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20 Jul

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The Standard Spa

July 20, 2013 | By |

The Standard Spa is one of the most magical spots of all on South Beach with its opulent pool and Lido Restaurant overlooking an amazing water font vista of Biscayne Bay, situated on lovely Belle Isle. It is a throwback to Miami’s Golden Age, and just a short visit will leave you feeling like you are on a tropical island paradise.

The heart of the hotel is the pool and hydrotherapy area, an ode to communal bathing as social sacrament. The outdoor aquacade encompasses a plunge pool, a hot tub, and a 12-foot-tall, three-inch-wide column of falling water. DJ-spun music plays through underwater speakers in the chlorine-free Sound Pool. In the clothing-optional mud baths, guests can slather one another with “golden body mud.” Arbors of sea-grape trees, night-blooming jasmine, and Moroccan palms are intended to create “pockets of contemplation.” Scattered about the lawn are more convivial arenas, such as a set of immense, pie-shaped wicker lounges flanking a small fire pit. Just off the courtyard is a Tyrolean-style wishing well, a kitsch holdover from the Lido days. Just off the Lobby is the hotel library with an assortment of eclectic and ever intriguing titles.

The new Standard is rooted in the genius of the late architect Morris Lapidus, a visionary of excess- and accidental post-modernist- who defined opulence some more than 50 years ago with the Fontainebleau. Lapidus also put his trademark baroque spin on the facade of the Lido, with the name of the hotel writ large in jaunty yellow neon. The building is rightfully a protected icon, with the Lido lettering remaining intact with the customary upside-down Standard sign.

Lapidus, through his unique design contributions, fought the good fight, in keeping South Beach from turning into Anywhere, U.S.A. Sadly and ironically, one of his last clients was a local Fuddruckers chain.

In the end, to last as long as the Lido, the Standard only needs to stay out of its own way and embrace Biscayne Bay, a lulling expanse of pure beauty that makes natives fall in love with Miami all over again. The Standard’s own hotelier, Andre’ Balazs insists he is resolved to keep the party small and quiet. “This little neighborhood of cottages, with the sounds of birds and children playing, is like nothing else in America,” he says, sipping a glass of wine as night falls and the skyline of downtown Miami glimmers across the bay. “It’s lost in time, unbelievably charming. The vibe doesn’t need music: the idea is to turn down the volume, not step into it.”

http://standardhotels.com/spa-miami-beach

09 Jul

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South Beach Local Bus Route

July 9, 2013 | By |

Climb aboard an air-conditioned bus for just 25₵ per trip and ride in comfort with stops all along Washington Avenue. Buses run every 13 to 20 minutes daily, stopping at popular destinations throughout SoBe.

Click here to view an image of the South Beach Local Bus Route.

Check out the SoBe LOCAL Bus map (pictured) outlining the buses travel route.

http://web.miamibeachfl.gov/visitors/scroll.aspx?id=14134

WillonSoBe

09 Jul

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The Van Dyke Cafe

July 9, 2013 | By |

One of my favorite restaurants on Lincoln Road Mall has to be the Van Dyke Cafe, located at 846 Lincoln Road on the corner of Jefferson Avenue. From the same purveyors of the famous News Cafe on Ocean Drive, The Van Dyke Cafe, offers up a great vantage point for some serious people watching in a charming European setting.

Happy hour is a great time to give them a try, Monday through Friday from 5-7:00 pm. In my opinion, you won’t find a better plate of fried calamari on the beach. ($6.00)

I love this place early in the morning, for coffee and a light breakfast, but if you are a lover of live Blues and Jazz, head upstairs for some great nightly performances. You are sure to have a great time here, but drinks will run you about $14 each outside of happy hour.

Happy Hour Specials: mojitos $6, fried calamari $6, draft beer $3, Sangria $4

www.thevandykecafe.com

WillonSoBe

08 Jul

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Fishing in Miami Beach

July 8, 2013 | By |

No trip to Florida’s “Gold Coast” can be complete without rewarding yourself to some great Atlantic fishing. The experience of being out on the open water looking inland at the Miami skyline will be one you won’t soon forget.

South Beach’s, South Point Marina has a boat that goes out daily but I prefer making the short trip to climb aboard the Kelley Fleet on 108th street. These guys have been at it since 1957 when Captain George Kelley started his fleet of full service leisure fishing vessels.

Go to their website, www.miamibeachfishing.com/index.htm and print or mention the coupon offer. For a mere $38.00 you will be treated to a rewarding day of fishing the great Miami waters. Check their schedule, but I like the 1:45pm departure time.

Conveniently close to South Beach, take Collins Avenue (A1A) North to 108th street, pull over to your left or Bay side into the Haulover Park Marina, one of the few free parking lots on the beach.

Don’t forget to send us a picture of your big catch. Here’s mine.

WillonSoBe

16 May

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Café Versailles

May 16, 2013 | By |

Spend any amount of time in South Miami and you will quickly notice that it is very rich in its diversity of cultures. South Beach in particular, is a flavourful mix of cultures that come together in this exotic paradise. As you walk on the beach or go for a stroll, you will hear many of the different languages of the world. This mix of cultures makes this place all the more interesting as it draws in people from all over the world.

