Local flavor a big part of the appeal at the Confidante Miami Beach

Multicolored umbrellas mark the Confidante Miami Beach's exclusive spot on the sand.
Multicolored umbrellas mark the Confidante Miami Beach's exclusive spot on the sand.

Whenever I stay at the beach, I always intend to rise early for a walk. As a guest at the Confidante Miami Beach, I actually did.

I grabbed a cup of locally roasted Panther coffee in the lobby and headed out through the hotel's "backyard" to the four-mile-long Miami Beach Boardwalk. The wide, wooden walkway is partially shaded from the morning sun by stands of sea grapes and frequented during the 8 o'clock hour by swift runners, slow walkers, models with production crews and a handful of healthy-looking feral cats. It also provides a good vantage point to spy on the backyards of other beachfront hotels and to watch the beach itself come to life in preparation for another day in paradise.

The beachfront at the Confidante Miami Beach looks unlike all the others. Anchored by the lime, seafoam and fluorescent yellow of the 41st Street lifeguard tower, it is a sea of popsicle-colored umbrellas in pastel shades of red, turquoise and yellow. The art deco palette repeats in the hotel's backyard pool deck (one pool for families and another for adults), cabanas and bungalows, signaling the hotel's character: playful over pretentious, fun rather than fancy, stylish but not stuffy, historical but never haughty.

The reason for my hosted visit was to show off the completion of the multiphase renovation of all of the hotel's second-floor meetings spaces and the super-stylish Carmen Miranda Ballroom and oceanview terrace. The hotel's many spaces -- including the historical 1930s House, an events space that has been relocated to the hotel's backyard and fully restored -- offer groups a large array of options for creating memorable gatherings all on one property.

The midbeach location is perfect for guests who've outgrown the party scene of South Beach but still want to embrace South Florida's energy and vibe. The style-forward Confidante Miami Beach -- its interior was designed by the same team behind the nearby Soho Beach House -- taps into its proximity to Wynwood and the Miami Design District (both are right on the other end of the Julia Tuttle Causeway) to bring elements of those neighborhoods' creative entrepreneurs to the guest experience.

The most obvious example is the art-filled walls on the main floor. The property showcases the work of a different Miami artist every eight weeks, launching each exhibit with an opening reception. It's a way of keeping a little Art Basel (now known as Miami Art Week) all year long.

The spirit of celebrating the local appears throughout. There are frozen treats, including handmade paletas from Cielito Artisan Pops and cups of Azucar Ice Cream from Little Havana that fill the roving Confidante Cart by the pool, and colorful truffles by Exquisito Chocolates (also from Little Havana). Exquisito also supplies an organic cacao scrub used in a treatment at the rooftop Spa at the Confidante.  A coffee bar featuring Panther beans is as central to the lobby as is the bar.

Local illustrator Josefina Fernandez created a sassy coloring book that is now a check-in amenity (along with a collection of colored pencils) for VIPs and groups using the meetings space. The Confidante Miami Beach has even partnered with local business Bikini on Demand to deliver bathing suits, cover-ups and flip-flops to the hotel within 60 minutes of ordering, a fun way of bringing some Miami flavor to guests without them having to leave the property.

As the kitchen is the heart of a home, the hotel's restaurant, Bird & Bone, by South Florida son and frequent Food Network chef Richard Hales is in many ways the heart of the Confidante Miami Beach. Bird & Bone is positioned at the very center; you are more likely to walk through it than you are the lobby during your stay and will be regularly greeted by the servers. The menu is filled with tasty dishes to be enjoyed indoors or out as well as poolside, at the beach or in room; I ordered steak tacos every chance I got. The same kitchen also oversees all banquet services.

The restaurant's warm vibe is not an accident. Hales was as focused on hospitality as the menu when considering opening his restaurant at the hotel. For instance, during the courting stage with Hyatt, he invited the executive team to his home and cooked the first version of his award-winning and signature Bird & Bone fried chicken while his kids played and swam in the pool. "This is how I want it to feel," he told them.

The property is a wonderful example of adaptive reuse, mixing original terrazzo floors with bold patterned carpets. Fitting a new hotel in old buildings means that few rooms are exactly the same, but they've all been decorated from the same design toolbox that blends light and dark with bold colors and eye-catching light fixtures and playful choices of tile, carpet and upholstery. Its original building was the first modern skyscraper on Miami Beach when completed in 1940 and opened as the Lord Tarleton Hotel. That's when a radio tower was installed on the rooftop to receive messages from the airport that VIP guests were on their way. Today that's achieved by using the Zingle app, enabling hotel management to interface with top-tier guests before and during their stay.

Hyatt bought the property from Thompson Miami Beach in 2016 and rebranded it as a member of Hyatt's Unbound Collection, a free pass to create a one-of-a-kind hotel. There is no visible Hyatt branding, and most guests will view the Confidante Miami Beach as a boutique hotel, albeit one with 394 rooms (it never seems that large). However, guests and agents alike benefit from the Hyatt marketing platforms.

For instance, guests can earn and use their World of Hyatt loyalty program points, and travel advisors benefit from the agent portal that offers deep discounts for personal visits and perks, such as a commission up to 15% when booking suites (of which there are 14) for clients. Another appealing platform for agents is Hyatt Prive, a travel advisor program rolled out in 2018 that is available by invite only. Prive enables agents to extend value-added perks to their clients, including a $100 resort credit, daily breakfast buffet, a room upgrade, early check-in or extended late checkout. Interested agents are advised to talk to their Hyatt representative about Prive membership.

Low-season rates at the Confidante Miami Beach start at $150 for 2019. A $30 daily resort fee includes pool and beach cushioned lounge chairs and towels, weekend fitness classes (yoga on Saturdays and kickboxing on Sundays) and access to bicycles and helmets to explore the area.


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