Updated: Apr 29
As the long winter in the UK seems to be continuing to roll on through the so-called Spring, I am back in Miami enjoying an early morning breakfast complemented by clear blue skies and temperatures climbing into the 30’s.
This breakfast however isn’t like every other, as I patiently wait for my eggs I casually people watch and sip a little Mimosa at the Veranda restaurant in the extremely glamorous FAENA Hotel Miami Beach.
If you haven’t heard of the FAENA hotel you probably aren’t alone, however, this is not just a luxury hotel. When complete it will actually be a whole new cultural district covering six blocks in Miami Beach including the hotel, restaurants, a shopping complex, an arts centre and the most luxurious private residences in Miami with apartments starting at a mere $50 Million.
The man behind this new vision is Alan Faena, an Argentinian Hotelier whose vision of combining art, luxury, entertainment and service has created one stunning development that I feel is truly unique, not only in Miami but in the entire world.
This “Great Gatsby” described chap already has another FAENA Hotel in Buenos Aires, designed by the iconic designer Philippe Starck. For his Miami Beach hotel however, he enlisted the help of film director Baz Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin. Together they created a dramatic and theatrical interior which mixes the use of art and luxurious materials with finishes to make you feel as if your sat with Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge.
As I entered through the dramatic lobby, which felt like entering an Arabian Prince’s Palace, an instant aroma surrounded the entire room, reminiscent of a luxurious Middle-Eastern ‘Oud’.
The walls are adorned with opulent artwork, whilst beautiful intricate mosaic tiled floors run through the lobby. To the left, a small corridor led to an awaiting elegant but simple stand alone reception desk to greet you personally, just like a Prince’s Butler.
From the opulent lobby I was led to the Veranda Restaurant for breakfast, a fabulously over the top interior styled in red, gold and Leopard print, complete with huge light bulb chandeliers. The restaurant also offers an outdoor terrace to enjoy the Florida weather, covered with a huge striking red and gold canopy, giving the feeling of being in an exotic Moulin Rouge style tent. From here you can overlook the swimming pool and gardens in a tranquil sumptuous atmosphere.
Leading on from the Veranda is the Living Room, a relaxed cocktail lounge serving small dishes and live entertainment in the evening. Here, Leopard and Tiger statues sit among the lavish décor, huge floral arrangements surround intimate seating arrangements, all of which sit proudly under a huge bespoke chandelier.
FAENA Miami Beach features a full-scale restaurant, Pao by Paul Qui, serving modern Asian cuisine. The centrepiece to the restaurant is a striking mythical style horse statue by renowned artist Damien Hirst. The mid-century modern style furniture is combined with dark wooden parquet flooring and walls adorned with tropical 1950’s art.
The Los Fuegos restaurant by Francis Mallmann is a theatrical open air Argentine restaurant. The space is centred around a large tree glowing with tiny white LED lights and intricate hanging ornaments. The bar unit looks like its come straight off the animation pages of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Structural pillars are adorned with sea shells and coral, while the walls feature turquoise tiled "under-the-sea" murals. The signature red and gold colour scheme is replicated on the seating areas and on the parasols, giving cohesion to the rest of the property.
If it’s a late night lounge bar that tickles your pickle, FAENA Miami Beach has that one covered too, with the very suave 1940’s inspired, Saxony Bar. Named after the infamous 1948 Saxony Hotel, a tribute to the hotel buildings past, this hip bar is bathed in cool blue mood lighting with black, gold and red furnishings. I can just imagine sitting there with a ‘Slow Gin Fizz’ listening to the chilled out House beats by the in-house DJ, feeling very ‘Gatsby’ indeed.
If the bars not your thing, how about having your own theatre inside the hotel too? The FAENA Theatre is inspired by Europe’s Opera Houses, it houses their own highly acclaimed cabaret performances along with guest artists from around the world.
So, how about the rooms then? As you can imagine they range from standard rooms (if you call having a Butler for all rooms standard) to four bedroom, 2000 sq ft ‘Signature Suites’ with Ocean view balconies.
All rooms are in a 1950’s style, finished in the hotels signatures colours, red, gold and turquoise blue, complemented by handmade furniture and vintage accents. Carrara marble bathrooms with free-standing baths, Italian bed linen and flat screen HD televisions are in all rooms along with luxurious Tierra Santa bath amenities…jealous yet?
As I stroll after breakfast around the swimming pool and grounds of this stunningly beautiful hotel, I fall more and more in love with it. The pool is elegant and sophisticated, red and gold ornate sunbeds lined up with precision measurement, flanked by parasols is the signature colours. Then there is the hotel's own private section of Miami Beach just footsteps away, total luxury.
My favourite part of this hotel though has to be the huge art piece in the grounds, ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ by Damien Hirst. This glass box houses a gold gilded 3 metre tall skeletal Wooly Mammoth and in the bright Florida sunshine with a backdrop of palm trees, it oozes all the glamour to beat any of Baz Lurhmann’s theatrical movies.
As if a luxury 5 star hotel directly on Miami Beach isn’t enough, the FAENA Miami Beach also offers breath-taking private residences (if you have a spare $50 million mind) with their development FAENA House.
The group is currently renovating the FAENA Versailles Classic next-door, which will restore the 1940's Roy F France’s original art deco style Versailles Tower back to it's former glory.
Along with that. later this year the FAENA Forum will open it's doors, a 55,000 sq ft arts centre, located directly across the street from the hotel and residences.
What Alan Faena and his collaborative team have achieved with the FAENA Miami Beach is a world-class resort that not only boasts a luxury beach-front hotel, several fine dining restaurants, private residences and an art centre, but it has created a whole new district to the city of Miami.
I think the ‘The Great Gatsby’ is very much alive and well today!