The Jewel of American South-East: inside Miami's latest drive for urban sophistication
Miami has become an important centre where billionaires and wealthy people from all over the world flock to all year round. What is the lure of Miami, except for its excellent weather and stunning ocean views? In comparison, California’s climate is arguably much better - it offers dry air devoid of mosquitos, plus there are none of those annoying hurricanes that batter Florida on an annual basis - yet it is hard to say that LA is the word’s billionaire hotspot. Moreover, in 2018 California has been rated as the worst place to live in the US.
For them, it is no longer sufficient to just pass through the buzz of Art Basel in December. On the contrary, plenty of billionaires call Miami home, including David Tepper, who just moved his hedge fund and residence from New Jersey to Miami Beach, the quintessential South Florida setting. While the beach is great and the waterfront parties still legendary, the long-ignored downtown Miami across Biscayne Bay is slowly becoming the new culture, entertainment and shopping mecca of the city.
At the heart of the transformation is a billion-dollar development, Brickell City Centre, a mixed-use complex of luxury condo towers, office buildings, and a five-star hotel. There is also a sprawling open-air shopping centre, carrying over 100 retail brands, where billionaire-shoppers such as Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and local airline veteran Rakesh Bangwal can find the same stores they would frequent in London or Hong Kong.
The high-end shopping centre is anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, Miami’s first in 30 years, luxury dine-in theatre CMX, and an Italian food hall. A Metromover away, the sweeping lines of Miami Art Museum (now known as PAMM) was re-imagined with a generous funding from billionaire property king Jorge Pérez. On the northern fringes of downtown, Wynwood Walls is the brainchild of developer Tony Goldman and is easily one of the most Instagrammable places in Miami.
Those who do not snap up an apartment at one of Brickell City Centre’s two 42-storey luxury co-ops, Reach and Rise, can stay at East Miami operated by Swire Hotels. The sustainably driven and contemporary hotel at BCC opened last year. Modern furnishings adorn each space, with windows affording guests with sweeping views of the bay area and glittering Miami cityscape. Sugar, the hotel’s rooftop bar - one of only a handful in Miami - transports night owls to Bali with a handsomely carved wooden bar and tropical jungle-themed outdoor lounge.
Closer to the beach, The W has been an iconic landmark on South Beach’s Collins Avenue. The swanky hotel, which draws a see-and-be-seen crowd, got a multi-million-dollar makeover recently with the redesign of its two-storey penthouse and three-bedroom suites. Head to the popular outdoor pool, a paradise of its own with beautifully lined palm trees, private cabanas, and a poolside bar. For those who have had a long night hitting up multiple parties in SoBe, the hotel’s onsite Bliss Spa offers all the pampering and relaxation you would need.
In addition to all latest cultural hotspots, Miami is also enjoying a lucrative geographic location. It is said to be the capital of Central and South America. And the city does many cuisines well, such as Peruvian, Nicaraguan, and even Japanese. Chef Rainer Becker’s globally acclaimed adaptation of Japanese izakaya-style cuisine can be experienced at Zuma, overlooking Miami River. Most of their signature dishes are designed to be shared, including the roasted lobster with shizo-ponzu butter, wagyu tomahawk steak with black truffle and a basket of sushi and sashimi.
As for Quinto La Huella, it is the first global outpost and metropolitan version of Uruguay’s beachside restaurant, Parador La Huella. With dishes cooked over an open flame fuelled by locally sourced oak in a Wild-West-styled kitchen designed by LA’s Studio Collective, the South American parilla tradition is brought to Miami. Enjoy front-row views of grill masters in action as they serve you ribeye with chimichurri, locally sourced vegetables and oven-roasted seafood. Top it all off with a sumptuous cake that overflows with dulce de leche when cracked open.