Haute Miami: Escape the Cold with a Weekend in South Beach

Delano Hotel pool.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Delano Hotel pool.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Winter is keeping a firm grip on the U.S., which means it’s time to begin plotting your plan of escape. If you think a trip to Mexico will be necessary to find sun, warmth and beach, think again. Simply head south to Miami, specifically the South Beach area, which is at its peak during the winter months when the rich and famous come to play.

South Beach offers a wide range of accommodations for every taste—Small boutique hotels, sprawling resorts, art deco classic, modern and contemporary. It’s a peaceful sanctuary and a vibrant scene. Delano Hotel, positioned in the heart of South Beach, strikes the perfect balance. Delano is a self-contained resort, offering a private beach, pool, spa, fitness center, restaurants, bars and nightlife. A Philippe Starck and Ian Schraeger designed collaboration, Delano is frequented by celebrity clientele like George Clooney.

Delano Hotel lobby.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Delano Hotel lobby.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Upon entering Delano, billowing white curtains beckon guests into the lobby and down the long hall of the first floor. Mirrors, chandeliers and whimsical pieces of furniture are scattered throughout, such as a towering banquette à la Alice in Wonderland and a gold chair with high-heeled shoes as feet. In sharp contrast to the lobby, the hotel’s rooms and suites are decorated with glamorous simplicity in all white. If you feel the urge to work out, Delano is equipped with a fitness center, or even better, head to Club Essentia for a massage. The hotel’s design and amenities aside, Delano’s staff and service are what make this property shine. To say that the Delano concierge is accommodating would be an understatement. That impossible restaurant reservation? Skipping the line for nightclub entry? Ask and you shall receive.

Delano sits beachfront with complimentary oversize beach chairs and umbrellas available to guests. Back inside Delano’s gates, the pool is surrounded by lounge chairs and along one side, white cabanas complete with a butler. The “Water Salon” features underwater music and wrought iron furniture in the shallow end. Delano’s pool bar serves up drinks and food poolside all day. To be a little closer to the action, guests can opt to stay in two-story bungalows that line one side of the pool. The Orchard connects the pool area to the hotel and is designed to be an indoor space outdoors with seating, such as an antique daybed and an oversized chess set placed on the lawn.

Rent the Princess Chelsea, a 51-foot luxury yacht.  Photo courtesy of Yacht Charters in Miami.

Rent the Princess Chelsea, a 51-foot luxury yacht.  Photo courtesy of Yacht Charters in Miami.

Though everything you could want can be found on Delano’s property, get out and explore South Beach. When you tire of the pool and beach, charter a private yacht for the day. Yacht Charters in Miami offers a selection of vessels to choose from, including a 51-foot luxury yacht, Princess Chelsea, complete with a private crew and jet ski. If you want a break from the water, Delano is within easy walking distance to Lincoln Road, a pedestrian mall consisting of outdoor cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Or for those who take their shopping seriously, visit the Bal Harbour Shops, an indoor mall filled with two stories of the big name designers: Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès.

Al fresco dining at Delano Hotel's Bianca.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

Al fresco dining at Delano Hotel's Bianca.  Photo courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group.

When staying at Delano, you don’t have to travel far for the perfect meal. Bianca is a modern Italian restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dine inside or al fresco on Bianca’s terrace. Umi Sushi & Sake Bar in Delano’s lobby serves sushi to guests seated at a long community table. Miami is known for its steakhouses and while celebrity magnet Prime 112 is always a steady standby, change it up at Meat Market on the Lincoln Road Mall. True to its name, Meat Market is housed in a sexy space with beautiful people, but the real draw is the reserve cuts of meat and accompaniments like gouda tater tots and sweet potato fries with honey crème fraiche. If Asian fusion is more your style, visit London export Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau Resort.

LIV Club at the Fontainebleau Resort.  Photo courtesy of LIV.

LIV Club at the Fontainebleau Resort.  Photo courtesy of LIV.

Nights in South Beach do not end quietly after dinner. Delano offers several nightlife options. Sip a mojito in the lobby’s Rose Bar.  Lounge outside and people watch at the pool bar. Or check out top DJs spinning at the hotel's subterranean club, FDR at Delano. One of the hottest clubs in South Beach is LIV at the Fontainebleau Resort, frequented by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna. Unless you opt for bottle service, don’t expect an easy entry. Simply plan ahead and the Delano concierge will provide you with the LIV manager’s name and number. One phone call will generally get you whisked in the door.

Shore Thing Sundays pool party.  Photo courtesy of the Shore Club.

Shore Thing Sundays pool party.  Photo courtesy of the Shore Club.

Arrange for a late flight out of Miami on Sunday (or even better, Monday morning) because as the weekend draws to a close, the party is just getting started. Sunday afternoon pool parties at the nearby Mondrian and Shore Club hotels dispel the idea that Sunday is a day of rest. Drinks flow and beach balls fly while a DJ plays music from hip hop to house. When not dancing, party-goers lounge on beds surrounding the pool. Or forego the party altogether and simply recover from Saturday night with a nap by the Delano’s pool. It’s South Beach. Anything goes.

Where to Stay:

Delano Hotel
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.672.2000

Where to Play:

FDR at Delano
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.924.4071

LIV
4441 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33140
305.674.4680

Mondrian South Beach
1100 West Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.514.1500

Shore Club
1901 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.695.3100

Yacht Charters in Miami
305.490.0049

Where to Eat:

Bianca
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.674.5752

Hakassan
4441 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33140
786.276.1388

Meat Market
915 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.532.0088

Umi Sushi & Sake Bar
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.674.5752

Where to Drink:

Rose Bar
1685 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
305.674.5752

I originally published this article on JetsetExtra.com on October 25, 2010.  Recently revised to reflect openings and closings in South Beach.