Baby, it’s cold outside! Blizzards are blowing. The sun checks out for the day by 5pm. You’ve got four long months of bitter chill ahead of you and you’ve probably already lost a mitten. With Art Basel Miami now in town, it’s prime time to consider the 7 reasons why you should be taking a tropical time-out to Miami immediately.
1. Bunking Down at the James Royal Palm
South Beach’s hippest new hotel, the James Royal Palm, is celebrating its first birthday this winter. The boutique-style hot spot offers quirky-cool modern design elements (like "Ctrl" "Alt" "Del" throw pillows and a peekaboo window from shower to bedroom) and plenty of funky amenities—you can order an "in-room bartender" from room service, or borrow books and bicycles from the friendly lobby staff. Begin with brunch (or—in true South Beach style —"linner") from the fresh and delicious Florida Cookery restaurant on-site, which boasts a vertical garden dangling from a slatted wall. Then saunter off to one of the hotel’s two pools or its beachfront—a wonderfully accommodating 2pm checkout time means you can sneak in one more dip before the weekend ends!
2. Dining à la Esther Williams
One of Miami’s most celebrated chefs opened his eponymous Restaurant Michael Schwartz at the Raleigh Hotel earlier this year. The grilled octopus, heirloom tomatoes, and hominy are absolute must-tries. But perhaps the biggest draw is the romantic alfresco dining, with tables circling the grand 1942 Art Deco pool, where actress Esther Williams filmed many of her "bathing beauty" flicks. After supper, stop in the hotel’s Martini Bar and ask knowledgeable barkeep Trevor (a talented Brooklyn transplant) to mix you up a drink with a twist—and a tale.
Recommended Fodor’s Video
3. Pampering in South Beach
The oceanfront Ritz-Carlton South Beach recently completed an extensive guestroom renovation for sumptuous "barefoot luxury" results. The Ritz eschews minimalist Miami for plush seaside comfort. The update also pays homage to the building’s heritage as the DeLido Hotel, fashioned by famed Art Deco architect Morris Lapidus, and provides a luxe backdrop the hotel’s extensive art collection—an impressive mix of contemporary and experimental pieces. No stay is complete without a visit to the 14-room spa, where the "Signature Massage" might just be the best in all of Miami.
4. Getting an Art Fix
It’s not just the gorgeous bodies you can’t take your eyes off in Miami—it’s increasingly the incredible art. In addition to the aforementioned annual Art Basel, the brand-new Pérez Art Museum Miami opened this week, with modern pieces and contemporary installations perched on the shore of Biscayne Bay. The impressive museum strengthens the city’s already buzzy art scene, and ditches gallery stuffiness for playful experimentation.
5. Sipping at Soho House
Where did Vanity Fair host its Art Basel party earlier this week? Cecconi’s restaurant at the Soho Beach House. This international members’ club is perhaps the ultimate cool crowd magnet in Miami, with celebs and creative types flocking to its whimsical interiors, rooftop pool, sultry cocktail veranda, and chic Cowshed spa. Luxe vintage with a touch of Spanish flair is the name of the game here (note: you don’t have to be a member to book a room), and compared to its slightly staid New York and London counterparts, this outpost isn’t afraid to loosen its tie and salsa in the sand.
6. Dining at the SLS
The only stress you should be feeling in Miami is when it comes to deciding on dinner. Should you indulge in some of the best sushi in town from renowned chef Katsuya Uechi, or experiment with the ingenious Spanish-themed small bites from James Beard-winner José Andrés? At the buzzy SLS South Beach, you don’t have to deliberate. Start with some mouthwatering crab hand rolls, shishito peppers, and sashimi at Katsuya, then walk a few steps and make a "dessert" out of the intoxicating Cubano sandwich (Jamon Iberico atop a crispy hollow bread infused with molten Swiss cheese foam) at The Bazaar. Finish it all off with a liquid nitrogen caipirinha concoction from the adjacent Bar Centro.
7. Beaching It
Sure, you may want to party all night with the beautiful people at LIV at the Fontainebleau or SL Miami at The James. Or, spend all your time feasting on the amazing food and cultural scene. But when it comes down to it, the ultimate reason to go to Miami this winter? That alluring, captivating stretch of sand and the gentle, azure waves—so go ahead, dive right in—the water’s fine!
Photo Credits: Courtesy of James Royal Palm, Restaurant Michael Schwartz, PÃ©rez Art Museum Miami, Soho Beach House, SLS South Beach