Alan Faena tapped the visually dizzying, imaginative filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and his Academy Award-winning designer wife Catherine Martin as creative consultants at his newly opened Faena Hotel Miami Beach. “It was a great collaboration. They are great. They are super talented,” says Faena. “They took my idea and they got it. As Baz said, ‘We do the same thing. You do what we do, but you make it in reality.’ For me, it’s like cinema. What I do is like cinema.”
When I spent a few nights there before the hotel officially opened to the public, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d stepped inside a Baz Luhrmann movie, myself. And I loved it.
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Read on to see where you can relive your favorite scenes from Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby at Faena when you visit.
Romeo + Juliet
I met Baz last year during Art Basel (yes, in my mind we’re on a first name basis) and he revealed that he actually spent a great deal of time in Miami with Gianni Versace at the Versace Mansion while writing the screenplay for Romeo + Juliet, and Miami was a major influence. It all started to make sense: the gritty, subtropical street scenes of “fair Verona,” the characters’ propensity for unbuttoned tropical shirts and firearms a la Scarface and the chaotic swirl of bright neons set against a blue sky with palm trees. It’s all very early ‘90s Ocean Drive.
Los Fuegos outdoor seating
Take this scene from Faena’s Los Fuegos poolside patio with its seashell encrusted columns, dreamy under-the-sea tile work and a crazy Damien Hirst woolly mammoth dipped in gold overlooking the sea. Can’t you just picture a young, skinny Leo as Romeo running manically through here, gun in hand, looking to exact revenge on John Leguizamo?
Between Friar Laurence and the Apothecary, there’s plenty of reverential and religious iconography in Romeo + Juliet. Faena has created his own secular place of worship with the hotel’s Cathedral entrance. The gilded hallway with vaulted ceiling features eight canvas murals by Spanish artist Juan Gatti representing “windows to Alan’s soul,” according to a hotel rep: Revelation, Peace, Ability, Science, Love, Illumination, Energy and Knowledge. Faena says they represent a “neo-Romantic style of storytelling.”
Fair enough. All I know is, I can see Leo flinging the doors open and walking through Faena’s Cathedral in search of Friar Laurence’s counsel.
Tierra Santa Spa
More wild, under-the-sea vibes at the 22,000-square-foot Tierra Santa Healing House spa, inspired by Faena’s ranch in Uruguay. Strap a pair of angel wings on Claire Danes and sit her down with her nurse, and we’re back in Baz’s movie.
Of all of Baz’s movies, Moulin Rouge was the most prevalent to me at Faena. One thing is absolutely apparent, both Faena and Luhrmann are passionate about the color red.
How fantastic are the details in this room? I love the ruby red furnishings and animal print accents. And I think Satine would love them too.
I love how bold the décor here is with heavy velvet turquoise drapes, red velvet sofas, gold accents and diamond-patterned wood grain. It’s all very theatrical and Moulin Rouge to me.
Take another look at the rugs in the previous two photos, though. They’re both designed by Martin. The rugs at Daisy Buchanan’s house in East Egg in The Great Gatsby are very similar, just in slightly more subdued hues.
It’s the bathroom with its houndstooth turquoise tile floors and that red pouf that really made me feel like I was inside Satine’s dressing room backstage at the Moulin Rouge. There are other wonderful details, like a vertical vanity lamp with exposed bulbs and a red cord, a soap dish shaped like a sea urchin with jewel-like red soap that fit perfectly and a rainfall shower in addition to that bomb bathtub.
Cue Nicole Kidman descending in a swing from this “mindful chandelier” by Alberto Garutti for her opening number. The chandelier is actually attuned to the weather in Pampas, Argentina and flickers in time with lightening if there’s a storm a continent away. This room is the main lobby bar lounge and social gathering space.
The Great Gatsby
The angular Art Deco touches and symmetry of Faena Hotel continually conjured The Great Gatsby for me.
Saxony Theatre & Bar
I especially felt this inside the Saxony Bar, a reservation only cocktail bar, fashioned in sparlking black terrazzo with silver accents, similar to the movie posters from Gatsby. While the adjacent Saxony Theatre (pictured above still under construction) may at first make you think of Moulin Rouge with its red curtains and billowing chandelier, I also pictured the speakeasy scene when Gatsby takes Nick into the city to meet Meyer Wolfsheim and the flappers come out dressed in sparkling silver fringe to dance to that Beyonce song.