Paula Walker – Yoga Instructor at Greenmonkey Yoga on Miami Beach

 

1. What inspired you to pursue yoga?

I was inspired to do yoga because I was seeking something that brought me balance in my mind, elevated my energy and raised my vibrations to be a happier human. The very first yoga class I took reminded me of the happiness I felt when I was a competitive gymnast as a kid. 

 

2. Greenmonkey® Yoga is widely known in Miami Beach, how does it feel to be part of a brand that provides such a memorable experience for all yoga lovers?

I have been part of the Greenmonkey® team since 2009.  I am proud of the community that management, staff and teachers have built together as a team.  Greenmonkey® has a very friendly, welcoming front desk staff and some of the best teachers in Miami.  As a team, we pride ourselves on the community that we have built, our teacher training programs and our brand recognition around the world.  We have yogis that come practice at Greenmonkey® Miami Beach from all over the world!

 

3. What are your three favorite poses that can be done anywhere at any time?

Handstands: Handstands are fun, playful and natural anti-depressants. I love doing handstands in unique places—especially while I’m traveling. My nickname is Handstand Paula!

Forward Folds: Forward Folds are accessible for everyone.  Fresh blood rushes to my brain, slowing down my brainwaves and quieting my mind.  Forward folds are extremely beneficial if you are stressed out and about to react negatively to a person or situation. Forward folds assist with responding rather than reacting to people and situations.

Boat Pose: I love doing core work, especially the boat pose, because a strong core is vital to holding handstands.  A strong core is also extremely beneficial in our everyday lives lifting children, carrying our groceries and eliminating potential back injuries.

 

4. Which places in Miami Beach inspire you to do yoga?  

I love practicing yoga inside our brand-new studio in Sunset Harbor.  The floor to ceiling windows provide so much natural light, and I love practicing and teaching yoga while a storm rolls by. Another one of my favorite places on Miami Beach for practicing yoga is at the Flamingo Park track on Alton Road—I love to power walk at the track and then stop, drop and do yoga! Also, South Pointe Park is a great place for yoga because of its breath-taking sunsets, making it a beautiful backdrop for handstand pics.

Greenmonkey® leads yoga classes at the South Pointe Park on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

 

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Robert Siegmann – owner of Icebox Cafe at Sunset Harbor Shops on Miami Beach

 

1. Are you originally from Miami? If not, why did you decide to move to Miami Beach?\

I moved to Miami from NYC after 20 years of weathering cold, grey winters.  The weather was a big determining factor and overall beauty of Miami Beach.  In the late 90’s I saw Miami Beach as a young city with a lot of potential, especially for those willing to roll up their sleeves and do some heaving lifting in the hospitality and restaurant space.

2. How did you choose the name *Icebox Cafe* for your restaurant?

 I wanted a name that conjured up images of the 50’s when the concept of a home cooked meal meant that food was always made freshly, never frozen of from a can.

3. Why did you choose to open the *Icebox Cafe* on Miami Beach?

Coming from NYC, the beach reminded of the village – similar feeling and vibe. I felt comfortable and fit right in. I also saw the opportunity that Miami Beach had in terms of growth both personally and professionally.

4. What do you appreciate most about Miami Beach as a business owner?

Miami Beach is beacon for tourists and offers a constant infusion of energy, ideas and perspectives.  We have a very loyal and local following.

As a resident?

Although Miami Beach has grown a lot and continues to expand, it still has that village feeling that I continue to enjoy after 20 years of calling the area home.

5. For a potential customer that’s thinking of visiting your establishment, describe the atmosphere at the *Icebox Cafe*.

Icebox cafe is designed to feel like your stepping into someone’s home. It’s inviting, comfortable, airy and grounded. We see diners from around the world and all are welcome and feel at home when spending time with us.

6. Finally, name two of your favorite menu items that every customer should try. Why are these your favorite?

Gulf shrimp is amazing and includes flavors of India (Indian Style Dahl) paired with beautifully prepared shrimp and chermoula – a Moroccan sauce. And, you can’t skip dessert…the carrot cake is a must and will perhaps be the best you’ll ever have!

 

Bamford Haybarn Spa at 1 Hotel

 

Q&A with Alena Stavnjak

With Miami Spa Month in full swing, the MBVCA sat down with Alena Stavnjak, Director of Bamford Haybarn Spa at 1 Hotel, to discuss special offerings and the brand’s first U.S. location here in Miami Beach. For more information, visit https://www.1hotels.com/south-beach/spa.

