The Standard Spa Miami
As the cold weather is expected to hit the Hub again, Boston style maven Ricardo Rodriguez shares the secrets of warm Miami, as divulged by his friend, Southern Florida insider and style maven Louis Aguirre
Note: Fabulous videos that accompany this story can be accessed here.
By Ricardo Rodriguez
Forget what you think you know, these days Miami is much more than just a beachside resort town. The party still rages, but itís the art and design scene that rage stronger and have transformed Miami into one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Once known as the gateway to Latin America, now Miami is the gateway to the world, as people from all over the globe have rediscovered this tropical slice of paradise.
So I recruited the help of my dear friend Louis Aguirre to help us build the chicest, most amazing insider guide to this exciting new Miami. And he definitively knows best. Louis is the host of the popular South Florida entertainment TV show Deco Drive and an actor appearing on hit shows like Sex and the City, JAG, and Burn Notice. His newest project LouisList.com is a perfectly curated video insider guide to the city.
So now that the winter is in full force you might want to plan a little escape. Go ahead. This is his Miami.
WHERE TO STAY
Miami is not just a place where you can find a beautiful beach and take a stroll on Lincoln Road. It has become the host city to some of the most exciting worldwide events, like Art Basel Miami Beach and the Food & Wine Festival. This has been a total game changer, as armies of fashionistas, hipsters, and tastemakers have followed path. The hotels have been forced to up their game, as their guests now have bigger expectations.
For the perfect weekend getaway, stay on Miami Beach. Here are my top picks.
The Soho Beach House
Feel like a star, even if you're not a member of this international hipster haven. Founded in London in 1995 as a private club for those working in film, media and the arts, the Soho group established its third North American house on Miami Beach in 2010. Once the art deco Sovereign hotel (1941), now an uber chic 50 bedroom boutique beach house that is hands-down the coolest place to stay on Miami Beach.
4385 Collins Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33140-8232; 786-507-7900
W South Beach
The sexiest hotel on the beach: beautiful people, beautiful space with a permanent art collection that rivals many contemporary galleries and museums. Opening in 2009, as a condo hotel there are 334 luxury studios, suites and bungalows fully equipped with the latest modern amenities in a chic, sophisticated design.†The W is in the heart of SoBe, so all of the beachís best restaurants and nightclubs are just a walk or a short cab ride away.
2201 Collins Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33139-8232; 305-938-3000
The Standard Spa Miami
Far away from the trendy masses and thumping house beats of South Beach is this peaceful oasis of zen located on Belle Isle as you enter the Venetian Islands.
The kitchy Morris Lapidus 1960s MiMo gem, The Lido Spa is now The Standard. Itís the best bang for your buck on the beach, only 105 rooms, not fancy or super luxurious. The magic here is on the grounds: a South Beach Shangri-La with guests walking around in bathrobes, going from their rooms to the pool to the sexy coed Turkish hamam.
40 Island Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33139
WHERE TO EAT
Get off the beach! Most of the better restaurants are on the mainland.
One the most beautiful restaurants in Miami, but like Burnett's "Secret Garden," you have to find it first. There's no signage. Look behind a walled ficus hedge and iron gates, and discover the Łber romantic Casa Tua: a restored Mediterranean villa right in the heart of South Beach. The restaurant is set up like a home with several dining areas from the romantic garden terrace to the beautiful marble chef's table in the communal kitchen. La dolce vita is alive and well here.
1700 James Ave Miami Beach, FL 33139 305-673-1010
Real foodies only need apply. This is a restaurant for people who truly love to eat, period. There's no glam factor, the room is not a show palace, superstar chef Michelle Bernsteinís food hogs the spotlight and rightfully so. A James Beard winner, Bernstein's Miami roots meld perfectly with her Jewish Argentine background and French haute cuisine ťcole to create a fusion of flavorful dishes that will leave you raving.
6927 Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33138
The hottest restaurant in Miami: watering hole to the glitterarti, celebrities, the hip, the fabulous and the posers. I actually enjoy it more for lunch when it's not such a zoo. But if you want to experience the scene, look no further than the Miami satellite of this international Japanese gastro-phenom. Despite the nightly show, it's the incredible fare that's made a fan of me and keeps me coming back for more.
270 Biscayne Boulevard Way Miami,†FL†33131
Michaelís Genuine Food and Drink
A bustling American bistro in the heart of the trťs hip Miami Design District, a neighborhood teetering on becoming the SoHo of the South. Pure, fresh and simple is a mantra that has served Chef Michael Schwartz very well. When the basic ingredients of a dish are only the best, only the freshest, everything else is gravy. Lunch is a scene, dinners can be very romantic, and Sunday brunch is a hallelujah moment. You may even see God.
130 Northeast 40th Street††Miami, FL 33137
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
The fastest way to Greece from Miami. On a nice balmy night, the garden sets a magical stage for a beautiful dinner under the stars surrounded by lush bougainvilleas, candle lit votives, and real Miamians who know good food. A fusion of the best of both Greek and Turkish cuisine, itís one of my favorite restaurants in the city. This place is really special.
4312 NE 2nd Ave Miami, FL 33137
Buena Vista Deli
La vie est belle at this authentic French blounagerie/patisserie/deli. Itís very casual and very neighborhood and they serve the best croissants in Miami. They have excellent coffees, sandwiches, fresh made quiches, and homemade pastries. Cíest si bon!
4590 Northeast 2nd Ave Miami, FL 33137
WHERE TO PLAY
By all means hit the beach and party at SoBeís world famous nightclubs but to really experience Miami like a native you have to check out:
"Feed the neighborhood and it will feed you." The prolific words of developer Tony Goldman have never been more relevant. Once decaying, drug infested, and crime-ridden, now Wynwood hosts 22 blocks of the most amazing and important street art in the world. Go on a street art safari and discover Miamiís edgiest, coolest neighborhood with unique shops, art galleries, and terrific restaurants
2506 Northwest 2nd Avenue Miami, FL 33127
Miami Design District
Now ground zero for luxury shopping in Miami. No longer just a design center, this neighborhood en flux hosts the most chic boutiques in the South: Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Christian Louboutin, Celine and also boasts terrific restaurants.
Northeast 2nd Ave between 36th and 43rd Streets
Miami, FL 33137
The New World Center
Roll over Beethoven, you would've loved it here. The Frank Gehry designed architectural masterpiece has the entire world buzzing and is home to the world class New World Symphony. The NWSí cutting edge performances have garnered international attention, and have made classical music hip on South Beach. Donít miss the incredible Wallcasts where performances are projected live onto the 7000 square foot wall facing Soundscape Park, offering free concerts to all.
500 17th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Hoy Como Ayer
The best place to listen to live Latin music. More speakeasy than salsa club, spontaneous dancing will erupt and take over this Little Havana lounge. It's one of the coolest venues in Miami where you're just as likely to rub elbows with celebrities like J-Lo and Lenny Kravitz as you are the rhythm hungry locals who follow the hottest Latin beats.
2212 Southwest 8th St. Miami, FL 33135 305-541-2631
If you feel like shopping this is the place: The Webster, Miami's uber-chic luxury boutique. A three story 1939 art deco hotel now mecca to fashionistas from all over the world who flock here for the latest and greatest in designer duds and accessories, you cannot find anywhere else. 20,000 square feet of ultrahip labels like Givenchy, Balmain, Alexander Wang, Lanvin, Trussardi, Tom Ford ... you've died and gone to fashion heaven.†
1220 Collins Avenue† Miami Beach, FL 33139
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