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.

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 is a Fitness Lovers Paradise

Miami Beach, FL – January 23, 2017 Home to world-class amenities and novel experiences, Miami Beach is at the forefront of the booming health and fitness industry. With a wide variety of specialty gyms, free community wellness activities and some of the most beautiful scenic running routes in the world, Miami Beach is the perfect locale for anyone in search of an active destination.

 

This month, the Miami Marathon will zip through the streets of Miami Beach and offer runners an exciting course and a unique cardio experience. For those who prefer interval training, the Spartan Gym at 1 Hotel South Beach challenges guests to become gladiators with obstacle-focused exercises.

 

“Even before it was cool and trendy, Miami Beach has always provided visitors and residents with endless options to stay fit while on-the-go,” says Peggy Benua, Chair, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. “From beginners looking for a low impact workout to CrossFit enthusiasts, there’s something here for everyone.”

 

Miami Beach even offers complimentary, natural yoga mats to help people relax and unwind while taking in the pristine sand and breathtaking views. To top it off, free classes are offered by 3rd Street Beach Yoga every day.

 

“Miami Beach locals and our many visitors can enjoy extensive fitness and wellness offerings available at all price points,” says Grisette Roque, Executive Director of the MBVCA. “Everyone can take part in the action, while also enjoying our beautiful city as the perfect backdrop and motivation”

 

With all that there is to do to stay healthy and in shape on Miami Beach, there’s never been a better time to “pump it up.”

 

MIAMI BEACH GYMS:

 

Spartan Gym at 1 Hotel South Beach

·         The first ever Spartan Gym is all about being strong, resilient and finding your inner Spartan. Beach-goers can train like a Spartan with special classes, taught by certified Spartan coaches, complimentary to hotel guests and available for a fee to non-guests. Classes range from high intensity interval training to meditation and yoga. The gym features ropes, a monkey wall and pipes for obstacle-oriented training. Guests also have access to a yoga deck, outdoor workout areas and a private beach for special programs and Spartan challenges.

Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach

·         Gathering a cult-like following, CrossFit sets the bar with their WODs, or workout of the days. Every workout is a new challenge and will never be the same, pushing members’ bodies to the limits and guaranteeing results. At Reebok CrossFit, members are exposed to varied functional

movements, think squats and push-ups, done at high intensity. Anyone up for the challenge is

 

welcome to visit the world-class 6,800 square-foot indoor/outdoor facility in the heart of South Beach.

SoulCycle

·         Get ready to ride! SoulCycle is home to one of the most coveted spinning bike classes, and for good reason. This isn’t just any average 45-minute spin class; weights and core work are incorporated to ensure you get the most out of your fat-burning cardio workout.

 

MIAMI BEACH RUNNING ROUTES:

·        The Miami Marathon is calling all runners! With a spectacular course that goes through Miami Beach and many iconic Miami locations, the event marathon is celebrating its 15th year on January 29. Run alongside 25,000 participants racing through the Miami Beach and Miami streets. If 26.2 miles sounds like a daunting task, don’t fret; there’s also a half marathon.

·         The Venetian Causeway is a popular destination for runners. Spanning the Venetian Islands and connecting Miami to Miami Beach, the causeway offers runners beautiful views of the city while being surrounded by the pristine waters of Biscayne Bay.

·         South Pointe Park features Miami Beach’s only hill! Runners can burn more calories with the slight incline while simultaneously enjoying the ocean breeze.

·         The Lummus Park sidewalk is an iconic location as the backdrop of many movies featuring South Beach and the perfect location for anyone looking for a good run. Take a break with a quick game of beach volleyball or just take in all that Miami Beach has to offer.

 

MIAMI BEACH YOGA

·        Namaste! Free Yoga is offered every day of the week at 3rd Street Beach Yoga. The only thing better than yoga is free yoga!

·        Whether you’re a beginner or a meditation master, greenmonkey Yoga welcomes all. Greenmonkey recognizes itself as a global movement dedicated to redefining the way people think and practice yoga.

 

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. You may also contact Grisette Roque at Groquemarcos@miamibeachvca.com

 

CONTACT:

Daniel Sacerio, H+K Strategies  dsacerio@samcor.net

305.443.5454

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.

