Men, and DJ Clue. With all these celebs flocking to this famous hotel at the edge of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay, I decided see what all the hype was about firsthand. The verdict: haute, haute, haute! EPIC combines the timeless style of a cosmopolitan boutique hotel with the amenities of a resort to create a sophisticated recreation oasis for guests amidst the energy and pulse of Miami. From luxurious accommodations to workouts overlooking the bay, the EPIC is one epic destination for haute locals and visitors alike.
The Presidential Suite
EPIC’s sleek, 54-story, elliptical-shaped high-rise features 411 guestrooms and suites, including two luxury corner Presidential Style Suites, 24 one-bedroom corner suites and 24 junior suites. While there, I stayed in the Presidential Suite and can say it’s certainly the way to go. Warmth, graceful simplicity and understated elegance are brought forth throughout the space through the adept use of texture and light. Meanwhile, contrasting patterns and materials such as stone, glass, warm woods and refined textiles in a rich, neutral palette create rhythm, movement and interest. Featuring custom furnishings, fine Italian linens, an office with high speed internet, LCD flat screen televisions, a spacious parlor and private balconies with glimmering views of Miami and Biscayne Bay, it’s fit for a king. Or queen in my case.
Area 31, Zuma and River Lounge
For guests, the EPIC Lifestyle embodies a sensibility and appreciation for sophisticated and artful experiences that touch all the senses. The elements of the EPIC Lifestyle include superlative dining provided by Area 31 and ZUMA. Recently named “One of the Best New Restaurants of 2009” by Esquire, Area 31 delivers breathtaking views from the hotel’s 16th floor, and a critically acclaimed menu of fresh, premium seafood prepared with a Mediterranean influence that is truly is to die for.
From August through September, Area 31 will participate in Miami Spice with an enticing menu. Area 31’s three-course lunch, available every day of the week, offers options such as Watermelon Salad (with stone fruit and ricotta cheese) and Flat Iron Steak (with five bean and corn succotash and a red wine reduction). Area 31’s dinner menu is available Sunday through Thursday and is highlighted by sustainable menu items. The dinner menu begins with the appetizer Tuna Tartar (with sour citrus, caviar and capers) and features entrees including Local Yellowtail Snapper (with red lentil, sumac, and preserved citrus) and Braised Short Rib and Grilled Escolar (with Vidalia onion and sweet corn). Both the lunch and dinner menus offer Area 31’s delicious Semifreddodessert (made with honeycomb, Greek yogurt and local fruit). And for those with food allergies, like myself, Area 31’s Executive Chef John Critchley is one of the most accommodating chefs in town.
London’s award winning restaurant, Zuma, opened its doors in the EPIC on May 24, 2010, bringing its internationally acclaimed style of modern Japanese cuisine to America. The brainchild of German chef Rainer Becker, the restaurant offers a sophisticated cuisine philosophy inspired by the informal Japanese dining style called Izakaya. ZUMA’s large celebrity following includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, Lady Gaga, Tony Blair, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Victoria and David Beckham, Sarah Ferguson, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Antonio Banderas and Keith Richards among many others. Embracing the unique dining experience, guests are offered dishes that are brought to the table steadily and continuously throughout the meal, which differs from the typical starter and main course menu structure. An exciting and innovative range of drinks perfectly complement the cuisine. In addition to the award-winning signature cocktails and wines, Becker’s dedication to sake is evident in the 40 different varieties that are offered, including his own Biwa no Choju, which is brewed exclusively for ZUMA from the waters of Lake Biwa in the Shiga prefecture.
For those looking to enjoy the vibe and pulse of Miami by night, guests can step into River Lounge, EPIC’s lively indoor/outdoor hotspot by the river offering music and cocktails.
Area 31 is located on the 16th Floor of EPIC. For more information, call Area 31 at 305.424.5234 or visit www.area31restaurant.com. ZUMA is located on the ground floor of the EPIC. Reservations can be made by calling 305.577.0277.
The EPIC Lifestyle also touches the mind, body and spirit with exhale, a unique spa concept that combines therapeutic services with a host of offerings including proprietary core fusion classes, spa therapies and transformational mind body fitness experiences. Exhale, a transformational mind body spa, is an expansive 12,000 square foot oasis dedicated to nurturing inner and outer well being.
While there, I was able to experience some of Exhale’s renowned transformational mind, body and spa services. The spa therapies are highly therapeutic, results-oriented and mindful, delivered in a serene and spiritual environment. Performed by top quality therapists (my favorite is Denise), body therapies are all remedy-focused and provided to enhance overall well-being. Spa Manager Danielle Terranova treated me to a 60 minute Deep Flow Massage. The service is an uber-indulgent therapeutic massage that is pleasurable, not painful, utilizing flow techniques to open locked muscles and free energy blockages for a tension-relieving experience unlike any other. It’s absolutely amazing and perfect after a hard workout.
If you’re looking to tone, Core Fusion is the way to go. I was challenged with its fusion of Pilates, yoga, core-conditioning and orthopedic stretching which promises to produce long, lean muscles and a strong, flexible, youthful body. Looking around the Core Fusion group of toned participants, I could see why it has developed such a following. The focus, intensity and challenge of this class allowed me to work my body from the inside out, creating a unique, results-oriented class experience.
After the class, I enjoyed Hammam, EPIC’s Turkish bathing method that inspires detoxification and relaxation of the body through warm, moist and ambient heat. Although similar to a steam room in that it employs moisture to carry the heat into the room, it is not a traditional steam room. A stream room blasts regular intervals of very hot air, which often overheat the surface of my skin causing dehydration and are often too hot to allow relaxation for longer periods of time. Hammams have an overall warm temperature which is due to circulating air but is not too hot. The warm temperature of a hammam inspires detoxification superior to a steam room because it slowly warms the body to a temperature that allows you to perspire without dehydration. My therapist recommended I relax in the hammam for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, I felt relaxed, rejuvenated and detoxed. Which was good considering I indulged in one too many cocktails the night prior.
Grab a good magazine and cocktail – the EPIC pool is where it’s at! Sitting 16 floors above sea level overlooking the Magic City, the 13,752-square-foot, wrap-around pool deck with two swimming pools and 10 private cabanas is the perfect place to soak up the sun. While there, my friend and I lounged in one of the premium cabanas featuring a large plasma TV. Attentive poolside staff provided us with the essentials like sunscreen, towels and a tantalizing poolside menu and beverage list. I ordered the Italian Mary (Belvedere Vodka, tomato juice, black pepper, basil, chili oil and strawberries) and my friend ordered the St. Rosemary (Plymouth Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, apple juice and rosemary sugar), which were both perfect for an afternoon of pure relaxation.
All in all, I found the EPIC ideal for vacations and getaways. EPIC offers personal and intimate dining, visionary service, creative amenities and attention to detail creating a memorable, enjoyable and luxurious experience.
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami, FL 33131; For reservations, call 866.760.3742 or 305.424.5226; www.epichotel.com