A Few Photos of the New SET Miami Beach, Reopening Tonight

As we’ve been telling you all week, SET nightclub in Miami Beach will be reopening tonight after a major makeover. We just got our hands on some new photos of SET 2.0 to share with you, should you not be in a position to attend, poor soul. The one thing that’s missing: a video of a hostess delivering a bottle of Dom Perignon to the VIP section via zipline. If you’re in attendance tonight – or if you’re the hostess – do be so kind as to video the experience and pass it along. in the meantime, photographic images of the new SET. Don’t ask me who all those people are. They either got in for a sneak preview, or SET spent a hell of a lot of money on models.  Before you go anywhere, be sure to read Anetta Nowosielska’s interview with Opium Group founder Eric Milon, and flip through our Top List of Opium Group Nightclubs. Party on, kids (of legal partying age). All of these great photos are courtesy of Seth Browarnik/World Red Eye.

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A Spirited Rundown of Opium Group Nightclubs in Miami

You often hear celebrities and other bon vivants talking about what goes on "in the club," as if there’s just one club, and you’re supposed to know what it is. But the truth is, there are a half-dozen or so "clubs" of the VIP/bling bling variety in every major city. In Miami, many of these are run by the Opium Group, and, on the occasion of the grand reopening of SET on Lincoln Road (complete with zipline champagne delivery), we’ve taken the liberty of wrapping them up in Top List form for your perusing pleasure. Making your nightlife better. It’s what we’re all about. Continue to A Spirited Rundown of Opium Group Nightclubs in Miami

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The Opium Group’s Eric Milon on the Reopening of SET, Zipline Champagne Delivery, and Top DJ’s

As the founder of the Opium Group, Eric Milon is not only South Beach’s nightlife kingpin, he’s also its unofficial face. Having grown from a modeling career that splashed his handsome mug on the cover of GQ to running Miami’s hottest nightclubs, Milon (right, with DJ Avicii) is now throwing his energy at the newly remodeled SET, which reopens Friday, April 5. We caught up with him amidst the dust and rubble of construction as he filled us in on zipline champagne delivery, celebrity DJ’s, and what it’s like to work with Anna Wintour.

How does a good boy from an upstanding Parisian family become a club king in South Beach?

I was an average student, but my mom wanted me to become an attorney. I went along with it for a while to please the family, but I knew it wasn’t for me. Then something incredible happened to me. I became a model, and a successful one at that. It’s no secret that clubs like pretty people, so I eventually made the switch.

Did you get some slack from friends for pulling a Zoolander?

Are you kidding? I was the envy of everyone. But there was my mom, who kept my career a secret for two years despite the fact that I was on the covers of a lot of the magazines her friends were reading. I modeled for 15 years and made a good living at it. My first job was a 20-page spread in Mexico for Vogue Hommes. It just took off and I started to enjoy the life of a model.

Any modeling horror stories to share?

I remember shooting something in Tortola for a magazine. I went there with another model, the photographer, and a stylist/art director who was a total pain in the ass. The shoot was mostly unremarkable, but the reason why I remember it is because of that miserable woman. Today she is the editor-in-chief of Vogue, and I understand people still don’t like her.

Why did you retire from modeling?

Eventually I realized that I was powerless over my career. Once I came to that conclusion, I understood that I had to do something else. A friend suggested I fly down to Miami, which was becoming a fashion capital, and I was able to parley my modeling connections into a new career. My brothers and I opened The Strand, which did very well. From there we just kept growing. Today we have four clubs in Miami (Mansion, Cameo, Mokai, and SET), we are opening Snatch at the Shelborne South Beach this summer, and we’re planning a project in Wynwood sometime next year.

Snatch? What a name!

I like it. We are aiming for a Fourth of July opening, but we want to keep the concept a secret. For Opium Group this is another notch on our belt, with the difference that this venue will be inside a hotel. But I can assure you that we wouldn’t take on another project if we felt that we couldn’t deliver the kind of experience we are known for.

