MIAMI BEACH -- When the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach opened its doors
last New Year's Eve, the lobby of the restored landmark building
looked almost exactly as it had when it opened as the DiLido Hotel
50 years earlier to the day.
The black terrazzo floors, the grand staircase, the curved wall
of polished cherry wood were all there, preserved from the original
1953 hotel whose domed wall sconces cast their last glow in
It took $200 million, the supervision of the Art Deco Society of
Miami and the guidelines of the Historic Preservation District to
bring about a complete restoration of the interior of the building
at fashionable 1 Lincoln Road in the city's art deco district.
Although the society did allow the addition of three floors to
the top of the building, the Ritz retains the glory of the old
DiLido, which was designed by architect Morris Lapidus in the Art
Moderne/Miami Modern (MiMo) style.
The lobby retains many of its vintage features, but beyond that,
the hotel is fully at home in the present day -- the colorful neon
and tropical world of Miami Beach's hip South Beach district.
"We are right smack in the middle of the entertainment hub, dead
center," said the hotel's manager, Liam Doyle. "We are steps away
from the shopping on Lincoln Road, and we are right on the beach.
It's like living in Manhattan and having a beach."
With 11 stories and 375 guest rooms, including 41 suites, the
new Ritz-Carlton offers a variety of dining, nightclub and
"The design is protected, but we have beautified it and
modernized it to what a Ritz-Carlton should be on South Beach,"
said Doyle. "It's not a traditional Ritz-Carlton, it's right on the
cutting edge. Our older hotels were traditional luxury, but in our
new properties, we create a sense of place, very much in keeping
with our customers' expectations."
The new property incorporates a number of unusual touches.
Around the outdoor infinity pool, which looks out on the beach
and the ocean, two "tanning butlers" roam the pool deck with
holsters full of various suntan lotions from morning until late
afternoon, on Thursdays through Saturdays, ready to apply whatever
tanning preparations guests require.
Then, at 6 p.m., also on Thursdays through Saturdays, five water
ballerinas clad in headdresses and capes parade through the lobby
to the pool, drop their outer garments and perform a synchronized
The hotel houses two restaurants, with another scheduled for
completion next fall.
The DiLido Beach Club, a Saint-Tropez-style restaurant and
lounge, is the only dining venue in the area that is actually on
the beach. It's open to both guests and the public.
The 140-seat restaurant offers what its chef calls sun cuisine,
a blend of culinary styles from Morocco, Malta, southern Spain and
the Canary Islands.
For those who want to stick their forks more deeply into the
local culture, the 160-seat Americana restaurant serves "restyled
American" cuisine, standard national dishes with a twist.
The third restaurant, now under construction, is an
as-yet-unnamed David Bouley restaurant. Bouley is the owner of
Bouley, in New York's Tribeca district.
The hotel accommodates nightclubbers at the Lapidus Lounge,
which offers a DJ Thursday through Saturday nights.
And One LR, or One Lincoln Road -- the site of the original
DiLido Hotel front desk, where celebrities once made their grand
entrance -- is part of the center promenade and a spot to enjoy
lounge service late into the evening.
The upper floors of the hotel house an oceanview nightclub,
called South Beach Club Level, with presents live jazz.
Another noteworthy attraction of the Ritz is a $3 million art
collection, which is on permanent loan from the Diana Lowenstein
Fine Arts gallery in Miami.
The collection includes four original pieces by Joan Miro and a
160-by-121-foot mural inspired by Miro in the lower lobby.
The collection also includes a Juan Lecona mixed-media piece;
terra-cotta and stone sculptures by Xawery Wolsky; and an
18-by-95-foot mural by Xavier Calero.
The on-site spa is the first La Maison de Beaute Carita Spa
outside of Paris. It's a 16,000-square-foot facility with an
Italian mosaic-tiled shallow pool, Venetian stucco walls and
compressed bamboo floors.
The spa offers 10 kinds of massage therapies, including beach
body, deep tissue, herbal Thai, sand stone, motherhood and four
Room rates start at $349 per person, double occupancy, for a
standard room and range to $5,500 for the top-level Ritz-Carlton
For summer, the hotel is offering a South Beach Bed & Vespa
The package includes accommodations, overnight valet parking and
breakfast for two at Americana. It also includes use of a
fire-engine-red Vespa motor scooter and 20% off on spa services.
The plan is priced from $279 per person, per night, double
For more information or reservations, call (800) 241-3333 or
visit the Web at www.ritzcarlton.com.
To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].