While there’s no denying it will take some time for the hospitality industry to recover from COVID-19, the newly renovated Loews Miami Beach is well-positioned to capture pent-up demand. When the Loews opened in 1998, it was the first new hotel to be built on Miami Beach for 30 years, serving as a catalyst for the tourism destination. Some two decades later, nearly every major hotel brand has a flag on Miami Beach, but Loews is in the spotlight again with a breathtaking $50 million renovation of the 790-room property that combines the now-iconic 17-story tower and the St. Moritz, a 1939 Art Deco gem. Though the property is compact, Loews Hotels has been swift to acclimate to new safety and well-being protocols, becoming its own oasis in the heart of South Beach.
Everything has been redone — from every guestroom to the restaurants, pool area, Kid’s Club, and Exhale Spa — all streamlined and modernized over the last few years. We love the new look interior designer Simeone Deary created under the guidance of Loews Hotels chairman and CEO Jonathan Tisch; it incorporates more organic elements and moody colors, yet retaining the Miami Art Deco vibe. Think: Out with pastels, and in with chic grays, metallic tones and deep shades of blue and purple.
The lobby feels fresh, guests are drawn in by a massive art installation by Chicago artist Sarah Raskey that sits behind the open reception and looks like a giant sparkling geode. Cleverly, they’ve taken this gorgeous crystalline visual and weaved it throughout the hotel, in hallway carpets, the guestroom furnishings and public spaces. Post-COVID-19, Loews has installed spacing markers, guided routes and some plexiglass to keep everyone safely apart, hand sanitizer stations have been added, and all guests and employees are required to wear face coverings/masks indoors.
Travel Agent had a thorough tour with managing director Mutluhan Kucuk, pre-COVID-19 and we were blown away by the new guestroom design. We loved the clever new functional furniture, the main piece — a unit elevated to bar height incorporating a desk and dresser — is not only more comfortable but also offers much more storage. Bathrooms are modern with sleek stone finishes, large walk-in showers, well-lit and with built-in magnifying mirrors. Top guestrooms are the Ocean Front Balcony Rooms, (we loved No. 1551, with its tidy, two-person balcony looking directly over the pool onto Miami Beach) but any room of this class will offer the same gorgeous perspective—the higher you go the better the beach views. Many are connectors and can be King or Double, perfect for families. The Ocean View Balcony Rooms offer similar configuration options but look out from the side of the building, glimpsing both the ocean and city scenes.
Loews Miami Beach has 67 suites, and many offer kitchenettes, with a microwave, sink, wet bar and refrigerators, all very handy in the age of social distancing. Top Digs: The two duplex Presidential Suites. Our favorite is room No. 1756, which has a massive balcony overlooking Miami Beach, a gorgeous double-height living room with ocean views, flat-screen TV, Bose surround sound, dining table for six, large master bedroom and grand bathroom with marble jacuzzi tub and double sink, and a private gym space. Equally grand but with city skyline views, is room No. 1617, which offers similar accommodation, sleek duplex living room, large balcony and — for the germ-free gym bunnies — a deluxe private workout area with Peloton bike, treadmill and weights.
For added safety, Loews Hotels have rolled out contactless guestroom experiences across the brand, all guest requests can be texted through the “Chat Your Service” program, TVs can be operated with the Sonifi app, linens and towels can be ordered and delivered in a plastic bag outside the guestroom door, and when possible guestrooms are left vacant for 24 hours between occupancy.
The revamped food and beverage offerings are well suited to cater guests post-pandemic. The new Miami Joe Coffee Co. is a grab-and-go serving unique takeaway options by local producers — single origin coffees from Panther Coffee, artisanal bread and pastries from Zak the Baker and ice cream from Little Havana’s Azucar ice cream, plus freshly made salads and sandwiches. Bar Collins, the sexy square bar at the center of the new lobby design serves curated cocktails and a locally infused menu of bar bites, has indoor and outdoor seating, now with adjusted safety spacing. Preston’s Market, the hotel’s breakfast restaurant, has an airy oceanfront terrace and two new private dining rooms. The signature dining concept is Lure Fishbar, which at press time was temporarily closed. Definitely one for the foodies, the locally sourced, seafood-focused menu at Lure has a raw bar, extensive sushi options, as well as Asian- and Latin-inspired dishes — we loved the warm, buttery welcome biscuits and whole grilled Dorade fish, stuffed with lobster.
