A 70-year-old South Beach Diva gets a face-lift

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The Tides Hotel in Miamis South Beach, nicknamed The Diva of Ocean Drive, was purchased in January by the Kor Hotel Group, a Los Angeles-based real estate development and management firm, which plans a $7 million upgrade on the classic art deco property.

The renovations are scheduled to take place July through September, Floridas low season. The hotel will continue to operate during the refurbishment, said General Manager Jan Rosenveld, with a few floors at a time closed for construction. There will be a vacant buffer floor between the construction and occupied guest rooms to insulate guests from noise.

Guest rooms, public spaces, the pool and the front terrace will be upgraded. The changes will be cosmetic; no structural changes will be made.

The redesign of the guest rooms, restaurant and public spaces is being directed by Kelly Wearstler, an interior designer and author of the books Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style and Domicilium Decoratus, which discuss and show photographs of her work.  

Wearstler is known for many striking designs, including the Bergdorf Goodman Restaurant overlooking Central Park in New York and the Hard Rock High Roller Suite in Las Vegas.

The design elements have not been finalized, Kor said, but Wearstlers work leaves few in doubt as to the quality of the result. Her design for the Tides is eagerly anticipated, said Victoria Del Rico, a spokeswoman for Kor Hotels.

Built in 1936, the Tides is one of Ocean Drives proud art deco classics. At 10 stories, it is the largest hotel on the strip, with a massive limestone and stucco front.

It was designed by L. Murray Dixon, one of the architectural giants who gave South Beach its unique style.

Dixon designed a number of other South Beach art deco hotels, including the Victor, the Raleigh, the Marlin, the Senator and the Ritz Plaza.

The Tides maintains a chic image and has hosted such luminaries as Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx and Paris Hilton, according to Rozenveld.

Celebrities like to stay here because its away from hustle and bustle of Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, he said. Its a nice little hotel that exudes a pleasant quietness that one would like to have on vacation.

The Tides last major renovation, a $35 million refit completed in 1997, converted the hotels original 115 rooms into 45 more spacious units, including seven junior suites and three penthouses, all at least 550 square feet.

All rooms stretch from the front to the back of the building, giving each an ocean view.

We have the largest rooms in the area, and all have ocean views, overlooking Lummus Park straight onto beach, said Rozenveld. Rooms are very bright, with a big picture window overlooking the ocean. And the waving palm trees dont hurt anything.

The Tides exterior is protected under the historic-preservation laws of the Art Deco District.

Kor, which has been managing the property since November 2004, plans to blend the classic art deco style with a crisp, high-tech aesthetic in the interior.

Atop the building are three penthouses named Goldeneye, Firefly and Terra Nova, each with private sundecks and Jacuzzis, two bathrooms and 46-inch plasma TVs with DVD players.

The hotel offers high-speed wireless Internet access, chairs and umbrellas on the beach, a heated pool and access to a full gym.

Guest rooms come equipped with 42-inch, flat-screen TVs with DVD players; Bose Wave CD players with a selection of CDs; minibars; telescopes; three phones with voicemail, including one cordless; fax and modem capabilities; an iron and ironing board; a hair dryer; bathrobes and slippers; and spacious bathrooms with vanity areas.

A broad terrace in front of the building looks out upon Ocean Drive and the beach across the street.

The hotel also features a restaurant called 1220 at the Tides, which spills out onto the terrace, and a bar, the 1220 Bar. There also is a bar at the pool. The kitchen provides 24-hour room service.

The restaurant and bar will change a lot with the renovation, said Del Rico. 1220 has already changed a lot. The food is more contemporary, more fun. We are pushing the small plates, lots of great seafood, the Caribbean influence. Its for the sophisticated traveler, but fun.

For Kor, the purchase of the Tides marks its eastward expansion, its first purchase on the East Coast.

Kor now plans to appropriate the name Tides as a new brand, applying it to a property being constructed on Mexicos Mayan Riviera: the Tides Playa del Carmen.

Besides the Tides, Kor owns six boutique hotels in California; manages the Jefferson in Washington, D.C., and two Sheraton-branded hotels in California; and has four Viceroy-branded properties under construction: in Anguilla, Miami, Miami Beach and in Mexicos Riviera Maya.

Room rates at the Tides start at $550 a night during the high season and drop to $410 a night in summer.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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