Travel Dispatch: Tempo Miami Preview

Ten years ago, serious leisure travelers wouldn’t have deigned to stay in downtown Miami. But thanks to a crop of new hotels that have emerged in the past few years, like Viceroy and Epic, the city’s downtown core is getting its share of affluent journeymen, who see South Beach as a day trip. The newest hotel to the list, Tempo Miami, doesn’t officially open until December, but it’s been taking reservations all year.

Interestingly, Tempo is a member of RockResorts, a small chain of luxury resorts that tend to be found in more natural settings—Tempo is their first “urban” property. Brand-loyal guests will find it the perfect launching point for traveling on to other RockResorts in the Caribbean (Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Bahamas, and Turks & Caicos properties to open within a few years).

Spanning the first fourteen floors of the new 67-floor Marquis Residences, Tempo is a gem of a boutique with only 56 rooms, located in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment district. All rooms have views of downtown or Biscayne Bay, and all room categories (six in total) beyond Standard have large patios. Bathrooms are equipped with free-standing tubs and organic-based shower amenities.

Both the spa and Amuse Restaurant and Lounge opened this past summer, and the resort will be opening an art gallery and fourteen 3-story lofts in November. Amuse, headed by executive chef Emanuel Zarlenga, serves organic, local, and sustainable ingredients in imaginatively conceived dishes, and the lounge hosts Ladies Night on Friday nights (complimentary bottle of champagne for a group of four women or more).

Industry Insiders: Lee Schrager, Foodie Network

Lee Schrager, the man behind the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, as well as its recent New York incarnation is prepping for his big event in South Florida from February 25th to February 28th. For the upscale foodie celebration, the vice president of corporate communications and national events for Southern Wine & Spirits has recruited kitchen all-stars such as Paula Deen, Daniel Boulud, Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay to cook, attend events and lead demonstrations for guests. The former Miami club owner gives us the inside view on the festivals, celebrity chefs and his love/hate relationship with food bloggers after the jump.

On the New York vs South Beach event: The biggest difference is that we have so much more space available in Florida to do something. We have three city blocks to do our big grand tasting that the city of Miami Beach gives us complimentary. In New York, we have a pier which is probably 15% of our Miami space. It’s just the limitations of doing work in New York City, and wanting to be outdoors in a great location in a great time of year. I never wanted to be in a ballroom, I didn’t want to be in a convention center. I really wanted to be in a neighborhood. And that’s what Chelsea offered us this past year.

On feedback from attendees: When I started this nine years ago, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I’m never insulted by feedback. A lot of times it’s bullshit, but 50% of the time you get something out of it. I think when you listen to people and you listen to the comments and what bothers them, whether it’s that the restrooms are too far away, or the welcome center isn’t running as smoothly as it should, you can make a positive impact. On planning for the unexpected: In South Beach, you can’t control the rain. I never used to look at weather reports. But about four years ago, at a major event called the Bubble Q. which is big champagne and BBQ event on South Beach with Bobby Flay hosting we had a disaster. It was gorgeous weather all day, and I was getting dressed in the hotel and watching the weather on the six o’ clock news. There was a chance of light showers later in the night. This party started around 7 or 7:30, and when I was heading over to the sight, there were clouds coming, but I wasn’t overly concerned. Around 8:30 p.m., the skies opened up and it was absolute rain. In my 30 years of living in Miami I’d never seen a typhoon like this. Guests had been at the party for about an hour to two hours. It’s an outdoor party under the sky, so was the party a wash out? Absolutely. I can tell you we’ve had tents ever since. You learn your lesson. On dealing with rock star/celebrity chefs: Listen, these are the talent. You’re dealing with talent that’s pulled in every direction. These are people that make big dollars to attend events, or be at events or headline events, and they all donate their time to support the hunger cause. There are very few things that we find as cons. It’s like anything; we’re dealing with people who have people and it’s normally the people’s people who, if there are issues it’s them, not the people. Anyone who does the festival or hosts one of our headline events are people who I’ve had relationships with over the years, who’ve been very loyal and supportive of anything I’ve asked. The few times I’ve had issues it’s never with my people, it’s their people. What he misses about nightlife: Not a thing. The cash. Definitely not the lifestyle. On being known as the “attention to detail” man: I live by the rule of thumb: a pound of ice per person and good lighting. On food bloggers: They’ve helped us get our message out quicker and to a larger base in a more timely fashion. I read some of them, whether their writing is good or bad and some days you like them and some days you don’t like them. But in the end, we wouldn’t have the success that we’ve had at our festivals, certainly in New York, nowadays without the attention of the bloggers. I think almost any press is good press. Almost.

On getting shit done: Listen, we’re raising money to fight hunger. We’re not doing brain surgery; we’re not planning your daughter’s wedding. We want to produce a good event at good value, fairly priced and we want it to be fun and that’s always been our goal. We didn’t want to be the biggest, we hopefully wanted to be one of the best, but that’s what we really strive for. We really want to put on a great event. Go-to spots in Miami: I obviously don’t have a favorite, I have many favorites. I mean I love Michael Psilakis’ restaurant at the Viceroy called Eos. I love Michelle Bernstein’s themed restaurant Michy’s, I love an Italian restaurant on Miami beach called Macaluso. I happen to love Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau and Scarpetta.

Top 12 Hotels for a Dirty Weekend

These are getaways for lovers — or lusters — only, without the family, just-good-friends, kids, laptops (lap dancing and clothing optional) or other encumbrances. Either you want to see and be seen, or you don’t. Whether you’re after an in-room Jacuzzi, couples massages, meals, or just a fireplace and a view, read on.