 

Q and A with Nathalia Arja

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The MBVCA sat down with Nathalia Arja, Principal Soloist for the Miami City Ballet, to discuss her love of Miami Beach and how she became a ballerina. The Miami City Ballet is located at 2200 Liberty Ave, Miami Beach. Make the Miami City Ballet a holiday treat for the whole family, as they present George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® starting on Dec. 9. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.miamicityballet.org/subscribe

 

What inspired you to become a ballet dancer? 

 

I remember sitting next to my mother as a little kid, while she was teaching her dancers. What inspired my desire to dance was seeing their high energy and joy while executing really hard steps. I was fascinated by moving and what I felt watching them. 

 

Why did you choose to perform in Miami Beach? 

 

Well, when I was 15 I sent an audition DVD to the Miami City Ballet school. They offered me a full scholarship to study in the school. Most students hope to one day join the company. In 2009, I was chosen by the artistic director to join the company as an apprentice. 

 

What do you love most about being in Miami Beach? 

 

I have to say that Miami City Ballet is a lucky company because we are literally across the street from the beach. I love that on my break I can just go enjoy the ocean and relax. But my most favorite thing about South Beach is that you can just about walk anywhere as everything is close by. There are some very cozy neighborhoods. 

 

What can Miami Beach expect with the new season? 

 

Every season is exciting because our repertory is so diverse and this season is no different. We go from Giselle, which is a historic classic in the ballet world, and end up with the world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s, The Fairy’s Kiss. Of course you will be seeing great Balanchine ballets as well, so you’ll see a little bit of everything! We also have the open barre series, which is specifically built for arts education in Miami Beach. It’s a program we do only in Miami Beach twice a year at our intimate studio theatre, in which we have guest artists discuss their work while we perform short excerpts relevant to the upcoming programs. It’s definitely a great show for the community and a chance for them to see the dancers up close! 

 

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What makes the Miami City Ballet a unique company? 

 

Miami City Ballet is unique because it is a medium-large company that despite its size of 50 dancers, remains very united when it comes to support and emphasis on the success of the company rather than the individual. Ever since its inception, this has been at the heart of the company’s message: to have one soul made of a diverse roster of dancers, together under one banner for the sake of producing the art of the dance for the community at both a national and international level. 

 

Miami Beach is known for its art scene, would you agree that performing arts and ballet are becoming more popular in our city?

 

It’s been so refreshing over the years. I’ve watched the art scene grow and become more diverse. It’s an honor to be a part of the Miami City Ballet which I feel is very important  for the Miami Beach art scene. I’m so proud of that!

 

Q&A with Rachel Loebs

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SoulCycle Miami Beach – 1 Hotel & Homes

 

The MBVCA sat down with Rachel Loebs, instructor at SoulCycle South Beach to discuss why she loves Miami Beach and why SoulCycle is a workout like no other. See what she has to say and check out SoulCycle at 1 Hotel South Beach, 2325 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139.

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Describe your experience at Soul Cycle thus far. How is teaching in Miami Beach different from New York City?

 

New York City was different because I came into SoulCycle and it was already established. People knew the culture, how to ride, and what they wanted out of class when I started teaching. Everyone has somewhere to be, or rushed to get back to work, so people take fitness and time VERY seriously. Miami Beach is more relaxed and easy going. A lot of people are on vacation. We are still introducing the life style down here which is an amazing thing to share with the community. I feel like I am a forever student and I continue to learn something new every day! In Miami Beach, I get a lot of riders from all over the country which is amazing! I see some of my old riders from New York and Long Island and that is a super special privilege of teaching down here.

 

Soul Cycle has become a favorite workout class in Miami Beach… what makes Soul Cycle Miami Beach a favorite with visitors and residents? Why does the Miami Beach studio fill every class? 

 

It is such a special workout because it is not just a physical connection, but also a mental one. It is a 45 minute class of sweat, creation, and love. We genuinely give everything in the room (we as the riders and instructors) so we can also try to take some of the same experiences outside and apply it to our real lives. Anyone you speak with about SoulCycle will tell you their special story and connection with the ride. Having a SoulCycle in Miami Beach is so special because we get people vacationing from all over the world and they get to enjoy SoulCycle for the first time. We have a space for returning riders from other cities who already have SoulCycle. It’s a wonderful melting pot for everyone here and everyone is always in a good mood because it is Miami Beach!

 

Tell us about the workout. What makes a Soul Cycle unique from other cycling workout programs?