Any nightlife pet peeves?

Honestly, I’m kind of over the "Top DJ" thing. Because of how much they are charging today, it would be a financial suicide for any club to entertain them on regular basis. Of course, we do book top guys, but I wish the industry went back to feeling confident in discovering the next thing – taking a chance on artists whose egos have not set in just yet, and who are actually more interested in doing something new and exciting as opposed to what is going to play on the radio.

Have you become bored?

Not at all. Since we have different demographics in all of our places, it’s like a new show a couple of times a night, and you’re the master of ceremonies. And I really like the service I provide. I make people happy. What can be boring about that?

Your patrons drop crazy paper just to be part of your show. Are you surprised?

Yeah, that’s crazy. Some of my top customers will pay upwards of $70,000 a night just to do their thing. But I get it. If you are a regular guy, you can be happy with a bottle of Heineken at the bar. But there are people who like to show off. Is that something I would do personally? I don’t need to. I’m blingy enough already. But I’m happy to service those who are looking for that spotlight.

Speaking of limelight, the new SET is one tricked-out place. What’s your favorite part?

We decided to do a facelift at SET because it was time to give it some TLC, and this was an opportunity to meet the needs of our clients. We took out some of the VIP tables, making the club even more exclusive, because the people who come to SET look for that cachet. Quality over quantity. I can tell you that whoever will spend serious money on a table is going to get the service of a lifetime. We have a zipline by which one of our hostesses is going to slide down from the mezzanine level to deliver a bottle of Dom. Talk about all eyes on you.

Indeed. Are these stunts part of your magic formula to success?

Nightlife hasn’t changed one bit in the past forty years. The girls do what they do and the guys pay the bills and everyone leaves with a smile. There are no secrets to this business. Maybe that’s why so many try to do it. You open the door and get the right people in. But most importantly you’ve got to have the will to reinvent yourself as an operator. Staying relevant in this industry is probably our biggest success as the Opium Group. That requires taking the ego out of the equation. So many in this industry feel on top of the world, because today they are the hottest thing going. That’s the biggest challenge. With age comes wisdom.

[For the intel to party properly in Miami, check out the BlackBook Miami Guide and subscribe to BlackBook’s free Miami Happenings newsletter. Read A Spirited Rundown of Opium Group Nightclubs in Miami; More by Anetta Nowosielska. Follow Anetta on Twitter.] 

Our Man in Miami: Going Gone with Pete Tong

Labor Day is usually a time when nightlife veterans such as I retreat to anywhere but Miami Beach. The crowds are colossal and their behavior is generally just as monstrous—anyone in their right mind tends to avoid it at all costs. But when Pete Tong is flying in for a spin at SET and you’re offered some face-time, well, dealing with rash behavior seems not to matter so much.

But I couldn’t get gone with Pete Tong without prefacing it with some good new-fangled rock music. So I snuck in the side door at Bayfront Park and sidled up to the stage for a set by Paramore, perhaps the most rambunctious young’uns touring the world these days. It was a strange affair, what with the shrill shrieks and massive crunch of neo-classic power pop. Then again I don’t often stand between 6000 screaming teens and their idols.

On to SET where things were decidedly more adult. That’s not to say there wasn’t some frenzy in the air, mind you—it’s just that the frenzy seemed to be tempered by everyone’s concerted effort to impress each other. Tong of course, has no such need. The cat’s been at it for so long his name is pretty much ubiquitous with the night. And though in person he’s coolly understated, on the decks he’s no such thing. There’s good reason this DJ’s a superstar. Just ask the masses who lost their minds at the foot of his booth.

Tong had flown in from spinning Randall’s Island Electric Zoo, and was set to floor SET before heading out to Vegas in order to do it all over again. That he found time to get with your Man in Miami between spins only means he’s not just a superstar DJ, he’s also a gentleman.

