A Labor of Love: Miami Beach hosts dozens of Cultural Culinary and Cool events Labor Day Weekend

 

 

Miami Beach – August 8, 2017 – With dozens of fun, cool events rocking Miami Beach over Labor Day weekend it’s not difficult to see why the city is a mecca for visitors from all over the country and the world during the holiday.  As Labor Day weekend approaches, events and celebrations on Miami Beach run the gamut from a Home Design and Remodeling Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center to the WeTheKeyDJs Conference at the Fontainebleau Hotel. Singles, families, BFFs, and even those who may find themselves here on business will love the multitude of entertainment options available all around the city from September 1-4.  They can find out about many of those options by downloading the Miami Beach Information (MBI) app from the Apple or Android app stores. MBI features events, hotels, restaurants, shopping, arts and culture and even deals. It’s a traveler’s best friend when visiting Miami Beach.

 

“Miami Beach is an increasingly must-visit global destination for travelers around the world,” notes Peggy Benua, Chair, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA). “So it’s not surprising that Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest times of year for the city. But we don’t take our popularity with tourists for granted. The city is proactive in encouraging event producers to bring their productions to Miami Beach during this national holiday, and the MBVCA certainly supports, in any way we can, the staging of a wide array of events to ensure that our visitors have numerous choices throughout the length of the extended weekend.”

 

While visitor numbers increase all year long, the Labor Day weekend is an especially vibrant few days. Below is a sampling of just a few of the events and activities available to travelers during the Labor Day holiday.

 

Miami Beach: The Perfect Weekend Getaway.

·         Dine at the best local restaurants for lunch or dinner for less than 40 dollars. Miami Spice runs August 1 through September 30 and features three-course lunches for $23 and dinners for $39, plus tax and tip, at more than 200 restaurants. Visit ilovemiamispice.com.

·         Discover new design. The Miami Home Design and Remodeling Show returns September 1-4, 2017 to the Miami Beach Convention Center. Celebrity Interior Designer and lifestyle expert Sabrina Soto of HGTV’s High/Low Project will offer design seminars at 2 pm on Sunday, September 3rd and Monday, September 4th.

  • Take note. The Coast 2 Coast Music Conference is an annual networking event bringing together top industry DJs, producers, A&Rs and more to speak on panels and give practical advice to artists. All of it leads up to their World Championships showcase, where the top performer of the year is crowned and awarded a cash prize; http://coast2coastlive.com/.
  • Dance, dance, dance. WeTheKeyDJs Conference – Labor Day Weekend. Some of the hottest DJs in the world perform at the Fontainebleau Hotel.

 

“Music, food, design, and DJs. Where else can one find such a potpourri of diverse events in one weekend,” says Grisette Marcos, Executive Director, MBVCA. “Combined with our seven miles of beaches, museums, shopping and outdoor activities, Labor Day events will make this an epic time to visit Miami Beach.”

For more information on events and updates in Miami Beach, download the Miami Beach Information App at http://www.miamibeachapi.com/app/

 

PRESS CONTACT:

Holly.Winter@hkstrategies.com

 

ABOUT MIAMI BEACH

Recently named the World’s Leading City Tourist Board in 2016 and 2016 North America’s Leading Tourist Board by the World Travel Awards, first place in the 2017 and 2016 edition of the Travvy Awards, presented by travAlliancemedia in the categories of “Best LGBTQ Destination” and “Best Wedding Destination, U.S. & Canada” and a winner of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Magellan Awards by Travel Weekly in the categories of “Destinations | Mobile App”, “Overall Spa Destinations| U.S and Canada” and  “Overall Beaches Destinations| U.S and Canada” respectively, Miami Beach is a favorite destination among travelers worldwide. Renowned for its unparalleled culinary offerings, extravagant nightlife, rich culture, luxe shopping and plush hotels, Miami Beach is home to unique museums, the New World Symphony, Miami City Ballet, Miami Beach Convention Center, international festivals and art exhibitions, boat and auto shows, over 187 boutique and resort hotels and 12 public parks; it is no wonder the beautifully diverse city is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. Boasting seven miles of breathtaking beaches, Miami Beach is easily accessible from the Port of Miami and Miami International Airport. The City of Miami Beach has been named one of the top cities worldwide for ‘walkability’ and is equally easy to navigate by bike or boat. Known for its year-round sunny skies, the vibrant destination has been ranked by TripAdvisor as a Top Winter Sun Vacation Rental Getaway Destinations, Top Romantic Destinations, Top 25 Beaches in the World and Top 25 Destinations in the U.S. Miami Beach is like no other place in the world!

