Just in time to offer an escape from New York, Andre Balazs is relaunching the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach, where Eric Ripert, the chef of Le Bernardin, will serve as the hotel’s “directeur de cuisine.” The hotel’s main restaurant won’t open until next season, but Ripert has already begun consulting with the on-site chef, Keith Harry (formerly of Butter in New York). They’ll be serving hearty fare like stuffed chicken with chorizo, French fries with truffles and parmesan, Le Bernardin’s signature tuna carpaccio, and stone crabs à la nage to South Beachers, who are used to eating their stone crabs with mallets. “Usually stone crab is served cold with mayonnaise, but this time they’ll be hot,” Ripert says.

To coincide with Art Basel, the annual Swiss-made art festival whose headquarters this year are at the Raleigh, Balazs will host several events at the hotel, which bowed in 1940 and features the most famous pool in America.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Wednesday night, Calvin Klein and Yvonne Force, among other art world luminaries, are expected to attend a private dinner for Ripert in the hotel’s penthouse, which features a buzzed-about installation by Donald Judd, which will come to the Cooper-Hewitt this spring. “Miami’s gone beyond a phenomenon in the American landscape. It’s now a major cosmopolitan city, coupled with the fact that it has a spectacular beach,” says Balazs.

Even the skyline is looking more metropolitan. At 70 stories, the new Four Seasons resort opened in October, becoming the city’s tallest building. Besides a two-acre pool area and an outdoor Latin American-themed terrace bar, the hotel’s $3.3 million art collection is on display, including two huge Fernando Botero sculptures, one of which is a seated nude weighing a ton.

Art Basel will bring other impressive works to town — Robert Polidori’s Havana photographs, nature images by Evelyn Lauder, and an exhibition of artist-designed toys by Yoshitomo Nara, Laurie Simmons and Karim Rashid. But beyond the fair’s installations, the artsy set will find plenty of entertainment.

Tonight, Chloë Sevigny and Tomas Maier will host a party for Mercedes Benz, then Friday afternoon Maier, Kelly Bensimon and Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos will throw a lunch in the Bottega Veneta boutique. Saturday, Will Smith will MC a party hosted by Benedikt Taschen at the Miami Convention Center in celebration of “GOAT,” which stands for “Greatest of All Time,” the 75-pound (yes, pound) Muhammad Ali book he has just published, while tomorrow night the elite will gather for a dinner given by London art dealer Michael Hue-Williams at the former Versace mansion on Ocean Drive.

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