 

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Does the Bamford Haybarn Spa draw inspiration from Miami Beach?

 

Bamford Haybarn Spa was originally inspired by natural elements of the English countryside of the Bamford Farm in The Cotswolds in southern England. In debuting the first U.S. location at 1 Hotel South Beach, design aspects were taken from the beachfront location by incorporating the natural, relaxing hues of Miami Beach, using nature and the ocean to inspire us every day. 

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Why did the spa open its first U.S. location in Miami Beach as opposed to other cosmopolitan destinations? What makes the Beach so special?

 

Miami Beach as a destination has a very natural ambiance, with sun, sand and the ocean just steps outside, encouraging visitors and locals to experience the outdoors. Bamford and 1 Hotels’ philosophy matches Miami Beach’s spirit, putting an emphasis on connecting the outside world and nature with lifestyle and wellness. In such a wellness-focused, nature-inspired destination like Miami Beach, it was a seamless decision for Bamford to make 1 Hotel South Beach and Miami Beach its first U.S. destination.

 

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What are some unique offerings that guests will find/ experience at the Bamford Haybarn Spa that aren’t readily available at other spas?

 

We are the first place in the US that guests can experience the Bamford brand, services and philosophy. Most of the products that we use in the treatments are organically certified by the soil association, the UK’s highest level of organic certification meaning that at least 85% of the product excluding the water needs to be produced organically. It is a very tough set of standards to meet and we are proud to have achieved this. Guests will experience some of the best therapists in Miami Beach, as we have sought out exceptional staff that have extensive therapy and luxury backgrounds. They are all trained under Bamford’s philosophy, creating a consistent experience whether it’s the Miami Beach location or England location.

 

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What makes hospitality offerings on Miami Beach so different from everywhere else?

The diversity of staff working here on Miami Beach. Nowhere else can you find people from as many diverse backgrounds as Miami! Our employees are from all over the world, whether it’s South America, Europe or Asia, and I believe that creates a truly unique experience for our visitors. 

 

What is your favorite thing about working on Miami Beach?

 

I love working in a place where people vacation all around. It’s a truly unique lifestyle here that I enjoy every day.

 

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With so many visitors in town for Miami Spa Month, what are some deals, treatments and experiences that our readers can find at the Bamford Haybarn Spa this month?

 

We provide a relaxing oasis environment where our guests can disconnect from the hectic outside world. My personal favorites are the Himalayan Salt massage and Radiance facial. The Himalayan salt stone massage has immense benefits such as alkalizing the skin; it’s full of minerals to replenish the body; it lightly exfoliates the skin and is incredibly relaxing. Our radiance facial uses a range of our Bamford natural skin care and holistic therapeutic techniques leaving the skin nourished and the mind relaxes and balanced.

 

 

 

Washington Park Hotel / Employees Only

 

The MBVCA sat down with Vikash Maharaj, General Manager of Washington Park Hotel and Billy Gilroy, Owner of Employees Only, to discuss the newly minted Washington Park Hotel, what’s exclusive on the Miami Beach menu of Employees Only and why they both love Miami Beach. For more information, visit wphsouthbeach.com and employeesonlymiami.com.

 

Q&A with Vikash Maharaj, General Manager of Washington Park Hotel

 

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What makes the Washington Park Hotel so unique? / What makes the Washington Park Hotel stand out from other lodging options in the area?

 

WPH is perched only two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and situated on an entire city block in South Beach with Art Deco buildings and exclusive location to shopping and South Beach best nightlife, including Employees Only on property.

 

WPH is focused on the guest experience with service standards second to none. Additionally, we have a variety of programming opportunities on site such as weekly ping pong tournaments, movies on the lawn, as well as weekend croquet and much more. It’s a meeting point for our guests, as well as locals.

 

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You were previously quoted comparing the shifting dynamic of the Washington Avenue strip to the transformation of neighborhoods like Brickell and Wynwood; What do you think makes them so similar? / How would you compare them?


Like Brickell and Wynwood, Washington Avenue once had a bit more grit to it. Similarly in recent years, we’ve seen Washington Avenue undergo renaissance that will bring high end shopping and dining options that will be comparable or even more upscale than Brickell.

 

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Do you have any must dos for tourists (or locals)? / What do you love about working and operating a hotel on Miami Beach?

