Previous guest-blogger Ana Silva – whose last post on California can be read here – is back with more tales of exotic gallivanting. This month the food- and wine-loving MBA student ventured to Florida (who knows where she gets the time!), where she celebrated New Year Miami-style. Lucky thing.
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As stated on my previous LA/Palm Desert blog – which can be read here – we were due to spend New Year’s in the desert; the weather promised to be nice and warm, but how predictable can it be? On Dec 27th we triple-checked the weather and weren’t happy: 12ºC in the desert? No sun? No way! As much as I love shopping, I needed a bit of heat! Miami Beach looked good as always – a respectable 26ºC – so after convincing Mr O, I called the nice people at BA. Yes, we could change our flight (we were using our annual AmEx voucher and flying first-class, which I’m sure helped) but there were two issues: we couldn’t fly anywhere in Florida in the next week and the closest they could get us was Atlanta! Oh, and did I mention we’d have to stay an extra day? Excellent! Flights changed, hotel changed, car changed and all restaurant reservations switched.
So we set off to Atlanta. Admittedly, it isn’t the most exciting place in the world, but a good hotel and restaurant is essential for any trip; we stayed at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, the tallest building in the city (and even got upgraded to the Governor Suite – best views in town!); as for dinner, Legal Sea Foods should mean something to anyone who has been to Boston. A visit to the World of Coca Colawas scheduled before our return flight: do go if you have a chance, it’s fantastic. The 10-hour drive the following day was, in reality, an eight-hour drive (we are Europeans, after all) and the monotony was broken by some interesting stops at the Orlando Fashion Premium Outlets and Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, Florida.
Once in Miami itself, we couldn’t stay in our first-choice hotel – the W South Beach – as it was full of better hotel bookers, so we tried the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa 10 miles north of the Beach. We weren’t at all disappointed: the décor and service were excellent, as was our deluxe oceanfront junior suite on the 32th floor – what a view! For dining, some of the usual suspects are still in full swing – Asia de Cuba @ Mondrian remains a firm favourite as do their coconut cloud martinis, but we also tried Phillippe @ Gansevoort and Mr Chow at the W South Beach, and preferred the latter. As for our visit to Hakkasan, no one can beat the Hakka cocktail (thank God there’s a branch in London!). A special mention goes to the W South Beach cocktail list; we came across a girl at the Living Room Bar who had been working her way through the list during her stay. Please try the W Gin and the Lividus if you stop by. We duly tried the steak at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Aventura and had the most amazing New Year’s dinner at Texas de Brazil, a Brazilian-style rodizio steakhouse. Our personal favourite? Sushi Samba on Lincoln Road.
Where to go later? Wall at the W, a small, intimate nightclub, is possibly one of the best in town. We also went to Coco de Ville @ Gansevoort and loved its Favela Chick party, held every Tuesday. LIV @ Fontainebleu was nice and trendy, but not really our cup of tea, while it was fun going back to Mynt, still going strong after almost 10 years. As far as swiping cards is concerned, you won’t be spoiled for choice! Collins Avenue in Miami Beach has some decent shops, and some notable changes are taking place on Lincoln Mall Road. Personal favourite? Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour, eight miles up from the beach, and Aventura Mall is not far away in Aventura, with every shop and department store you can think of, including one of the very few Gilly Hicks, the cool sister of Abercrombie. The weather was so nice, we even stayed an extra night. The lady at BA happened to be the same person who handled our reservation change (what a coincidence), and said ‘undoubtedly, I will be hearing from you soon.’ I tried, but Mr O didn’t let me. Even so, 10 days in Miami Beach isn’t a bad place to welcome in 2011!