 

Miami Beach takes hospitality service to new heights with comprehensive city-wide training

The city to receive coveted Forbes Travel Guide Hospitality Service Training Certification

MIAMI BEACH –– Miami Beach takes serving its guests seriously…really seriously. Miami Beach is like no other place in the world and is dedicated to making its service a major point of distinction; that’s why the entire tourism and hospitality community will meet for the largest ever interactive Hospitality Service Training led by Forbes Travel Guide, the prestigious Five-Star Rating system and global authority on luxury travel. After the intensive day of sessions, Miami Beach will become only the second city in the U.S. to ever receive a Forbes Travel Guide Hospitality Service Training Certification. The city of Miami Beach, ranked as one of the Top 25 Destinations in the U.S., along with the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA) and the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association (GMBHA) are partnering with Forbes Travel Guide to conduct the training.

As the originator of the Five-Star Rating system – beginning in 1958 as the Mobil Travel Guide – Forbes Travel Guide provides the travel industry’s most comprehensive ratings system in the world, along with reviews of hotels, restaurants and spas. A Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating is considered the hospitality industry’s most prestigious achievement. Going far beyond aesthetics, it places a large emphasis on quality of service. This certification will add yet another layer to Miami Beach’s already outstanding hospitality services, where hotels, restaurants and entertainment providers are always striving to enhance and augment the guest experience.

“The Forbes Travel Guide Hospitality Service Training Certification is internationally recognized and highly esteemed. We intend to bring a higher level of service to Miami Beach, set new standards and continue to exceed hospitality expectations,” says Peggy Benua, Chair of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. “With events like Miami Spice Month and Art Basel around the corner, the training comes at the perfect time to renew, energize and revitalize our hospitality industry. Our hospitality partners have always brought best practices and passion to what they do and The Forbes Travel Guide training just brightens the diamond that is Miami Beach”.

 

Focused on providing front line personnel in hospitality-focused businesses such as hotels, restaurants, attractions, and tour companies with professional guidelines and tailored teachings, the day-long event will be broken into four unique sessions that will highlight the Miami Beach customer satisfaction experience. Led by a hand-selected group of travel experts, tastemakers and Forbes Travel Guide instructors, the event is open to property owners as well.

 

“The commitment from the City of Miami Beach is a testament to the passion of all of its tourism industry members to deliver extraordinary hospitality to each and every visitor. The city has been a beloved destination for decades and this commitment to elevating, expanding and ultimately delivering  exceptional service to its visitors, is all part of Miami Beach’s  longstanding tradition of renewal,” said Gerard J. Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. “On a personal note, this area holds a special place in my heart. I worked at Fontainebleau Miami Beach in 1978, in the formative stages of my hospitality career and am delighted that Forbes Travel Guide can come to this great city to help it achieve service excellence.”

 

For more information on events and updates in Miami Beach, download the Miami Beach Information App at http://www.miamibeachapi.com/app/

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Miami Beach Embraces and Entertains LGBT Travelers with Host of Events

Celebrated as an international LGBT-friendly destination for travelers across the globe, Miami Beach is enticing guests to experience the beauty and liveliness of the city with a packed calendar of events during the month of April. From Miami Beach Gay Pride and MiFo LGBT Film Festival, to the vibrant year-round offerings from proud restaurants and hotels, Miami Beach is gearing up for a colorful month.

 

“Miami Beach fosters an inclusive community and embraces visitors from all walks of life, as demonstrated by our Travvy Award for Best LGBTQ Destination earlier this year,” says Peggy Benua, Chair of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA). “An acclaimed haven for the LGBT community, Miami Beach is like no other place in the world.”

 

Welcoming visitors from around the world, Miami Beach Gay Pride is one of the most festive celebrations of its kind. The annual week-long festival is taking over the city from April 3-10, bringing together members of the LGBT community and their allies. This year, in a show of solidarity, Miami Beach will be paying tribute to the victims, families and friends of the PULSE Nightclub shooting by orchestrating “Pride Lights the Night”. Buildings, retail locations, and homes throughout the Miami Beach area will light up awash in the colors of the Pride rainbow flag.

 

On April 9, with Ross Mathews as its celebrity Grand Marshall, The Pride Parade, drawing more than 130,000 participants each year, will travel along Ocean Drive. The fun doesn’t end after the final float is gone; from Friday, April 21 to Sunday, April 30, the MiFo LGBT Film Festival continues the party and returns to Miami Beach. Guests can catch special screenings of films dedicated to diversity in cinema, offering contemporary perspectives on the LGBT experience, playing at the Regal Cinemas South Beach.