 

I love the culture and diverse ethnicity of our guests and taking the time to ensure that we extend world class service to each and every one. I highly recommend visiting the Wolfsonian Museum across the street from WPH, which our guests may visit complimentary.

 

What do you think makes Miami Beach most special? / What do you love most about Miami Beach?

 

The history that the city signifies in harmony with the Art Deco District, the abundance of culture along with the Cuban flair, the weather and, of course, the crystal-clear beach!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Q&A with Billy Gilroy, Owner of Employees Only

 

If someone had never heard of Employees Only before, how would you describe it to them?

 

Old world feeling. Deco. Classy and Sophisticated yet comfortable and casual. True Hospitality from the heart.


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Does EO have a specialty recipe for a summer time favorite drink? What are some seasonal flavors patrons can enjoy this summer?

 

EO changes cocktails occasionally and we have our Ginger Smash (Rum served with fresh ginger & pineapple shaken with Berentzen liqueur, Maraschino liqueur & fresh lime juice) which changes seasonal as well depending on which season and fruits available are. We tried to keep the core of the NYC Menu in Miami and showcase what the drinks are in NYC while we added some cocktails on the menu to suit the Florida climate. Our El Diablo cocktail which isn’t on the menu is our Avion Tequila EO Barrel shaken with ginger root, fresh lime juice & ginger beer, topped off with Creme de Cassis. This is a great cocktail for the summer time and the sun. Seasonal flavors that are definitely hot right now at EO are: pineapple, ginger, citrus, coconut and different spices.

 

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Are there any cocktail/menu items exclusive to the Miami Beach location?

 

Here is a list of menu items that are exclusively in Miami Beach:

The Snapper with mussels Kale and Fennel

The Roasted Cauliflower

The Charred Broccoli Rabe with garlic

The Marinated Green Beans

The EO Miami Burger

The Flourless Chocolate cake

The Key Lime tart

 

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Do you think the culture of Miami Beach influences the Employees Only location at all?

 

Yes it’s a much later crowd. And so we open later and stay open later till 5 a.m.

And the seasonality even more than ever is why Employees Only has to depend on industry and local clientele to thrive. Fortunately we seem to be garnering a great reputation and following with the locals.

 

What do you love about Miami Beach?

 

The weather, the ocean, South Point, the pool, the palm trees and all the beautiful architecture and greenery and flowers. The Latin food. The nightlife. All the beautiful hotels. Stone Crabs!!!

World OutGames Miami

 

 

Q&A with Ivan Cano

The MBVCA sat down with Ivan Cano, CEO of World OutGames Miami, to discuss why the World OutGames chose Miami Beach as the first city in the U.S. to host the tournament and what makes the destination so unique. For more information, visit outgames.org

 

Miami Beach has long been considered a welcoming destination for all travelers. Why did the World OutGames choose Miami Beach as the host for the 2017 games? What made the city an attractive destination for the games?

 

We are thrilled to host America’s first ever World OutGames in the beautiful city of Miami Beach! This will put Miami Beach in the spotlight of the global LGBTQI human rights movement and bring to life events across the areas of Sports, Culture and Human Rights. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Miami Beach’s healthy, athletic lifestyle and inclusive community. International attendees will receive a warm welcome from a community that honors, respects and supports them and that celebrates diversity and self-expression. With registrants from 59 countries, World OutGames will be a life-changing experience that will inspire, motivate and celebrate the human spirit.

 

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Along with being a sporting event, we know that the World OutGames prides itself in its cultural and human rights efforts. Can you tell us more about how the games tackle those issues?

 

It is important to maintain open dialogue and shared points of view to foster unity and inclusiveness for all – it is especially relevant at this moment in time. As part of World OutGames Miami, thought leaders from around the globe will converge on Miami Beach for the 4th Global LGBTQI Human Rights Conference. This significant conference will offer a global view of human rights from 25 speakers representing Brazil, Cuba, Canada, St. Lucia, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela, among others. This powerful gathering of respected human rights activists, researchers, legal scholars and trade organizations will address more than 35 topics in the areas of Promoting Inclusivity in Sports, Health & Wellness and Social Justice.

 

In addition, our Culture pillar is shaping up to be an amazing program. Attendees will enjoy various cultural happenings planned over the 10-day long event including, Pulse Points on June 1, an artistic response to the Orlando massacre at Pulse Nightclub, fusing dance, music, poetry and visual arts to honor the 49 lives that were lost. Live entertainment, art exhibits, a poetry reading with Robert Pinsky, and a film festival are also planned. Opening and Closing Ceremonies will offer a taste of Miami Beach with special surprises. These events are open to the public, and you can purchase tickets online.

