Miami is not merely a beach town. The so-called Magic City has plenty of attractions that have nothing to do with bikinis, spray-on tans and partying. Yet the hotel hasn’t seemed to catch up to this fact, with most new properties still centered on the (admittedly amazing) stretch of South Beach sand. However the newest resident in town, the AC Hotel Miami Beach, is about to change all that. Conceived for creative and passionate travelers with a millennial mindset, at a price point that is accessible for younger guests as well, the new hotel from Marriott caters to those who might prefer to spend their days and nights in the Design District.
Located on Collins Ave. across from the new Miami Beach Edition, the AC celebrated its opening recently with a show of creative force. The evening of art, design and architecture was hosted by fashion photographer and TV personality Nigel Barker, as well as Rem D. Koolhaas, co-founder and creative director of the architecture-inspired footwear brand United Nude. Other guests included Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) Interim Director Leann Standish; artist, photographer and director Andrea Sisson; Slow Watches co-founder Chris Noerskau; and Jane Wooldridge, visual arts editor of The Miami Herald Media Company. A moderated panel discussion about travel and style of young creatives and entrepreneurs was presented by independent travel and culture publication Boat Magazine.
Guests were also offered the first opportunity to peruse the United Nude and Slow Watches pop-up shop on property, featuring the brands' newest products. United Nude showcased its renowned collaboration with famed architect Zaha Hadid, which incorporates 3D printing technology. Slow Watches also officially unveiled its Swiss-made timepieces in the U.S. "I'm delighted to participate in the opening of the AC Hotel Miami Beach. The brand's commitment to creating meaningful experiences through every style element resonates with my work as a photographer and author, capturing and reframing significant moments in fashion and design, with a fresh lens and perspective," Barker noted at the event.
Koolhaas, whose uncle is the legendary architect Rem Koolhaas, added, "I was drawn by AC Hotel's commitment to making discerning architecture and design affordable and accessible for creatives and entrepreneurs around the world. United Nude translates formal principles of architecture into a shoe collection with clean, modern designs and universal appeal. Partnering with a pop-up shop at AC Hotel Miami Beach is a natural fit.” AC’s owner Robert Finvarb also presented a piece from artist Chuck Ramirez to PAMM’s Standish. As an extension of the hotel’s contemporary art collection, which is curated by Miami gallerist Dina Mitrani, the work by Ramirez is being shown in the hotel and will later become part of the PAMM collection.
The AC brand embodies a clean and modern design approach, heavy on style but doing away with costly extras that younger travelers simply don’t need or want to pay for. Founded in Spain, a European sensibility pervades the AC properties, which include hotels in Barcelona, Milan and Nice as well as New Orleans, Chicago and Washington, DC. Designed by Miami-based Kobi Karp Architecture, the seven-story, 150-room AC Hotel Miami Beach features the brand's signature open-concept spaces. The AC Lounge is representative of a space suitable for working, connecting and socializing. The hotel partnered with Jennifer Massolo, founder of The Liquid Projects, on a signature food and beverage program showcasing incredible cocktails and tapas-style small dishes.
While in town for the opening, we also got to experience a number of local attractions that differ from the city’s usual flashy offerings. Highlights included the Market at Edition, celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s modern take on the classic, 24-hour Miami Beach eatery; Miami Ironside, an urban art and design district located in the Upper Eastside that brings together all kinds of creative entrepreneurs in former warehouse spaces; and the Miami Design District, a fusion of haute couture and high-end design that’s one of the coolest destinations in the U.S. Nearby, the PAMM is a mecca for contemporary art downtown designed by the famed firm of Herzog & de Meuron, while the Wynnwood Arts District is home to over 70 galleries, museums and private collections. Also, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Biscayne Boulevard, is Florida's largest performing arts center.
Many of the interesting interludes were part of The Art Experience, a unique Miami happening that’s indicative of AC’s guest’s interests. Led by the extremely knowledgeable Susana Baker, tours can be tailored to visitor’s wishes, encompassing the best of everything in the Wynwood, Midtown and Design Districts. Other tours include The Artistic Tapas Journey, The Heritage Tour, The Design District Shopping excursion and The South Beach Art Deco outing. From ultra-high end boutiques to private art collections with millions of dollars worth of incredible art, and everything in between, Baker breathlessly narrated the history and happenings in the amazingly-inspired and diverse districts.
At the Adrienne Arsht Center we dined at Books & Books, a bookstore on the center’s ground floor that doubles as a beautiful bistro under the direction of Chef Allen Susser, who espouses a strong commitment to local fresh ingredients. The beer, wine and cocktails aren’t half bad either, and we picked up something for our library as well. Back at the AC Miami Beach, we were soothed by the cool, modern urbanity of the airy spaces, and refreshed with an amazing gin and tonic from the AC Lounge that featured Hendrick’s Gin from Scotland with artisanal tonic water, infused with fresh basil leaves and peppercorns.