By Chris Wilson
Canadians flock to Florida all the time (looking at you, snowbirds and spring breakers), but Miami? It’s a different trip entirely. Long an international destination for the well-heeled (in exquisitely crafted footwear with shiny, red-lacquered soles), this famous coastal oasis is another world. Swanky. Glamorous. Dazzlingly cosmopolitan, with a backdrop of legendary beaches and tropical breezes. The warmth, opulence, world-famous architecture, much-buzzed-about cuisine and incredible attractions will ensure you’re endlessly captivated. I am—every time I go.
Where to Stay
Acqualina Resort, acqualinaresort.com, is an ultra-luxe locale in Sunny Isles Beach and one of my all-time favourite hotels. It’s the ultimate getaway spot in South Florida. It’s also no surprise to me (nor will it be to you) that Acqualina was named the #1 Best Resort in the Continental U.S. this year in the U.S. News & World Report’s best hotels ranking—for the fourth time.
Acqualina has also earned a Forbes Five-Star Award for nine consecutive years, TripAdvisor’s ranking as #1 Luxury Beachfront Resort in the U.S. for six consecutive years, plus the American Automobile Association’s AAA Five-Diamond Award for 14 years in a row. Then there’s the three prestigious awards from U.S.A. Today—including #1 Waterfront Hotel in the U.S.
What’s all the fuss about? This sumptuous, 4.5-acre beachfront oasis boasts gorgeous grounds with outdoor living room settings, beautiful views, three oceanfront swimming pools, sumptuous Mediterranean décor and top-notch dining. For us, the service was outstanding: truly five-diamond. Our one-bedroom suite was tastefully appointed and a definite highlight of our stay was the decadent new adult pool experience. A lush, exclusive setting with four expansive, well-stocked new cabanas, it offers its own menu, signature drinks and a dedicated butler to provide everything from frozen delicacies to scented towelettes. Dinner at Ke-Uh is another treat at Acqualina. The elegant eatery dishes up Japanese fusion cuisine and you can dine, if you wish, on a gorgeous patio overlooking the Atlantic.
Located in the heart of South Beach, Loews Miami Beach, loewshotels.com/miami-beach, is an iconic landmark that’s steps from both the ocean and the celebrated Art Deco District. It’s perfectly situated for basking at the beach and drinking in South Beach’s famed nightlife. You’ll definitely want to book one of Lowes’ state-of-the-art SOAK cabanas. These personal poolside retreats include rooftop sundecks, personal concierge service and lots of other VIP amenities. You’ll also feel like a VIP while dining at the resort’s award-winning Lure Fishbar. An ideal spot for seafood, libations and people watching, Lure will, well, lure you in with its caviar service, shellfish plateaux and mains such as Crispy Asian Snapper for Two and Surf and Turf.
Where to Dine
To put some razzle-dazzle in a Miami night on the town, be sure to make reservations for Villa Azure, villaazurmiamibeach.com. Located at 309 23rd Street, this distinctive venue serves up an epicurean lifestyle adventure you won’t soon forget. Certainly, it’s one of the most unique dining experiences I’ve ever had. Imagine the south of France with a Miami twist, exceptional cuisine and an uber chic, dynamic vibe. Nosh on Chateaubriand au Poivre or Dover Sole Meunière, prepared tableside, sip exceptional cocktails, enjoy the entertainment and dance the night away, if you wish.
For a casual, slice-of-Miami outing, make a beeline for Joia Beach Restaurant & Beach Club, where the bright lights meet the beach. A hidden gem on Watson Island near downtown, it’s the only private beachfront location in Miami where you can dine with your toes in the sand. A stylish day-to-night destination, Joia dishes a European-inspired menu with freshly-sourced seasonal ingredients, plus inspired libations. Care for a Miami Vice Mojito?
On weekends, Joia Beach delivers a laid-back experience during the day, transforming into an open-air night club once the sun goes down. Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Get Around
Why drive when you can be driven? During our most recent stay in Miami, we sat in the backseat while our chauffeur from Ocean Drive Limousines, oceandrivelimo.com, dealt with traffic. Our driver, Rada, was polite, professional and always on time to ensure we had a sweet ride.