 

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Which event are you most looking forward to watch?

 

PULSE POINTS – which will feature more than 200 performing artists at the New World Center Miami Beach – is shaping to be a truly amazing event that will touch World OutGames Miami attendees, patrons and guests in an unprecedented way as an act of social courage. This fully-immersive event will transform the iconic New World Center into an interactive, roving exhibition, offering a perpetual expression of reflection, empathy, healing and positive action. This will be a space free of racism and bias that will transform negativity into a courageous forward direction, sending a global message of compassion, hope and love. The event is on June 1 at 6pm!

 

What has it been like in getting everything ready for the 2017 games?

 

As we near the kick-off to this event, each day brings an exciting, new challenge. Thanks to the help of our staff, volunteers, individual and corporate supporters and the City of Miami Beach, the momentum continues to give me the certainty that this will be a successful, well-attended 10-day event.

Why do you love Miami Beach and what aspect of the destination are you most looking forward to showcase?

 

Visitors will find that there is much to discover in this beautiful city, whether that be the beach or many local flavors, which are our diverse people, amazing food and unique venues. Miami Beach is my home, and I am thrilled to show to the world how we are a very accepting, open-minded, multicultural city.

 

When do the games begin? How can our readers attend and support the World OutGames?

 

World OutGames events start on May 26 and the opening ceremonies kick off our sporting events on Saturday, May 27. Registration for sports closed on April 30, but you can still register for the human rights conference and purchase tickets for our cultural arts events. Just visit our website outgames.org.

 

 

 

Q&A with Chef Justin Smillie

 

 

 

The MBVCA sat down with Justin Smillie, chef of Upland Restaurant, to discuss why he loves Miami Beach, the new Miami Beach Upland Restaurant and its unique cuisine. To learn more about the restaurant, visit: http://www.uplandmiami.com/

 

Tell us about yourself – What inspired you to become a chef?

 

Growing up in Southern California my mother always kept a garden and I just fell in love with the smell of the tomato leaves. I’ve always liked to work on my feet and to be active and kitchens are just a natural fit.

 

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Tell us about the new Upland. What made you decide to combine California and Italian cuisines? What makes this so unique compared to other Miami Beach restaurants?

 

The combination comes from my personal experience. The California inspiration comes through in the treatment of the vegetables and Americana aspects — it’s really a melting pot. The pastas and Italian portions of the menu touch on my experience working in great Italian restaurants like Il Buco Alimentari — once you make fresh pasta you can’t not make fresh pasta!

Why did you choose Miami Beach for Upland’s 2nd location?

 

We like to say we’re bringing Upland back to its palm tree roots (laughs). My partner, Stephen Starr has a footprint here in South Florida with great restaurants including Makoto, and we both agreed that the Miami Beach guest would respond well to Upland. I love traveling back and forth between Miami Beach and New York — it’s the best of both worlds.

 

Are there any dishes on the menu inspired by local flavors?

 

Sure. The menu generally has a bit more fish and seafood to reflect the tropical environment and we’ve added a raw section that’s unique to Miami Beach.

 

What are some of your favorite local dishes? Are there any Miami Beach-inspired dishes?

 

The Drunken Snapper is a great example of the local influence — it’s like a margarita on a plate with local Florida Snapper, tequila, cilantro and key lime.

 

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What makes Miami Beach’s culinary scene different to that of other cosmopolitan destinations like New York City or Los Angeles?

I think Miami Beach — and South Florida in general — has a lot of people who are passionate about food and new restaurants, but it’s not yet oversaturated. Overall, though, I think that the culinary climate is the same around the country: people are looking for a great meal and a great bottle of wine without having to get too buttoned up.

 

Lastly, please tell us – Why do you love Miami Beach!

 

This community has been great to me! The reception has been so welcoming and I’m happy to be a part of the neighborhood. I feel really lucky to be here and the beach just adds to the appeal.

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The Wordy Girl; Q and A with Maria Tettamanti, Editor of the Wordy Girl

Q&A with Maria Tettamanti, Editor of the Wordy Girl

 

The MBVCA sat down with Maria Tettamanti, journalist, digital influencer and Miami-based fashion & travel blogger, to discuss why she loves Miami Beach, emerging fashion trends and the upcoming social calendar for Miami Beach. To follow Maria Tettamanti, visit: http://www.thewordygirl.com/

 

How would you describe the fashion and style of Miami Beach? Tell us about your favorite Miami Beach fashion trends.