 

In addition to the exciting annual events, there are many mainstay LGBT-friendly activities year-round, including BRUNCHIC at the spectacular Palace South Beach. Every Sunday, both visitors and locals enjoy delicious food, bottomless mimosas, and the lively Drag Brunch performances that the Palace is famous for. The center of gay nightlife in Miami Beach for over 20 years, Twist South Beach offers Ladies Happy Hour and nightly dance parties, a popular “must-do” experience. For accommodations, Hôtel Gaythering, Miami Beach’s premier hotel catering to the gay traveler, is a top choice.

 

“Miami Beach is a world-renowned travel destination for the LGBT community”, says Grisette Roque, Executive Director of the MBVCA. “The city strives to ensure guests and residents feel secure and entertained in our beautiful city with programs such as ‘The Hub’ LGBT Visitor Center and the newly launched safe-space initiative.  Miami Beach remains a leading example for LGBT inclusiveness.”

 

For more information about LGBT events, offerings, and things to do, download the Miami Beach Information App at http://www.MiamiBeachAPI.com.

 

Must-Do April LGBT Events Include:

Miami Beach Gay Pride

Since 2009, Miami Beach Gay Pride has brought together the LGBT community and allies by organizing free events open to all. Main attractions this year include:

·         Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade and Festival, April 9: Celebrity parade marshals include Ross Matthews and “Uncle” Johnny Pool from Elvis Duran and The Morning Show. Miami Beach will also host a two-day, free beach party festival with international DJs, exhibitors, community booths, family fun zone, food vendors and cash bars. This year, the Miami Beach Pride Festival will feature fireworks and a surprise performance tribute to Prince.

 

MiFo LGBT Film Festival

The largest LGBT cultural arts event in South Florida, the MiFo LGBT Film Festival will be hosting events across Miami Beach from April 21-30. Highlights include multiple film showings at Regal Cinemas South Beach and specialty events like:

·         Spotlight Party at Yuca Miami Beach, April 22

·         Centerpiece Party at Britto Central, April 26

·         Closing Night Party at Bacaro Miami, April 29

 

Palace South Beach

An integral part of Miami Beach’s LGBT scene, the Palace’s top events this month include:

·         Annual Rock the Block Free Block Party, April 9: Hosted by Missy Meyakie Lepaige and Joanna James, the annual block party is celebrating Miami Beach Gay Pride with Danny Verde and DJ Carlos Rojas. Guests with reservations can watch the Pride Parade right on Ocean Drive at the center of all the action.

·         BRUNCHIC: Reoccurring every Sunday, enjoy entertainment fit for a queen while sipping on bottomless mimosas and feasting on brunch fare.

 

LGBT Visitor Center “The Hub”

The epicenter of LGBT activity in South Beach, “The Hub” offers weekly support groups, special workshops and an array of social events year-round open to all:

·         Gay Chamber Spotlight Mega-Mixer Benefitting Miami Beach Gay Pride, April 4: A special Miami Beach Gay Pride edition of the bi-monthly Spotlight Mega-Mixer event hosted by the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce at the Shore Club South Beach. Kick off Pride celebrations by mingling and networking with over 200 Chamber members and guests.

·         INVISIBLE, April 14 – May 31: An exhibit presented at “The Hub” consisting of portraits and written testimonials of participants from Warrior of Hope and I Still Remember, both projects aimed at raising awareness on HIV/AIDS and pressing social issues in society.

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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Miami Beach Invites Visitors to Experience the Glitz and Glamour of Art Deco Style

MIAMI BEACH, Fla., Jan. 30, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — As one of the first 20th-century neighborhoods to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, the Art Deco District continues to prove that there’s more to Miami Beach than enviable warm weather and coveted beaches. Characterized by distinct geometric shapes, ocean liner motifs and bright pastel colors, the Art Deco style of the 1920’s and 30s is a key influence in the city’s landscape and recalls visitors back to the past. From walking tours to featured exhibits, the city is offering an array of events year-round to share the rich history and culture of Miami Beach’s defining style.

A tour of Ocean Drive, the center of Art Deco in Miami Beach, is a must-see for guests wanting to soak in the atmosphere and culture of the city. With buildings painted lovely shades of eggshell blue, pastel pink, and more, Ocean Drive is a kaleidoscope of color. With more than 800 structures to explore, one simple stroll down Ocean Drive represents the 1920’s style moderne.

“Whether guests experience the history through a stay at one of the many boutique hotels that paint Ocean Drive, or by taking the Miami Design Preservation League’s official Art Deco Walking Tour, a glimpse into Miami Beach’s past is an essential part of any visit,” says Peggy Benua, Chair of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA).

For visitors with a knack for both art and history, there is no shortage of events. Just this month, the annual Art Deco Weekend celebrated its 40th edition, with numerous free Great Gatsby themed events. In addition, once a month, the Miami Design Preservation League offers a special Gay and Lesbian version of their walking tour. This tour shares the gay and lesbian history of Miami Beach and informs guests on how Gays and Lesbians are playing an integral part in shaping the future of Miami Beach. On Friday’s, the Wolfsonian Museum on Ocean Drive also offers a free guided tour of permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.

