Destination • March 2015
As the city’s famous beach celebrates its 100th anniversary, travel writer Mark Jones lists nine things to know about Miami – from its burgeoning art scene to why all the cool new hotels are heading north
Hotels going up everywhere. A real estate boom. Wealthy northern and Latin Americans flooding in. Miami Beach 2015? Absolutely. But it was also Miami Beach 1915, when bridges were built to the mainland, avocado crops were cleared and locals flocked to bathing casinos such as Ocean Beach Casino (pictured). Miami achieved city status two years later.
Photo courtesy and copyright by Miami Beach’s City Historian, Seth H. Bramson
Five years ago, Arne Sorensen went on a run that would cost him a happy $57.5m. The CEO of hotel group Marriott was running on South Beach when he spotted the shuttered façade of the Seville Hotel. The acquisition went ahead. Sorensen and his partner Ian Schrager opened The Miami Beach Edition in December.
Every day, at the lifeguard stand on the beach at the junction of 5th street and Ocean Drive, shortly after 4pm, Robert ‘Raven’ Croft goes for an eight-mile run. It has become an institution – he’s accompanied by well-wishers and friends.
For decades, Miami was all cocktails, designer handbags and bronzed bodies. However, ever since art show Art Basel established an outpost there in 2002, it’s become the US’s most active cultural hotspot (above). Beyond the Art Deco enclave of the beach, the Design District offers galleries, restaurants and designer shops.
The smart money and real-estate opportunists are flocking to Wynwood, where the newly opened Art Walls, plus independent galleries, gardens and shops, are giving Miami a boho buzz.
The opening of The Edition (above) on Collins Avenue and 29th has been the most talked-about event in the Beach for a while. The majority of the big-name hotels cluster in the central part of South Beach, but the Edition is a 10-minute jog up the boardwalk, where it has more space and ocean views.
The Fontainebleau – even further north. The wedding cake of a hotel is 60 years old, a product of Miami’s second golden era of hotel building. Its latest renovation saw it grow to 40,000 sq feet.
The Perez Art Museum Miami opened in 2013. It expected 200,000 visitors in the first year at the new location. It got 150,000 in the first four months alone.
President Obama’s decision to ‘normalise’ relations with Cuba showed how Miami’s Cuban population has changed. Under 35s, interested in travel and business, favour the move. Maybe it won’t be long before the smell of Cuban cigars is again drifting down Calle Ocho.