Carolyn Kremins has always loved to travel. Growing up in Long Island, she spent her childhood going on road trips to Niagara Falls and the Catskills.
“I wanted so desperately to go on a plane,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I used my grandfather as an excuse.”
Like many grandfathers in the late 1970s, Kremins’ spent winters in Miami Beach. For her first ever plane trip, the future vice president and publisher of Condé Nast Traveler flew down to Miami with a friend and headed for Collins Avenue.
She describes the scene as “all the retirees out there on their rocking chairs on their porches, going to the Fontainebleau.”
Kremins has returned many times since, including last month, when the magazine threw this year’s Hot List Party at the SLS Hotel South Beach. The 17th annual list celebrated the 154 best new hotels of 2013 — including the SLS, James Royal Palm in Miami Beach and St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.
Her career in magazine publishing has been varied: publications centered around high-end fashion, news and opinion, food and weddings as well as the launch of men’s magazine Maxim in the U.S. and Cookie, for affluent mothers. Still, Kremins called her current role her “dream job.”
In an email interview, she talked about her early experiences with Miami, her present-day impressions of the destination and her favorite thing about Miami International Airport.
Q. How does throwing a big party in Miami compare to other towns?
Miami evokes an energy unlike other cities in the U.S. The ingredients for a successful event include great music, late nights and a high glam quotient. Miami always delivers.
Q. What was your first encounter with Miami?
While my love for travel began at an early age, I took my very first flight with a girlfriend at 19 years old down to Miami. The excuse: to visit my grandfather, a snowbird who spent winters in South Beach. There he was, rocking on the porch at the Carlton Hotel on Collins Avenue with all the other retirees. Boy, has Miami come a long way.
Q. How often do you visit?
As much as possible, about 3-4 times a year.
Q. Where’s your favorite place to stay when you’re in town?
It depends on the occasion. Sometimes it’s a girls weekend, other times it’s a family affair or a romantic escape. As Publisher of Condé Nast Traveler, choosing a favorite is like picking one child over another!
Q. Is there anything special you pack for a trip to South Florida that you don’t bring to other places?
I never come down without my oversize, black, Prada sunglasses (secretly channeling celeb status) and I always pack an article of clothing or jewelry that’s a little more playful than usual.
Q. Say you’re in Miami for 48 hours: What are your must-visit spots?
As a purist, I’m most happy on the beach, shopping on Lincoln Road and eating stone crabs and key lime pie at Joe’s.
Q. How have you witnessed the destination change — for better or worse — over the years?
All for the better. Though I’m not sure my grandparents would agree.
Q. As a traveler, what changes or improvements would you like to see Miami make?
All the development in Miami over the last decade has been so positive for the city. There has been a wonderful combination of historic preservation as well as innovation. The development has created an abundance of choice, especially in the hotel category, so the bar for luxury has been raised and expectations are higher than ever. If something like service or food falls below the excellence level, discerning travelers will notice and move on to another choice.
Q. For what is South Florida most often featured in the magazine?
Miami is of great interest to our readers and has received tremendous coverage over the last few years, including an editorial pull out guide to South Florida showcasing the best in hotels, beaches, restaurants and more. Miami also always performs very well on our Hot List — with three hotels on the list this year, it is tied for number one for most number of properties in the U.S.
Q. How does Miami International Airport compare to other airports around the world?
With close to 40 million passengers a year, MIA operates as a city unto itself. It’s clean, well designed and BIG. My all-time favorite is stopping into La Carreta for a shot of Cuban coffee. I’ve arrived. Heaven.