Okay, you literally just flew in from spinning at Electric Zoo in New York. How many people do you think were there? I didn’t count ‘em (laughs). It was a very, very cool location, just at the top corner of Manhattan under the bridge between the Bronx and Queens. The weather was fantastic. When I was back in England there was all this talk of hurricanes, so I didn’t know what to expect. The only unfortunate thing was that I literally just flew in, did it, and flew out again. I’ve been coming to New York since 1979 and this was by far my shortest visit. But taking off from La Guardia I got the most stunning view of Manhattan I’ve even seen. It was a crystal clear night and we flew right over the city. I didn’t think you were allowed to do that anymore.

Tomorrow you’re in Vegas for another drive-by? Yeah, I’ve been coming to America for a long, long time but I’d never done Labor Day because it’s always in the middle of the Ibiza season. But it’s obviously getting more and more hot over here, and this seemed like the perfect year to do it. So you want to sort of maximize it, and do as many shows as you can in a short span of time. It’s three shows in 26 hours: Electric Zoo, SET tonight, then on to Vegas for a daytime party at Encore Las Vegas.

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Then it’s back across the pond for Wonderland Ibiza right? I do Wonderland every week for 16 weeks. This last Friday was the only Friday I would’ve missed. It ends on October 1. That is the closing weekend.

Did you open the Ibiza season with another of your International Music Summits? Yeah, we did our third year of the Summit. It’s kind of inspired by the old New Music Seminar and Tony Wilson’s In the City; kind of a hybrid of the two. There really isn’t one in the UK right now, Miami’s Winter Music Conference is in March, and the Amsterdam dance event isn’t until October, so it seemed sensible for me and my partners to do this in Ibiza, and kind of set the agenda for the whole summer.

The Summit itself is about 600 people, and we do a big scrum around the evenings, different showcase events, and then it ends up with the big concert in a heritage site on top of this town that no one’s every used before, which is beautiful. It’s meant to be a bit intimate so everyone gets something out of it. It’s a kind of antidote to Miami, which I now call ‘an exhibition in nightclubbing in one week.’ Most people that come to Miami for Conference don’t even realize there’s a conference going on.

Is this your first time at SET? No, no, I did SET back when it first opened. I used to do a lot of Opium Group shows; then I started doing one-offs – Ultra and Space. Lately I’ve been spinning Mynt Lounge a lot. My friend Roman [Jones] owns it. This time I’m changing up.

Winter Music Conference 2011. What do you have planned? We’ll be doing another pool party, but we may move from The Surfcomber, I’m not sure yet. It’s easy to overdo it during Conference. Last year I did only two events: The Surfcomber and Space.

Underworld, U2 and Spoon are the first three mixes on your site right now. What do you have to hear from a song for you to get involved? There has to be something quite remarkable about it. I always look for some kind of soul in the music – and I don’t mean soul singer soul; just something special, something magic. It’s kind of a sixth sense really.

Kinda like your DJing? Exactly.

Miami Hotel Deals @ Gansevoort South

imageGansevoort South, the sexy southern version of Hotel Gansevoort in New York’s Meatpacking District, is breaking out some great package deals to entice you to come on down and hang by the (gorgeous) pool. There’s the “Naughty But Nice” package, which includes such niceties as a bottle of champagne with chocolate covered strawberries, two monogrammed bathrobes and a “mile high intimacy kit” — a feather tickler, a “personal massager,” and three condoms. Though I’m not sure what the “mile high” is in reference to, the “personal massager” sounds like a good deal.

Then there’s the “Night Owl” package, which includes a bottle of Svedka vodka, VIP access to one of the Opium clubs (either Mansion or Set), and a complimentary late check-out time of 2 p.m. Vodka and VIP access to hot dance clubs? Sounds good to me. Both of these packages are priced under $400 a night, which is a steal considering their regular prices clock in around $695 a night (sans intimacy kits and vodka). Check it out for yourself here, or become a fan on their Facebook page so you can enjoy all the eye candy in their photos.

Industry Insiders: Antonio Misuraca, Ultimate Host

Miami nightlife baron Antonio Misuraca on recession-proof nightlife, club doormen as neurosurgeons, and revering both Bill Clinton and the Pope.

