Miami’s Fontainebleau regains its star status after a major renovation
The landmark Fontainebleau Miami Beach reigns as one of the most sophisticated properties on South Beach, a far cry from the tired, has-been of a hotel it had been in recent decades.
The resort gained new life with a $1 billion renovation completed in November 2008 and today encompasses 1,504 guest rooms and suites in the two original Chateau and Versailles buildings and the new all-suite 37-story Trésor and 18-story Sorrento towers. The 22-acre resort also features a 40,000-square-foot spa and 11 restaurants and lounges, including LIV, a nightclub often mentioned next to names in gossip columns.
When it opened, in 1954, the Fontainebleau was the resort in Miami Beach, known for both its size—it was the largest in Miami—and its signature architecture and luxury. It attracted the hipsters of the 1950s and 1960s, including such entertainers as Bob Hope, Elvis Presley, Jackie Gleason and Judy Garland.
The Fontainebleau was designed by Morris Lapidus, whose flamboyant style led to the curvilinear shape. Much of Lapidus’ interior décor was restored and remains. The shiny white lobby floor is punctuated with a black bow-tie pattern; Lapidus supposedly wore a bow tie practically every day. The lobby also has three $1 million chandeliers and the original restored columns.
Also in the lobby is the famous “Staircase to Nowhere.” The winding stairs go up one level, where there was a coat check and a place to freshen up. Back in the day, gown-clad women could go upstairs, powder their noses and elegantly descend to make their grand entrances.
Of the 1,504 rooms and suites, 846 are in the original two buildings, with 658 in the two new towers. Amenities include robes, custom bedding made of 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton, Prima Loft duvets and pillows, marble baths, high-definition flat-screen TVs, bars, high-speed wireless Internet access, iPod docking stations and 20-inch iMac computers that can be used to replace traditional paper hotel directories and room service menus.
Standard and Deluxe rooms measure approximately 300 square feet and have either one king- or two queen-size beds; deluxe rooms have better views. The 320-square-foot Deluxe Balcony accommodations, located in the renovated Versailles tower, have balconies with views of the ocean, bay or downtown. Oceanfront Balcony rooms offer full views of the beach and ocean.
The new towers feature junior, one- and two-bedroom suites ranging in size from 500 square feet to 1,742 square feet. Suite amenities include flat-panel televisions; kitchenettes with a mini-fridge, sink and microwave; marble bathrooms with granite counters, oversize jet tubs and walk-in showers; and balconies with views of the ocean, bay or downtown. Junior suites feature a sitting area and an extra full-size sleeper sofa and range from 500 square feet to 861 square feet. One-bedroom suites measure approximately 1,000 square feet and, in the Sorrento and Trésor towers, have a kitchen with a full-size washer and dryer. Two-bedroom suites combine a one-bedroom suite with a junior suite or guest room.
The Fontainebleau has three signature restaurants: Gotham Steak, Scarpetta and Hakkasan. Gotham Steak, an outpost of Alfred Portale’s Gotham Bar and Grill in New York, is a two-level restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The menu features American steakhouse fare, fresh seafood, specialty cuts of meat and more than 1,500 wines.
Scott Conant, known for New York’s original Scarpetta, helms Fontainebleau’s Italian restaurant, which overlooks the pool. Hakkasan, named Top Newcomer in South Florida by Zagat’s 2010 survey, offers modern Cantonese cuisine with wines, sake and cocktails.
Other dining options are La Côte, an open-air restaurant with the flavor of the French Riviera; Blade Sushi Lounge, serving traditional Japanese cuisine near the pool; and Vida, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner from an exhibition kitchen.
LIV is the high-energy nightclub attracting celebrities, VIPs and Miami’s local party crowd. Upscale dress is required. LIV is open from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The two-level Lapis spa features 30 treatment rooms, a 75-foot co-ed jet pool and lounge area, and a gym with a strength-training and cardio areas.
The Fontainebleau’s outdoor pool is a lush oasis with a free-form main pool and smaller dipping spots. Thirty private cabanas offer 32-inch flat-screen televisions, wireless Internet, mini-fridges, ceiling fans and butler service. Prices range from $250 to $550.
For more information, call 800-548-8886 or visit www.fontainebleau.com.-- Theresa Norton Masek