MIAMI BEACH --
Ocean Drive was once the be-all and end-all of South Beach chic,
but as the mass-market continues to encroach on the strip, some are
now heading to the quieter far reaches of the neighborhood.
More and more
tour buses are bearing down on the tiny art moderne boutique hotels
opposite the beach at Lummus Park as well as the almost completely
gentrified and occupied adjacent streets.
So hipsters --
along with hotel developers, nightclub owners and restaurateurs --
are relocating to still-undeveloped and quieter blocks north of
popular, palm-lined Lincoln Road.
prospective residents, meanwhile, look south of Fifth Street, where
a sprouting forest of gleaming condominium skyscrapers has earned
the area the new moniker Miami Manhattan.
Ocean Drive is
over, said one executive with a new hotel along the newly in
stretch of Collins Avenue north of Lincoln Road. That road is now
home to the citys most popular designer properties, such as the
Delano -- granddaddy of area design hotels -- the Shore Club, the
Albion, the Raleigh and the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, which is
housed in the historic DiLido Hotel designed by Morris
The tsunami of
revitalization on this once-derelict, southern tip of Miami Beach,
which first crashed on the citys shores back in the late 1980s
along Ocean Drive, is lapping at the
last undeveloped corners of the neighborhood.
But as the hoi
polloi hasnt caught on yet, travelers clued into the trend can
enjoy all the glitter of South Beach far from the maddening
For example, the
area around Collins Park -- generally considered the northern
boundary of South Beach, between 21st and 22nd streets -- is now a
hotbed of hotel, club and restaurant activity.
include the chic Mynt Lounge, the rougher-and-tougher Rok Bar --
owned by rock drummer Tommy Lee -- the Sky Bar at the Shore Club
Resort and Japanese eatery Nobu.
On tap for summer
2005: a local outlet of Asian restaurant chain Mr. Chow, and, of
course, the familiar dining and shopping pleasures of Lincoln Road
are a short walk away.
accommodations include the boutique-style Abbey Hotel (see Room
Key); the cheap-chic Townhouse, a Design Hotels property; and the
towering, unmistakable Setai, a mixed-use, 40-story condominium and
hotel to soft-open on the beachfront at 21st Street this
is ideal for the culturally attuned and the business traveler, as
its home to the Bass Museum of Art, Miami City Ballet, Jackie
Gleason Theater and Miami Beachs convention center.
But it wasnt too
long ago that this district, now the citys cultural campus, still
resembled the drug- and crime-ridden South Beach immortalized in
the film Scarface.
director of sales and marketing at the 50-room Abbey, said many of
the surrounding buildings were used as crack houses until
When our owners,
Keith Space and Martin Scaserra, bought this hotel seven years ago,
this area was still what Id call funky, she said. They were among
the first to come to this area -- at a time when even the Bass
needed upgrading -- and tackle one of these old hotels with a
A $3 million
gutting and overhaul transformed the three-story property from a
crumbling home for the aged, painted in pealing pinks, blues and
golds, into a Miami-worthy, postmodern hostelry in white fabrics
and dark woods.
Abbey, originally built in 1940 in a nautical style, is popular
with gay and lesbian travelers, overseas visitors and business
travelers working in the arts, music and fashion.
Aware of the wave
of area development theyre partly responsible for starting, Space
and Scaserra are keeping pace with a program of property
improvements at the Abbey.
This year, studio
rooms are getting upgrades of furniture, bathrobes and
refrigerators. In addition, the owners are remodeling the hotels
front porch, which faces Collins Park, into a lounge-type
Its going to be
what Id call cozy, as were trying to avoid the too-trendy, easily
dated style thats all too prevalent in South Beach, said
Beach trend the Abbeys still managing to buck is ever-increasing
noise. Despite the recent spurt in development, the blocks north of
Lincoln Road remain oases of nocturnal calm, compared to the
all-night honking and honky-tonk between Sixth and 14th
hoteliers will retain tranquility as a major selling point remains
to be seen, what with massive new residental and hotel properties
like the Setai slated for opening.
But even GMH
Hotels, developer and manager of that 75-room, 50-suite hotel, is
touting its property -- situated in the Dempsey Vanderbilt, a
restored 1936 art deco hotel adjacent to the residential skyscraper
at Collins Avenue and 20th Street -- as tranquil.
resort will open in two phases, with the suites, spa facility and
one swimming pool to open by Dec. 31 and the remainder of rooms and
facilities to debut in April.
One-, two- and
three-bedroom suites will be situated with condos in the new tower
-- one of the tallest buildings in Miami Beach -- while standard
rooms will be in the Dempsey Vanderbilt.
hotels Asian theme with South Beach, the restored hotel lobby will
feature bricks from Shanghai, a city also noted for a strong art
In other South
Beach news, the Mexico-based Brisas Hotels and Resorts has taken
over management of the refurbished Dorset Miami Beach hotel, its
first venture outside Mexico. The 52-room boutique hotel was
renamed the Las Brisas South Beach.
Hotels now open
or opening in the up-and-coming north section of South Beach
Hotel: 1650 James Ave. at Lincoln Road. Luxury, 96 rooms.
(305) 913-1000; www.rubellhotels.com.
Hotel: 1685 Collins Ave. at 16th Street. Luxury, 208
rooms. (800) 606-6090, (305) 672-2000; www.ianschragerhotels.com.
Greenview Hotel: 1617 Washington Ave. at
Lincoln Road. Moderate, 43 rooms. (305) 513-6588; www.rubellhotels.com.
Brisas South Beach -- the Dorset: 1720 Collins Ave. at
17th Street. 52 rooms. (305) 938-6000; www.dorsetmiamibeach.com.
Hotel: 1775 Collins Ave. at 18th Street. Luxury, 111
rooms. (305) 534-6300; www.ra leighhotel.com.
Setai: 2001 Collins Ave. at 20th Street. Luxury, 75 rooms,
50 suites, penthouse. (305) 520-6000; www.setai.com.
Shore Club: 1901 Collins Ave. at 19th Street. Luxury, 325
rooms, 70 suites, seven bungalows, three executive suites, one penthouse. (305) 695-3100; www.shoreclub.com.
Townhouse: 150 20th St. at Collins Avenue.
Moderate, 70 rooms, including two penthouses. (877) 534-3800; www.townhousehotel.com.
reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].