Loews Miami Beach Hotel didn’t invent South Beach, but there is no denying that since it opened on Christmas day 1998, the 792-room resort has played – and continues to play – a significant role in the South Beach hospitality and lifestyle scenes.
Located in the heart of South Beach, Loews Miami Beach Hotel sits on three-and-a-half acres of prime Miami Beach real estate, with Ocean Ave and the Atlantic Ocean serving as its back yard and Collins Ave. and the Lincoln Road pedestrian shopping district as its front yard.
Simply stated, everything that is South Beach at one to another passes in front or behind of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel – the second largest resort hotel along Miami Beach. Only the Fontainebleau to the north is larger.
The Loews Miami Beach Hotel actually is comprised of two main buildings – the 18-story tower that houses 700 guest rooms and the historic St. Moritz, which has 92 guest rooms. The St. Moritz is an Art Deco masterpiece that still has its original sign overlooking Collins Ave. Along with the guest rooms, the St. Moritz is home to the exhale Spa and the terrific Lure Fishbar restaurant (https://www.loewshotels.com/miami-beach/).
One of the few true landmarks remaining from Miami Beach’s Art Deco days, the St. Moritz – built in 1939 – was restored by the Tisch family, which owns Loews Hotels, in the late 1990s – the same time they were building the hotel tower on the site of an old apartment building.
The Loews Miami Beach Hotel, in fact, started as a public/private venture between the City if Miami Beach and the Tisch family, whose roots in the Miami area go back to the late 1950s when the Tisch family developed the Americana hotel in the North Miami enclave of Bal Harbour. The trendy Bal Harbour Shops now sit on most of that land.
When Loews Hotels won the rights – over other major hotel companies – for the rights to build a hotel on South Beach, the area basically was a hodge podge small hotels, rundown apartment buildings and worse.
“The ‘80sw were not good for Miami Beach,’’ said Alex Tonarelli, managing director of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. “The early ‘90s weren’t too good, either.’’
Basically, until the Loews Miami Beach opened, nothing new had been built along that stretch of South Beach in the previous 30 years.
“It all sort of started here,’’ Tonarelli said. “Once people started to smell a good thing in Miami Beach, there was just an explosion.’’
An explosion that continues to this day – with the Loews Miami Beach Hotel square in the middle.
“It (the hotel) brought a lot of credibility to the neighborhood,’’ Tonarelli said. “The Miami Beach Convention Center (scheduled for renovation in January 2016) is only four blocks away, so it brought a lot of credibility to the business market.
“On the transient side, this was the first time the world saw this destination (South Beach) in a different light because a major brand was investing in the market.’’
Invest it did. In addition to exhale Spa and Lure, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel features the SOAK Cabanas and Daybeds, each with butler service, a pool deck surrounded by towering date palms and gated beach access. Guests also have access to a variety of water sports activities, including wave runners, kayaks and parasailing.
While South Beach is perceived by many as an adult playground, Loews Miami Beach Hotel is one of the more family friendly resorts in South Florida, offering programs for pre-teens and teens.
“This is a very comfortable environment for families,’’ Tonarelli said. “You can come here and stay in the cabanas with the kids and even watch a ‘dive-in’ movie at night. We really try to have fun.
“There are the South Beach night clubs around us, too. But at the end of the day, we want our guests to come back to privacy and quiet. We don’t have a night club on the property. We want people to come here and feel like they walk around comfortably. If you want to go out, you can, but then you can come back here and sleep.’’