Pool, Exhale Spa and Fitness, SOBE Kids Club and...the Beach
The funky crescent-shaped pool at Loews Miami Beach Hotel has always been the pulse of the property. It has now been repaved and is looking super fresh with new bright orange umbrellas adorning the palm tree-lined area, more shade, and fans, which have been added to the outdoor restaurant, Nautilus. Most exciting are the sexy fire pits and three new adult cabanas. This complements the fully serviced SOAK Experience, eight sleek, double-height cabanas with daybeds overlooking the pool, which debuted in 2014. Just slightly removed, the cabanas offer privacy and respite with air conditioning, shower, bathroom and a stocked fridge.
The hotel is home to the Miami Beach outpost of New York City’s Exhale Spa, famed for their killer barre classes. The spa also offers yoga; HIIT; plus, a full cadre of machines, which have now been zoned and are continually cleaned per new guidelines; a range of massage, facials and beauty treatments in six newly redone rooms; as well as salon services at Glam & Go. Guests are welcome to enjoy complimentary morning meditation on the gym’s roof deck overlooking the beach and pool — exactly the zen we need right now.
The SOAK Experience has eight double height cabanas with daybeds overlooking the pool.
A fresh design and expansion of the hotel’s SOBE Kids Club, means Loews can take in more children ages four to 12 years safely, for supervised play and fun cooking classes; there’s also a teen video game and arcade lounge, where we spent an inordinate amount of time playing "Pac Man" — no quarters necessary.
Let’s not forget the main draw of Miami, the beach. The turquoise waters and sandy expanse along South Beach has to be one of the most picturesque in Florida. The Loews has cabanas managed by local partner Boucher Brothers, offering chairs, umbrellas, cocktails and food service for hotel guests. You can also rent kayaks, stand up paddleboards, jet skis or just enjoy a free ride on a banana boat.
Before COVID-19, Miami Beach was having a re-birth and it’s coming back to life now. Nearby pedestrianized Lincoln Road had seven new concepts open at the end of 2019, including the ’grammable Museum of Illusions; trendy Chinese homegoods store, Yoyoso; fun lobster roll-themed restaurant, The Lobster Shack; and around the corner is the new 17,500-square-foot food hall, Time Out Market, which was the big buzz in 2019 with 21 different food concepts under one roof. Though closed at press time, Time Out Market is expected to reopen soon with social distancing measures.
Dine al fresco amid the peach-colored European-style buildings on the quaint Espanola Way, which the city pedestrianized and revamped, investing several million dollars in 2017, or head along chic Art Deco Ocean Drive, where the infamous Versace Mansion was converted in 2018 into Villa Casa Casuarina, an opulent 10-suite boutique hotel, and Gianni’s restaurant, where diners enjoy Mediterranean cuisine beside the colorful and intricately-tiled pool Versace designed himself.
Further afield, there’s lots of options for outdoor and socially distant fun that has already reopened. Eco-adventure awaits at Jungle Island. It re-opened in June with social-distancing measures in place and is offering VIP animal experiences. Surround yourself with tropical flora and fruit at the 83-acre Fairchild Garden, which is hosting the Mango Days of summer. Also, the highly engaging and educational Frost Museum of Science is back hosting camps and events for kids throughout the summer.
To boost tourism, the Greater Miami CVB has launched "Miami Shines" campaign, which offers value-oriented hotel packages with great rates and perks, including dining credits and free valet parking. Also part of the initiative is Miami Spice, which is offering three-course lunches for $25 and three-course dinners for $39 at top restaurants around the city.