One such culture that that adds to the spicy dish that is Miami, and cannot be ignored is that of Cuban Americans. One can’t help but notice the influence Cuban’s have on South Florida and in particular, Miami. In fact, one has to understand the role Cuban’s have played in making up this diverse community called Miami in order to really get a sense for this place. Alongside the blonde, and blue eyed Floridians with permanent beach tans, Cubans are at the heart of Miami.

And there is no better place to get a pulse on the Cuban community, than the Versailles Cuban Restaurant. Soon after it opened its doors in 1971, Versailles quickly became the gathering place for Miami’s Cuban exiles.

Go their for the best Cuban food in town, the best “cortaditto” (espresso with milk), and deserts you just can’t resist. My favourite is the dark caramel flan, which I have on a few occasions driven over the bridge from South Beach into town for.

Upon my first visit to Versailles,I walked into the traditional open window café where you come as close to Cuba while in the U.S.A. I was greeted by a local that immediately welcomed me to this cultural meeting place. “Benvenido” he said, welcoming me to this place, as though he was the owner of the establishment. I later realized that he was just a patron, but that this was no ordinary place. This place was special and was home to the community of Cuban American’s.

I don’t want to sound overly pariotic, I am a Canadian after all, but this place embodies “the American dream’. And although the Cuban men in double pocketed white shirts spend hours in front of the old open café window, talking politics, one can’t help but appreciate the freedom that has made America what it is today.

Every time I am down here, their is a story, still to this day, of the ordeal and danger that Cubans take on as they appear on the local news with images of dozens of Cuban escapees huddled together in makeshift rafts. We see the ones that thankfully make it to the American shore, but Versailles Café pays honour to the men and women that never had the chance to realize their same freedom.

The Versailles restaurant and café is located in Little Havana and worth the visit. On most afternoons, a charming older gentleman dances to the sounds of Cuba with his lovely mannequin partner, that never misses a step.

I recommend the Versailles Classico, and you cannot leave without having a café Bustello cortaditto with a dark mouth watering caramel flan.

WillonSoBe

16 May

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Biking in South Beach

May 16, 2013 | By |

Miami Beach is a “Biking Town”, and there’s no better way to experience this beautiful city than from a bike! Day or night, South Beach is always exciting, and the best way to see it all is on a bike!

Although “Deco Bike Rentals” are a great pay per use system spread out throughout Miami Beach, here are some of the bikes that are provided free for your enjoyment. Baskets and locks are also provided.

Great for doing some local food shopping or just riding under the beautiful Meridian Avenue tree canopy. I am sure you will find that a car isn’t needed here.

WillOnSoBe

16 May

By

Picnics in the Park

May 16, 2013 | By |

Every apartment has a picnic basket, a blanket, light plates, and cooler bags for you to use whether you are taking in a movie on Wednesday night under the stars, or out for a picnic and day of relaxation in South Point Park to watch the sun set over Fisher Island.

12 Apr

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Some South Beach History

April 12, 2013 | By |

There is a lot of history spread out all over South Beach, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Miami Design Prevention League. Be sure to walk along Ocean Drive and take in its former splendor and history.

If you are a movie buff like myself, you have probably watched the 1983 film, “Scarface”, at some time or other. Scripted by Oliver Stone, this Brian de Palma updating of the old gangster story is now regarded as a classic. An old English teacher of mine referred to it as basically RICHARD III with a lot of coke.

When Fidel Castro opened up the harbour at Mariel in May 1980 to allow 125,000 Cubans to join relatives in the US, he took the opportunity to export some of the country’s toughest criminals.

Al Pacino’s character, Tony Montana’s arrival in the Art Deco District of Miami Beach was shot on Ocean Drive at 7th Street. The ‘Sun Ray Apartments’, where Montana’s brother is dismembered by chainsaw, has been revamped to become Johnny Rocket’s, 728 Ocean Drive between the Beacon and Colony hotels near 7th street.

Go ahead and walk up the stairs and maybe knock on the door where the scene took place in ’83. Don’t be scarred, the chainsaw wielding Columbians are long gone, and at the writing of this post the apartments above Johnny Rockets were up for lease, so I don’t think anyone will answer.

26 Mar

By

Welcome to South Beach, Miami!

March 26, 2013 | By |

n both daytime and at nightfall, the South Beach section of Miami Beach is a major entertainment destination with hundreds of nightclubs,restaurantsboutiques and hotels. The area is popular with both American and international tourists (mainly from CanadaLatin America,EuropeIsraelthe Caribbean and within the United States), with some having permanent or second homes. The large number of Europeantourists also explains their influence on South Beach’s lax and overall tolerance of the female monokini, aka topless sunbathing, despite it being a public beach.

The reflection of South Beach’s residents is evident in the various European languages, as well as Semitic languages and many otherlanguages spoken. In 2000, 55% of residents of the city of Miami Beach spoke Spanish as a first language, while English was the first language for 33% of the population. Portuguese (mainly Brazilian Portuguese) was spoken by 3% of residents, while French (includingCanadian French) was spoken by 2%, German by 1.12%, Italian 0.99%, and Russian by 0.85% of the population. Owing to the area’s largeJewish and Israeli community, Yiddish was spoken by 0.81% of residents, and Hebrew by 0.74%.[11]

Another unique aesthetic attribute of South Beach is the presence of several colorful and unique stands used by South Beach’s lifeguards. After Hurricane Andrew, Architect William Lane donated his design services to the city and added new stops on design tours in the form of lifeguard towers. His towers instantly became symbols of the revived City of Miami Beach.