 

Hellooooo, bold fashion! The fashion and style of Miami Beach is colorful and sexy. I love that both women and men here embrace vivid hues and aren’t afraid to show a little skin. New York can keep their basic black! There’s no other place in the world like it!

 

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How do you think Miami Beach influences your personal style in any way?

 

Miami Beach’s year-round warm weather and proximity to the ocean certainly influences my style. Airy frocks, bedazzled sandals and a funky fedora are my wardrobe staples. Oh, and don’t forget to apply SPF every day.

 

Tells us about the 2017 Miami Beach social calendar. What can we expect in 2017? Which events are you most looking forward to?

 

Miami Beach is packed with world-class events and social appeal. My favorite social event of the year is Swim Week — the premiere event in the world for swimwear fashion which brings with it a number of annual events peppered throughout Miami Beach. Art Basel is pretty epic, too!

 

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What are some of your favorite spots on Miami Beach? In your opinion, what makes visiting Miami Beach so unique?

 

My favorite hangouts on Miami Beach are clean eats at Dirt and Jugo Fresh. For a major beauty haul, Gee Beauty is most definitely Miami Beach’s top beauty emporium. I also love Barry’s Bootcamp because it offers Miami Beach’s toughest workout. Miami Beach is so unique because its offers something for everyone — from beach bums to busy bodies like myself – it’s the perfect place to be!

 

Where do you love to take your kids/spend time with your family on Miami Beach?

 

My kids and I love lazy days by the pool at Soho Beach House. They make the best hamburger in town! You can quote me on that.

 

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Know you keep your finger on the pulse of emerging fashion designers for your blog, the Wordy Girl, are there any local designers our readers should keep an eye out for?

 

Locally speaking, Miami Beach boasts a myriad of homegrown talents. I love Ximena Kavalekas’ python handbags. I adore ALEXIS’ dresses for special events. Christian Roth sunglasses are epic! Jacqueline Pinto makes fantastic fine jewelry. Samantha Gallacher of Art and Loom creates stunning rugs.  Romi Sarif of Lola James Jewelry makes the most whimsical and on-trend jewelry. I love Karina Grimaldi’s dresses, too.

 

If you were to take a “staycation”, where in Miami Beach would you stay and what are your “must-do” activities?

 

Choosing just one hotel is tough! Miami Beach is home to some incredible hotels and upscale resorts. But right now if I HAD to pick…I have an interior design crush on The 1 Hotel South Beach. Their freshly minted Bamford Spa is my vision of heaven. It has a heart motif running through it. Love that!

 

Why do you love Miami Beach?

 

Being a Pisces, I love Miami Beach’s long stretches of beaches. I’m also a fan of “mental health” days at The Standard or Soho Beach House. Also, I love to eat and my favorite restaurants — Joe’s Stone Crab, Continental, Byblos, Prime 112 and Dirt — are all located here. Miami Beach is simply the best!

 

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Q and A with Sandy Shapiro, Executive Director – Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

 

Q&A with Sandy Shapiro, Executive Director

 

The MBVCA sat down with Sandy Shapiro, Executive Director of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden (MBBG), to discuss why she loves the Miami Beach Botanical Garden and discuss how the MBBG is developing community relationships and drawing in visitors. For more information about the MBBG, visit: http://www.mbgarden.org/

 

Tell us about the current offerings of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden (MBBG). Are there plans for future renovations or garden expansion?

 

In the 5 years since the reopening following Raymond Jungles’ (RJI) redesign, the Garden has grown into a rich tropical oasis.  We have been emphasizing additional plantings of Florida natives, rare palms and unique tropical fruit trees, showcasing botanical specimens which educate our visitors to the natural tropical habitats.

 

This year, thanks to an award from the City of Miami Beach’s Environmental and Sustainability Grant, we will be creating a Pine Rockland demonstration garden.  This area will focus on the indigenous fauna that attract pollinators and imperiled species of butterflies. There will be added educational opportunities presenting examples of how locals can find alternatives for their landscape pallets that contribute to our environment. 

