The Standard Spa

The Standard Spa is one of the most magical spots of all on South Beach with its opulent pool and Lido Restaurant overlooking an amazing water font vista of Biscayne Bay, situated on lovely Belle Isle. It is a throwback to Miami’s Golden Age, and just a short visit will leave you feeling like you are on a tropical island paradise.

The heart of the hotel is the pool and hydrotherapy area, an ode to communal bathing as social sacrament. The outdoor aquacade encompasses a plunge pool, a hot tub, and a 12-foot-tall, three-inch-wide column of falling water. DJ-spun music plays through underwater speakers in the chlorine-free Sound Pool. In the clothing-optional mud baths, guests can slather one another with “golden body mud.” Arbors of sea-grape trees, night-blooming jasmine, and Moroccan palms are intended to create “pockets of contemplation.” Scattered about the lawn are more convivial arenas, such as a set of immense, pie-shaped wicker lounges flanking a small fire pit. Just off the courtyard is a Tyrolean-style wishing well, a kitsch holdover from the Lido days. Just off the Lobby is the hotel library with an assortment of eclectic and ever intriguing titles.

The new Standard is rooted in the genius of the late architect Morris Lapidus, a visionary of excess- and accidental post-modernist- who defined opulence some more than 50 years ago with the Fontainebleau. Lapidus also put his trademark baroque spin on the facade of the Lido, with the name of the hotel writ large in jaunty yellow neon. The building is rightfully a protected icon, with the Lido lettering remaining intact with the customary upside-down Standard sign.

Lapidus, through his unique design contributions, fought the good fight, in keeping South Beach from turning into Anywhere, U.S.A. Sadly and ironically, one of his last clients was a local Fuddruckers chain.

In the end, to last as long as the Lido, the Standard only needs to stay out of its own way and embrace Biscayne Bay, a lulling expanse of pure beauty that makes natives fall in love with Miami all over again. The Standard’s own hotelier, Andre’ Balazs insists he is resolved to keep the party small and quiet. “This little neighborhood of cottages, with the sounds of birds and children playing, is like nothing else in America,” he says, sipping a glass of wine as night falls and the skyline of downtown Miami glimmers across the bay. “It’s lost in time, unbelievably charming. The vibe doesn’t need music: the idea is to turn down the volume, not step into it.”

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