Livin’ la Vida Loca - Miami Beach

As an annual follow-up to my travel blog series, Fresh and Contemporary at the Crosby Street Hotel NYC, Sex and the City - Chicago Style, and Taking a Cue from Vanity Fair Magazine - NYC Re-Visited, I bring you more design inspiration in the form of a travel blog this time from Miami - South Beach.  Yup my gal pals and I hit the town "Livin' la Vida Loca" as coined by Puerto Rican singer, Ricky Martin.  Here are my thoughts on the highlights of what we saw and did.

I was uber excited to stay in The Tides South Beach as it was designed by my all time favorite interior designer, Kelly Wearstler.  Love her for her glamorous and dramatic interiors and interesting color palettes! Although the decor was superb, the service was less so.  Perhaps this could be attributed to the change in ownership having formerly been managed by the Viceroy as opposed to the now King and Groves.  It is definitely worth a peak into the lobby, even if you opt not to stay. Color palette is unusually subtle for Wearstler with tones of beige, blush pink, soft grey, cream and gold predominating.  Interesting that most of Miami is full of strong color and she opted to go with a soothing color scheme...never is she expected or conventional!  Sight lines are gorgeous in classic Wearstler style.  

Our view from our hotel room was of the ocean, beach, and boardwalk of which was lined with palm trees and lush vegetation....not to mention joggers (yup we did manage to get in a little exercise).  

Set against the calm of this stunning view from the fourth floor was the gyrating sounds of remixed music ensembled by a disc jockey down below in the outdoor Tides lounge.  Ocean Drive is lined with outdoor restaurants which offer musical entertainment to facilitate club style dancing for those wanting a stimulating and enlivening experience.  If you don't mind being solicited by hosts not to mention the party atmosphere, then this strip is for you. 

Courtesy of my friend, Dr. Sen Mei Lim, who is our travelista of the group (yup she needs to quit her day job in my opinion), we ate like true food afficiandos the whole trip.  We started off at The Betsy Hotel @ BLT steak found as you enter through the main doors.  We sat in the right hand corner outdoors as we wanted to enjoy the warm humid night air.  Unlike the usual South Beach architecture, which is characterized by Art Deco stucco facades painted in pastel shades of turquoise, powder blue, pink and yellow, this spot was a take on British colonial architecture with the white clapboard painted exterior and double hung mullioned windows and columns. 

Worthy of note, is our lunch on Saturday as well as our Sunday night meal which are both owned by 50 eggs.  Suffice it to say both restos encourage sharing and small plates although the food flavors were completely different.  Similarly, the decor style was different even though the finishes were consistent in both spots and of a casual bent.  Lunch at Khong Riverhouse @1661 Meridian Avenue specializes in Northern Vietnamese cuisine while Yardbird at the corner of Lennox and 16th specializes in southern American cuisine with its draw being its country fried chicken. Decor comprised lots of wood textures with industrial turn of the century simple light bulb pendants and massive bar displays as the focal point.  

Dressed up in formal attire, we enjoyed an amazing Saturday evening out on the town which started out with great food yet again!

Ola @ the Sanctuary on 1745 James Avenue is "a nuevo latino experience" with "taste, share, indulge, enjoy" being their motto.  This is not an inexpensive meal at over $500 for all 4 of us (Including a bottle of Malbec wine, a cocktail, appetizer, and main each) but oh so tasty! They are known for their cerviche of which a whole page on the menu was dedicated. Love! 

We then headed to the Shore Club lobby for a photo shoot of our own making using their billowy and plentiful white sheer curtains as a background and prop in some cases. 

Next, we were off to the Setai hotel, on Collins Avenue (perhaps no coincidence), for an amazing outdoor lounge/bar experience.  

Since we also wanted to experience being in the same night club that Frank Sinatra once frequented, we headed to the Liv at the Fountainbleau hotel which apparently holds about 5000 people and is touted as one of the top ten clubs in the world.  As much as we were not able to access this night club due to a special event that was being hosted there that night, we certainly were able to get a taste of the experience by sitting in the lobby. 

This is your dream come true if you want to see some eye candy :). In general all people were great looking and of unusual proportions, attributed to surgery in most cases no doubt and were scantily dressed...will let your imagination run wild.  We girls did have a moment where we lost faith in humankind with the outright blatant display of physical goods but as we found out later from a cabby, turns out most of the women there are paid for their time if you know what I mean.  That explains it! As we left the Fountainbleau back to our hotel on the beach, we have never seen such wealth in the form of cars in one location, brands such lamborghni and mclaren to name just a few.

After a very late night, we opted to lounge and nap on the hotel beach chairs reserved just for us at the ocean and to "detox" in the salt water by attempting to body surf the waves.  After feeling somewhat renewed, the Design District was next on our list! Primarily situated on 40th street with the entrance captured in photo below, there are plenty of retail stores catering to custom finishes and materials including oversized seashell chandeliers, graphic carpets, high thread count bedding, and geometric wall tiles.  Sadly we were not able to explore this area in any detail as the shops were closed on the Sunday but we managed to find a locale gem of a resto in Michael's Genuine.  

To end the afternoon, we headed to the upscale outdoor mall, Bal Habour Shops for some fashion inspiration found at Trina Turk, Nanette Lapore, Tory Burch, Prada, and Chanel to name just a few.  Since we blew our budget at the shopping district found on Lincoln Avenue Saturday afternoon, we were fine with just playing dress up and pretending to be "Pretty Woman". 

So to close with an overall impression of Miami, I would say in the words of one of our cab New York, people exist, while in Miami, people live! 

Photo cropped to protect the privacy of friends but this selfie photo is taken on Collins Avenue during our wild Saturday night out :)