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The top of our wish list is to open the Garden on the north side with a gate onto the Collins Canal incorporating the area banking the Collins Canal into our landscape thus enlarging our footprint.    The Canal will be undergoing seawall refurbishment this year – what a perfect time to implement the 3rd stage of the RJI plan and extend the Garden’s landscape to the water’s edge.  This would allow visitors who stroll along the Canal access to enter the Garden from the water side.  The walkway goes from Meridian to the Bass Museum – can you imagine how beautiful it would be to stop at the Botanical Garden. I envision this as being Miami Beach’s version of “High Line.”  It is an organic activation which best utilizes this space.  Imagine coming to the Garden by kayak!

 

What’s the most popular – or unique – event the Botanical Gardens hosts? Does it draw in locals, tourists or a blend of the two?

 

This year marked the 12th Taste of the Garden, on Jan. 27th.  This primarily had been supported by a local audience of Garden & Garden Club members and friends, yet we are seeing more out of towners coming each year.  The 16th Miami Beach Tour of Gardens is March 11th, a great way to explore behind the gates of residential gardens.  That culminates with an afternoon of activities back at the Garden, including one of the best “Gems & Junque” sales ever!  We are marketing to the Concierges and hoteliers to encourage guests to visit. 

 

Tells us about the 2017 social calendar. What can we expect to be different this year compared to previous years?

 

We are adding more family friendly activities.  We recognize how children react to being in this habitat.  The turtle, fish, butterflies and birds trigger the children to explore and it is a comfortable place for families.  We are adding family yoga, continuing Art in the Park with Marie and adding mindfulness programming.   We experimented last summer with Sunday afternoon pop-up dinners, it worked – we will continue it again this summer.  The Garden doesn’t stop in the summer. 

 

Our Earth Day celebration will be Friday, April 21st when we will be screening, Fisher Stevens and Leonardo DiCaprio’s, “Before the Flood,” courtesy of RatPac Entertainment.  The festive evening, co-sponsored by Whole Foods Market, will start with a yoga class on the Great Lawn, and have various environmental organizations available to discuss their missions and how we can help and support them.

 

What unique flowers or plant species can a visitor find here in the MBBG that cannot be found elsewhere?

 

This year we have been feverishly replenishing the beds where we removed masses of specimen bromeliads last summer.  We were fortunate to have the support of our advisory board member, and friend, Raymond Jungles help redesign the beds.  We have added an assortment of gingers, begonias, and a special philodendron named, Outrageous!  They have massive leaves with a red underside.  It really is outrageous – it is the “Christian Louboutin” of plants.  We acquired three – come check it out.

 

The MBBG is a popular wedding venue – which season is ideal for a wedding?

 

The Garden is a magical setting 12 months of the year, something is always blooming.  January through May are the most popular months for weddings, being the most temperate season.  Late October and November are also a great time of year. 

 

The sultry days of summer may seem warm for an outdoor event, but it still is a dreamy time for a wedding.  The Banyan Room is air conditioned and opens out to our shaded patio. The longer days allows more time to enjoy the outdoor areas, the shade canopy offers solace and the fragrance of the ylang-ylang waifs throughout the year as the sun is setting. 

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Tell us about the weekly events – know that there’s the Guided Garden Tours, Yoga in the Garden and the Second Saturday Seminar. What appeals most to these weekly visitors?

 

The appeal is access to a natural sanctuary, escape from the buzz of South Beach and the surrounding construction.  Yoga at sunset in the Garden on Thursdays feels like a privilege.  We promote the approachability of all our activities and events. Intimate, elegant and informative – our staff is committed to welcoming guests and offer assistance where ever we can.  We are open to new partnerships to diversify our programs which broaden our reach. The events calendar are on our updated regularly on our website, http://www.mbgarden.org  and always being updated on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/miamibeachbotanicalgarden/?ref=bookmarks. Things are always happening!

 

How are the gardens different this year? Anything special you want Miami Beach visitors to experience?

 

I am amazed how many residents are first timers and pleasantly surprised to find this oasis. We offer scheduled docent tours on Saturday at 11:00 AM, if that is not convenient our On Cell, self-guided cellphone tour is a terrific way to learn more the plants and fun facts about Miami Beach history.  Currently, there are 13 stops on the tour within the Garden, an informative way to enrich the experience.  We consider the Garden to be everyone’s back yard, only this one you are not required to weed!  On that note – we love volunteers, so if residents have a desire to toil in the soil, we would love to have help.

