Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Beachfront bliss in Miami

Soho Beach House, newly opened on legendary Collins Avenue

We’ve got Miami on the brain (that's a hint about our November/December issue), so we thought we’d bring you a special look at the city's Soho Beach House. It's the new tropical outpost from London-based private club and hotel firm, Soho House, and their third US property (the others are in West Hollywood and New York).
For this latest project, Soho House took on the monumental task of reestablishing a 15-story beachfront hotel built in 1941 (some of you might remember it as The Sovereign). They turned to the local architectural firm of Shulman + Associates for its renovation, and to their in-house designer, Vicky Charles, for its interiors. The project was completed in about a year, and just last month was a finalist at the Urban Land Institute’s 2011 Visionary Awards ceremony.
“All our clubs try to create a home-away-from-home for like-minded creative people,” says Charles, who describes the hotel’s look as “flip-flop glamour, with a South American feel.” There’s a definite historic-vibe throughout the public and private areas (leather club chairs and retro-style fans, for example) but it all melds harmoniously with the cool modernism of the architecture. When asked how one goes about fitting a brand’s distinct look (traditional with a twist of eco) into an iconic setting (the ultimate in Art Deco), the designer replies, “Without thinking too much about it!" And she's clearly hit the mark.
With its wood paneling, the Drawing Room, at the heart of the hotel, offers a cool respite from the bright Florida sunlight. Guests can order food and drinks, visit the Cuban coffee bar, or indulge in a selection of rare cigars.
Cecconi's, the hotel's casual but glittering restaurant and bar defines what interior designer Vicky Charles calls "flip-flop glamor."
"The ultimate goal is to make a space comfortable," she continues, "and somewhere you want to spend time in.” Charles, who is British but based in New York, started working for Soho House as a waitress in their London location 12 years ago. “I have grown with the company and understand the aesthetics and design philosophy of the brand,” she says, proving that there's no single route to becoming a leading designer, short of hard work and a keen eye.
About a third of the furnishings throughout the 50-room hotel are antiques, purchased by Charles in the last few months of the installation. (From eBay!) “It was a very organic process,” she explains, “with furniture layouts changing, and swap-outs as we installed—just as one might do in their own home.” Many of the new pieces were designed in-house and custom-made for the Miami property, and all were created with an emphasis on reclaimed materials.
A Beachside room in the main tower offers stunning ocean views.
Throughout the tower guest rooms, and particularly in their baths, designer Vicky Charles played on the geometric pattern of the buildings original brise soleil.
Dreaming of a sandy, not snowy, Christmas or New Years? Click here for more information on the hotel's holiday offerings and events. (Or just check out the special menu for inspiration! Panettone with warm zabaione totally trumps plain old pumpkin pie.)


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