Palette Magazine

Indulge in arts and culture at The Betsy

By Jeff Lehman

The Betsy’s Orb Poetry Rail projected Pride Poets Light the Night by Christopher Barker during Miami Beach Gay Pride 2017.
The Betsy’s Orb Poetry Rail projected Pride Poets Light the Night by Christopher Barker during Miami Beach Gay Pride 2017.


I’ve been working in hospitality since I was a teenager — starting at 17 as a pool attendant in Hawaii. Now, I lead The Betsy South Beach — on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2017 Gold List — a place with a unique luxury brand that pampers guests and serves the LGBTQ community in unprecedented ways.

We’re happy to be right on Ocean Drive, just a stone’s throw from “party central,” but our beachfront location also offers guests a slice of serenity. We complement that with Yoga and Meditation, a poetry-inspired spa, property library and uniquely curated playlists optimized for every space and time of day. Two roof decks treat guests to 360-degree panoramic views of the beach and city, with a front-row seat to the sunrise or sunset. Our bars offer an intimate space to gather while enjoying craft cocktails. USA Today dubbed our property The Most Romantic Hotel in Florida in 2015.

Through The Betsy’s PACE program — an acronym that stands for Philanthropy, Arts, Culture and Education — our leadership team set out to redefine what it means to be a place of hospitality where LGBTQ travelers can feel at home, whether traveling alone, as a couple or as part of a larger family group. Our team is trained (Pink Flamingo certified) and sensitive, and we strive to make everyone feel welcome. It’s never enough just to tell someone they matter, actions truly do speak louder than words.

The Betsy’s outstanding LGBTQ programming over the years has included the creation of TransArt (elevating understanding of trans life through the work of trans artists), LGBTQ literary events through The Betsy Writers Room ( and partnerships with advocacy groups like the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, LGBT Visitor Center, Aqua Foundation, Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida, the National Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Our newest LGBTQ partners are the Maven Leadership Collective, SAGE and Project SAFE.

During Miami Beach Gay Pride 2017 we commemorated those lost at the PULSE massacre with a project entitled Pride Poets Light The Night. With more than 100 participants gathered shoulder to shoulder, poet Richard Blanco recited his piece One Pulse—One Poem during a vigil that was accompanied by the poetry itself illuminated upon The Betsy’s Poetry Rail and Orb. A free community-building reception followed at the hotel’s conservatory.

Treating people with dignity and respect is part of our DNA. As a member of the local business community, it makes me particularly proud that The Betsy embraces LGBTQ culture at the highest levels for our guests from all over the world to experience and enjoy.

Jeff Lehman

Managing Director

The Betsy South Beach

Corporate Member of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce