Tourism & Cruises

Aloft South Beach adds modern building to midcentury motel site

The Aloft, Miami Beach's new hotel combines a renovated building that dates to the 1950s along with a brand new tower.
The Aloft, Miami Beach's new hotel combines a renovated building that dates to the 1950s along with a brand new tower. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The Aloft Miami Beach is a hybrid on many fronts: part historic, part new; off-beach but waterfront; brand-affiliated but full of one-of-a-kind touches.

“They really allowed us to play with who we are,” said Leslie Weil, general manager of the hotel, which will welcome its first guests Friday. “Our Aloft is different than any Aloft you’ll ever see.”

With 235 rooms, the hotel at 2360 Collins Ave., is certainly bigger than most of its fellow Aloft hotels, Starwood’s “style at a steal” brand.

Brian McGuinness, global brand leader for Starwood specialty select brands, said in an email that the Miami Beach property has about 100 more rooms than a typical Aloft.

“It’s South Beach and the demand is high for hotel rooms,” he wrote. “So we had to go a bit bigger than we typically do.”

The hotel, which sits on a wedge of land abutting Lake Pancoast, incorporates the historic two-story Motel Ankara, which opened in 1954 and also operated as the Banana Bungalow. The older section has been restored and expanded, while a new eight-story tower completes the campus. Development costs were approximately $100 million.

Eventually, Continental Miami, a new restaurant from Stephen Starr, will open in leased space on the property. A target date for that opening was not available.

The hotel lobby has an industrial vibe with polished concrete, high ceilings and dark walls. Certain walls are covered in murals, giving a more interesting view to rooms that would have only overlooked a hallway.

In addition to the ground-level pool, a sun deck offers lounge chairs, foosball tables and will have a bar operated by the Continental. The hotel will also facilitate paddleboard and kayak rentals.

Developer Jason Halpern, founder and managing partner of JMH Development, said he wanted the hotel to be affiliated with Starwood because of the success of its higher-priced brand nearby, the W South Beach. The cheapest room at the Aloft next weekend is priced at $279 a night, while the W starts at $509.

“It’s priced right,” Halpern said. “There’s a real need for something like this, especially on the beach. But it’s not stuffy.”