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I was lucky enough to escape the horrible New York winter storm by hours, arriving in Miami safe and sound (sorry, Northern states (!) but I've been there, done that one too many times) on a flight that was not canceled. This was very unusual, considering my streak of bad luck on flights. In any case, maybe Jupiter was on my side, who made great strides for me to make it to Miami and (more importantly) to my spa treatment at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne.
Key Biscayne is a relaxing island destination completely removed from South Beach, so it was nice to just get away not only from the cold weather but also from crowded beaches (the beaches here are just as nice as South Beach but completely uncramped), unpleasant Ocean Drive cuisine (Dunes lounge at Ritz Carlton served some of the best hamburgers this side of the Sunshine state) and, of course, the spa, which was a getaway from the getaway (Key Biscayne) from the getaway (South Beach) from the getaway (winter storm!).
I opted for the Legacy package, as the anti-aging concept was creative and paid tribute to Ponce De Leon. He had come to Florida looking for the Fountain of Youth back in 1513. While he had no luck in Florida (that's right—the fountain ofyouth is not in St. Augustine, as promoted), fingers eventually pointed to Bimini, Bahamas, where the well still exists today.
Myth? Legend? Hoax?
I visited the small island back in December 2007, almost a year ago today.
Bimini is the closest island in the Bahamas to the United States, so it's quite easy to get to. It's also very underdeveloped, which is an advantage for the visitors who practically have the sublime beaches all to themselves (the island is only 7 miles long, 1/2 a mile wide). Though tourism is minimal, it's such a fascinating island rich in history. Ernest Hemingway made this island popular with his frequent visits (he penned the novel Islands In the Stream here) and the "Road to Atlantis" was discovered here in 1969, believed to be a road that lead to the Lost City of Atlantis. And then there's the Fountain of Youth.
Some people think it's fairy tale material but it actually does exist. The pressing question, however, is: does it really bring you eternal youth?
The great thing about the Fountain of Youth is that there was not a thing that brought attention to the well but a white, wooden post that read: "Fountain of Youth," giving it an authentic allure (not to mention there was not one tourist bus anywhere nearby...you have to take a cab or bike to see it).
So here was the real Fountain of Youth, an unkempt well in the middle of the woods. Inside the well, a worn rope attached to a pulley slung down into the short depth, tethered to a tin pail. Legend says the water was to be drunk; I went as far as a small sip on my tongue, then splashed the water all over me for good measure. Would I be forever young? Locals I met who had performed the same procedure some twenty years back still remain ambivalent. Me? Well Ponce De Leon certainly didn't stay forever young (or did he?) but the Fountain of Youth has been my Santa Clause all year. And, I must say, it's all about faith.