For incredible sights, North America is queen of the beauty pageant; a contestant blessed with an abudance of variety and plenty of pure “K.O.” wow appeals. From the California beaches and the redwood forests to Nevada’s canyons and mountains; from Arizona’s expansive deserts to palm trees and clear waters of Florida Keys. It would take a lifetime to see and appreciate all of the USA’s natural wonders. Then you add a smattering of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the World- shopping, nightlife, amazing restaraunts, museums, galleries, and more iconic sights than your camera has memory to fit in – and you have just scarped the barrel of what lies ahead for your US adventure. We start our journey down south in Miami’s illustrious South Beach District. You ready?
[divider]SLS Hotel South Beach [/divider]
Situated in the playground of the rich and famous, this luxurious boutique hotel is a playful concoction of sophistication, elegance and exemplary service right on the beach, just minutes from Ocean Drive. The designers at SLS South Beach have dispensed with a traditional lobby area and opted instead for a Tepanyaki station, hosting live culinary performances conjured up by creative duo Jose Andres and Master Sshi Chef Katsuya Uechi. More than just a menu, guests at the SLS South Beach are given a ticket to an unforgettable culinary experience.
Evoking the 18th Century decadence of the French aristocracy, the rooms are inspired by Louis XV and his infamous mistress, Madame de Pompadour. With their own private stairway heading directly into the pool, the luxurious cabanas are an absolute must. Elegant and luxuriously feminine, with an added contemporary edge, this accommodation really is fit for royalty.
When it opened in 1995 the Delano must have set a world record for the number of press inches to a new hotel. Journalists not normally easily impressed waxed lyrical about the white rooms, the white marble, the white-clad staff and the all-white spa. Starck’s design for the Delano’s public spaces has achieved the status that all architects and designers long for: recognition as a ‘classic.’
With soaring ceiling height and forest of imposing columns, it offers great visual drama. Ten years on, this place has still got what it takes – Messieurs Starck and Schrager take a bow. Head to the Florida Room where a Lucite grand piano has been played by music legends like Kenny Kravitz and Jamie Foxx. Make a u-Turn to the Agua Spa offering state-of-the-art spa treatmentss aimed at rejuvenating the body, mind and spirit. The Delano is on Collins Avenue with direct access to the beach. Collins Avenue offers more restaurants, bars and nightclubs in a row than any other area of South Beach and still has the Latin energy that makes the city such a hot destination.
Miami is the perfect gateway to some spectacular beaches. There is Florida’s own island chain, the Keys, within a very easy drive. It’s also just a short hop to some Caribbean Islands – the Bahamas – just one hour’s onward flight and you could be following in the footsteps of 007 at The One&Only Ocean Club.
[divider]Mondrian South Beach[/divider]
The Mondrian South Beach is a curved piece of Modernist architecture with an interior designed by controversial Marcel Wanders. The style is definitely post-Minimalist with a sophisticated colour palette of gold, black and white. With his trademark chandelier throughout, comfort in the sensual sense is given centre stage inside and out.
The huge pool with private cabanas and individual plunge pools, surrounded by a lush garden, lounge areas, secret pathways and kissing areas is definitely not your average pool. The setting is straight out of CSI: Miami, the silhouettes of down town Miami is behind the expansive blue waters of Biscayne Bay. Because it faces west it also has the sunsets; best watched with a mojito in hand from the bayside bar or private rooftop bar. Or watch the sunset descending into the horizon of Miami’s skyline on the hotel’s Sunset Lounge while you try a signature Milk and Honey treatment at the Agua Spa.
[divider]W South Beach [/divider]
The rehabilitation of Miami South Beach continues unabated. With ten continuous miles of beach front it will be long time before this part of the world has no more room for expansion. Woth each new property the stakes go up. Whereas cutting-edge design has been the norm for at least a decade and a half, cutting-edge architecture is the new benchmark and the W South Beach has set the bar very high.
The name of the game in today’s Miami is features; lots of features. You are not a ‘player’ unless you have at least more than on e of everything. The W. not surprisingly, has six bars, two very large public pools, and a handful of private pools, two restaurants of different themes, state-of-the-art spa on three levels, a monumental gym, a W store, oh and 334 rooms.
In this neck of the woods, they offer three distinct alternatives, the large all American luxury air-conditioned shopping mall of Bal Harbour; the slightly more eclectic collection of shops dotted all the way along Lincoln Road Mall; and the more ‘surf dude’ oriented shopping experience just off Ocean Drive. Welcome to W South Beach.
The whole of the ground floor, leading all the way to the beach, has been turned into one seamless nocturnal play zone for grown-ups. The lightning is low, with a few thousand candles; the music is seductive and the design is a mix of every ethnic style that has ever contributed to the culture of chilling out – Greek tavern stools, Moroccan daybeds, Rajasthani palace chairs, African tribal stool, cushions and more cushions in Hare Krishna colours. Rooms are loaded with the latest high-tech options, as well as more old-fashioned creature comforts such as plnty of closet space and enormous bathrooms.