Luxury defined at the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour

An oceanfront deluxe suite at the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour with a view of the ocean and Haulover Cut.

Bal Harbour has become synonymous with luxury, one of the world's most fashionable addresses — and all the more remarkable for a village of less than 3,000 residents whose exquisite ocean-to-bay enclave encompasses barely 1 square mile on a barrier isle along the Atlantic.

Born of the speculative Florida fever in the 1920s, Bal Harbour was the dream of Detroit-based industrialists working with urban planners who envisioned an oceanfront paradise notable for "luxurious leisure" in the words of Bal Harbour's first "ultramodern" luxury hotel, which opened in 1946.

Luxury has many meanings, of course. For some, it might mean private elevators opening onto onyx-lined vestibules, for example. Or a pair of waterfront balconies: one for sunrise, another for sunset. A welcome gift from Louis Vuitton. A fragrant bouquet of white roses and calla lilies. Such are the luxuries that welcome you into the world of the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour.

Housed in an 18-story, glass-and-steel curvilinear tower that opened in 2008 on the northern tip of Bal Harbour Village, the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour offers panoramic water views from 95 suites.

At nearly 1,200 square feet, the hotel's suites function as full-service apartments with gourmet kitchens that include Sub-Zero appliances, Illy espresso machine, dishwasher and convection oven. An honor bar is stocked with small batch spirits and artisanal mixers — and proper stemware.

In recent years, Miami has become the ascendant player in the world of contemporary art, thanks to Art Basel Miami Beach, Perez Art Museum Miami and the new Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, alongside Miami Beach's recently renovated Bass Museum of Art. In keeping with the city's patronage of the arts, the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour holds a multimillion-dollar collection of 400 artworks with site-specific commissions by Ed Moses, Richard Deutsch and Guy Dill, whose 33-foot, three-story bronze sculpture on the oceanfront terrace has been the locale for numerous nuptials.

Relaxation is encouraged around the resort's infinity-edge pool, and particularly within the luxury cabanas, where private plunge pools are complemented by personal attendants. Should you tire of your personal sanctum, the 10,000-foot, waterfront Exhale Spa is an oasis of well-being that offers acupuncture, yoga, barre and a full menu of indulgent treatments.

A 10-minute stroll from the hotel, Bal Harbour Shops has exemplified luxury retail since opening in 1965. Today, the collection of 100 luxury brands set amid a tropical garden setting generates the highest sales per square foot in the U.S. A feast for the eyes, the verdant retail oasis is equivalent to an ongoing catwalk of conspicuous consumption modeled by socialites and celebs.

For another take on flamboyance, the hotel's Artisan Beach House serves sunset cocktails at its daily Social Hour. With a Smoked Rum & Coke in hand and the fiery sky exploding in shades of fuchsia, pink and orange, it's easy to see why Bal Harbour and Miami Beach have been designated as the American Riviera.

Bordered by Haulover Cut at the tip of Miami Beach, the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour is midway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airports, as well as Port Miami and Port Everglades. Room rates in high season start at $1,099, with low season rates starting at $699.


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