1. Mondrian South Beach You'll have to stay three nights (from 12/29–01/01) to secure a room for New Year's Eve, but if you hit up the Sunset Lounge party here you don't want to be stumbling home to another hotel, given that the Mondrian is over on the quieter bay side of the beach. It's a great indoor/outdoor space, and while tickets are $250 each that includes a four-hour open bar and performances by Macy Gray and a 20-piece symphony orchestra.
The hotel's restaurant Asia de Cuba is also doing a 5-course dinner with open bar and a bottle of champagne per couple for $295 each (and an extra $100 gets you into the Sunset Lounge party).
Rooms start at $525 a night, so while you're looking at a total of around $2,500 for two (three nights accommodation plus the party), it's one of the few big-name hotels with big parties still available. Tickets are available here.
2. Catalina Hotel It's one of the biggest party pads on Collins and for New Year's the revelry includes the Spam All Stars live, a buffet dinner including sushi and desserts from 8 p.m. to midnight, open bar and a champagne toast, DJs spinning old-school hip-hop and '80s grooves, the Times Square ball-drop on a big projector screen, and (we love this) a breakfast buffet from 3–5 a.m.
To stay over, you'll need to book the 4-night New Years Knock Out package, which along with the NYE party, includes a chilled bottle of champagne delivered to your room on the 31st, a $100 certificate to use at Kung Fu Kitchen & Sushi, a $75 certificate for Maxine Grill, and undetermined "party favors." (We're thinking sparkly 2010 glasses, silver top hats, and the like.)
The total is $1,476 for the four nights—this is for a Deluxe room, the only category still available when we checked. No refunds for cancellations within 7 days of arrival.
3. The Setai One of the most expensive hotels in South Beach is known for throwing one of the most lavish NYE parties and this year is no different—recession be damned. The Friends of the New World Symphony will perform while guests gorge on a 6-course tasting menu and gallons of bubbly. As midnight approaches, the strings and woodwinds will give way to a fusion of jazz, funk and pop, featuring vocalists Rebekah Diaz and Carmen Lundy.
Tickets are $450 per person, but note that apart from your midnight glass of champers, the free booze stops flowing at 11, and it's cash bar through to 2:30 a.m. And those rooms? When we checked the only category available for the night of the 31st was a Junior Suite for $1,650 a night.
There is also a Setai Experience package but all we have to say about that is: Minimum 5-night stay, from $1,200 a night. Who wants to start a new year with that bill on their credit card? Reservations for the party are required: (305) 520-6400.
4. The Four Seasons Miami This downtown favorite of Brit-Brit is doing a champagne & canapes plus 4-course dinner for $145 per person but what we really like the sound of is the New Year's Eve Gala with its Roaring 20s Dinner Dance theme. It includes a gourmet dinner buffet and champagne toast, and is $170 per person. Rooms start at $500 a night, but you'll have to check in on the 30th and stay two nights to secure one for New Year's Eve.
5. The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove Yes, it's away from the SoBe insanity, but that could be a good thing. The hotel is billing its New Year dinner as a relaxed event, but with caviar, a 4-course Tuscan meal, and a chocolate fountain, the concept of "relaxed" is relative. The 6:30 p.m. sitting is the best value, at $89 per person but the 9:30 p.m. sitting is the one that'll get you a flute of champagne, post-dessert Limóncello, Ritz-Carlton gift, and access to that chocolate fountain—it's $148 per person.
Rooms are $509 a night, available on the 31st only if you stay two nights, from the 30th. Sister properties, The Ritz-Carlton South Beach and The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne are booked out room-wise but two of their parties are worth a mention regardless: South Beach is hosting a Full Moon Party at its DiLido Beach Club that has no cover charge, first come, first served.
It opens at 10 p.m. Down in Key Biscayne, we quite like the sound of the Tequila Dinner in Cantina Beach. There's a fire pit and a tiki bar, and best of all, a Mexican feast with tequila pairing. Now there's a way to forget the hell of 2009!
[Photo: Wyn Van Devanter]