Towering over the Atlantic, this Miami hotel offers a contemporary oasis on a bustling strip.
Given the recent hoop-la in Miami, where so many hotel openings have been vying for the spotlight, it was fitting that the July launch of the W South Beach—the first W in town—featured the obligatory barrage of fame and fashion, as partygoers prowled the Grove, the hotel’s oceanfront garden.
Since then, the W—a 408-room affair that offers the allure of South Beach nightlife (the gold-and-black club Wall) and no shortage of indulgence (an 8,000-square-foot Bliss spa, opening this winter; the glitzy Mr. Chow and Soleà restaurants)—has taken its place in the local firmament. The hotel reflects an ambitious corporate expansion (including the epic W Fort Lauderdale, 25 miles up the coast) and a new era of grand properties in Miami Beach, with SoHo Beach House Miami and Vikram Chatwal’s Dream hotel coming on line next year.
The project would be a nervy one in any economic climate, though codeveloper David Edelstein is optimistic. “Miami Beach recovered quickly after 9/11,” he says, “and I think the hotel community here will come back strong again.”
The W South Beach immediately shows its aspirations to chic in a gleaming lobby equipped with a 120-foot-long marble wall, and with an edgy art collection (pieces by Damien Hirst, Christopher Wool, and the like) counterpointed by campy brass screens that recall the glamour of Miami’s 1950’s heyday. Upstairs, the guest suites have Cippolino marble vanity countertops, Italian cotton velvet sofas, and photos of pop musicians by Danny Clinch. After all, the whole point of South Beach is to at least feel like a rock star for a weekend.
See and Shop
South Pointe Park 1 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305/673-7730.
Tomas Maier 170 N.E. 40th St., Miami; 305/576-8383.
The Webster 1220 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305/674-7899.
Joey’s Caffé & Ristorante 2506 Second N.W. Ave., Miami; 305/438-0488; lunch for two $60.
Mr. Chow 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305/695-1695; dinner for two $105.
Pizzavolante 3918 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305/573-5325; dinner for two $45.
Soleà 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305/938-3111; dinner for two $110.
The Bottega Veneta designer is given to stocking an eclectic range of items, including high-end Santa Maria Novella shaving cream imported from Italy, Neil Young albums, art books on Slim Aarons and 1920's architecture, fine teas, men's and women's clothing, and arty Marni necklaces made from strips of black braided PVC.
Tip: Maier's own line of black and taupe surf trunks are understated and cut just generously enough to flatter any man.
Wolfsonian-Florida International University Museum
Part museum, library, and research facility, the Wolfsonian Museum at Florida International University houses a collection of 120,000 pieces dating 1885 through 1945. The museum’s collection focuses on major movements and historic events, including the Industrial Revolution and World War II, and encompasses everything from artwork and glasswork to artifacts like books and periodicals. Permanent artists on display include Norman Rockwell and Agostino Lauro. Free guided tours are available on Friday evenings, and the museum frequently offers complimentary admission times. The Wolfsonian also houses a café and wine bar, as well as a gift shop.
Books & Books
Housed inside the Sterling Building on the Lincoln Road Mall, Books & Books is a locally owned bookstore specializing in art, design, and architecture books. The store has an impressive inventory, including everything from hardcover books to imported English gossip magazines, and the space is inviting–large windows provide natural light and ample seating provides opportunities for flipping through the pages of a potential purchase. Special events include monthly author talks and book signings, and an adjacent café serving burgers, wraps, and both vegetarian and vegan fare.
EPIC, Miami – A Kimpton Hotel
Where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay, EPIC Hotel sits on a waterfront property in the heart of downtown. Inside the self-proclaimed “cosmopolitan boutique resort,” vaulted ceilings and glass walls create an open feel, and each of the 411 rooms and suites offers sweeping views of either the city or the bay. Awash in soothing earth tones, guestrooms are all equipped with sleek furnishings and high-speed Internet access. On the 16th floor guests can indulge in a 13,752-square-foot sun deck with private cabanas, and two outdoor swimming pools.
Joey's Italian Café
With its glass mosaic mural, marble tables, and vibrant garden patio, Joey’s seems right at home in the Wynwood arts district. Popular with patrons of the nearby Adrienne Arsht Center, the café features an authentic Italian menu from head chef Ivo Mazzon, who hails from the Vento region of northeastern Italy. Specialties include the baccala alla Siciliana (baked cod with eggplant, tomatoes, olives, and capers) and the hand-tossed pizze dolce e piccante (sweet and spicy pizza with fig, Gorgonzola, honey, and hot peppers). An affordable wine list offers a variety of Italian vintages hand-selected by owner Joey Goldman.
W South Beach Hotel & Residences
Miami's first W property is a major departure for the brand: all 408 spacious residences have a French bohemian aesthetic, and are done in various shades of white and gray. The W South Beach immediately shows its aspirations to chic in a gleaming lobby equipped with a 120-foot-long marble wall, and with an edgy art collection (pieces by Damien Hirst, Christopher Wool, and the like) counterpointed by campy brass screens that recall the glamour of Miami’s 1950’s heyday. Upstairs, the guest suites have Cippolino marble vanity countertops, Italian cotton velvet sofas, and photos of pop musicians by Danny Clinch.
South Pointe Park
A formerly hardscrabble spot has been transformed with light towers and artfully arranged dune grass. Sunset at the newly revitalized zone at the tip of South Beach is filled with joggers and strollers. A totem of color—actually a 55-foot-tall lighthouse by German artist Tobias Rehberger—stacks up against the wavy palms and high-rise condos.
Mr. Chow, Miami
A flashy, high-end Chinese restaurant housed inside the equally flashy W South Beach Hotel, Mr. Chow is owned by famed restauranteur Michael Chow, who also owns restaurants in New York and London. The dining area is a lesson in glitz, as evidenced by the 123-foot, custom designed chandelier covered in gold leaf and Swarovski crystals, and installation art adds to the trendy atmosphere. In the kitchen, renowned chef Nick Jinson Du creates updated takes on traditional Chinese dishes like Peking duck, green prawns, and lobster two ways.
Jonathan Eismann of Pacific Time, on the Design District’s Restaurant Row, has just opened this affordable joint, with tasty wood-fired pizza and a mozzarella parlor.
Situated along South Beach’s famous Ocean Drive, The Betsy is one of Miami’s premier beachfront boutique hotels. With its expansive four-column portico and signature shuttered windows, the Georgian building stands out among its Art Deco neighbors. Opened in 1942, the landmark hotel continues to distinguish itself with the finest services and amenities, including an outpost of chef Laurent Tourondel’s steakhouse, BLT, a rooftop deck offering views of the Atlantic Ocean, and a tranquil spa and wellness garden. The hotel’s 61 rooms and suites feature marble bathrooms, hardwood floors, fresh orchids, and pool, city or ocean views.