Tierra Santa: America’s First South American-inspired Spa

Alan Faena only wears white. Perhaps this is so he will never be in danger of clashing with the decor of his hotel. When entering the 52-year old Argentinian’s self-named FAENA Hotel in Miami, Florida a sensory overload of color hits you as you walk into the lobby. The Cathedral, as the lobby is known, is surrounded by a collection of eight murals, by artist Juan Gatti. Coined Futopia (Faena +Utopia)  the murals depict the journey of life. You have officially entered into Alan’s magical world. While the hotel has dynamic colors as the base of its persona, the spa, however, uses Mr. Faena’s wardrobe as the base; white for the floors, walls,  flowing curtains and uniforms. But don’t worry, the aesthetic is in no way clinical, there is still plenty of color to bask in. 

Miami’s connection with all things Latin American is conspicuous and notable. More so now that Tierra Santa is America’s first South American inspired spa. Incorporating ancient South American healing techniques into treatments; a line of hand-blended plant-based essential oils; Argentinian designers Carolina Kleinman and Juan Gatti whose creations play an integral part in the décor; and the upcycled spa slippers, this is sustainable luxury. Read on to learn more about Cathy’s first-hand sustainaluxe experience…

Faena Hotel Tierra Santa, translated as the Holy Land, is modeled after the Faena’s home in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. As you walk into the rejuvenation oasis your eyes travel to the rainbow-striped rug which represents the seven chakras and is the base to the equally colorful and ginormous chandelier designed from fishing lures by twin duo Tweelink.  ethical muse coveted the Carolina K ottomans and pillows, not only for the textures and traditional embroidery, but because of her ethos to preserve ancient traditions through the use of artisans from Mexico, Peru and India. She believes in slow fashion and designing sustainably. Can we have an “amen!”?


Vivianne Garcia-Tunon, the Spa and Wellness Director, reserved the 120 minute Tree of Life Vibrations healing experience for me. I slip my feet into my vegan friendly, recyclable Okabashi spa slippers – designed by recycled plastic artist Barbara de Vries, pop on my robe and impatiently anticipate the therapeutic power of oils, rose stones, massage and vibrating bowls.


Tierra Santa’s seven custom oils combine no more than three scents to ensure purity and simplicity in nature. I chose a combination of rose and patchouli oils with the aim to ease emotional distress and encourage happiness, love and joy. These sacred oils were poured along the spine and with the use of Brazilian rose stones were massaged over the body’s ‘tree of life’: the lower back (roots), the back (trunk) and the shoulders and neck (the branches), similar to a hot stone massage. The Tree of Life Balm, made with murumuru butter from the Brazilian palm tree, was also used. A youth enhancer due to its antioxidants, it is composed of lauric acid which is also found in breast milk, omega-6, omega-3 and Vitamin A. Moisturizing, leaving a slight greasy feel, but also anti-microbial and a non-comedogenic acne-fighter. And, yes, it is a sustainably harvested nut.


The use of singing bowls comprised the “vibrations” part of this healing art, with the aim to enhance the therapeutic effect. Three singing bowls of various sizes were placed on my back, and then later on my stomach and legs. The experience was mystical and the vibrations had a profound effect on my internal organs. I left feeling energized with the greatest sense of emotional well-being that I have experienced in months. Vivianne describes this perfectly, “The experience of the sound, the aromas and touch, combined with ancient energetic techniques, balances your energies leaving you refreshed and renewed.”


Inquisitive as ever, ethical muse was intrigued by this ancient technique of singing or sound bowls. Christine Hays, of Eastern Vibration, provides the singing bowls for Tierra Santa. The seven bowls, representing the seven chakras are hand hammered from a seven metal alloy. A sustainable, fair trade business, Christine partners with craftsmen and women in Nepal and supports families who were affected by the earthquake in April 2015. Historically, bowls were believed to have been made by Tibetan monks with the most noticeable effect being to center the mind. They are used for relaxation, stress reduction, holistic healing and chakra balancing.

Not just a spa, Tierra Santa is a unique healing house. Luxury in the sense of anticipatory and individualized service, a sense of space, and the desire to create this experience in your home. And sustainability on so many levels. Maintaining the authentic South American feel through collaborations with local designers, combining the traditional vibrancy of this culture with fair-trade, the use of organic, natural and recycled products, together with balancing personal well-being, invites you to a distinctly Miami experience. Tierra Santa, the sustainaluxe futopia in Alan Faena’s world.