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Sweet Escape

Michelle M. Havich

   Escape to another time when you head down south to the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. Originally opened in 1954, this jewel was designed by architect Morris Lapidus, who wanted to capture all the glamour of a Hollywood movie set, including a sweeping “staircase to nowhere,” which was perfect for ladies to make their grand entrance into the 17,000-square foot lobby laid with marble Lapidus’ signature “bow-tie” tiles.

   A $1-billion renovation and expansion was completed in 2008, restoring the hotel to its former glory, and making it a thoroughly modern escape from the everyday.

   Stepping into the magnificent lobby, you almost expect to see Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin sitting on one of the chaise lounges, watching the ladies go by. Above them sparkle three massive “wedding cake” chandeliers that are reproductions of the original fixtures. Perhaps they would escort a lady or two over to the open Bleau Bar for a dry martini or tropical libation.

   Days at the Fontainebleau are pure luxury. Head to the resort’s oceanfront poolscape to soak up some rays and people watch. On the weekends, a DJ spins tunes to keep the energy up at the main pool, which is a modern take on Lapidus’ bow-tie shape. Opium beds and daybeds surround the nine property pools, as well as private cabanas, all of which are available to rent. Each cabana comes complete with a flat-screen television, butler service, mini refrigerator and a safe to lock up valuables. For the ultimate in poolside luxury, book the cabana in the center of the Oasis pool for $1,000 per day.

   If lazing in the sun is not your thing, head to Lapis, the resort’s luxurious spa, which focuses on the element of water. Rain corridors, steam rooms and special pools are throughout each side, while a mineral-rich heated pool runs through the center, which can be enjoyed by both men and women. Treatments are designed to enhance both health and well-being, using natural thermal and mineral water therapies. Lapis also in the only place outside of New York that offers Tracie Martyn services and products.

   Each one of the resort’s 1,504 rooms features an iMac computer, iPod dock and flat-screen television. After getting ready using the spa's signature shampoos and body wash, it’s time to hit the town. And you don’t even need to call a cab. Fontainebleau has 11 restaurants and lounges on the property, so there truly is something for every taste.

   Highlights are Alfred Portale’s Gotham Steak, which features a menu that goes above and beyond the typical steak house fare, and offers more than 1,500 wines from around the world. Scott Conant brought his New York restaurant, Scarpetta, to the beach, making it the Fontainebleau’s signature Italian restaurant. The seasonally inspired menu reflects both Conant’s heritage and his time spent in Italy.

   Fans of London’s Michelin-rated Hakkasan will love the only stateside version of the restaurant. Voted 2010 Best Newcomer in South Florida by Zagat, the restaurant’s Cantonese cuisine is complemented by the amazing views of the ocean. Be sure to try their signature Hakka cocktail, a refreshing blend of vodka, Kubota sake, lychee juice, lime, coconut and fresh passion fruit.

   LIV is a popular place with both celebrities and locals. The high-energy nightclub is the perfect place to see and be seen.

   Whether you are a sun worshipper, looking for the perfect oceanfront rest, or a foodie hoping to sample some of the area’s best dining experiences, the Fontainebleau is the ideal place to make your escape. fontainebleau.com

 

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