Miami Travel Guide
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The season is winding down in Florida but the hotel scene in Miami remains hot, especially when it comes to new hotels.
Construction has been underway on the former Ankara Motel for a few years now (here's what it looked like when our Miami spy walked by it last July) but Aloft is nearly ready to show off its restoration efforts (the Ankara was built in 1954) as well as its new interiors.
Here's some info on what Aloft saved from the Ankara days and what they added in:
Components of the hotel that have retained their original form include the classic brick walls of the Historic Wing, refurbished Ankara Motel signage and the pool shape. Inside, modern design takes center stage as a translucent staircase welcomes guests into the thriving two-story atrium with custom leather wrapping and a striking light fixture inspired by drum cymbals. Additionally, the bar and lounge features a custom chandelier by Yellow Goat Design made of 1,000 colored acrylic lighting rods descending from the ceiling.
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But now it's time to start planning a sweltering summer break in Miami, because reservations are now open for July 6.
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In July 2013 the Shelborne Hotel in South Beach closed down in order to renovate the entire property (which was very much needed). It opened again at the end of September 2014 as the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach with relatively little fanfare, so we’re going to toot its horn a little bit because, during a recent stay, we quite liked this 200-room property.
Designed by two very different designers – Meg Sharpe, who did the public and commercial spaces, and Richard Mishaan, who created the rooms and meeting spaces – the hotel has a sort of Jekyll and Hyde quality that, strangely, works together to create an Art Deco beauty.
First some history to give you context on the design. The building was constructed in the 1940s and embellished in the 1950s, when the Moderne Style of Art Deco was in fashion. Think glamorous streamlined design, with shiny metallic surfaces and a focus on the new, modern transportation design in cars, airplanes and trains. Both designers have worked to bring this particular era to life, albeit each with a distinctive flair.
Richard’s rooms are bolder in both color and pattern, with deep ocean blue furniture and rugs offset against stark white or mirrored furnishings. You’d think the heavily patterned wall coverings and lamp shades would throw the whole design into chaos, but it keeps the space oddly invigorating. Rooms have 46” Interactive Smart Samsung TVs with mobile connectivity, iPhone docking stations, Frette linens and private label bath amenities in a calendula scent.
Have a look at the Photo Gallery to see an Oceanfront Balcony room as well as a Partial Ocean View King, plus all of the public spaces!
Ah, Miami. Sun, fun, mojitos and...resort fees?
Yes, sadly most hotels in Miami are charging those dreaded and annoying resort fees. According to ResortFeeChecker.com, 100 hotels in Miami have resort fees and the average fee is around $20.04 a night. That's about the same as Vegas' ubiquitous resort fee average.
But Miami is also home to two resort fees that exceed $100. Yes, you read that right. Those resorts are the Provident Luxury Suites ($107 a night) and The Fisher Island Club (also $107 a night), both of which are located on the extremely ritzy Fisher Island.
We've decided to list the resort fees of some of the most chatted about Miami hotels here on HotelChatter. Hide your wallets!
These fees are per day, plus about 20 percent tax, so the final cost will be a little higher than the number you see here. These fees usually include internet access, and additional amenities and services on site like beach chairs and access to the fitness center. (At the Surfcomber it includes iced coffee!)
But not everyone is charging a resort fee. We applaud the Loews, The W South Beach and The Setai for being resort-fee-free. (Never mind that rooms are hovering at $1,000 alight right now.)
Who knew that drinking alcohol could be good for you? When you show up for a cocktail at The Drawing Room in the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach, have a chat with the apothékers (A.K.A. bartenders) and tell them what ails you. They’ll whip up a medicinal concoction full of herbs and other goodness and then write you a prescription in case you need a refill.
Run by famous (and a wee bit infamous) Austrian-born bar chef Albert Trummer, formerly of NYC's Apothéke and the Theater Bar, The Drawing Room has only been open since October 2014.
Using his knowledge of all things botanical (Albert is also a trained chef), he’s created a series of ten house elixirs using recipes he’s collected from monks and monasteries throughout Europe. These elixirs (not all are available at all times as it depends on seasonality and availability) are used to create his and his team’s Prescription Cocktails. If you plan it right you can bring yourself up at the start of the evening and then back down at its close.
South Florida is not short on golf resorts with championship golf courses, but only the Trump National Doral outside of Miami has bragging rights to the new Jack Nicklaus Villas, a collection of 172 guest rooms and suites with views of the resort's famed "Blue Monster" golf course which Nicklaus frequently played, and won.
The villas, a part of the $250 million renovation Trump has done on the property, were designed by architects WATG with interiors by Ivanka Trump who went with her usual elegant palette of ivory and champagne with a bit of caramel mixed in. Mahogany wood and gold leaf Spanish revival details were also added and each room features photos and mementos of Nicklaus' career.
In short, it feels more like a Trump Hotel than a themed-golf suite and that's a good thing. If you've had a bad back nine, the last thing you want to see when you get back is more reminders of your crappy play.
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These beach chairs won't be empty for long.
It is officially high season in Miami, not just for visitors but for new hotels.
We are only weeks away from the start of several major hotels opening in Miami such as 1 Hotels (now opening March 13), Element Miami Doral (March 5), Aloft South Beach (which has been delayed until April 16), AC Hotels by Marriott (April), Hyatt South Beach, the Washington Park Hotel and Nautilus, a Sixty Hotel.
