BACKGROUND The Morgans Hotel Group has three properties in Miami South Beach- the Mondrian, Delano and Shore Club. The "4.5-star" Mondrian Miami South Beach is the newest of these, having opened in 2008 in collaboration with designer Marcel Wonders, who held Sleeping Beauty’s castle emerging from the water as his design concept. The Morgans Hotel Group manages 14 luxury properties worldwide in eight different locations- the other two Mondrians can be found in Soho (New York) and LA.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The 15-floor boutique hotel’s individuality and artistic charisma stays true to the Mondrian brand. Walking into the lobby, you are greeted by bright white walls, white marble floors against both black and white furnishings and a large wall stencil of what looks like a symmetrical Barbie doll face. This feature is in keeping with the “fairytale sea castle” theme, as the female face is said to be a “siren,” and there are four different beautiful faces throughout the hotel, with one in each guestroom to “protect” those who stay there.
It’s not just quirky touches like this that give the hotel its charm. Its location on West Avenue, looking out to Biscayne Bay of Miami Beach means that it boasts allegedly one of the best views of downtown Miami - and the distant, hazy view of the city skyline across the stretch of water enhances the dream-like atmosphere the hotel aspires to create.
The hotel’s outdoor pool area has luxurious features such as living-walled cabanas complete with TVs, fridges, couches (which can hold eight people and be rented for the day with a minimum $500-$650 spend) and relaxation areas with large cushions and ping pong tables surrounded by towering four poster structures with red muslin curtains - which are also used for press conferences. There’s a chic “semi-automatic” vending machine in in the lobby, where guests can purchase an unbelievable range of items- from sunscreen to designer sunglasses, to a penthouse apartment. This feature is unique to the Mondrian Miami South Beach, but I’m told there are plans to extend it to the Mondrian Soho as well.
While the indulgent feel of the hotel lends itself to leisure tourism, the hotel also attracts and caters for business clientele, and its meetings facilities were in use during my stay. The hotel staff were very polite and helpful – they kindly provided me with a travel adaptor throughout my stay and were happy to answer any questions I had.
WHERE IS IT? West Avenue is a calm residential area of Miami Beach, about a 20-minute walk away from the party hub of South Beach. Downtown Miami is a 15-minute drive across the bay along the MacArthur Causeway, and Miami International Airport is 18 kilometres away (about 20 minutes by taxi). Star Island, a collection of spectacular celebrity homes on the other side of the bay is visible, and the hotel has two docking piers for guests who arrive by boat.
ROOM FACILITIES While the hotel’s design approach is anything but cookie cutter, its 335 rooms are near identical in their décor and layout. Room categories available are studios, one bedroom suites, one bedroom balcony suites and two bedroom balcony suites. The difference lies in the view they offer, whether it’s the hotel gardens, the ocean or Biscayne bay. The latter view is the most expensive ($US200 more expensive than a garden view) because it is the most spectacular, but if it’s within your budget, it’s definitely the one to go for. With all the studios and suites, you can ask for a king-sized bed or twin double beds, although prices will vary.
I stayed in a bay-view one bedroom balcony suite on the 12th floor. The room had a large open plan kitchen and lounge area that lead to a good-sized balcony with a stunning view. From the white walls of my lounge, a siren looked out at me, and there was also a wall of bold damask black and white wallpaper, which is intended to suggest a seaweed pattern and nod to Marcel Wonders’ theme. The main wall had a sepia mirror that took up a quarter of the wall and a large Sony flatscreen TV with broadband and film channels, and this wall was framed by a thick black picture frame border. Just before the balcony was a sleek black wall desk with plug-in internet (wifi is $14.95 for 24 hours) a phone (23-hour room service is available). The lounge was also furnished with a yellow and white patterned sofa that mimicked the wallpaper, and a cream and black rug.
The kitchen area was decorated with delft tiles depicting Miami Beach scenes and a small tangerine topped table with white modern chairs. The kitchen’s amenities included a sink with drinking water, a cooking hob, a hob kettle, a coffee-making machine a fridge/minibar, cutlery and croquery and a microwave. There were also amenity kits for sale in the cupboard, which included medical kits, Agua toiletries and Mondrian t-shirts. A chandelier hanging in the kitchen added another touch of glamour.
