Reimagined Luxury in the Heart of Miami’s Art Deco District
By Kimberly Wilson
In a city that rivals Las Vegas for hotels, nightlife and dining, Miami constantly delivers when it comes to having a good time. Miami however, is giving Vegas a run for its money because there is something that they don’t have: the Shelborne Miami Beach. When searching for a hotel that encapsulated both the diverse, multi-faceted, welcoming philosophy embedded in Miami culture, as well as my own feelings toward life, luxury and the pursuit of travel, I knew that I’d made the right decision at the Shelborne. Of course a beach side location, luxury accommodation, killer swimming pool and amazing dining doesn’t hurt as well.
Background on the Shelborne
Originally erected in 1940 by architect Igor Polevitsky and updated in the 1950s by Miami Modern mastermind, Morris Lapidus, the Shelborne stands in the heart of the Art Deco District of Miami. The recent $90 million project completely changed the game however. The renovation touched just about every part of the 200-room property which reopened its doors in 2014 as now the Shelborne Wyndham Grand, at 1801 Collins Ave. Upgrades include a completely redone guest rooms; an apothecary-themed “drawing room” where the historic lobby once stood; a transformed entrance; more meeting space, a new spa and a new bar concept. In the heart of the busiest stretch of South Beach, Shelborne guests also get their own reserved area of sand with dedicated sun-loungers.
The Shelborne is up there with the best of the batch when it comes to luxury properties. So it’s not surprise that I felt right at home as soon as I stepped through its doors. Set right in the heart of South Beach, the property provides a party vibe both inside and out. The stylish, high-energy, oceanfront hotel features guest rooms that are not only modern, but spacious as well. The bathroom, while small and basic, is also sleek and functional. Not to mention some of the best products you may ever find in a hotel guestroom!
The staff at the Shelborne was friendly, accommodating and efficient. As soon as my Uber pulled up to the hotel’s entrance, staffers were waiting to open my door, grab my bags and ask for my name. I was then escorted to the front desk and announced that I had arrived. Though the lobby was busy, I didn’t wait for more than a minute or two to be checked into my room.
Though the Shelborne’s formal sit-down restaurant the Sarsaparilla Club has yet to open (slated for 2016), I was able to enjoy a few other dining options. First, there was the Oasis Grill, which is a poolside restaurant for those looking for a quick bite. I ordered the trio of tacos, and let me tell you: they were some of the best tacos I’ve had in my life! Also, when I wanted to save time getting ready to hit the town on my second night, I decided to order in with the hotel’s room service. For a nightcap, I enjoyed the signature “elixirs” a The Drawing Room, the Shelborne’s eclectic lobby bar with the apt Lapidus maxim, “Too much is never enough.” Cocktails are listed on the menu as “house medicines” and divided into categories, like Aphrodisiacs, Stimulants and Euphoric Enhancers. They’re created with local fruits, herbs and botanicals, and are purported to have medicinal benefits, so you actually have good reason to indulge in a few drinks.
The best part about vacation is the times that you get to do just that…relax. So, to say that I was excited about getting a spa treatment (a massage) at the Shelborne spa is an understatement. The spa is an oasis where guests can indulge in the many amenities this soothing spa has to offer. Upon walking in, the one-person front desk receptionist is very welcoming with a warm and friendly smile. The relaxation room, lockers and showers are equipped with plenty of fresh linens, toiletries and refreshing waters. Once I actually went into my treatment, I was delighted by the A+ service. So much so, that I returned the next day to get a second treatment! This time, a manicure and pedicure.
Set in an ideal, central location, the Shelborne Miami Beach is just what a boutique beach property in Miami should be: sexy, cool, trendy and fun. This is definitely at the top of the list when it comes to “must-visit” Miami properties.
Kimberly is a NYC-based editor, writer and social media strategist. She also moonlights as the editor of Travel Noire.