Arrival Experience: Pulling into this newly opened high-rise, an offshoot of Starwood executives looking to do something more eco-friendly and luxe, one gets the feel that something here is different. Everything is green or sandy-hued. The foyer of 1 Hotel South Beach features a green moss wall that commands attention (or at least a selfie). The lounge features billowing fabrics, linen-lined seating areas, and large windows looking toward the street. Guests walk past a farmer’s market stand proffering fresh fruit from local producers, free for the taking. Often there is a juicing station that is especially popular. Reception is lively and happy to explain the hotel’s green ethos. A living wall backs the concierge area, and guests fawn over the circular key cards that are crafted from recycled wood. There are five versions of keys, which guests are keen to collect.
Dining: Beachcraft is the main hotel dining room and is under the direction of celebrated chef Tom Colicchio. The dining room is done up in wooden surfaces with cushioned seating, often in hidden nooks with booths and side tables overlooking the street. An open kitchen keeps the atmosphere lively with a central bar area where the breakfast buffet is set up each morning. Three meals a day are served here with a focus on sourcing local produce and ingredients as much as possible. Fresh seafood is an impressive highlight here, and the raw bar often draws locals for a unique dining experience. Guests can also nosh poolside where drink specials enliven the happy hour for those that want to sip and sup in view of the ocean. The rooftop café is open for lunch and dinner although it is reserved for hotel guests at lunch time. Its impressive views provide a 360-degree glimpse of Miami Beach.
Rooms: Guest rooms continue the theme of environmental protection. Pay close attention to the small details like filtered water fountains in place of bottled water, recycled coat hangers in the closets, and small terrariums in the rooms with fresh plants curated from the lobby shop. Beds sit on raised platform with sexy under-lighting. Thick duvets and pillowtop mattresses lull guests into a deep slumber, and bedside smart phones double as alarm clocks. As with any modern hotel, power outlets and USB ports are situated on either side of the bed, and free wireless high speed Internet winds throughout the hotel. Bathrooms have rainfall showers with pump toiletries crafted from cedar wood and aromatherapy scents. Large glass picture windows between the bedroom and bathroom put everything on display, but privacy curtains pull closed to protect the modest. Soft carpeting in the room keeps interior noise to a minimum, and small seating areas are positioned to take in the views. Most rooms have furnished balconies that give guests full views of the beach or pool area. Reaching the rooms via smart elevators (that save energy) is a cinch: simply push a button outside the elevator indicating your floor, and the screen shows you which elevator to take for the fastest journey.
Amenities: The two swimming pools are positioned on a high perch to provide excellent views of the ocean. Cushy seating and cabana areas are as much a place to see and be seen as they are a spot to relax from the hot sun or a dip in the pool. Valets handle parking, and ample meeting space encourages groups to hold functions here whether for work or social purposes. A spa is still in the works at this new hotel, which opened earlier in 2015, and a full fitness center boasts modern equipment so that guests can work on that beach body. A new children’s play area was nearing completion during our visit. This is perhaps the greenest and most innovative hotel in Miami Beach as it strives to be something different. It is casual and playful while respecting its surroundings and providing ample space for guests to enjoy the area’s energetic beach scene. Staffers seem proud of the eco-friendly focus here, and that type of pro-Earth ethos ends up rubbing off on guests, too. This hotel has a do-good, dual-purpose approach that won’t let you down on your next visit to Miami Beach.