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Miami’s New W South Beach

Towering over the Atlantic, this Miami hotel offers a contemporary oasis on a bustling strip.

By Tom Austin

Given the recent hoop-la in Miami, where so many hotel openings have been vying for the spotlight, it was fitting that the July launch of the W South Beach—the first W in town—featured the obligatory barrage of fame and fashion, as partygoers prowled the Grove, the hotel’s oceanfront garden.

Since then, the W—a 408-room affair that offers the allure of South Beach nightlife (the gold-and-black club Wall) and no shortage of indulgence (an 8,000-square-foot Bliss spa, opening this winter; the glitzy Mr. Chow and Soleàrestaurants)—has taken its place in the local firmament. The hotel reflects an ambitious corporate expansion (including the epic W Fort Lauderdale, 25 miles up the coast) and a new era of grand properties in Miami Beach, with SoHo Beach House Miami and Vikram Chatwal’s Dream hotel coming on line next year.

The project would be a nervy one in any economic climate, though codeveloper David Edelstein is optimistic. “Miami Beach recovered quickly after 9/11,” he says, “and I think the hotel community here will come back strong again.”

The W South Beach immediately shows its aspirations to chic in a gleaming lobby equipped with a 120-foot-long marble wall, and with an edgy art collection (pieces by Damien Hirst, Christopher Wool, and the like) counterpointed by campy brass screens that recall the glamour of Miami’s 1950’s heyday. Upstairs, the guest suites have Cippolino marble vanity countertops, Italian cotton velvet sofas, and photos of pop musicians by Danny Clinch. After all, the whole point of South Beach is to at least feel like a rock star for a weekend.