The word “Faena,” heard most emphatically in neighborhoods fanning from the blinding white sands lining Miami Beach, could be another term for fantastical, improbable. It stems from one unstoppable Alan Faena, creator of the new Faena Hotel Miami Beach and the energy behind the increasingly famous Faena District.
The five blocks of Collins Avenue in the Mid-Beach section of Miami Beach are now part of a re-imagined metropolis of architectural icons and showcases of progressive arts and culture as conceived and developed through the eyes of one of Argentina’s hottest exports.
Alan Faena and business partner Len Blavatnik opened Faena Hotel in Miami Beach in December of 2015 and have not looked back. The property – called by some a palace, others a museum and still by others, a cathedral – anchors a $1.2 billion, seven-block parcel in a formerly run-down section of the city that now thrives as a place to experience music, art, theater, poetry and urban wonder.
Faena District Miami Beach
Faena Hotel Miami Beach is complemented by the Faena House condominiums (designed by Foster + Partners and featured one unit that recently sold for a record $60 million). Also in the mix is Faena Forum, a 42,000-square-foot swirl of a space for exhibitions and performances that was designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA. Faena Bazaar is a grand bazaar of vendors and crafts people, to connect these spaces, and the mélange also includes Casa Faena, a 50-room circa-1928 historic Mediterranean-style manse with some of the best Sunday brunch menus in the city.
Alan Faena, famous for creating Faena Hotel in 2004 in Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires, which transformed seedy dockyards into a booming borough of high style, edgy architecture and artsy entertainment, found a perfect palette for his visions in Miami Beach – one of the three locations for the annual Art Basel fests (the others are Basel, Switzerland and Hong Kong). The celebration presents work from some 300 leading international galleries from more than 30 countries over a few days, attracting some 100,000 art aficionados, appreciators and connoisseurs (the next spectacle is scheduled for early December).
But it all would start with the hotel: Faena Miami Beach would have to be a statement in its own right. Faena took the former Saxony Hotel, once a veritable second home for the Rat Pack and Frank Sinatra, and a favorite getaway for Marilyn Monroe, and turned it into a 169-room stunner with input from director and producer Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Australia) and his wife, the production and costume designer Catherine Martin (The Great Gatsby).
Miami Chic: New Definitions
Today, the interior designs guests will find might defy definition. Words like fantastical, daring, extravagant come to mind as guests wander through spaces that may have started with an Art Deco swoosh and ended up with layers of theatrical design flares.
Drawn into the lobby, guests may be entering a modern museum or the imagined palace of Cleopatra. A walk along a central red carpet runner (shocking reds are a theme in Alan Faena’s bright design schemes) passes golden columns, a beveled recessed-lit ceiling and lush floor-to-ceiling murals by Argentine artist Juan Gatti evoking exotic fantasies of jungle utopias. Walls of glass ahead flow into a garden patio and beyond, a golden woolly mammoth skeleton sculpted by Damien Hirst.
There are rooms and spaces for every occasion: a designated quiet room called The Library, for checking email on a red velvet lounging couch; The Living Room area that looks like an Art Deco movie set with a huge Alberto Garutti chandelier rumored to sputter slightly when lightning hits the Pampas plains in Argentina. The hotel features a 150-seat cabaret-style theater inspired through its red velvets and glinting golds to summon thoughts of the opulent opera houses of Europe.
Two restaurants and some seven bars each bring on their own sense of the dramatic. Pao infuses Asian influence from the Far East and Philippines through the work of celebrated chef Paul Qui in a space of re-imagined greenery crowned by a golden unicorn, another oeuvre by Damien Hirst. Los Fuegos, by Argentine grillmaster Francis Mallmann, brings creative Latin influences and keeps the show aglow from the open-fire kitchen. Meanwhile, the Saxony Bar leans into the classic Greek revival/modernist/Art Deco design blends and serves up old fashion cocktails from golden ages past.
Faena’s spa, Tierra Santa Healing House, provides its own signature of shades of Miami teals mixed with Faena reds accenting sumptuous couches and chairs in the lounging areas and intriguing treatment room designs. Spa guests relax amid fantasy wall murals and on private terraces overlooking the beach. The menu features cleansing and purification treatments by staff specially trained by an authentic Mexican healer, and these selections can also be paired with Balinese sound bowl healing sessions.
The beachfront property overlooks a 100,000-square-foot swath of warm sand and blue ocean, painting Miami Beach with classic red and white striped umbrellas.
Faena Hotel: Latest Beds of Miami Beach
Accommodations, too, are treated to teals, pinks, whites and reds with 18 configurations of rooms and suites (there are 111 suites in the mix), many featuring generous balcony spaces over the blue waters of Miami Beach. Room quarters run from the 489-square-foot Bay View option ($525/night) to the 4,515-square-foot Faena Suite ($20,000/night) with four king bedrooms and more than four bathrooms, to the Penthouse Suite ($50,000/night) at 14,507 square feet, which has four king bedrooms with two master bedrooms, five full and four half bathrooms, wrapped oceanfront views, full kitchen and a large living room with a grand piano. All room choices benefit from the added luxury of dedicated guest managers and butlers.
A full schedule of performances, regular and special, are listed on the Faena’s website within categories labeled Art & Culture, Experiential, Gastronomy, Mixology, Music and Wellness. For those ready to go, Faena District anchored by Faena Hotel will be the only destination in Miami Beach they will need to know.
Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.
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