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Bienvenido a Miami

Miami just hosted the MTV Video Music Awards last month. Shaq, JLo, and Matt Damon call it home. The newest Crockett and Tubbs, Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell, are in town to shoot Miami Vice and can be spotted club-hopping nightly. Hurricane season is just about over. Could there be a cooler destination than South Beach right now? Actually, given the recent precipitous decline in temperature here in Boston and an average October temperature of 80 degrees in Southern Florida, a better question to ask: could there be a hotter destination than South Beach right now?

With long weekends proliferating on the HBS calendar, South Beach should be on the top of your list of long-weekend getaways this year. For just $200, you can snag yourself a direct flight-only two hours -from Logan to Miami. I was lucky enough to do just that two weeks ago, along with 13 of my favorite EC ladies. The result was a picture-perfect trip. Here was our itinerary:

THURSDAY:
After a quick cab ride from Miami International Airport, we checked in at the Shore Club Hotel (1901 Collins Avenue, 305-695-3100). Renown for its unmatched pool scene, hip bars, and art-deco decor, the Shore Club is THE place to stay. Get settled and then head out for drinks and dinner on South Beach’s busiest street, Ocean Drive. The place to be on Thursday nights is the roof of Hotel Victor (1144 Ocean Drive, 305-428-1234), a 1930s Parisian-style boutique hotel located just next door to the Versace Mansion.

Around midnight, return to the Shore Club where your status as a hotel guest allows you to walk right into one of South Beach’s most popular bars, the outdoor, pillow-strewn SkyBar, owned by Randy Gerber (husband to Cindy Crawford and business partner to George Clooney). Recline on one of the many beds, chat with friends, and gaze at all the beautiful people milling about. Around 2a.m., walk two doors down to Rokbar (1805 Collins Avenue, 305-535-7171). Owned by Tommy Lee, the scene is decidedly rock ‘n roll-smoky, dimly lit, and music blaring. The DJ will have you on the dancefloor until sunrise. End the night with a slice of pizza next door.

FRIDAY:
Although you had a very late last night partying, try to drag yourself out of bed to snag a prime piece of pool real estate in the morning. The plentiful pool staff at the Shore Club will outfit you with multiple towels on the world’s coziest lounge chair. Fall right back asleep here or on one of the pool’s many floating chaises. Grab a delicious, but overpriced, lunch poolside (and make sure to include a strawberry-banana smoothie). Or if you feel like exploring, take a walk along the beach to Ocean Drive, checking out all the other hotel pools along the way. Once at Ocean, stop into any of what seems like hundreds of sidewalk cafes. Then return to the Shore Club in time for your appointment at the zen-like Spa. If massage is your thing, ask for Maria, the best masseuse in South Beach. An hour later, as you gaze at the ocean from the spa’s roof-top terrace, clad in a plush terrycloth robe and slippers, you will feel as far removed from the world of cases and my.hbs as possible. After all this relaxing, it is time to let loose. Shower up, get dressed to impress, and walk a few blocks to the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, 305-672-2000) for pre-dinner drinks. There may be no prettier spot at night in South Beach. Walk through the soaring, unforgettably beautiful lobby to the dramatic rectangular pool, lined by palm trees. Check out the wrought-iron dinner table for two which sits in a foot of water. Here you will find a bar staffed by some of the friendliest people in Miami. Treat yourself to one (or more) of the incredible concoctions on the drink menu.

Around 10p.m., try to pull yourself away from the gorgeous Delano so you can indulge in a fantastic sushi dinner at Bond St. Lounge (150 20th Street, 305-398-1806). Bond St. is a nice alternative to Nobu (which is a better choice in NYC or LA). Get the sake flowing and be sure to check out the chef’s specials. There is not a bad dish in the house, so order a ton of rolls to share. Be sure not to miss the sea bass skewers.

Three hours later, satiated and full of Sapporo, hop in a cab to Prive (136 Collins Avenue, 305-531-5535). One of Miami’s most exclusive venues, Prive regularly plays host to the rich and famous and offers a mix between an upscale lounge and high energy club atmosphere. Have the concierge at the Shore Club get you on a list so you do not have to wait in line. After you have danced off some of that sushi, end the night at Mansion (1235 Washington Avenue, 305-532-1525). Originally built as a French casino in the 1930s, the huge space is home to six bars, two levels, and a plethora of chandeliers. You just might see Paris Hilton hanging from one.

SATURDAY:
You are suffering from another late night but another morning of sunshine awaits that should be maximized. This time, walk past the pool out to the Shore Club’s private beach. Here you will find equally attentive staff and equally inviting lounge chairs. Spend the afternoon alternating between soaking in the sun and splashing around in the incredibly warm, very gentle ocean waves.

When you are ready for a change of scene, head to Lincoln Road for some shopping. With bags aplenty, return to the hotel for a nap. Around 8p.m., walk next door to the Setai (2001 Collins Avenue, 305-520-6100), South Beach’s newest luxury hotel. Owned by Adrian Zecha, the Setai boasts an Asian style that stands out amidst the overwhelmingly art deco South Beach. The best spot for drinks is the pool bar, nestled between the beach and not one, but three, infinity pools. The crowd is older and even more jet-setting than what you might find at the Shore Club or the Delano.

When your stomach starts to growl, hop in a cab bound for the newest restaurant hot spot, Prime One Twelve (112 Ocean Drive, 305-532-8112). Housed in the Brown Hotel, built in 1915, this modern steakhouse offers gorgeous d‚cor, unbeatable ambiance, more beautiful people than you can shake a stick at, and what fourteen ladies decided was the best meal of their not-so-young lives. Do not skip the seafood platter. Or the sweet potato fries. Or the tuna tartar dish. Or desserts – try all of them. You may find one of the owners, a neighbor to Shaq, on Star Island, trolling around. Chat him up and you just might get your entire table a few rounds of drinks on the house. While you may never want to leave behind the epicurean delights of Prime One Twelve, do head out around 1am so as not to miss the fun at Opium Garden, downstairs from Prive (136 Collins Avenue, 305-531-5535). A gorgeous, far-eastern styled outdoor venue featuring white drapes, pagodas, and buddhas, Opium Garden plays host to one of South Beach’s best dancefloors. The crowd is young and easy on the eyes.

End your night just steps from the Shore Club at Mynt Lounge (1921 Collins Avenue, 786-286-6132). Open two years, ancient for most nightclubs, Mynt still attracts the cr‚me de la cr‚me with its futuristic mint green d‚cor, hip-hop and house beats, and discriminating doormen. Owner Roberto Caan promises to keep Mynt on the cutting edge by remodeling the interior annually. As the sun rises, grab a slice of pizza next door and make your way back to the Shore Club where you can sleep under the stars on one of the poolside beds.

SUNDAY:
If you have any energy left (is that possible?), stop by the Raleigh Hotel (1775 Collins Avenue, 305-534-6300) before catching your flight home. Owned by Andre Balazs (boyfriend to Uma Thurman and owner of NYC’s Mercer and LA’s Standard), the Raleigh has a pool scene to rival that of the Shore Club. But the hotel’s gem is its 300 square-foot private beach, which is host to the hottest Sunday scene in Miami. After soaking up those last rays of sun, take your tanned, relaxed self to the airport. As you fly back to Boston, make a plan for your next trip to South Beach. With
any luck, you will befriend Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell next time.

October 17, 2005
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