As Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici points out, mean Maureen Dowd — stout though bloodless defender of Caroline Kennedy for Senate — laughed in the face of the recession, New York Times budget/expense account cuts, and the tense-backed everywhere by visiting Miami’s Canyon Ranch spa. This is easily among the best/worst things the Times has ever put into print. Follow us as we follow Maureen through a magical beach resort vacation of Faux White Upper-Class Guilt and Exotic Oils! Whee!
Naturally, Dowd tries to reason with the hoi polloi by noting her amazement/fascination with the opulence of the place: “Americans are suffering from ‘luxury shame,’ as it’s called, sacrificing overpriced indulgences and spurning high-end brand names, trying belatedly to channel the thriftiness and prudence of the last generation that endured an economic collapse,” Dowd writes. She continues by dishing out what her Mama once served her: “My mom always warned me that there was something immoral about a $5 cup of coffee, a $1.75 bottle of water, a $27 fifth of bourbon and a $40 candle. I’m sure the $500 pizhichil massage (without tip) offered by Canyon Ranch would have appalled her.”
Yet, this doesn’t stop her and her “friend Alessandra” from experiencing “the glamorous spa largely to ourselves<," a meditation class, a lecture on tongue-color, some booze, and naturally, some massaging. It also doesn't get in the way of being whisked away via an escape with "the only person I knew in Miami," the chief of police. No joke.
“Chief Timoney took us over to the most over-the-top spot in this over-the-top city: the leopard-skin-swathed, stained-glass-filled, Medusa-head-branded Versace mansion, a testament to what one man accomplished by reducing antiquity to a throw pillow.” And it only gets better. If you ever thought Ms. Dowd spoke for the people, you were about as wrong as the words “mound of succulent (Kobe) beef”: “Then we ate a sampling from the kitchen: a mound of succulent Kobe beef, fried pork belly, sea scallops with osetra caviar, black grouper, blue prawns cooked at the table on a salt block, foie gras with a riesling-pineapple-coriander emulsion and Meyer lemon tart and crushed amaretti mousse with vanilla-bean meringue, washed down by Champagne (Krug, Clos de Ambonnay 1995), at one of the outdoor tables under a tent by the elaborately tiled pool.”
And yes, the ailing New York Times is going to foot the bill. Lesson: Next time you want an all-expense paid trip to one of the most lavish spas in the country, either make friends with Maureen Dowd, or get a Times op-ed column and parlay it into a travel gig. And by the way, Mo: We know you loved it. Please, please, please stop trying to convince anyone otherwise. For those of us land-locked, freezing, and stuck in an office, it’s just painful.