Above: Beachfront dinner, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Miami

Miami Resorts Reassessed

Beachfront dinner, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Miami

The homogenization of America may continue apace, but a few pockets of resistance hold out and remain unique. New Orleans, with its Spanish, French and Creole heritage, is one such example — there’s no city quite like it anywhere in the world. And though not nearly as old, Miami, a cultural melting pot that celebrates its Latin American roots, is another. Besides a rich individual character, Miami offers an average of 248 days of sunshine a year, 35 miles of beachfront, thriving arts districts, an ever-evolving food scene and legendary nightlife. We spent a week there testing out a new luxury hotel and checking up on two others we’ve long recommended. We found Miami to be as vibrant as ever and living up to its Magic City moniker.

EAST Miami

EAST Miami - Tony Tur

Miami’s oldest neighborhood is Brickell, named after Mary Brickell, a native of England who opened a trading post there in the late 19th century and helped persuade Henry Flagler to build a rail link to the nascent city. Bordered by the Miami River to the north and Coconut Grove to the south, it is now one of the most densely populated financial districts in the country, flush with steel skyscrapers, luxury condos and tourists. We chose the 263-room EAST Miami to be in the heart of this lively location and because it is operated by Swire Hotels, which manages one of our favorite properties in Hong Kong, The Upper House. When we arrived, the 40-story glass tower was buzzing with arrivals, but check-in was efficient. We had booked a One Bedroom Suite King and were upgraded to one of the 89 residences.

Our 19th-floor Two-Bedroom Residence Suite – South was huge, with a suspended balcony high above the hubbub of the streets. With two bedrooms, two baths and two big closets, we could spread out, and had we been staying for a week or more, the full kitchen would have come in handy. There was just one problem: We couldn’t sleep. Despite being on an upper floor, loud street racing destroyed any chance of slumber. A Google search the next day revealed that this is a common problem in the neighborhood, and the authorities have yet to stop it.

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Above: Beachfront dinner, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Miami

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