Byline: Georgia Lee
REVISITING THE CLASSICS
There will be plenty more beds in Miami.
Ongoing renovations of classic properties and a host of new world-class hotel openings, will bring a total of 8,000 new hotel rooms to town over the next two years.
The new names are impressive — three Ritz Carltons will open, for example, in Miami Beach, Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove. Downtown, the Hong Kong-based Mandarin Oriental opened last month, and it will be followed next year by a Four Seasons.
In South Beach, one of the most impressive of the current Art Deco district hotel renovations, Hotel Nash, opened in December 1999. Located on Collins Ave., in the heart of South Beach, the original 1935 classic underwent an $8 million facelift that maintained the charm of the old space.
The restored lobby, with plush club chairs, stone wainscotting, the original terrazzo floors and a museum-style concierge desk, features a video and DVD library for guests. The 55 guest rooms have a soothing sage green and ivory color scheme and furnishings inspired by the South of France in the Forties. Although smack in the middle of South Beach, the hotel’s self-contained garden and three outdoor spa pools — saltwater, freshwater and mineral water — are a cool respite from the nonstop action.
Miami Beach’s revival is going beyond Art Deco to recapture the glory days of the Fifties and Sixties. The landmark Eden Roc hotel, designed the architect responsible for the famous Fontainebleau hotel next door, recently underwent a $24 million restoration. Maintaining key elements, the lobby’s rotunda has a dramatic, backlit fleur-de-lis-patterned ceiling. The streamlined, swirling bar and plush crescent-shape sofas are so lush that one expects to see a member of the Rat Pack, once-upon-a-time notorious regulars here, sipping a martini.
The Eden Roc added a new 35,000-square-foot Lifestyles Wellness Center. With the usual workout and pampering services, as well as chiropractic evaluations, acupuncture, nutrition analysis and yoga classes, the spa is a big hit in a city that adores physical perfection.
A slew of new clubs is making flamboyance an art form here.
Level, an old Art Deco theater-turned-nightclub opened recently, along with its brand new sister club Vivid. Typical of the action was a recent “Studio 54” Thursday at Level.
A Thanksgiving-Day-parade-size float parked outside featured scantily clad models — highlighted by cowgirls in red leather cowboy chaps exposing their derrieres and a loin-clothed Tarzan riding an elephant. Preceding the float were a dozen bagpipe players at full blast. All this heralded the arrival of VIPs, including co-owner Gerry Kelly, the South Beach nightclub king, and a bevy of local stars.
Crowbar, one of the latest and most surreal entries, is a fantasy cocktail of equal parts Dali, Cocteau and Fellini, opened by a Chicago group, Big Time Productions, a few months ago.
“Angels” hover and swoop down into the crowd on bungee cords from the 35-foot ceiling, while stilt-perched harlequins weave through the dance floor. High tech lights and images pulsate from catwalks, contrasting private curtained rooms.
And, if all this needed a theme to make it exciting — Monday night’s “Back Door Bamby,” is a “lounge a-go-go” favorite.