A cheerful Bella the cocker spaniel — tongue out, grin wide — checked into her seventh-floor room at the Loews Miami Beach Thursday morning, finally taking a break from her scorching Miami Beach condo rendered doggy unfriendly after Hurricane Irma.
For four days, Bella languished in the flooded 10th-floor condo, panting through the heat in her thick, honey-colored coat. She refused to eat. The power refused to come back. And her dad, Adam Auster, refused to wait it out another day.
We are going to take hot showers, baby. You’re getting a bath.
Miami Beach Resident Adam Auster to his 10-year-old cocker spaniel Bella
He ran downstairs to catch an internet connection Thursday and booked a room at the Loews on Collins Avenue. By 11:15 a.m., Bella and Auster, sweat seeping through his yellow Cat in the Hat T-shirt, were getting the key card to their seventh-floor room — an upgrade.
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“We are going to take hot showers, baby,” Auster told Bella, 10. “You’re getting a bath.”
Auster said he at first agreed to book the Loews for $199 a night — a bargain for a Miami Beach hotel, he said, and worth every penny in a time of need. But then he found out the hotel was offering $99 a night rates for Miami Beach residents looking for some respite after the storm.
“We were running like crazy to get over here, we were so excited,” said Auster, sweat dripping down his forehead and a black leather bag over his shoulder. “I parked across the street and I said, ‘Let’s get over here, before they change their minds.’”
The Loews was one of more than a dozen Miami Beach hotels to offer lower rates for Beach residents, and it threw in another sweet deal: no cancellation fees and no $50 pet fees.
So by Thursday, dogs big and small had taken residence in the lobby, the bar and the pool.
Nicola Veitia, who also lives on the Beach, was picking up her doggy bag — treats, a bowl and poop bags — in the lobby for her 8-month-old, speckled gray blue heeler Jaya, who was enthusiastically greeting every fellow guest, human or canine.
Jaya headed to the pool at the 709-room resort, where Veitia’s three kids — 12-year-old Eloi, 10-year-old Zazu and 1-year-old Phoenix — were just coming out of the pool. “JAYA!” shouted Phoenix, who waddled over to the puppy in his blue shark floaties and began the late-morning poolside petting session.
Miami Beach’s critical hotel industry seemed to be bouncing back well Thursday, with most hotels open, few downed trees still a blight on some hotel landscapes, and a smattering of tourists out on the streets again. The Lincoln Road open-air mall was largely desolate Thursday afternoon, but some patrons ambled along. At Alvin’s Island souvenir shop on the corner on Lincoln Road, a gray and red “I survived Hurricane Irma” T-Shirt hung in the doorway. The store printed about 100 T-shirts, as it does after every hurricane, in-house on Tuesday, when it reopened.
By noon Tuesday, Alex Orlofsky, wife Vanessa Menkes, 7-year-old daughter Allegra Orlofsky and their two dogs were heading out to the pool after arriving at the hotel the night before. The Miami Beach family had evacuated to North Carolina prior to the storm and driven back 11 hours to Jacksonville, due to the traffic, and then six hours to Miami Beach.
Without power at home (“It looks like the ‘Hunger Games’” over there, Alex Orlofsky said) the family headed to the Loews with 13-year-old Gabe, an Anatolian shepherd, and 9-year-old Cruella, a Rottweiler. They snagged a room on the 17th floor.
They plan to stay until Friday — but Allegra is banking on a few more days.
Her afternoon schedule is already booked with a playdate and the pool, plus all the extra time thinking about how awesome it is that school is canceled until Monday.
Asked if she’d rather stay at the hotel or go to school, the answer was almost too obvious to bother with.
“Hotel,” she said without skipping a beat. “There is no pool at school.”