Paula Walker – Yoga Instructor at Greenmonkey Yoga on Miami Beach


1. What inspired you to pursue yoga?

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a resident?

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

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

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

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

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


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

·         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;
  • 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





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


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




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. 



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.




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.




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.




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


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




Washington Park Hotel / Employees Only


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


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




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


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


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




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

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




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


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


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


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








Q&A with Billy Gilroy, Owner of Employees Only


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


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



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


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





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


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

The Snapper with mussels Kale and Fennel

The Roasted Cauliflower

The Charred Broccoli Rabe with garlic

The Marinated Green Beans

The EO Miami Burger

The Flourless Chocolate cake

The Key Lime tart




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


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

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


What do you love about Miami Beach?


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

Miami Beach Welcomes Travelers with Hot Summer Hotel Deals and Savings all Season Long

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – School’s out, temperatures are rising and Miami Beach is calling all travelers to experience some of the hottest summer deals and events. Traveling to a world-renowned destination this season is easier and more affordable than ever thanks to hotel deals up and down the beach, putting travelers at the forefront of savings and the magic of Miami Beach. Known for its resorts, pristine beaches and vibrant events, summer time is the best time to head south.

“Summer brings some of the best deals throughout the year to travelers looking to discover and experience why Miami Beach is like no other place in the world,” says Peggy Benua, Chair of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA). “Visitors can take advantage of offers only available during the summer months and enjoy the wonder and beauty of Miami Beach at great value.”

Kicking off the Summer season,  Fontainebleau Miami Beach is hosting a special iHeartSummer ’17 Weekend, a two-day event featuring live performances by notables including DJ Khaled, Halsey, Backstreet Boys, Fifth Harmony and more.  The package, available Friday, June 9 and Saturday, June 10, includes accommodations, two passes to the event and breakfast for two each morning at Vida, one of the resort’s on-site restaurants. Tickets to the show are limited and only available through the exclusive package offer.

“Miami Beach is ready to welcome travelers from around the world this summer,” says Grisette Roque, Executive Director of the MBVCA. “With a variety of seasonal hotel packages and exclusive events, every vacationer will find offers and savings to fit their budget and needs.”

Travelers in search of a summer getaway can soak up the Miami Beach sun with a number of offers only available between June and September including:

·         Summer Cabana Life at the Kimpton Surfcomber South Beach

o   Complimentary Cabana (Valued at $150)

o   Bottle of Bubbly

o   Bottle of water per Cabana guest

·         A Summer Staycation at the Faena Miami Beach

o   Daily American breakfast for up to two guest at our poolside Veranda

o   15% off on treatments at Tierra Santa Healing House

o   Complimentary access to Wet Spa area at Tierra Santa Healing House for up to two guests, once per stay

o   Complimentary valet parking

·         Summer Beach Escape at The Ritz-Carlton

o   Deluxe overnight accommodations

o   Welcome drink for two at DiLido Beach Club

o   Daily breakfast for two at Bistro One LR

o   Valet parking


·         South Beach Summer Escape at Loews Miami Beach

o   $250 resort credit once per stay

o   Kids eat free with paying adult

o   Complimentary state of the art kids club half day access daily for up to two kids


·         Summer Vacations at Pestana South Beach

o   Free breakfast and Wi-Fi

o   Two-hour bike ride

o   One welcome mojito per person


While Miami Beach offers sun-kissed and white-sanded beaches year-round, these travel offers are only available for a limited time.  For more information on events and happenings on Miami Beach, download the Miami Beach Information App at


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 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 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!

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


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.



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.




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




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


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 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:


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. 


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. 



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,  and always being updated on our Facebook page, 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.