If you're going to welcome much of the design world's elite — as MiamiBeach does each year for prestigious gatherings including Art Basel Miami Beach, and DesignMiami — your hotels, restaurants and hotspots must go beyond the ordinary to woo discerning attendees.
With such forward-thinking creatives like Rem Koolhaas, Baz Luhrmann and Lenny Kravitz leading the charge, it's easy to recognize why Miami is on every trendsetter's must-visit list.
This past December, Kravitz attended Art Basel Miami Beach in support of his "Flash" photography exhibit; but, in case you missed the fair, his design work is permanently on display at the SLS South Beach where his firm, Kravitz Design, curated the Tower and Villa Penthouses in a style fit for the sultriest rock star (think rich earth tones, gold accents, and exotic skins). Fine art will also feature heavily in SLS' two upcoming properties, SLS Hotel & Residences Brickell, with interiors by Philippe Starck; and SLS Lux, which will include a museum-worthy art collection including a Fabian Burgos mural and a massive Botero "Male Torso" bronze sculpture.
Following the trend of rock-meets-design, the new Faena Hotel Miami Beach re-imagines the former Saxony Hotel, known as the "Queen of Collins Avenue," and a popular hangout for Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. It recently received the star treatment when developers Alan Faena and Len Blavatnik recruited Hollywood heavies director Baz Luhrmann and Academy Award-winning costume designer (Moulin Rouge) Catherine Martin to infuse the hotel with Art Deco panache. Also inside, Rem Koolhaas created the Faena Bazaar retail space and Faena Forum: part of the overall Faena District Miami Beach, the city's highly anticipated cultural hub. Says Blavatnik, "Today we are recreating the glamour of the nineteen fifties but at a twenty-first-century level, something that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world."
Elsewhere on the beach, hotelier Ian Schrager's new The Miami Beach Edition has already welcomed a wealth of stars, including singer Ellie Goulding and Rose McGowan who stopped by during Basel; and Questlove, who starred at the hotel's state-of-the-art-setting club, Basement, during the New Year holiday. Included in the out-of-this-world nightlife setting are an ice-skating rink, bowling alley, and a new Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant: Matador Room serving the star chef's distinctive modern interpretation of Latin cuisine influenced by Spanish, Caribbean and South American flavors.
The newest hotspot in town is Nautilus. This Jason Pomeranc-helmed resort welcomes many of the world's leading style setters, such as Derek Blasberg, for its nightly theme parties. A reinterpretation of Morris Lapidus' original 1950s-era Nautilus Hotel, the new Nautilus reintroduces the "beach club" experience to modern-day Miami while preserving classic elements such as the original property's landmarked "Stairway to Nowhere." Look for chef Alex Guarnaschelli's dining options — Driftwood Room, Cabana Club, and Lobby Bar — plus a gallery-worthy art collection.
High design isn't limited to hotels — restaurants and nightlife destinations also raise the bar, both figuratively and literally, such as nightclub impresario David Grutman's new, multi-level Komodo, that features suspended bird nest-like VIP tables. Restaurateur Stephen Starr channels the bright lights of Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue at his two new Miami restaurants, Continental, a Miami-fied take on his Philadelphia original complete with a Shawn Hausman Design (Chateau Marmont, The Standard Hotel) interior; and Le Zoo, his Paris-bistro-meets-Miami destination at the city's famed Bal Harbour Shops.
And don't miss the off the main drag dining destinations, like Bodega Taqueria y Tequila, that attracts a colorful crowd for its traditional Mexican taco truck cuisine and other South-of-the-Border touches like bar stools made from low-rider bicycle seats, Día de los Muertos skeletons and lucha libre masks, all in a retrofitted Airstream.