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For some hotel properties, bidding fond adieu to the minibar is part of the new and improved way of operating efficiently. For others, they've gone different routes--like Kimpton and Andaz, who include certain minibar items in the room rate. But as for the cream of the crop, some luxury hotels are going overboard and stocking some of the coolest stuff and, subsequently, charging out the nose for them.
Take for instance a recent stay of ours at the Trump National Doral just outside Miami. After exploring the comfy Ivanka Trump-designed interiors accented with lots of signature gold trim, we opened up the minibar drawer and almost had to catch our jaw from smashing down into the immense selection of gourmet treats that rolled out of the cabinet.
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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!
The magic that is keyless entry is nothing new, but we can’t help but feel a little chill at check-in when we learn that it’s an option.
Fontainebleau Miami Beach is the latest property to get the pieces in place before flipping the switch, as they’ve partnered up with StayNTouch to enable mobile check-in among a few other tech treats.
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.
In addition to all the new hotels coming to Miami this spring, there are lots of old hotels with new spaces to show off, and that's just as important to know.
Circa 39 in Miami Beach is all gussied up for spring with its recent two-year, multi-million renovation competed –- and it looks fab. The updates include the refurbishment of all 97 guest rooms, the lobby areas, on-site dining and the pool deck.
The modernized bathrooms feature glass shower enclosures, bathrobes, and Aveda bathroom products as well as custom-designed furnishings in teal and white finishes and solid wood floors.
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.
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Just two weeks ago, we were stunned to hear that Four Seasons would be leaving Bangkok (pictured above), to be replaced by a flagship Anantara resort. But we also had a feeling this wasn't the end of the road for FS in Bangkok. In fact, here's exactly what we said:
As much as this means a departure for Four Seasons from Bangkok, there is no doubt in our mind that the Canadian group will come back to a city where nearly every luxury brand under the sun is either represented or busy building something new – something tells us it will be connected to this: Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, a new development a bit south of the Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula. Time will tell, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted.
And now we're keeping you posted.
Four Seasons Hotels have just announced that they will open the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, adjacent to the aforementioned Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River.
The Redbury shuttered Tony Mantuano's Lorenzo restaurant a while ago to install the newest outpost of Cleo, a Mediterranean-style restaurant found at The Redbury in Hollywood as well as the SLS Las Vegas.
Aside from Cleo's staple dishes of flatbreads and tanginess, Chef Danny Elmaleh has created a few plates especially for Miami like the Lamb Shawarma, Wagyu Tongue Kebabs, Potato Latkes and Monkfish Tagine. And of course, this being Miami, cocktails are abound on the menu. We recommend the Mediterrean margarita made with Avion Tequila, a housemade fig-almond syrup and fresh lime.
Looking to make a night of it? Rooms at The Redbury, which have a hip apartment feel, start at $329 a night. For just $334 a night, you can add a little brekkie to go.
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The party floor is accessed through the lobby of the hotel through a staircase practically at the back of the hotel but there is a street-level entrance at Collins, making it very open to all, should this be your kind of scene. And we think it might be, if only for an hour.
Here's what you need to know, if you didn't already know:
· Basement Bowl: Sick of the usual beach and pool routine? You can now bowl for strikes at the four-lane bowling alley which features LED screen displays and interactive light shows, that synchronize with the bowler's actions. There's a small bar that fronts the lane with small tufted-leather booths and leather club chairs. Food is also served here by Edition's resident chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
· Basement Skate: Yes, there's an ice-skating rink here and hotelier Ian Schrager did it purely for the novelty of it all--ice skating in a tropical destination. (#thanksmarriott!) The rink is 2,000-sq.ft. and has floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on Collins Avenue. The space is usually lit-up in a cool blue and is surrounded by sheer white drapes, although there is a constantly color-changing LED lighting design in place by Patrick Woodroffe. And of course, there is music. While you can rent ice skates yourself, there will supposedly be professional skaters in bikinis gliding on the ice, or otherwise, models who can skate decently enough. Bonus fact: the rink has its own Zamboni.
̭ Basement Nightclub: Schrager said he wouldn't call this an outright "throwback" to Studio 54 but he did recognize the power of the sensory overload experience that Studio 54 created which was dominated by a killer sound system and performance art shows. So the micro-club at Edition is attempting to recreate some of that with custom-made lighting, state-of-the-art sound systems and hosted party nights. But no one will be able to ignore the giant disco ball above the dance floor. Now, will you be able to get in? That remains to be seen.
Since we arrived at Edition before Basement was fully ready, we weren't able to snap any "official" photos, aside from this stealth shot of the bowling lanes above. Instead, we decided to let the Instagram photos do the talking here. You can find more via @EditionHotels or @BasementMiami or with the hashtag #miamibeachedition. Enjoy!