But there are even more hotels coming to Miami (in fact, Miami has the 4th highest number of hotel rooms under construction, according to the a recent occupancy report.) We've heard that a Generators Hotel/Hostel concept will be announced soon in Miami.
Meanwhile, an NY-based developer, Sonny Bazbaz, who had a hand in developing The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, is hoping to open a mixed-used project in the Wynwood Arts District that will have 79 hotel rooms.
We've long been a fan of Kimpton Hotels' Forgot it? We've got it!" amenity program, which sends up, on request, any toiletries that guests may have forgotten to pack from contact lens solution to straightening irons. But now at The EPIC Hotel in Miami, the amenity program extends to Halloween costumes.
That's right, if you've forgotten to pack your sexy ladybug costume, or just decided on a whim to go trick or treating, the EPIC Hotel can lend you a costume to wear for the night.
We inquired about the Halloween costume choices and they include the following:
· Clown make up
· Clown noses
· Rainbow bow tie
· Child & adult cat costume
· Bunny ears
· Various mustaches
· Venetian masks
And if you stay at the hotel on Halloween, you can indulge in special pumpkin oil aroma therapies and massages from the hotel's Exhale Spa during the hotel's complimentary wine hour. A Halloween candy buffet will also be on display. Over at the hotel's bars and lounges--LILT, Area31 and a the rooftop pool deck, speciality Halloween cocktails will be served too.
Rooms at the EPIC start at $249 a night.
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Seeking to tap into the ever-growing Latin American market in South Florida, Chile’s Atton Hotels has announced that it will build its first U.S. property, a $65 million project to be named the Atton Brickell Hotel, in Miami. Scheduled to open in 2016, Atton says it will instantly become the chain’s flagship hotel due to Miami’s ties to Latin America and its growing international business community.
The property will be the company’s fifth overall and will be located in the Brickell Financial District of downtown Miami. It will be 12 stories high and have 275 rooms, offering free buffet breakfast, an outdoor pool, and on-site restaurant and bar concepts (specifics have yet to be announced).
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When we told you what to expect at the SLS Las Vegas last week, we mentioned the three different room towers at the property--World, Story and Lux. Well, now it turns out SLS LUX isn't just a room tower in Vegas but a new brand within a brand from SLS Hotels.
SLS LUX will be an all-suite and residential experience for guests with upgraded amenities and personalized VIP services. The first SLS LUX will obviously open in Vegas over Labor Day Weekend but SLS is also planning another SLS LUX in Miami (pictured above) in 2016 to complement the upcoming SLS Brickell Hotel & Residences, which will open next year.
This new LUX will have 450 residences, 85 luxury suites, a tennis and fitness center, rooftop pool, wine cellar, cigar room and two restaurants, Katsuya and SBar. Yabu Pushelberg will do the interiors while works from Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero will adorn the entrance. So in case you were ever disappointed with the basic-ness of an SLS room, the LUX room should have whatever you're looking for. We hope.
SLS says additional LUX locations are already in development in the U.S. Meanwhile, SLS Park Avenue won't be opening this year but in 2015 instead.
[Rendering: SLS LUX]
The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 12 and while the extreme football fans will head to Brazil to watch the matches, the majority of fans will settle for catching a couple of games in their local pub or bar. (That's what we plan on doing.) But these Miami-area hotels want you to watch the matches with them instead. Miami--it's kinda like Brazil!
The new b2 miami downtown has put together a b2 is for Brazil! package that gives 25 percent off the best available rate, 15 percent off food and drinks at Biscayne Tavern, the hotel's gastropub concept from Jeffrey Chodorow of China Grill Management; two signature cocktails at the tavern and a World Cup special edition souvenir. The package is available to book online from June 1 to June 15 with rates starting at just $99 a night. (Gotta love Miami in the off season.) Use promo code Brazil to book.
In Miami Beach proper, The W South Beach is offering a Timeout Getaway which includes a two-night stay; an in-room “Create-Your-Own Caipirinha Kit” amenity; special Brazilian themed dishes at the W's The Dutch restaurant; two signature cocktails daily, inspired by the countries of the competing teams in The World Cup and the ability to watch World Cup games from the guest rooms, the Living room and in select poolside private cabanas (those cost extra.) The packages starts at $489 a night and is available from June 12-July 13. Call 1.877.822.0000 to book but you must have seven days advance notice.
Further north in Ft. Lauderdale, the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa has created the "Kick It, Kick Back and Relax” deal that gives guests 20 percent off lowest available rates if you book three nights or more. The hotel will be showing the games on a flat-screen TV at their beachfront bar. Rates start at $207 a night, based on double occupancy. Book by June 5 for travel from June 2 to July 31. Go here to book and use promo code ADR.
A year ago, we learned the excellent news that Swire Hotels' East Hotels brand would be opening in Miami. Today, we've now got a look at what the hotel will look like thanks to the South Florida Business Journal.
The 263-room hotel will open in Fall 2015 in the Brickell City Centre Project, a mixed-used development in Miami's Brickell neighborhood. Designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, (who are also doing the Hyde Hotel in Midtown Miami), the East Miami will have two restaurants, a poolside bar and lounge, a rooftop bar, fitness center, and a banquet hall along with 89 serviced apartments known as East Residences.
Sadly, there aren't any room photos but if the hotel looks anything like the East Hotel in Hong Kong, we'll be very happy.
[Rendering via SoFla Biz Journal]