This didn’t start out as a piece about How Max Went to Miami Beach with His Indulgent Owners. But he did, and point of fact is that he had a great time and so did we: never once worrying about leaving the hotel without him, that he wouldn’t be well taken care of, that he’d be lonely, malnourished, or improperly groomed. Indeed, the new One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa made sure that little Max, a six-year-old, eight-pound Yorkshire terrier, was every bit as happy as his owners. But that’s getting ahead of the story. I assume you’re not reading this because you want to know where to take your dog this summer, though that’s something that does always interest me.
Miami, alas, may not be first on everyone’s list of summer hot spots (and hot it is: The average daily temperature in mid-July is 85 degrees), but I’m reporting from a different Miami Beach, this one a little farther north and a world away—and one that works for grown-ups, not just their Rollerblading-, iPod-, clubbing-, South Beach–addicted offspring. Bal Harbour’s been a chic, if sleepy, enclave of affluent lifestyles for years—some people think Bal Harbour Shops is the best “clutch” of high-end shopping in the world—but up until now there really wasn’t a great place to stay. All that’s beginning to change—St. Regis is scheduled to open a resort in July 2012—and the cork’s popped big time with One Bal Harbour, even though the Champagne might have gone flat had it not been for 29-year-old Colombian Juan Arevalo, his brother, 34-year-old Jorge, and their business partner, Tom Sullivan.
The 18-story glass tower originally opened as a Regent hotel in March 2008, but things went south and the brothers Arevalo, who’d never been in the hotel business until now, anted up $14.6 million and took over the property last summer. “Bal Harbour,” says Juan, “is one of the great hidden gems of South Florida.” To which Jorge adds, “I think we’re creating something for this market in this particular place that’s really different from what currently exists: a resort at the intersection of cosmopolitan luxury and secluded escape.” Their youth, deep pockets, and, to be honest, inexperience, make them perfect for thinking outside the box.The hotel sits on a sumptuous five acres that one approaches via gorgeous landscaped gardens under a swanky porte cochere. The property, a glassy skyscraper of curves and high-end design, is set back and away from Bal Harbour itself. I must say that over a long weekend we hardly budged, except for the occasional evening out at Michael’s or Casa Tua, two favorites in South Beach.
The hotel itself has an excellent restaurant, One Kitchen, that serves French and Mediterranean dishes, but you’ll probably take most meals poolside. Though the resort feels big, it’s luxuriously spacious with only 124 rooms, the smallest measuring 510 square feet and the largest being a 2,800-square-foot suite, all with views of Bakers Haulover Inlet, which connects the Atlantic to Biscayne Bay and sits right on the edge of Bal Harbour Village. There are the usual high-tech gadgets, from Bose stereo systems to 42-inch flat screens to mirrored TVs in the bathrooms. But there’s also a private beach, two perfect pools (though one is for the 57 residents in the adjoining tower), and charming by-reservation cabanas. An über beach club should be up and running by August. The 10,000-square-foot waterfront spa is gorgeous, and the gym has pretty much everything one would need, including windows that open onto the pool area for optimal swimwear-watching.
In the end, One Bal Harbour, hopefully the first in a series for the Arevalo brothers, offers a perfect long weekend for those who want the un–Miami Beach but wouldn’t mind an occasional fling with bling down South Beach Way. It is, after all, a quick 15 minutes in the hotel’s house car, a souped-up 2009 Mercedes-Benz S600.
And oh yes, about that pampered-pet thing. It’s called the Lulu Flynn Dog Program—long story about the name; ask when you’re there if you want—and comes complete with doggie beds, bowls, treats, and a special menu prepared by Food Network’s Ingrid Hoffmann of Simply Delicioso. Dog sitting and walking are available through the hotel’s Pawcierge. Now, I ask you: Where else but Miami Beach? Or rather, One Bal Harbour!
Rooms start at $300. For details, call 305-455-5400 or go to oneluxuryhotels.com.
In the Minibar: Snack Time
Healthy-ish stuff for kids from Revolution Foods can be found in the minibars, and for the rest of us, it’s See’s chocolates, sour apple rings, and about 25 other goodies.