 

SoulCycle is a challenging work out, but everyone can take the class at their own pace. Especially here in Miami Beach, we have all different experience levels coming to class. We want every single rider to feel as though they are right where they need to be and feel accomplished when you cross that finish line. SoulCycle always makes you feel as though you can succeed at anything. We use our entire bodies while dancing to the most amazing music.

 

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How do you find inspiration for creating new and exciting content for your classes? Does Miami Beach’s Latin culture inspire your programming?

 

Of COURSE! I love listening to music out at restaurants and bars, always asking my riders for their favorite music. Miami Beach has the best music culture!

 

Do you expect Soul Cycle to grow within Miami Beach? What can we expect next?

 

I sure do hope so! Its all about when the timing is right. Stay tuned!!!

 

Lastly, why do you LOVE Miami Beach?

 

I LOVE the weather. It is summer all year long. People know how to have a good time, unwind and relax. It is very different from New York. Also, the Cuban food is fantastic!

Q&A with Chef Juan Loaisiga

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The Traymore Restaurant and Bar at COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach

The MBVCA sat down with Chef Juan Loaisiga, chef The Traymore to discuss why he loves Miami Beach and what it is like being a chef in the city. See what he has to say and check out his restaurant, Traymore Restaurant at 2445 Collins Ave, Miami Beach.

 

What did it take to make the Traymore one of the most highly-acclaimed restaurants in Miami Beach?

We feel The Traymore Restaurant and Bar has always been one of the most approachable and relaxed dining experiences in South Florida. We pride ourselves on not being the typical South Beach “see-and-be-seen” establishment, but more of a place you can speak with the person you’re with and be heard without having to talk over thumping music. The Traymore is a soothing place to dine that has an air of sophistication and romance.  Our cuisine compliments this ideology rather well and has been the driving force behind the restaurant’s popularity.

 

The Traymore has been referred to as “not your typical Miami Beach restaurant.” What would you say makes it different?

The relaxed environment and clientele we attract is what sets The Traymore apart.  Our hotel guests are always a priority, but locals also love our intimate setting and unpretentious service that has a traditional approach.  We don’t set aside private tables for celebrities, bring out sparkling bottles of champagne or turn up the electronic music after 11pm.  ‘Silent Luxury’ is the message we like to abide by for the property and The Traymore reflects COMO Hotels’ wellness philosophy that can be enjoyed through our COMO Shambhala cuisine, Gin Bar and wellness juices for example.

 

How do you find inspiration for new flavors to incorporate into your dishes?

Miami has such cultural diversity that always gives me inspiration for new flavors and ingredients.  Trying new ideas from other cities or simply stumbling across an unusual herb at a market can spark creativity.  I’m always looking for new ways to be inspired, whether it’s during my travels or when hearing stories from family and friends about new and exotic places they’ve discovered.  The newly published COMO Shambhala cookbook with a worldly array of recipes and techniques also gives me some great inspiration.  I keep it next to me when I’m in the kitchen at home and at work.

 

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How does working in Miami Beach compare to where you’ve worked previously?

Miami runs at a far higher pace than most people imagine. Restaurants in Miami like to have a high turnover every evening that often makes people feel uncomfortable, as though they are being rushed to make way for the next group of guests.  We like to adopt a far more relaxed and friendly approach, whereby no table is ever encouraged to leave when they’ve finished eating and we don’t bring the check to the table until it’s requested.  This is how restaurants operate in the most sophisticated cities and this is how we like to treat our guests as well – with utmost respect.

 

What dishes, or flavors, resemble the energy of Miami Beach the most?

Our seafood plates reflect the coastal energy of Miami Beach.  From the Octopus and fish to our fragrant Seafood Stew – we live in a beach town and therefore the produce caught in Florida’s waters is primarily what can be found on our menu.  I enjoy bringing a contemporary layer of flavor, and sometimes even spice, through the herbs and seasonings added to both the seafood and meat dishes that we offer.  Some of our dishes are also special additions or can be found on certain days of the week, so that we are always fresh.  Some of our small plates also resemble the energy of Miami Beach and we have also been known to collaborate with our resident mixologist at The Traymore Gin Bar to offer “Gin inspired” appetizers in the past, such as Ceviches from around the world, and even gin-infused sorbet.

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Why is it important for your food to be locally sourced?

