In recent years some of the most glamorous resorts have opened up in Miami, and with all of the interest this year for domestic travel, it was high time I ventured down to check out the buzz at the beach and beyond. We have all heard about the Spring Breakers wreaking havoc on South Beach, but the properties I visited could not have been further away from the mayhem and were truly bubbles of relaxing respite.
Faena Miami Beach
Faena has been a renowned hotel and project in the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires for years and the second hotel project in Miami Beach has been no less impressive. Faena Miami Beach is a cultural outpost of art, fashion, theatre and gastronomy, and offers so much more than a hotel stay. Glamorous, indeed, the striking decor with an abundance of red in the fabrics, furnishings, and art makes quite a statement. You must try Los Fuegos by Argentine grillmaster chef Francis Mallmann, and Pao by Filipino chef Paul Qui – both are showstopper restaurants at Faena Miami Beach offering delicious and bold cuisine.
Guest rooms and suites at Faena are gorgeous, with the detail and quality evident throughout the bright and well laid out spaces. My suggestion is to select a Junior Suite or above for the best experience.
Four Seasons Resort Surfside at The Surf Club
The iconic and historic Surf Club Miami has reopened, as the glamorous Four Seasons Resort Surfside at the Surf Club and this may be the most beautiful hotel in Florida! An escape to the Four Seasons Surfside feels immediately calming, cultivated, and civilized. Guests here feel like they are in-the-know and have uncovered a hidden timeless gem, perhaps the way members of the original Surf Club felt in a bygone era.
The elegant original building has been restored and decorated with such style and ease that you feel immediately at home in a Kennedy-esque sort of way.
Some guests check in here just for the dining, there is really no need to head out anywhere else. A reservation at The Surf Club Restaurant by Chef Thomas Keller is a must, but lunches and bites at the Lido Restaurant & Terrace, inspired by Le Sirenuse in Positano is also delicious. The Champagne Bar and Winston’s on the Beach are all part of the delicious line up for any weekend stay.
While there is not much reason to leave the property, my insider tip is to grab some beach bikes (available at the concierge desk) and ride about 10 minutes up the coast to a charming little Mexican restaurant on the beach called Taquiza (7450 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach, FL 33141)!
Pool and beach time at Four Seasons Surfside is stunning with several pools, including one surrounded by old school cabanas which are perfectly laid out with ample deck and lawn space for social distancing. Insider tip: if you arrive before check in or need to stay later, you can reserve a daytime cabana where you can change and freshen up. Cabanas are available for Hotel guests only and located within the oceanfront gardens of The Surf Club – outfitted with tropical rattan furniture, terrazzo floors and the comforts of air conditioning and a full bathroom.
The white sandy beach is fully set up and serviced as well. There is nothing hurried or frenzied about this scene, it is relaxed and pure bliss.
If you are looking for a unique accommodation with a more traditional feel at Four Seasons, try the Ocean Bungalows which overlook the lawn and have stunning walk-out private terraces.
The majority of the accommodations at Four Seasons Surfside are a bright contrast to the traditional feel of the public space at the Surf Club. Residences, rooms and suites are in modern high rise buildings full of light, views, and sleek design.
1 Hotel South Beach
1 Hotels is a growing brand by Barry Sternlicht, the former chairman and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. With popular outposts in Brooklyn, Central Park, West Hollywood, and South Beach, 1 Hotels offer an ethos of sustainability and environmental stewardship. 1 Hotel South Beach has been particularly popular this season with a following of millennials, young families, and fitness conscious devotees flocking to enjoy the property, sip lattes in the living room lobby concept, and cocktails at one of the lively pool decks.
Booking cabanas in advance is HIGHLY recommended here and I can help you decide on the best spot based on what you are seeking – there are Sky and Ultra cabanas on the rooftop next to the adult-only pool, or various other wonderful options for all ages at the center pool, cabana pool, or south pool.
Fitness is taken just as seriously as relaxation at 1 Hotel South Beach and the fitness center, Anatomy, is enormous with many options to join group classes or set up personal training.
The beach club is also quite popular at 1 Hotel South Beach and memberships are available for those not staying at the hotel.
Guest room configurations at 1 Hotel South Beach are terrific for girl’s trips and families as they offer multiple fun room configurations. This is one of the few brands that has rooms with TWO KING sized beds in them. Connecting options include King connecting to King King and King connecting to Queen Queen. These are superb arrangements for those that want to share accommodations, but also enjoy their own space!
Mandarin Oriental, Miami
The Mandarin Oriental, Miami is located on Brickell Key Drive and has always been one of my favorite hotels when I am in Miami for business. After a long day of appointments, relaxing at the MO Bar or on their beach was a great way to mix in a little pleasure. It had been years since I visited and I was delighted to see how incredibly vibrant and residential the Brickell area of Miami has become. Shopping, dining, boating, and hanging with the locals is what you find in Brickell. It is a true Miami city experience and a lot of fun. The price point in the Brickell area for leisure guests is also a bit more favorable than on Miami Beach, so if you are in Miami for the many attractions, this could be a great option to consider.
One of the best ways to explore Miami is by private yacht and we have just the fleet to recommend. We had a great day cruising through the bay, the Miami river, the intracoastal. We can stock your boat with water toys, jet skis, and water trampolines for some fun in the water, we can help cater in a fabulous lunch and full bar, or have your captain dock at some of the chicest restaurants on the river for lunch! The choice is yours!!
My favorite day of the trip was doing a private urban street art tour in a electric “buggy” vehicle with Christian of the Wynwood Art district! The private tour was a wonderful way to see the incredibly vibrant Wynwood area and offers a deep dive into the international celebration of street art, graffiti, and Miami culture.
Wynwood is an eclectic district in the urban core of Miami, Florida. It is home to art galleries, retail stores, antique shops, eclectic bars, artisanal eateries, and one of the largest open-air street-art installations in the world. Visitors come from all over the world to experience Miami’s Wynwood Walls, and Art Basel Miami Beach (begun in 2002). Art Basel is more than an annual art fair; it’s a cultural movement that transforms the city each year and has had transformative lasting impact on Miami’s role as a major player in the international art world.
Throughout the mid-to-late 1900s, Wynwood was an enclave for Caribbean immigrants and home to Miami’s Garment District. Following a decade of economic exodus and depression, in the early 2000s, forward thinking developers and property owners rehabilitated neglected warehouses, shuttered factories, and other unused buildings, transforming them into the innovative businesses that are visible today. It is inspirational to see art in this way; it is inclusive and accessible to everyone. I highly recommend a street art tour during your stay in Miami, and I can arrange a fabulous and unforgettable tour for you and your family!
Street art helped spark Wynwood’s renaissance. Since the introduction of Second Saturday Art Walk and the arrival of Art Basel, the influence and relevance of the arts community in Wynwood has become undeniable. Artists worldwide have used building facades as canvases to showcase their work, leading to the vivid murals that adorn the district.
Today, Wynwood is recognized globally as a premier destination for art, fashion, innovation and creative enterprise. It is one of the largest and most prominent creative communities in the United States, and where a new generation of creative and entrepreneurs want to live, work, eat, play and learn.
The day was complete with cocktails and lunch at KYU Restaurant!
The world truly is yours!! Thank you, Miami!