A Look at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach

Home Away From Home: the Ritz-Carlton South Beach displays an ocean-liner like elegance in her main entry lobby and bar. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Home Away From Home: the Ritz-Carlton South Beach displays an ocean-liner like elegance in her main entry lobby and bar. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Monday, March 16, 2015

I’m in the vibrant and very crowded city of Miami, Florida for the cruise industry’s largest annual conference – Cruise Shipping Miami, which kicks off tomorrow with a morning keynote address, followed by the actual conference and trade floor opening. Arriving yesterday, I needed somewhere to stay that would be close enough to the Miami Beach Convention Center, yet which would still be accessible to the beach walk and notable landmarks like Ocean Drive. After all, I can’t spend the whole week in a suit and tie!

Enter the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. I’m already a huge fan of the Ritz-Carlton brand, namely for the uniqueness with which they design every property, and for the exemplary and personalized service their “Ladies and Gentlemen” of the Ritz-Carlton provide their guests.

The exterior of the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, located in the heart of Miami's South Beach area. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The exterior of the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, located in the heart of Miami’s South Beach area. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Designed in the early 1950’s by Morris Lapidus during the height of the postmodernism craze in Miami, the hotel began its life as the DiLido before eventually become the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. Still, aside from the exterior (and the well-preserved original flooring in the hotel lobby), you would never guess this property just crossed its 60th birthday a few years ago.

Inside the hotel are 375 guest rooms and 41 exquisite suites, all of which were given a substantial makeover during a $10-million refit back in 2012. My own digs for the evening, a Lanai Pool View Room, measures 400 square feet and includes every conceivable comfort, including an enormous marble bathroom featuring a separate shower and tub, separate toilet area, two vanities and sinks, a full working desk, and a spacious closet. Plus, of course, a private balcony overlooking the hotel’s expansive pool area.

Lanai Pool rooms feature gorgeous views overlooking the hotel's large pool area. Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton

Lanai Pool rooms feature gorgeous views overlooking the hotel’s large pool area. Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton

One-half of the spacious bathroom. So big, it can't fit into a single photo! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

One-half of the spacious bathroom. So big, it can’t fit into a single photo! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Toiletries at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach are, as always, exquisite - and you can buy larger ones in the gift shop. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Toiletries at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach are, as always, exquisite – and you can buy larger ones in the gift shop. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The property even boasts a $10-million art collection present on-site, hand-picked by Ritz-Carlton South Beach principal owner Diana Lowenstein, who spent more than two years selecting the right artworks for the property to ensure it reflected the Art Moderne ideals she was looking for.

“I pored over books, catalogs, and as much research as I could find to understand the type of art that was exhibited in hotels and homes at the time,” she said. “Art Moderne was an exciting period, with the beginning of abstract, the beginning of the industrial revolution, the use of linear shapes in paintings, as well big, mural type art,” she said. “I wanted to see that reflected in the hotel’s art collection.”

The Ritz-Carlton South Beach houses a $10-million dollar art collection that is located throughout the property. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The Ritz-Carlton South Beach houses a $10-million dollar art collection that is located throughout the property. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Is it worth the price of admission? In this instance, yes. Collins Avenue, where the hotel is situated, was an absolute madhouse of activity. On the taxi ride up last evening, I witnessed a rear-end collision; a car that had gone out of control off the road, into a hedge, clipping and knocking over a lamp post; five men being handcuffed; and officers on an ATV chasing people down the street.

The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, by contrast, was my oasis of calm. I ambled up to the gorgeous lobby bar, where piano music tinkled softly in the background. The bartender recommended a drink and a nice appetizer to snack on for my late-evening reverie, and both were brought out promptly. His recommendations: spot-on.

The inviting Lobby Bar at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach is the perfect place to escape the crowds on Collins Avenue and kick back with a classy beverage. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The inviting Lobby Bar at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach is the perfect place to escape the crowds on Collins Avenue and kick back with a classy beverage. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

In case you haven’t stayed with the property before, upscale doesn’t mean stuffy. In fact, the bartender and I discussed our mutual admiration for the FX animated series Archer – a madcap comedy involving a not-so-talented secret agent named Sterling Mallory Archer. Staff at every Ritz-Carlton do try to personalize the experience for each guest, and the Ladies and Gentlemen here at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach have succeeded once again.

We’ll have more on this exquisite property in our forthcoming Hotel Profile here on From the Deck Chair!

And now, to bed – while visions of cruise ships dance in my head. But my biggest challenge tomorrow might be convincing my body to simply get out of this luxurious bed in the first place!

Not a bad view at all!  Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Not a bad view at all! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Report from Cruise Shipping Miami 2015 will continue tomorrow! Be sure to follow along on twitter @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport. Click here to visit the Ritz-Carlton South Beach Website.

 

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