 

Our ‘Botanical Boutique’ is a new addition – it’s a place to shop for souvenirs, gifts, plants and a curated assortment of cool finds.  We are always adding “Made in Miami Beach” products to the inventory.  This year we commissioned Kawaii Universe to design a series for shirts for the Garden.  The three designs focus on our elements – native plants, butterflies and koi. 

 

 

Why do you love Miami Beach?

 

I have traveled all over the world, when I tell people where I live, the response is a universal WOW!  With all the destinations, I never mind coming home.  Think of the ride from the airport, crossing the Causeway, you look left/right – oh yes, this is just fine! This is a sexy city, we embrace diversity and the rich flavors that contribute to our culture.  The norm is walking around and hearing an array of languages.  After 39 years here, I feel there is a sense of community, people who want Miami Beach to remain a world class destination without sacrificing the charms and natural beauty we are so fortunate to live with each day.                         

 

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Q and A with Ernesto Rodriguez

pdMiami Beach Police Department

 

Q&A with Ernesto Rodriguez

 

The MBVCA sat down with Ernesto Rodriguez, the Public Information Officer of the Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD), to discuss why he loves being a law enforcement officer in Miami Beach and discuss how the MBPD is developing community relationships and keeping Miami Beach protected.  

 

Tell us about yourself! How long have you been on the force/in your position as the spokesperson of the Miami Beach Police Department; how does this role differ from previously held positions?

 

I am a 35 year old Cuban-American. I have been with Miami Beach PD for 12 years, two of those years as the Public Information Officer (PIO).  I have worked as a patrol officer, Special Investigations Squad detective, Neighborhood Resource Officer and Field Training Officer. While all of these assignments have been rewarding, I find my role as the Public Information Officer especially rewarding. Not only am I honored to be a representative of this great police agency, but journalism has always been a specific area of interest.  In my role as PIO, I have the best of both worlds; I get to be a police officer and also have the opportunity to tell the Department’s story. 

 

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Tell us about the Miami Beach Police Department; what makes being a law enforcement officer in Miami Beach unique? Especially when compared to other popular tourist destinations or neighborhoods of South Florida?

 

Miami Beach PD consists of nearly 400 sworn officers.  We have the unique challenge of policing residential, business and tourist districts. We have only 90,000 full-time residents, but we have over 9 million tourists who are visitors every year, which makes this a fascinating place to do police work.  Each area of the city has its own unique flavor, with specific challenges and opportunities.  We are fortunate to have not only a diverse community but also a very diverse police department. Our officers are professionals who understand the unique nature of Miami Beach and the neighborhoods they serve. 

 

We know the MBPD had a ‘holiday cheer’ program and handed out gift cards to unsuspecting drivers, what other community building programs can we expect in 2017? How important is building trust and goodwill within a community to the MBPD?

 

We partnered with the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police, our police union, for the gift card giveaway over the holidays.  While policing is going through some challenging times, it is important to remember that we are here to work together with our community members. The card giveaway is one example of our efforts to demonstrate goodwill and reinforce our appreciation for the community we serve every day.  Another recent effort that we hope to continue in 2017 is the “Coffee with a Cop” initiative. This program brings the community and law enforcement together to simply have a cup of coffee. There is no set agenda, and we have found this to be a great opportunity to build relationships and better understand resident’s concerns. Finally, for the past few years, we have used social media as another platform to highlight MBPD’s interactions in the community.  I manage the police department’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds and am very proud of the growth and support our Department has seen as result of our social media presence. We are recognized as a leading police agency in the use of social media.

 

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How does the city serve the community and guarantee safety for both visitors and locals? How do you think the MBPD has made the most positive impact within the community in the past year?

 

In addition to the police officers we have patrolling throughout the entire city of Miami Beach, we also pay special attention to our Entertainment District. A portion of our Entertainment District is Ocean Drive, an iconic destination for many of our visitors, with Art Deco facades, world famous restaurants and nightlife.  In late 2014, a dedicated Ocean Drive squad consisting of six officers and one sergeant was created to deter criminal activity and keep our visitors safe. Consistent with the City Commission’s vision, we are developing a second Ocean Drive squad, which will provide added safety to all those who visit and enjoy what Ocean Drive offers.

 

 

Last year Detective Juan Sanchez was honored at the Winter Party Festival for his work as an LGBT liaison since 2010. How has the program evolved since then and how has it been successful? Would you say that Miami Beach is a safer place for LGBT visitors and residents?