We offer the best seasonal products from local farmers. We are committed to supporting our local economy as we showcase the finest crops our Florida land produces and the fresh fish our oceans bless us with.  The menu at the Traymore is focused on showcasing fresh, seasonal ingredients from Florida and other regions of the United States. We buy as much local and organic produces and products as possible. Our focus on local ingredients stems from our dedication to sustainability, giving back to our surrounding community and providing only meals of the highest standards to our guests.  We like to showcase ‘excellence’ from the region, from the seafood in Florida’s waters to the fruit and vegetables grown by Paradise Farm in South Miami’s Homestead area.

 

Our fish, shellfish and crustaceans are sourced from small-scale, reliable, sustainable 

fisheries from Florida and around the United States. We receive our fish in less than 24 hours from the time it was caught. Then, we are able to skillfully prepare it and serve it with pride.

 

How would you describe the experience of eating at the Traymore on Miami Beach?

The Traymore Hotel which reopened as the COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach in March

of 2014 was originally designed and built in 1939 by leading Art Deco architect Albert Anis

(1889-1964), the “father” of Streamline Art Deco. The hotel’s fortunate location between Lake Pancoast on the West and the Atlantic Ocean on the East granted almost every room a water view;1940’s postcards from the hotel describe a “Private Beach and Cabana Club”, still present 

today, as well as a “Continental Dining Room” and “Blue Angel Cocktail Lounge” both of

which have been redesigned by Paola Navone as our own Traymore Restaurant and Bar.  I would describe the experience at The Traymore as calm, rejuvenating and with every attention to detail taken care of. 

 

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Any unique dishes for Miami Spice?

Our Miami Spice lunch menu features Swordfish with garden vegetable ribbons, toasted pine nuts and Florida citrus, and the Steamed Mussels with bouillabaisse and prawn chips.  For our dinner menu, I’m particularly keen on the Trout with baby bok choy and yellow tomato coulis, the Squid Ink Linguine with seafood sausage and the Soft Shell Crab with savory corn bread cake and aji Amarillo aioli.

 

What do you have up your sleeve for the fall and winter menus at the Traymore?

We’re going to have a very down-to-earth menu for the new Fall and Winter season ahead.  I’ve decided to introduce some root vegetables to the menu, mushroom inspired dishes, some additional lamb and chicken plates, while bringing an array of interesting smoky flavors to the way we cook and prepare our fish dishes.

 

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About Juan Loaisiga

 

Juan Loaisiga, 30, was born in Nicaragua and moved with his family to Miami, Florida in 1992.  Juan always aspired to be a chef during his teenage years, after helping his Mother with their family restaurant in

Nicaragua.  She became a lifelong inspiration for his work in the kitchen.

 

After graduating from Miami Senior High, Juan took his diploma at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Miami, where he started his formal training as a chef in 2008.  His first job took him to Grove Isle in Coconut Grove at Gibraltar – a restaurant specializing in seafood, a cuisine that would soon became his specialty.  Over a three and a half year period, Juan became a line cook shortly after proving his capabilities as an intern.

 

A friend studying at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University saw an attractive job opening for Juan and notified him of the opportunity.  In January 2014, Juan became a line cook under Executive Chef Jonathan Lane at the newly opened hotel, COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach, the inaugural U.S. property by COMO Hotels and Resorts.  Juan joined the team for what was to become a world class seafood destination at the hotel – The Traymore Restaurant and Bar.  Under the tutelage of Chef Jonathan, Chef Juan honed his skills to develop an expertise in locally sourced seafood fare to the delight of repeat restaurant patrons.  Chef Juan progressed to become Junior Sous Chef for a year, before becoming the restaurant’s Sous Chef.  Six months later, Juan took over at the restaurant’s helm as Chef de Cuisine, a position in which he currently resides.

 

Chef Juan enjoys the locally produced seafood ingredients harvested from the Florida waters, while adapting to the seasonal trends and experimenting with the fresh and rich variety the market has to offer.  He admits to seafood still being his favorite cuisine by way of its “delicacy” and the precise cooking techniques he adopts for locals and visiting hotel guests.

 

A Q&A with Jennifer Valoppi

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Award-winning journalist and Miami Beach resident Jennifer Valoppi talks about why she loves Miami Beach and the inspiration and work of her organization, Women of Tomorrow. See what she has to say and learn more about Women for Tomorrow here: http://womenoftomorrow.org/

 

Why do you love Miami Beach and have chosen to live here?

