Wearing the darkest of dark sunglasses, I confidentially walked past the concierge and front desk at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. I pushed through a set of double doors and when I saw the pool in front of me, I felt like I just pulled off the Lufthansa heist in Goodfellas. My caper almost came to a quick close when a guy who looked like a juiced up Barry Bonds, asked to see my room key. Fibbing is my natural tendency but the truth about HotelChatter thankfully flowed from my mouth. This gargantuan man stepped aside and allowed me to go about my business.
Loews Miami is just about as upscale as it gets. Almost every one of the numerous chaise lounges were occupied at the pool and it seemed like there was at least one hotel employee designated to each guest. As far as the eye could see, young men and women were sweating to death while frantically schlepping drinks and towels to and fro.
While taking in the scene, I overheard southern belles, a few languages I couldn't place, rico suave Latin lovers, and of course the unmistakable New York accent. Drinks at the bar are moderately priced but the sun's rays get blocked out by 3pm, which definitely puts a damper on things. If you need to see what Judge Judy is up to while you're paying $4000 a night for a presidential suite, the cabanas have TVs for your viewing needs. But leave your laptop up in the room because wi-fi isn't available outside.
The pool at the Loews is breathtakingly beautiful but not big on South Beach culture. Don't get me wrong, you'll find gorgeous women at every turn but most of them are with guys. Even with that being said, it's not who you go to the pool with, it's who you go home with.
The Delano is South Beach in a nutshell. The guys are all trying to emulate the Lenny Kravitz retro look and women are doing the Paris Hilton thing combined with sexy lower back tattoos. But before I get into all the details, allow me to say this: Ridiculously stunning women lay around the pool topless. Let me repeat that just in case you didn't hear me: TOPLESS! Like it's no big deal. Right there for all to see! This obviously puts the Delano real close to the top of the list from the get go. Well I guess it matters who is making out the list, but trust me topless sunbathing is part of the culture here at the beach.
The adjacent buildings never get in the way of the sunshine beaming down on the pool so you'll be able to bake all day long with your $7.00 beers, $12.00 frozen drinks and the pumped in Afro-Cuban music. Feel free to swing in a hammock, chill in an oversized Alice in Wonderland cushy chair, or retire to the comforts of a cabana that is equipped with speakers, a fan, and a flat-screen TV. The Delano is also a phenomenal late night date place with a sleek but cozy ambiance.
Wi-Fi is available poolside for $10.00 a day and when it's time to take a break from tracking your investments (or surfing for porn), loose the Armani sunglasses and take a dip. I must warn you the pool is only eight inches deep at it's shallowest, so "no diving" is a safe credo to live by.
The surrounding conversations blended into one another but I'm sure they sounded something like this, "Don't you just love being so young, and wealthy and so damn good looking? Wait, who's that weirdo over there taking notes and gawking at our women???"
The Raleigh's pool is filled with giant inner tubes for your carefree floating pleasure. And as we all now, inner tubes are almost as cool as topless women. "Almost" being the operative word in that last sentence.
If this column were titled "Top 5 hotels in South Beach I'd stay with my girlfriend, if I had a girlfriend", the Raleigh would occupy the pole position. But for the sake of this assignment, it's not as "South Beachy" as the Delano, or the other properties at the top of this list. And by that I mean - not a lot of guys trying to look like big time drug dealers and not many women walking around like hot, skinny, big time drug users.
At the Raleigh, you'll feel as though you're tucked away from the world, but it could easily be located in any tropical location around the world, because there's nothing specifically "Miami" about the property. The good news is Wi-Fi is available for free by the pool, and there's a wood burning pizza oven right next to the deep end, mmm pizza and the pool. The better news is the staff is friendly without being sugary corporate. Oh yeah, and don't forget about the inner tubes.
The palatial pools at The Savoy are some of the most beautiful in all of South Florida. Not that I've ever been to the Greek Isles, or anywhere east of Montauk Long Island for that matter, but from what I've seen in movies - the Savoy is spitting image with its pristine white washed walls, towering palm trees, and the mammoth blue ocean barely visible past the sun deck.
The action at the Savoy, or lack thereof, is similar to The Raleigh. If you get bamboozled into a marriage, this is the perfect setting for a honeymoon but it's not the place to find all-night poolside partying with the likes of Crocket and Tubs. Did I metnion I was single handidly bringing back the penny loafers-no socks look?
The security at this hotel is on par with the system found at Fort Knox. It's conducive for honeymooners but not for those trying to sneak in to get a glimpse of the pool. But I trained for such obstacles back in college and I slipped past their defenses like a ninja in the night. Wi-fi isn't available by the pool so you might actually have to converse with your Wi-fe.
OK, enough with the suspense - If South Beach was an atom, The Clevelander Hotel would be its nucleus. Therefore, this infamous and centrally located hotel, is home to the best pool scene in South Beach.
Remember, if you are coming to South Beach to relax in peace and quiet amidst great hotel service and romantic setting, you probably want to stay as far away from the Clevelander as humanly possible.
However, if you're coming to South Beach to party and loose all your inhibitions, you'll end up at The Clevelander and completely blow off the festivities at whatever hotel you're staying at. You'll find a perfect mix of art deco architecture, neon and hip-hop, silicon and god given flesh, excessive drinking, and grungy but stylish looking patrons.
The food available at the pool is phenomenal and quite inexpensive in comparison to other eateries in the area. Daily drink specials are available to the guests of the hotel as well as anyone who stumbles in off the street. You'll be entertained by live bands or DJs every night and make sure you stick around for the bikini contests on the weekends. Most importantly, The Clevelander has the only pool scene on the beach where an Average Joe on vacation has a chance to meet and possibly hookup with flawless locals. Even if Wi-fi were available at the pool, you'd never make use of it.
While you may not want to stay at the Clevelander, especially if you are interested in actual sleep, if you are looking to party at a hotel pool, you will definitely want to add the Clevelander to your list of hotels to check out.
Overheard at the Clevelander, "I can't believe people actually get to live here. This place is going to be the death of me." At least he would die smiling. Click on the hotels above to go to each hotel where you will find more information and exclusive poolside photos Disagree with our man on the scene in Miami? Or agree with him? Let him know in the comments section below. Only members can comment, membership is free, just go here and sign up. Would you like to get a story published on HotelChatter? Members can also submit stories for possible publication. Good Luck.
Overheard at the Clevelander, "I can't believe people actually get to live here. This place is going to be the death of me." At least he would die smiling.
Click on the hotels above to go to each hotel where you will find more information and exclusive poolside photos
Disagree with our man on the scene in Miami? Or agree with him? Let him know in the comments section below. Only members can comment, membership is free, just go here and sign up.
Would you like to get a story published on HotelChatter? Members can also submit stories for possible publication. Good Luck.