 

Detective Sanchez continues to be the Department’s official liaison to the LGBT community. He has been recognized locally and nationally for his expertise and commitment, including working with the U.S. Department of Justice to design and implement LGBT and transgender awareness training across the country. We are very proud of his accomplishments. For 2017, Detective Sanchez and other police and city representatives will be pushing out a new program to provide formal “Safe Spaces” in select Miami Beach businesses. The police department will be coordinating with local business to offer the program, with a focus on providing a safe area for those who may have experienced victimization. The program also provides businesses with essential steps for reporting crime and helping the victim. A colorful “SAFE” poster will be provided to all participating business owners, which will be prominently posted. We will be excited to share more about this initiative in the weeks ahead. So stay tuned!

 

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Lastly, why do you love Miami Beach?

 

Not only do I work for the City of Miami Beach, I am also a resident.   I truly believe that Miami Beach has everything; from nightlife to events geared towards residents and visitors. There’s always something to do on Miami Beach. Additionally, my two dogs, Buddy and Stella, absolutely love our parks! As cliché as it may sound, Miami Beach offers a great quality of life for any lifestyle.

Q and A with Josh Weissenstein

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The MBVCA sat down with Josh Weissenstein, Director of HFZ Capital Group, to discuss why he loves developing in Miami Beach and why HFZ’s Fasano Residences & Hotel Miami Beach will be like no other upscale luxury resort in Miami Beach. The Fasano is located at 1901 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. It’s scheduled to be completed in early 2019.

 Tell us about yourself!

 I’m originally from Texas, but have been living in NYC for quite some time. I joined HFZ Capital Group three years ago, and was at Tishman Realty before working here. My past projects in Miami Beach include the redevelopment plans for the Miami Beach Convention Center. I spent a lot of time on that project and fell in love with the city during that time.

Tell us about the Fasano Residences & Hotel Miami Beach, what makes the development unique to Miami Beach?

 The Fasano Residences & Hotel Miami Beach is unique in its combination of old and new. We paid careful attention to respect the property’s rich heritage. By bringing in leading operators to offer food, beverage and amenity services, we aim to create unparalleled offerings on Miami Beach– creating an energy aligned with our Latin American brand and international clientele.

What is it like working with Brazilian designer Isay Weinfeld? He is designing both the interiors and architecture, what can we expect from the design?

Working with Isay has been an absolute pleasure. Isay has the ability to meld indoor and outdoor environments, creating timeless understated luxury. The Fasano will be a sanctuary within bustling Miami Beach. We have the benefit of three private acres, allowing ample size to work in, to create comfortable protection and immediate access to the world’s most energetic city, located right outside the front door.

 HFZ Capital Group is one of the most prolific developers of luxury residential condominiums across the country and collaborates with world-renowned architects and designers. How does developing in Miami Beach compare to other markets like NYC?

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The most blatant and obvious difference is the surrounding environment. I’ve worked and developed a lot in NYC – a rich, ultra-dense urban environment – but Miami Beach is more serene and nature focused. The condos here contain a unique set of amenities, with the most profound being the ocean. It’s wonderful having such an immediacy to nature. Each city presents its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside such a fantastic team and a wonderful city, to shepherd the Fasano project forward

Who is buying real estate in Miami Beach? Some recent surveys (such as by Bendixen & Amandi International) seem to suggest that the market is becoming less reliant on foreign buyers. What do you think is driving this, and do you think it is a trend that will continue?

 The Miami Beach buyer base is highly diversified – Brazilian, New York and beyond. The benefits of having an award winning designer and a world renowned brand creates a real universal appeal. The international buyer base – in my opinion – is not drying up. If recent surveys are suggesting otherwise, the trend hasn’t been affecting the Fasano. However, I believe this is a testament to our range of attractive features: location, size of campus, the brand itself, etc.

 I predict that the future of the international buyer base will continue to expand – Miami Beach is continually growing its cultural diversity. Paired with the natural beauty and energy of the city itself, this creates an intensely attractive destination.

 What key factors do you think are going to drive the Miami Beach real estate market over the next couple of years?

The fact that so many New Yorkers are now buying here. It basically takes the same amount of time to go from their home in Manhattan to a property in the Hamptons, as it does going from Manhattan to Miami Beach – 3 hours driving versus a 3 hour flight. Seasonality, museums and galleries, outdoor activities, beautiful beaches among other factors play into tourist and buyer expectations in a culturally diverse city.