Island Outpost hits Miami Beach trifecta

Cruise editor Rebecca Tobin took a peek at some of Miami Beach's hottest hotel properties while traveling through the city. Her report follows:

he Island Outpost hotel chain doesn't shy away from being fresh and funky. That's the image it embraces.

In hip Miami Beach, the chain's three art deco hotels, all within a block of each other, fit right in, although each has its own personality, according to an Island Outpost's spokesman.

"The Tides is our high-priced [offering]; the Marlin is our rock 'n' roll hotel; and the Kent is hip and affordable," he said.

The Tides, at 1220 Ocean Drive, is the company's flagship Miami hotel, and you know it when you first walk into the sophisticated lobby.

All of the 45 guest rooms are spacious and decorated in neutral shades. The hotel originally had 150 rooms. The rooms were reconfigured, making them larger and giving each an ocean view.

The Lucite Suite at the Kent Hotel in Miami Beach, where most of the furniture is made of clear plastic. Each of the hotels has "toys" in the rooms, and the Tides' rooms come equipped with Aveda products, CDs and a telescope (for optimal beach viewing). And what's that minty smell in the air? It's a soothing scent that's piped into each of the rooms, the spokesman said.

The Tides also has an upscale restaurant, 1220, which serves "progressive American" cuisine; i.e. American food with a twist -- such as chef Roger Ruch's tuna, salmon and smoked marlin tartare.

If your clients make reservations, suggest that they sit at one of the outside tables, which are perfect for people-watching, but away from the noisy music of the bar next door.

Up the block, the Marlin is literally a rock-star hangout. The hotel has its own recording studio.

"We've had Mick [as in Jagger] and Nelly [the rap star] coming in for a few weeks at a time," the spokesman noted as we breezed through the silver-and-gray lobby/bar, which features nightly entertainment ranging from visiting DJs to reggae and rock acts.

The hotel caters to weekenders but also to clients who are in Miami for extended stays: Each of the 12 suites has a fully equipped kitchen. Room rates start at $210.

The coolest room here -- and one favored by the celebs -- is the Palm Suite. It stretches across the front of the hotel and has a kitchen with brightly colored crockery, a pool table, plenty of lounge space, two bedrooms and a bathroom that looks like an underwater grotto. Rack rates for the Palm Suite start at $1,500 a night.

After getting enough of that star-power-by-proximity vibe, we headed to the Kent, which is the budget hotel of the trio. The rooms here are decorated in purple and lavender. And there was that barely-there therapeutic scent again.

The Kent doesn't have a restaurant or a bar, but it does have a private garden (the hotel describes it as an "acid jungle") with bright orange loungers.

The standout room at the Kent is the Lucite Suite. As its name suggests, practically everything in the room -- chairs, tables and bar -- is designed from the see-through plastic material.

At the Kent, however, clients can reserve this room for a fifth of the price of the Palm Suite: $350 per night, which makes it a funky alternative for throwing an evening event or a small party.

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