“From the sidewalk cafés to the many hotels that line Ocean Drive, Art Deco architecture is at the core of Miami Beach’s essence,” says Grisette Roque, Executive Director of the MBVCA. “There’s always something going on, with so much to see, it truly is a one of a kind experience. The bustling sidewalks and neon hotel signs draw guests right into the heart of the action, providing the perfect photo opportunities.”

The signature Art Deco style isn’t just limited to Ocean Drive. For guests hoping to continue exploring Miami Beach’s architectural beauty, Collins Avenue also features many Art Deco buildings such as The Raleigh and The Delano.

With so much to see and learn, Miami Beach invites travelers from around the world to explore, discover and sightsee. Download the Miami Beach Information App at www.MiamiBeachAPI.com for the latest on hotel deals, events and special offers.

ART DECO HOTELS:
Colony Hotel

  • At the corner of Ocean Drive and Seventh Street, the Colony has been one of the undisputed symbols of South Beach since 1935. The iconic Art Deco hotel is currently offering discounted rates on three, five, and seven-day stays for all guests.

The Carlyle

  • First opened in 1939, The Carlyle is still a landmark of the Art Deco style. The hotel merges modern luxury with classic elegance and boasts a 2,800-square-foot penthouse. The Carlyle poses as the backdrop of many iconic movie scenes, including Scarface, Bad Boys 2 and the phenomenally popular French musical La Cage aux Folles; The Birdcage.

The Tides South Beach

  • Known as the “Diva of Ocean Drive,” The Tides is all about the era of glitz and glamour and exudes Miami Beach elegance. Located right in the middle of Ocean Drive, guests can experience all there is to offer just a short walk away. With a winter sale going through January 31, now has never been a better time to book a stay in the heart of Ocean Drive.

The Raleigh Miami Beach

  • Located on Collins Avenue, The Raleigh was designed in 1940 with Art Deco influences and features the “most beautiful pool in America,” according to Life Magazine.

ART DECO WALKING TOURS:

  • To get a full appreciation of the area’s architectural gems, take one of the Miami Design Preservation League’s daily Art Deco Walking Tours, led by local historians and architects. The ninety-minute tour provides an introduction to the Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and Miami Modern (MiMo) styles found within the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District. All tours are $25.00 or $20.00 for seniors, veterans and students.
  • Once a month on every second Saturday, the Miami Design Preservation League also offers a Gay and Lesbian Walking Tour, focusing on all things Gay and Lesbian history in Miami Beach. Not only will the guides share history and information on how Gay and Lesbians are shaping the future of Miami Beach, but guests will also be introduced to some of the hot spots of gay life on South Beach.

WOLFSONIAN MUSEUM TOUR

  • Every Friday at 6:00 pm, the Wolfsonian museum offers a free 45-minute tour of the featured permanent collections and temporary exhibits. Guests are invited to learn about the themes that define the Wolfsonian’s collection, including labor, public works, political propaganda and more.

About Miami Beach
Recently named the World’s Leading City Tourist Board in 2016 and 2016 North America’s Leading Tourist Board by the World Travel Awards, first place in the 2016 edition of the Travvy Awards, presented by travAlliancemedia in the category of “Best Wedding Destination, U.S. & Canada and a winner in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Magellan Awards by Travel Weekly in the categories of “Destinations | Mobile App”, “Overall Spa Destinations| U.S and Canada” and  “Overall Beaches Destinations| U.S and Canada” respectively, Miami Beach is a favorite destination among travelers worldwide. Renowned for its unparalleled culinary offerings, extravagant nightlife, rich culture, luxe shopping and plush hotels, Miami Beach is home to unique museums, the New World Symphony, Miami City Ballet, Miami Beach Convention Center, international festivals and art exhibitions, boat and auto shows, over 187 boutique and resort hotels and 12 public parks; it is no wonder the beautifully diverse city is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. Boasting seven miles of breathtaking beaches, Miami Beach is easily accessible from the Port of Miami and Miami International Airport. The City of Miami Beach has been named one of the top cities worldwide for ‘walkability’ and is equally easy to navigate by bike or boat.   Known for its year-round sunny skies, the vibrant destination not only produces its own branded sun care line, MB Miami Beach Suncare, but has been ranked by TripAdvisor as number one in 2011’s Top Winter Sun Vacation Rental Getaway Destinations and was also part of Top 25 Beaches in the World and Top 25 Destinations in the U.S. Miami Beach is like no other place in the world!

Visit MiamiBeachAPI.com for more information and to download the Miami Beach Information App.

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.