Everyone wants to feel like a celebrity on vacation, and during COVID-19, travelers with the means are seeking exclusive experiences more than ever — from private jets and hotel buyouts to yacht and villa rentals — now for health and safety reasons even over the Instagram cred. But in Miami Beach, known in the "before time" for its packed nightclubs and boisterous beaches, true privacy is found only by those who know where to look.
That’s likely why, when visiting Miami in the fall, singer The Weeknd chose The Setai — a favorite of Britney Spears and reportedly even Beyonce and Madonna. The Setai’s oceanfront and oceanview suites sit alongside private residences in a separate building overlooking its three pools (one cold, one medium, one warm, so you can always find your perfect temperature) and of course South Beach's signature sugar sand and turquoise water.
Two-bedroom suites, with ocean and city views from their stunning, glass-encased living rooms and expansive, wrap-around terraces, start at $2,200 a night ($5,800 during peak season). Request a corner configuration with an ocean-facing bed — there's arguably no better master bedroom view on South Beach.
Starting at $30,000 a night, the 10,000-square-foot, four-bedroom penthouse, The Weeknd’s suite of choice, spans the entire 40th floor and boasts a rooftop pool, hot tub, and terrace, along with its own dining room and stocked kitchen, so guests never need to leave. If they do decide to venture out, they can do so without wandering through the main hotel's common spaces.
Guests who book these suites, which range from one to four bedrooms, have access to round-trip airport transfers, daily breakfasts (in suite or at Jaya, the hotel's popular restaurant with a serene, pool-centered courtyard), valet parking, and more.
The Setai is taking COVID-19 seriously, testing staffers monthly and adding in a 24-hour buffer for enhanced cleaning measures after a guest checks out. And guests have noticed — in September, when most were only dipping their toes into travel again for the first time, occupancy was up 10% year over year.
The hotel's popular Jazz Brunch, paused by COVID, returns for Christmas Day, and on New Year's Eve, executive chef Vijay Veena will host a five-course "Silk Road" dining experience in Jaya's courtyard that promises "exotic entertainment" and free-flowing champagne.
A longtime hotspot for international travelers and Miami's most cosmopolitan visitors, The Setai has cemented itself as a local favorite and responsible, staycation-worthy venue during COVID-19, signaling a successful future once we're able to navigate the globe freely once again.
Nina Ruggiero is Travel + Leisure's deputy digital editor. A New Yorker living in Los Angeles, she's happiest on a beach, a cobblestone street, or in a hotel bathtub with a view. Find her on Instagram @ninamarienyc.