What is your weekly schedule? I am one of the local promoters here in South Beach. And the nights I do are as follows: Monday night at Bed’s “Secret Society,” which has been going for about seven years. It’s like an R&B and hip-hop party. Wednesday night at The Forge, which is like an international night and has been going for about 15 years; Thursday night at the Gansevoort roof deck, I do a party called “Plunge”; Friday night at Set, which is like a house music night. It has been going for about three years. My latest is “Vanity Night” at LIV in the Fontainebleau Hotel. We just launched that, and— to me— it’s a success.

What is your favorite night? My favorite night is Wednesday night at The Forge. It’s a great mixture of people. You have Europeans. You have high-net-worth people from around the world, and you have the society crowd from Miami— the locals, and a lot of younger people from colleges and universities in the area. So it’s a very eclectic group of people that enjoy it very much on Wednesday nights. We have a variety of music. We have house music. We play rock. We play hip-hop, and we play Latin music. It basically fulfills the need for every sort of age group and different group of people from different societies.

Where do you go when you’re not working? What I do when I’m not working is I usually go to Randazzo’s Little Italy in Coral Gables. It’s like a real homestyle Italian restaurant. The food is brought out in tremendous portions, and I enjoy it with friends. It’s a really laid back, casual spot. I don’t have to be Antonio Misuraca when I walk in there. I go in a T-shirt and blue jeans. I will kick back and enjoy a bottle of wine. I don’t have to entertain. I don’t have to deal with the lines and the aggravation of the nighttime spots in South Beach. And it’s the finest Italian food in Miami. I also spend a lot of time in the Standard Hotel. There’s a spa there. It’s a unisex spa. I will go do a sauna or steam bath and just relax on the hammam, on the hot rock, on the hot marble and just relax near the pool and have lunch.

Who are two of your industry icons? Michael Capponi, because he was the one who actually introduced me to the business, and I guess you could say I was sort of his protégé. Michael and I have had a friendship for 15 years now, and he’s one of the people who showed me the ropes and brought me to where I am today as far as making stuff happen. The other person is Shareef Malnik of The Forge, who is one of my best friends and mentors. He also did the same as Michael and showed me the ropes of promotion and marketing business and how to be a very great host to the wealthy around the world.

What are some positive trends that you’ve seen lately in the nightclub industry? The positive trends are that the nightclubs here in Miami have not really fallen into the hands of recession. What I mean by that is the ultra-rich, although they are affected by the recession — it’s nominal. If you have a guy that’s worth a billion dollars, and he loses $200 million, he’s still going to have $800 million to have his toys and go out enjoy fine wines, spirits, and some of the finest restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs in Miami Beach. So, when you’re dealing with people on the level that I deal with, the economy doesn’t affect them, which is a positive for being in the type of business I am and catering to the kind of people I do. You also have a lot of people who are enjoying the bar scene a lot more, because I guess they are trying to drown their sorrows. While our table service might be down, our bar service has really gone up.

What about negative trends? Well, the negative trends are the lack of customer service at some these entities. By that, I mean the aggression at the door, the non-cohesion of the staff, and the mannerisms of some doormen. Their demeanor is unacceptable. When people go out, they don’t want to be harassed. When I go on vacation, I want to be greeted with open arms. I want to be kissed on both cheeks when I walk in and hugged by the doorman if I’m going to be spending an absurd amount of money. Here is South Florida, you have doormen who act like they are brain surgeons, like they go into an operating room every day and save lives. However, their ego gets involved in the business and it’s a shame, because you have a lot of good people — quality people — that are willing to spend money and create good atmosphere in the venue, but because of the ignorance and the ego by some doormen, it makes it very challenging for these people to go out and have a good time.

