The Spa at Doral has a menu for every lifestyle

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MIAMI -- There are spas that put you on spartan diets and rigorous exercise regimens, where guests are awakened at the crack of dawn to salute the sun and where wheatgrass juice garnished with spirituality is the preferred cocktail. They probably make you a better person.

The Spa at Doral is not one of them.

There are no strict regimens, no diet police, no forced marches. There is instead a large staff dedicated to making you feel fabulous.

The spa is in the European tradition, beginning with the gardens and Italianate fountains leading up to the palatial villa-style structure.

Inside, visitors are struck by its sheer size: 148,000 square feet, punctuated by a grand staircase, a soaring atrium and just about every form of spa therapy and treatment known to man.

The entrance to the Doral Golf Resort & Spa.It is a self-contained resort within the sprawling Doral Golf Resort & Spa, but guests move freely between the spa and the rest of the resort, which makes for a highly personalized retreat.

A guest can have a healthy, active day -- a morning of swimming in one of the spa's three adults-only pools (indoor, outdoor lap and outdoor recreational) and an afternoon of caliente dancing class, for example -- and top it off with an evening of martinis, she-crab soup and buttery steaks at the resort's Windows restaurant.

Another guest might sleep late, indulge in pampering beauty treatments and reclaim a sense of virtue with healthful but satisfying meals -- spa pizza or Asian shrimp lettuce wraps with spicy peanut sauce, for example -- at the Atrium at the Spa restaurant.

But even if a customer opts for the more active and less caloric end of the spectrum, perhaps with a consultation with the resident nutritionist, the experience is served up as lavishly as a slice of rich, decadent chocolate cake.

Many spa denizens spend the entire day in the lush terry robe that is found in every locker, even while having meals in the Atrium. One-size-fits-all slip-ons also are provided, but smaller-footed visitors might feel more comfortable in their own slippers or flip-flops.

More than 100 treatments are on the menu, including 16 types of facial treatments and more than a dozen manicure, pedicure and hand treatments.

Salon services provide hair care, waxing and makeup applications and lessons. You can even have your teeth whitened by a dentist.

Guests whose idea of heaven is a massage can have a different therapy every day for nearly three weeks before exhausting the repertoire.

The therapies range from the traditional Swedish, shiatsu and deep-tissue to the lesser-known shirodhara, in which a stream of warm oil is poured over the forehead, and the "mother massage," designed for pregnant women.

A favorite is the hot stone massage, which can turn the most hardened, stressed-out, skeptical visitor into a dish of Jell-O. Another is the Full-Body Fango, a mud wrap that leaves skin startlingly soft and smooth for days; oddly enough, it also smells great.

Favorite massage therapies can be varied in a number of ways: al fresco; a couples session, or two therapists working simultaneously.

For guests who desire a total-immersion spa experience, there are 48 Spa Suites with private dressing areas, marble bathrooms, Jacuzzis, wet bars and views of the formal gardens.

The "other side" of the Doral is, of course, the world-renowned golf facilities that play host to the Ford Championship, which kicks off the Florida swing of the PGA tour.

Its 72 holes include the top-rated Blue Monster course and the Great White Course, designed by Greg Norman.

The resort also is home to the Jim McLean Golf School, which uses a nifty video technique to compare a golfer's swing to that of Tiger or Annika.

Among the instructors is Bobby Cole, winner of 22 pro tournaments.

Although there is a bit of a divide between the two worlds of Doral, the spa staff is devising ways to unite them.

Classes such as Yoga for Golf and treatments such as the Sports Pedicure have drawn quite a few male golfers into the less testosterone-driven spa side of the resort.

Luxury has its price, of course, but the Doral's rates for accommodations and spa treatments are not out of line, and a number of packages and seasonal offerings make them more affordable.

For example, the Spa Renewal package starts at $430 per person, per night, double, and is available from Jan. 1 to March 31. (Remind clients that there is a resort fee of $16 per room, per night, and that the package price does not include tax.)

The package includes spa suite accommodations; one 50-minute and one 25-minute service of choice for each night's stay; three gourmet spa cuisine meals daily; roundtrip limousine transfers to and from Miami Airport with a stay of four or more nights; use of spa resort facilities; unlimited fitness classes; and an arrival spa gift.

For more information, call (800) 71-DORAL or visit the Web at www.doralgolf.com.

To contact the reporter who wrote this story, send e-mail to [email protected] .

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