 

·        I moved to South Florida in 1994 from New York and Los Angeles. My husband and I bought a house on Miami Beach in 1997 and fell in love with this community. Both my boys were born and raised here and as they say, once you get the sand between your toes you never leave. 

 

How would you best describe Miami Beach to visitors?

 

·    We live where everyone else vacations, in a hip, stylish, multi-cultural, diverse and uber sophisticated community. We are where everyone wants to be.

 

What are your favorite things to do on Miami Beach?

 

·         You mean besides the beach/ocean, Lincoln Road, Soho House, Prime 112, Joe’s Stone Crab, Taco Rico,  of course, my husband’s two Miami Beach Chicken Kitchens, Yoga, Pilates, golf, and of course the incomparable views coming over the bridges?

 

Hmmm, I’ll have to think about it…

 

What do you think are some of the events that have a real impact on Miami Beach?

 

·         We love Art Basel and especially Design Miami.  It is so hip and cool and so Miami Beach.  This is a community of innovators and tastemakers and it’s fun to be a part of it.

 

Tell us more about Women of Tomorrow (WOT), why did you start the organization and how has it changed lives?

 

·         Don Browne, another Miami Beach resident and I, started Women of Tomorrow in 1997 as a way to help at-risk girls live up to their full potential.  It started as a small grass roots organization when I was anchoring the news at NBC 6 and Don was the President.  Today, Women of Tomorrow mentors over 4,000 girls each year in every public high school in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, as well as Metro Detroit and Philadelphia high schools. We have a 95% high school graduation rate among an at-risk group of girls and we’ve given out over $6 million in college scholarships, many to young woman who are the first in their families to graduate high school and go on to higher education.   One of our Beach High girls last year went to Harvard! Many of our graduates are now successful professionals and are back mentoring for us!

 

 

What are some upcoming initiatives for the organization?

 

·         Currently, we are preparing to install a first of it’s kind sculpture in the center of Bal Harbour Shops. It a gorgeous sculpture of a woman that has, like our girls, weathered the storm and came out stronger.  This particular sculpture by New York artist Ray Smith, was nearly destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. Now bronzed, she stands as a testament to all our girls have accomplished. The base will be comprised of the names of donors who are so generously giving to support the Women of Tomorrow cause and help our girls become educated, self-sufficient adults. 

 

What is the future of Women of Tomorrow, how do you see the organization expanding and growing?

 

·         We are currently expanding in Detroit and Philadelphia and hope to someday have the Women of Tomorrow program in every major city in the country.   If you’d like to support Women of Tomorrow please go to womenoftomorrow.org or call us at 305 371-3331.

 

About Jennifer Valoppi

Jennifer Valoppi is a multi-Emmy Award winning TV journalist, award winning author and social entrepreneur, who has been recognized seven times on the floor of the United States Congress and is a recipient of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Points of Light Award, the highest honor in Florida.

 

She appears frequently on TV, Radio and in print publications as a host, social entrepreneur, expert dealing with Women’s Issues, Mentoring, Journalism and the relationship between science and spirituality – the focus of her novel, Certain Cure. Recent appearances include Lifetime, PBS, WPLG – ABC Miami, CBS 4 Miami, NBC 6 Miami, Comcast Newsmakers, Coast Radio, and Disney Radio, along with numerous local radio stations nationwide. She has appeared recently in The Miami Herald, Gotham Magazine, Ocean Drive Magazine, and Town & Country.  Jennifer’s speaking engagements include featured speaker at the Cleveland Clinic’s International Women’s Day, a Weizmann Institute of Science gathering, the International Women’s Forum (IWF) World Leadership Conference 2009 and the 2011 Florida Judicial Conference.

 

President/Founder of the Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program; a unique mentoring organization that is considered a model for the nation. Jennifer is currently engaged in expanding WOT nationally, thanks in part to a $3 million dollar grant from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. Jennifer directs the mentoring of thousands of at-risk young women in over 150 public high schools in more than 50 cities in Florida and Metro Detroit and has helped provide mentees with approximately $3.2 million in college scholarships.

 

WOT is a unique, high impact program, designed by Jennifer in 1997, which boasts a 92% high school graduation rate among an at-risk population. Through Jennifer’s leadership, WOT has received national recognition and has been the focus of study by the Harvard Business School Community Partners Program. Jennifer was named a Heavy Hitter in Non-Profit by the South Florida Business Journal.