Pan Deï Palais (Côte d’Azur) – A princess’ historic palace turned boutique hotel in the heart of St. Tropez. With only 12 guestrooms, the palace is exclusively reserved for hotel guests — so unless the people you’re trying to avoid are staying there, you’re safe. Valmont treatment fit for a princess are available in guestrooms and spa. Also rans: Château de la Chèvre d’Or, L’Hôtel Du Cap – Eden Roc, La Réserve Ramatuelle.

Ritz-Carlton (Chicago) – The Ritz-Carlton (a Four Seasons Hotel which makes it a double whammy) has a special weekend suite. After drinks in their Greenhouse, and couples massage in the Kiva Spa (or in-room), have sushi delivered from Kamahachi on Wells Street for a sultry beginning to a long weekend. Also rans: Trump International Hotel & Tower, The Drake Hotel, The James Chicago.

The Address (Dubai) – Possibly the only example of design restraint anywhere in this town, but never fear — you can still glance out the window at the world’s tallest building across the lagoon. The eight bars and restaurants serve high-class eclectic without the gold-foil-sushi trytoohardy madness found elsewhere. Spa Suites probably the most hip yet peaceful hotel accommodation in the Emirates. Also rans: One & Only Royal Mirage, Burj Al Arab.

Hilton Baltimore Convention Center (Baltimore) – Who, besides John Waters, is going to see you in Baltimore? Half the rooms and the fitness center face Camden Yards for sports fans. This big-box hotel actually feels a little homey, with works of local artists adorning public and private rooms, blueberry pancakes delivered by room service, and in-room pampering from Spa Sante. Their beds can, quite literally, put you to sleep — if you‘re not careful. Also ran: Admiral Fell Inn.

Sunset Marquis (Los Angeles) – Granddaddy of all the rock ‘n roll hotels meanders over an entire city block. Much has changed since Flea jumped for the swimming pool — and missed. The hotel bought all of the surrounding houses and turned them into villas, complete with swimming pools, Jacuzzis, and gardens combined for an in-town oasis. Try the one Keith Richards uses, complete with a gym they built for him (no kidding).You’re lucky if the waiter can find you, much less an angry spouse. Also rans: The Charlie, Andaz West Hollywood, Hotel Bel-Air, Chateau Marmont.

The Palms (Las Vegas) – The Fantasy tower is filled with one-of-a-kind suites with names like Erotic Suite, the Hugh Heffner Villa, the Barbie Suite, the Hardwood Suite — you get the picture Also rans: Four Seasons Hotel, Wynn Las Vegas, Red Rock Resort Casino Spa.

The Mayfair (London) – The Suite Seduction weekend package includes intimacy enhancers by Agent Provocateur (e.g. a paddle whip), champagne, Jo Malone essences, late checkout, chocolate-covered strawberries, unlimited internet service, music, movies, and chauffeured pickup from the airports (for an extra charge of £180 pounds), beginning at £1,500 for the Schiaperelli suite, the Opium suite, or one of ten others. Also rans: The Dorchester, Brown’s Hotel.

The Tides (Miami) – Redesigned by Kelly Wearstler, the hotel features just 45 suites, each with a view of the ocean. Intimate cocktails are available in the lobby — or in your suites — as is cuisine from La Marea’s chef Gonzalo Rivera. Also rans: Fontainebleau Miami Beach, The Standard, Mondrian Miami, Viceroy Miami.

Hotel Opus (Montreal) – Boutique hotel with modern design in an original avant-garde structure built in 1914 in the historic setting of downtown Montreal. Early art nouveau outside with an interior curving staircase by architect Dan Hanganu; a hot-hot-hot spot with Koko Restaurant and Bar featuring Pan-Asian cuisine. Minimalist guest rooms are nevertheless luxurious. Also rans: Hotel Le-St-James.

Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière (Paris) – One of those discreet lovers’ magnets: silk linens, personal butlers, huge mirrors that turn into televisions (there are even tellys above the Jacuzzi bathtubs). “Paris by Night” package includes welcoming caviar and champagne, intimate breakfast each morning, champagne dinner at Le Diane restaurant, and transport to and from the airport at 1,599€ nightly with a two-night minimum stay. If you actually want to be seen, the “Paris C’est L’Amour” package takes couples on a photo shoot to duplicate Doisneau’s famous photograph “The Kiss” (Le Baiser, taken in 1950). Also rans: Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, Hôtel du Petit Moulin, Hôtel Plaza Athénée.

Sky Lodge (Park City) – Off the hook. Every room has a Japanese hot tub on the balcony, granite countertops, Subzero stainless kitchens, and a private bar and cocktail lounge for hotel guests only. Also ran: The Chateaux at Silver Lake.

The Mansion on O Street (Washington DC) – The most luxurious hideaway for a dirty weekend in this three-piece-suit city. Off DuPont Circle, everyone who stays there is so famous that nobody — but nobody– will notice you. No keys: each guest gets a code, and none can be reached by telephone unless the guest provides the caller with a room name, as in: the John Lennon room; the Log Cabin suite … Also rans: Mayflower, Hay Adams, The Willard.

Hotel Opening Roundup: Encore Las Vegas, Mondrian South Beach, Viceroy Miami

image Despite the economic downtown, several hotel groups are forging ahead and taking reservations:

1. The Las Vegas Encore, by Team Wynn, is taking reservations for late January 2009.

2. The Mondrian South Beach is taking reservations as of December 1, and to celebrate the opening, they’re offering rooms at the bargain-basement price of $195 a night (through February 2009).

3. The Viceroy Miami is opening its Miami doors in February of 2009. Expect an infinity pool, billiard room, and movie theater (!).