What is something people might not know about you? What they might not know about me is that I’m very reserved, and I’m very much into my religion. I’m a devoted Roman Catholic. I go with my little bad boy crew. On Saturday night we’re chugging champagne and spending ten thousand dollars on bottles of Cristal between my friends and myself. But we’re up by 10:30 in the morning with bloodshot eyes and smelling like cigarettes, and by 11 o’clock we’re at St. Patrick’s no matter what. I will share a funny story with you that I shared with my good friend DJ Tiesto. My monsignor saw me one day nodding off during the service, and as he left the mass, he said to me, “Did you enjoy the service today, Antonio? You look a little out of it. Did you have a late night last night?” And so I said to him, “Father, to be quite honest, it was the music. I’m not used to this type of music.” And he laughed and said, “Don’t worry next week we’re going to book Tiesto for you.” So he put me on the floor with that one.

What’s coming up in ’09? I’m doing a big Rolls Royce party in Tampa the Friday night before the Super Bowl at a 40,000 square-foot home, and it will be invitation only. It’s hosted by Rolls Royce Motor Cars of North America and Budweiser Select and, basically, will have a quarter of the billionaires in the US attending, along with about 50 different models from the different agencies and probably 30 different celebrity friends of mine. It always goes off really well. We did one last year in Miami, and people were very pleased with it. It’s a very high-end event. Also, April 4th is my Bay Point School event (www.theblacksannualgala.com) at Canyon Ranch which is my main charity that helps juvenile delinquents learn how to survive in challenging environments and become productive citizens. I sit on the executive board for almost 10 years with Leah & Roy Black, and it is a black tie blow out. Few years ago we raised over $2.25 million in a single night with a super A-List crowd. Celebrities that have performed or attended include Barry Gibb, Alex Rodriguez, Pamela Anderson, Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Lennox Lewis, Bernard Hopkins, and Vince Neil— who got so drunk before his performance he fell off the stage.

Who is your favorite celebrity that frequents your parties that you’ve hung out with? Well, I will tell you, my favorite celebrity, believe it or not, is President Clinton. He is beyond an idol for me. What he has accomplished for this country, and what he has done with his global initiative — I revere him. And he is someone who is very near and dear to my family. Someone that I really care about. The only other person who I hold on the same celebrity level is Pope Benedict.

Industry Insiders: Cedric Adegnika, Jet Setter

Cedric Adegnika, the doorman and VIP host at Set, brings fame to clubs, sees the future, then does downward facing dog.

How would you describe your profession? My job is to bring fame to night clubs.

Which establishments do you frequent? Sardinia. It’s an Italian restaurant whose most important aspect is the ambiance and the home-like feeling, plus customized service and of course good, healthy food. Vita, a restaurant/lounge with great service and a friendly, warm atmosphere. A place where you can have dinner and stay to have drinks and party till the end of the night. And Set has the best-looking crowd and European jet-setters.

Anyone you admire in the hospitality industry? Ian Schrager, the founder of Morgans Group. He’s the man who introduced boutique hotels, making it a huge hit. Starting as a nightclub owner, he was able to take risks and start something new and make it a growing trend. Also, Roberto Caan, Mynt Lounge/Rok Bar founder (Miami Beach). He was not afraid to do things against the norm. Huge risk-taker and a man who constantly invented new ideas. A true visionary.

What positive trends are you seeing in hospitality? People are willing to spend more money on entertainment perceived as prestigious. The reason why I like it is because it shows that we’ve achieved the perception we’ve worked towards.

And negative trends?The level of service versus the prices is declining.

What is one thing that people don’t know about you? I have a clear vision of what my life will be like years from now.

What are you doing tonight? First I am going to yoga, and after I will have dinner at one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the company of an intelligent, beautiful woman.

Miami: Top 5 Dance Clubs in South Beach

imagePretend you’re Latin, unless, of course, you are. In which case, behave accordingly.

1. Aerobar Imagine dancing to electro-techno mixes inside a futuristic airport. No cover. 2. Mansion True mega club — obligatory stop on the SoBe nocturnal tour. Impromptu and planned celeb appearances. 3. Mokai Better known as the de facto VIP lounge of South Beach. Looks like a lounge, but after one $16 martini, all you gots to do is dance.