The large separate bedroom had the same striking wallpaper and another flatscreen Sony TV. There was comfortable king-sized white bed, a bright yellow retro armchair, and elegant black dressing table with a matching art deco mirror and a lot of cupboard storage space. Other features included a BOSE iPod dock with a remote, an ironing board in the cupboard, a laptop safe, a hairdryer and reading lamps attached to the wall on either side of the bed. The adjoining bathroom was lovely- the massive walk-in shower was decorated with shimmering blue mosaic tiles and another chandelier adorned the rain showerhead. There was a large basin and mirror, a robe and slippers and Morgans Hotel Group toiletries.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The hotel’s Asia de Cuba restaurant offers Latin food “with a twist,” Its lunch menu is served from 1130-1500 and dinner is served from 1900-2300, although these times are flexible depending on demand. Dishes include “lobster mai tai”, “Cuban bbq chicken” and “honey-rhum glazed pot roast of pork”, and a main course prices range between US$25 and US$80. I only experienced the restaurant’s breakfast menu (served from 0700-1130). It consisted of a hot and cold buffet with a choice of scrambled eggs, bacon, fried bread, cold meats, cheeses, granola and other cereal, muffins, pastries and a variety of fresh fruit. Juice, coffee and water are served to you at your table –bottled water cost me US$10, so I would ask for tap water in future. The food was fresh and I appreciated the colourful variety of the buffet. The décor of the restaurant is contemporary, bright white and classy.
The Sunset Lounge is the hotel’s bar, named after the memorable view it offers as the sun sets behind the bay. Like Asia de Cuba, it is on the ground floor and has both indoor and outdoor seating near the pool. The bar specialises in Cachaças (Brazilian rum) cocktails and prides itself on using fresh ingredients. A DJ plays on Friday and Saturday nights and the bar is open every day from 1100-0200. The 360-degree bar is chic and lively, although during my stay, the repetition of the same Latin songs that could be heard throughout the ground floor began to grate on some guests.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are two meeting rooms, the North Studio and the South Studio, both with outdoor terraces, where dinner and drinks can be served. The largest room, the North Studio is 1275 sq ft in size with a capacity of 100 people theatre style. Both rooms are on the bay side of the hotel and are full of sunlight, but they have blackout curtains for presentation purposes. The services of an external AV company are available and the rooms have large flat screen TVs that can connect to laptops. Internet is charged at the same rate as the bedrooms.
If you walk up a black swirling staircase from the lobby, it takes you to the 2nd floor of the hotel where the 24-hour business centre is situated. This is a tiny room with no windows where there are two computers and a printer. Internet costs US$6.95 for 20 minutes.
LEISURE FACILITIES The tranquil spa continues the light, white theme of the hotel. It has six treatment rooms, a relaxation area, a manicure and pedicure area (where guests sit on thrones during their treatments) a sauna and a wet treatment room. Beauty brands used in the spa include Billy Jealousy, Sjal, Sonoma and Luzern. The spa links to the 24-hour fitness centre, which has treadmills and weight machines. It looks out onto the bay and is free for guests to use.
The Mondrian also offers “Soulcycle” fitness classes in its fitness studio – 45-minute spinning sessions led by an animated instructor. For less punishing activities, the hotel offers jet ski rentals, kijaking and paddle boarding.
VERDICT The hotel’s perfect location and fascinating design features, along with its good meeting facilities means this hotel will appeal to both business and leisure customers.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 335 rooms, with categories including studios, one bedroom suites, one bedroom balcony suites and two bedroom balcony suites. These are further categorized by the view they offer, whether it’s the hotel gardens, the ocean or Biscayne bay (the most expensive).
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The interesting décor, the amount of space and the beautiful view from my balcony.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in July started from US$550 per night (excluding tax) for a bay-view one-bedroom balcony suite.
CONTACT Mondrian South Beach, 1100 West Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33139; tel 305 5141500; mondrian-miami.com