New Edition brings fresh glamour to Miami Beach

Ian Schrager, in the Matador bar at The Miami Beach Edition hotel Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.
Ian Schrager, in the Matador bar at The Miami Beach Edition hotel Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Almost five years ago, then-Marriott International president and chief operating officer Arne Sorenson was taking a run through Miami Beach during a spring break vacation with his family.

“Every day I’m looking at all the hotels and thinking about the way Miami Beach had changed,” said Sorenson, now president and CEO of the global hotel company. He spotted the expansive, shuttered old beachfront Seville Hotel at 2901 Collins Ave. and wondered: “Why aren’t we putting an Edition there?”

He started asking about the property, and the company bought the site for $57.5 million a few months later, in July 2010, to be part of the Edition brand formed in collaboration with hotelier Ian Schrager.

For Schrager, the Edition was the opportunity to make a new splash in Miami Beach almost 20 years after opening the über-chic Delano in 1995.

“I think the Delano was a seminal event for Miami Beach 20 years ago,” said Schrager, 68. “I’m lucky to be doing a new hotel in Miami at this point because I think this is another seminal thing. There’s a new Miami.”

Sorenson said Miami’s reputation in recent years as “perhaps the most energetic and vibrantly growing city in the Western Hemisphere” made it the right place to develop the new brand after its early launch ran into the recession.

He said the thinking was: “Let’s pick key cities where we know these hotels will do great, cities that are also about where the influencers in the world experience things so that they could see this quickly and obviously communicate about what they’re finding.”

With plenty of influencers in town for Art Basel Miami Beach, Sorenson and Schrager will officially introduce the hotel Monday afternoon.

Schrager describes the property as a “world-class tropical resort” designed to feel “intimate and glamorous” despite being stretched across 3.5 acres. Designed by Yabu Pushelberg/I.S.C. Design Studio, the large lobby is broken into clustered areas with indoor palm trees and other plants whose shadows are cast onto the ceiling.

White marble floors and gold mosaic tile columns in the lobby are true to the original building, which opened in 1955; the team was not allowed to change that part of the historic interior. While Schrager said the once-tarnished columns were the feature he was initially “most afraid of,” he said they are now among his favorite parts of the hotel.

“I hated it — I was going to fight,” he said. “I love the white and gold, because to pull it off and not be kind of ostentatious bourgeois, it’s hard.”

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten makes his Miami Beach debut with the upscale Matador Room and Market, a gourmet-casual eatery with a raw bar, ceviche bar, pizza and baked goods.

Rooms are understated (Schrager calls them “barefoot chic”), with light wood-paneled walls. Included in the 294 rooms are 23 two-story bungalows; the property also has 26 residences. Rates for a standard king room start at $429 a night, topping out at $10,000 a night for a bungalow penthouse.

The basement spaces are dedicated to fun: a dance club, four-lane bowling alley and a 2,000-square-foot ice-skating rink. The activities will be open to the public, at a fee (skating costs $20 per person per half hour, while bowling after 8 p.m. will require a minimum $50 food and beverage purchase per person per hour).

Outside, guests can choose from two swimming pools and a private sandy area set up for casual picnics and movie nights.

“I want to do something really great,” Schrager said. “I certainly want to do something that has a bigger impact than the Delano had.”

Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, head of the hospitality practice group at Bilzin Sumberg, called the hotel’s arrival a “huge thing.”

While other hotel companies are selling off their assets to focus on management-only models, she said Marriott backed up its desire to enter the lifestyle market with a significant amount of capital.

A spokeswoman for Marriott said the company paid for the development of the hotel, but would not disclose the cost. The company announced last year that it had agreed to sell three Edition hotels — including the Miami Beach property — for $800 million to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The deal on the London hotel has already closed, and Miami Beach is expected to go next.

“They refused to let it fail,” Amaducci-Adams said. “Marriott invested big money, renovated the hotel. They wanted to make this investment in the brand.”

Related stories from Miami Herald