A Miami weekender

A Miami weekender

MARIA BOYLE heads to Florida for a whirlwind visit

Maria Boyle on Miami Beach

Made legendary during the Roaring Twenties and again in the Eighties as a result of the TV programme Miami Vice starring Don Johnson, Miami pulls in 26.5 million visitors each year thanks to its equatorial climate and yearly temperatures averaging 24C or 76F

We chose to stay at the world-famous palm-fringed island of South Beach which offers sun, sea, culture and plenty of bars and restaurants for a whirlwind 48 hours.


Our suite oozed coolness with circadian lighting to suit our mood, a TV room with circular sofa (very Miami glam!), a fully stocked kitchen, and a comfortable living area and not one but two balconies to relax and enjoy Miami South Beach from sunrise to sundown.

The hotel captures the Miami spirit of being hip and fun, has a buzzy atmosphere but is also super-relaxed and warm and welcoming. It has two restaurants (The Restaurant at W South Beach offering Italian-inspired cuisine and Mr Chow for those who want to enjoy authentic Beijing cuisine). There are also two bars, two swimming pools and copious cabanas, a tennis court, gym and daily fitness classes. In addition, its ground floor reception and lounge areas provide guests with an opportunity to view a rotating collection of museum-quality modern art, chill and have a coffee in beautifully designed inside or outdoor cosy spaces, and take advantage of complimentary cocktails in the afternoon.

Miami is a vibrant city to explore and has a rich history with multiple cultural influences.   To learn more, we signed up for a two-hour walking tour with Miami Design Preservation League www.mdpl.org/tours which was set up in 1976 to preserve art and architecture in Miami Beach.

Missy, our knowledgeable tour guide, told us all about Miami’s humble origins – South

Next up was lunch at the recently opened Café Americano www.cafeamericano.com/miami, located on the main Ocean Drive strip. While it is known for its all day brunch (staff rave about the Americano breakfast sandwich), it serves pastas, pizzas, burgers and seafood. We opted to sit al fresco on its bougainvillea terrace and enjoyed a delicious lunch of Mahi Mahi Tacos with pineapple and red cabbage slaw served with a side of Mexican street corn, followed by pan-seared salmon served with broccoli, white beans and chorizo.

We then walked to Lincoln Road Mall, aka the Fifth Avenue of the South, for a spot of shopping. This is a ten-block pedestrian mall located designed by fabled Art Deco architect Morris Lapidus who was known for his Neo-Baroque Miami Modern style. More than 200 boutiques, restaurants, outdoor cafes and art galleries line both sides of the street and it is a great place to while away a few hours.

South Beaches hotels

Foodie heaven

The Ocean Drive strip comes alive at night and there is no shortage of places to eat and drink. We decided to try A Fish Called Avalon www.afishcalledavalon.com, located in the deco Avalon hotel, with its daily live music and award-winning seafood menu.   Headed by Executive Chef Kal Abdalla, who has been voted among the ‘Best Chefs America’, we devoured Bang Bang Shrimp and Chilled Maine Lobster followed by the most delicious Macadamia-crusted Snapper and Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna. We finished off the night with one of Avalon’s Instagramable cocktails, served in a miniature Oldsmobile Super 88.

On our second morning, we booked a photographic walking tour with Miami-based photographer Valerie Lopez, co-founder of Angle (angleplatform.com). Valerie guided us around South Beach, shared her local insights and favourite spots while capturing fun photos and video of us during the hour we spent with her. We were snapped in parks, in front of modern art, museums, Art Deco buildings, on the beach, in front of a Lamborghini and, 24 hours later, received professional images and a short reel video that could be shared on social media.   The service is available in 500 cities across 106 countries and was really fun.

While we could have then ventured to the shopping and artsy areas of the Design District, hired a car to go to the Everglades National Park, or perhaps check out the life size murals and galleries in Wynwood, jet lag meant we were flagging so we took advantage of W Hotel’s private beach area, enjoyed the wonderful sea views and were entertained for hours watching pelicans flying over the water and dive-bombing for fish.

As the sun started to set, we decided to do a bit more exploring and jumped on two of the complimentary hotel bikes and cycled along the car-free beach walkway, seeing all the famous hotels and colourful beach huts situated on the 2.5-mile stretch of South Beach.

After our all too short stay, we had been charmed by Miami, its history, architecture, cuisine and nightlife. For a weekend of fun – stay longer if you can - Miami really lives up to its title as the US’s capital of cool.

Ocean Drive Avalon Hotel

Fact box

W South Beach – rooms from £520


For a complete guide to Miami go to www.MiamiandMiamiBeach.com


From Ireland, British Airways flies Dublin - London Heathrow – Miami return, from €614 including taxes fees and carrier charges (baggage included)

From London, British Airways flies London Heathrow to Miami return, from £550 including taxes fees and carrier charges (baggage included)