With its debut this week, Fontainebleau® Miami Beach is poised to recapture its place among the world's most celebrated resort playgrounds.
Morris Lapidus' emblematic curvilinear building, originally the subject of outrage by critics before being embraced by the world's architects, designers and travelers alike, today defines Miami Beach's often-exuberant architectural aesthetic. His once avant-garde building is now an enduring architectural masterpiece, and perhaps more importantly, his spirit now shapes a spectacular $1 billion rebirth. Lapidus once wrote "If you create a stage and it is grand, everyone who enters will play their part." Few would argue that the new Fontainebleau will succeed in offering a pulse-quickening setting in which guests can make an unforgettable entrance. Virtually every aspect of the 22-acre showplace celebrates the architect's flair for the theatrical.
"We are moving the resort into the future with a nod to its iconic past," said Jeffrey Soffer, Fontainebleau Resorts' Executive Chairman. "Fontainebleau is infused with the sexy, glamorous, ultramodern spirit of the idiosyncratic original. With the help of a team of internationally-acclaimed architects, designers and artists, we harnessed the resort's storied setting and striking architectural details to create a 21st century showplace that will cater to a new generation of tastemakers."
Fronting the Atlantic Ocean, the new 1504-room resort's most distinguishing features include two new towers; 11 restaurants and lounges; a 40,000-square-foot spa; and dramatic oceanfront poolscape featuring a free-form pool shaped as a re-interpretation of Lapidus' signature bow-tie design.
In re-envisioning the resort, its owners assembled a team of eight international architects, designers and project managers to infuse the space with a modern sense of style and sophistication. From its public spaces, lobby and highly-stylized restaurants to its guest rooms, spa and pool, the resort sparkles with an intoxicating mix of old and new. In the process, the original Lapidus buildings were stripped to steel studs and bare concrete in order to entirely recreate guest rooms, public spaces and resort facilities. Painstakingly, the design team preserved or recreated many of Lapidus' historical design elements including the circular ceilings, bow-tie design motifs and famed "Staircase to Nowhere."
The resort's two original towers, Chateau and Versailles, comprise 846 guest rooms. Complementing these legacy buildings are two new, luxury all-suite towers the 37-floor Trésor and 18-floor Sorrento offering a combined 658 junior, one- and two-bedroom suites. Stylishly residential, the suites will feature fabrics, furnishings and finishes with an easy tropical elegance. Ranging from 500 to 1,742-square-feet, the rooms will include flat panel televisions; kitchenettes with mini-refrigerator, sink and microwave; marble bathrooms with granite counters, oversized jetted tubs and roomy walk-in showers. Spacious balconies will offer views of the Atlantic Ocean, South Beach, Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami.
Fontainebleau Miami Beach will bring together noted chefs and designers to create dining destinations that are both dramatic and extraordinarily diverse. The resort's 11 restaurants and lounges will include three signature restaurants by celebrated chefs Alfred Portale (chef and owner of perennial New York favorite Gotham Bar and Grill), Scott Conant (formerly of L'Impero, Alto and the soon-to-open Scarpetta in New York City) and the stateside debut of Alan Yau's Hakkasan (Britain's only Michelin-rated Chinese restaurant.)
Designed by Jeffery Beers International, Gotham Steak will be a two-level restaurant with indoor and al fresco dining. Portale's menu will expand beyond modern American steakhouse fare to include fresh seafood, specialty cuts of meat and 500+ wines from around the world. Design highlights will include a brilliant chandelier of hand-blown glass, an open exposition kitchen and a two-level, glass-enclosed wine cellar.
Conant will be at the helm of Scarpetta, the resort's Italian restaurant. His regional menu will feature clean, crisp flavors prepared in layers to reflect the quality of locally-sourced ingredients. Celebrated for bringing out exquisite flavor from simple ingredients, Conant will rely on Florida's bounty of farm-fresh and organic produce to craft lunch and dinner menus of surprising complexity. Located ocean and poolside, the David Collins-designed restaurant will offer expansive outdoor wrap-around dining terrace.
Yau's award-winning Cantonese cuisine will be the focus of Hakkasan, the resort's sleek and contemporary Chinese restaurant. The diverse menu of New World wines and sake will complement Yau's classic fare. Designed by French design firm Gilles & Boissier, the restaurant is located atop the fourth floor and will afford guests stunning views of the beach.
Inspired by the Côte d'Azur, Fontainebleau will open La Côte, a chic, two-level restaurant situated beach and poolside. At the bar, guests will find fashionable cocktails and tapas-style snacks while the restaurant will serve simple, flavorful cuisine of the South of France. Additional dining experiences at Fontainebleau will include Vida, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; Glow pool bar; Bleau lobby bar and Fresh, offering on-the-go fare, as well as in-room private dining. Overseeing the property's restaurants will be Executive Chef Sean O'Connell, a Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong alum whose culinary training includes top kitchen positions at the Bellagio (Las Vegas), Legian Resort (Bali) and Banyan Tree Resort (Phuket, Thailand).
In an area known for its thriving nightlife, Fontainebleau Miami Beach will have two dynamic nightlife venues: its marquee nightclub, LIV, which will be located in the former famed Tropigala lounge as well as Blade sushi bar and exclusive pool.
Under the design direction of Jeffrey Beers and Lifescapes International, Fontainebleau's new poolscape boasts "walls of water" intermingled with a free-form pool. Guests can also relax by an exclusive European-style pool with a sexy enclave surrounded by cabanas and sun loungers. Those with families can spend the day in multiple small dipping pools and an interactive children's waterscape play area. This renowned ocean-side focal point will remain as glamorous as when James Bond and Goldfinger sat by the pool for a heated game of gin rummy.
The two-level Lapis spa at Fontainebleau, designed by Richardson Sadeki, will harness the natural qualities of water to create a shared experience that is both restorative and renewing. Mineral-rich water in many forms including mist, rain and steam will be used throughout the 40,000-square-foot spa that features 30 private treatment rooms as well as a co-ed pool and lounge area.
Lapis will draw upon thermal therapies, the oldest spa treatments that transfer energy from heated elements of earth, water and air. Merging these age old techniques with the latest contemporary technology and design, Lapis will provide guests with stress-relief, anti-aging and wellness solutions each a sensory experience designed to energize and rejuvenate.
Spa interiors, treatments and programs will be unexpectedly re-interpreted creating an environment inspiring social engagement that is contemplative, pure and sophisticated. A communal sanctuary, Lapis provides intimate moments within a quiet collective.
With the dream of creating one of the world's most opulent and magnificent resorts, innovative hotelier Ben Novack purchased the Harvey Firestone mansion on Collins Avenue in 1952 for $2.3 million and appointed Morris Lapidus as the project architect for a new hotel.
Lapidus' plan was to create the largest hotel in Miami Beach including 554 guest rooms in an 11-story gently curving façade. Fontainebleau Hotel opened in late 1954 with an inaugural grand ball attended by 1,600 people, including the mayor of Fontainebleau, France.
Through the 1950s and 1960s, Fontainebleau reigned as the top resort hotel in Miami Beach. Every major entertainer stayed or performed at Fontainebleau, including the Rat Pack, Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Judy Garland, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis, Marlene Dietrich, Debbie Reynolds and many others.
Now, with its grand opening in fall 2008, Fontainebleau will reclaim its seat as a top U.S. destination, attracting today's more discerning global traveler with its high-end resort experience, fine dining and nightlife attractions, all providing a stage for visitors and guests alike.