4. Set Facebook pics of you dancing on couches and tables in a tricked-out outfit were probably taken here. 5. Opium Garden & Prive Vast open-air club with serious atmo — and humidity — at work. If a dance club is supposed to be theater, this is Broadway.

Industry Insiders: Michael Achenbaum, Haute Hotelier

Michael Achenbaum of the Hotel Gansevoort puts down The Law, emerges a towering hotel titan, and reveals what’s in the works for Park Ave.

Point of Origin: I grew up on Long Island and went to the University of Michigan. Then I went to NYU for graduate school for a JD and MBA for law business. When I was in school here and in Michigan, I began to concentrate on children’s charities. I worked at a Japanese bank and Bear Stearns doing commercial mortgages — an industry that’s just falling apart right now, and the residential component is now affecting the commercial component. I left to go and work with my father in commercial development as he had his own construction company. Prior to my involvement, my father was responsible for developing thousands of apartments and several million square feet of office space. After I joined the company, we decided to take a few projects in a different direction, including high-end hotels, and we ended up picking up the property that would eventually become the Gansevoort.

Occupations: Socially I was going out to the Meatpacking District and saw the importance. If they could draw people to that market in the state that it was in, crunched in between Chelsea and the Village with cool restaurants and the impossible cobblestone streets, far from the midtown grid pattern, it would be an up-and-coming neighborhood. Did I expect it to top out? Not then. Obviously the rise of that area was far quicker than I had imagined. Socially, there was a great reason to be there. Ian Schrager had made hotels epicenters — hearts of the new nightlife in New York — so I figured if I built a great hotel with great food and bev component, with easy access to fabulous restaurants, there would be a great upside. Gansevoort made it. Now one of the best hotels in the world — we’ve made our mark by offering something of a high level of service to our clients, on par with the midtown hotels. Having cool bars and restaurants and a spa gave it a youthful, stylish element.

Any non-industry projects in the works? I give to charity and to my graduate school, but still concentrate on children’s charities. In college we did the Big Sibling program and I continued with it post-graduate and turned into a Big Brother in Michigan and formed a charity for children who wanted to go to college. Now, we’ve formed Camps Catamaas for after school, and camp facilities where kids have the opportunity to go to two-week sessions for a vacation. I work with two young men from the Bronx — and I’m putting one of them through college right now. Now, I’m a mentor through social services.

Favorite Hangs: I love La Esquina for late dinners, rather than to clubs or lounges. But I love a lot of European-style music. Still, the primary focus is work and sitting through nice dinners — when I have time.

Industry Icons: Ian Schraeger has tremendous vision and created the chic hotels that people had dabbled in Europe, and made them stylish with great public areas, unique environments. He continues to be very visionary, as Andre Balazs and the Thompson Group do. They all create a buzz-worthy environment.

Who are some people you’re likely to be seen with? Generally, you’d see me with industry people in the nightlife or hotel industry or lending industry or with law school friends — people who I’ve known forever. Right now it’s the hotel, but we’re really building developers.

Projections: We’re working on a ton of stuff beyond hotels, now we’re taking on more technical assistance and management roles in Toronto and Chicago. We’ve been hired for long-term management arrangements. We find talented local developers. Miami’s Gansevoort South opened in April, and we’re finishing the project over time. We have STK, Philippe, David Barton, Inca for resort wear and BoHo chic, Bustello in their first high-end coffee shop-cum-Cuban lounge for home-grown atmosphere. Cutler the hair salon with great products. We’re firm believers in branding benefits to have unique entrepreneurial companies in the mix. We’re also in construction at 29th and Park [in New York], so we’ll be in business in 2010 — a big hotel with a special pool area. Our signature element is a rooftop pool and bar. The rooms are huge! We’re doing a small bar with the One Group for a high-end lounge.

What are you doing tonight? I’m in Miami at 512, then probably to our rooftop bar, Plunge (my sister’s idea), and to a club run by the Opium group called Set.