With its thriving new neighbourhoods – and smart downtown vibe – ever warm and sunny Miami is the ideal winter getaway
In the dead of winter, as the wind knifes through your layers of cashmere and down, Miami is always a good choice of destination. But before booking your standard South Beach spots, know that some new neighbourhoods are stealing the spotlight. And – drum roll – they are all west of the ocean. Between the Brickell Corridor and two garment districts that are now trend-forward fashion and food destinations, Miami 2.0 has emerged.
The Design District and ‘Fly’s Eye Dome’
STAY: For Miami-bound travellers who crave a hideaway with easy access to city attractions, Mandarin Oriental, Miami is your dream destination. Each room features a panoramic view of the Intracoastal, and guests can soak up the sun – like the iguanas – on a private beach. Waterfront dining comes courtesy of La Mar by Peruvian super-chef Gastón Acurio, in one of the most dramatic al-fresco settings in the city. And the exquisite Asian-themed Spa delivers sophisticated treatments with a decidedly exotic edge. Here's the beauty of this property: though the vibe is that of an island retreat, the Downtown Miami scene is only minutes away by car.
Christian Louboutin in the Design District
THE DESIGN DISTRICT AND WYNWOOD: The showrooms of the Design District have become a luxury orbit – South Florida's equivalent of rue du Faubourg St-Honoré! Kick off the afternoon with lunch at Mandolin for simply prepared Mediterranean fare served on a Santorini-esque terrace. Then start shopping. Within a three-block radius, you can conquer Christian Dior, Chanel, Céline, Burberry, Louboutin, Bulgari, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Maison Martin Margiela, Marni, Rick Owens and En Avance. As you perambulate, check out the jaw-dropping public art installations: Marc Newson's DASH Fence, Zaha Hadid's Elastika, and a recreation of architect Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome. Revive with a coffee at Michael's Genuine, which offers Panther, a local small batch roaster.
A few blocks south is Wynwood. Where the Design District is about luxury, Wynwood is all groovy, home-grown retailers, restaurants and an explosive art scene. The main attraction is an outdoor street park of cement walls festooned with graffiti murals, known as the Wynwood Walls. Another draw is the two open-to-the-public private art collections housed in revamped warehouses: the Rubell Family Collection and the Margulies Collection. They show ultra-contemporary works (think Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella) along with rotating exhibitions.
An installation at the Rubell Family Collection
Even the restaurants are capitalising on the area's grit factor. Zak Stern, Miami's premier artisan baker has opened Zak the Baker, an industrial-fab eatery serving small bites with massive slabs of his killer sourdough and rye. For seafood, try Mignonette, a Thirties gas station-turned-of-the-moment-boîte, which supplies the crowds with lush oysters, 'clams casino', po' boys and crudo. The hipster tap room of Wynwood Brewing Company is perfect for a craft beer pick-me-up.
DOWNTOWN MIAMI: Brickell Avenue is Miami's mini Wall Street. Its gleaming banks and palm-tree-studded streets form the perfect backdrop to the swanky eateries. In Brickell World Plaza, Tamarina serves Italian-inflected coastal fare, with an emphasis on oysters and locally sourced crudo.
Dancers in Calle Ocho, Little Havana
For a hefty dose of South Florida glitz, it's all about Zuma; though its cuisine is Japanese, the vibe is pure Latina. Ball & Chain has added big buzz to the iconic Cuban neighbourhood of Little Havana. A restored jazz joint that once served as a stomping ground for Chet Baker, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, this indoor/outdoor live music venue emanates authentic Cubano charm. Order a pitcher of Pastelito Daiquiris to wash down the crispy chicharrón.