Baby, it's cold outside! Blizzards are blowing. Daylight is disappearing at a bleak 5 p.m. You've got four long months of bitter chill ahead of you and you've probably already lost a mitten. Now's the perfect time to review the seven reasons you should be taking a tropical time-out to Miami immediately!
1. A Chic Escape.
South Beach's hippest new hotel, James Royal Palm, is celebrating its first birthday this winter. The boutique-style spot offers quirky-cool modern design elements (think "Ctrl" "Alt" "Del" throw pillows and a peek-a-boo window from shower to bedroom) and plenty of of funky touches - you can order an "In-room bartender" from room service, or borrow books and bicycles from the friendly lobby staff. Begin with brunch (or - in true South Beach style - linner) from the fresh and delicious Florida Cookery restaurant, which boasts a vertical garden dangling from a slatted wall. Then saunter off to one of the hotel's two pools or its beach, where a required resort fee covers two beach loungers and a basket packed with water, towels and fruit bites. A wonderfully decadent 2 p.m. checkout time means you can sneak in one more dip before the weekend ends!
2. Dining à la Esther Williams.
One of Miami's most celebrated chefs opened his eponymous Restaurant Michael Schwartz at The Raleigh hotel earlier this year. The grilled octopus, heirloom tomatos and hominy are absolute must-trys. But perhaps the biggest draw is the romantic al fresco dining, with tables circling the grand 1942 art deco pool, where Esther Williams filmed many of her "bathing beauty" flicks. After supper, stop in the hotel's Martini bar and ask knowledgeable barkeep Trevor (a talented Brooklyn transplant) to mix you up a drink with a past.
3. Primping in Luxury.
The oceanfront Ritz-Carlton, South Beach recently completed an extensive guest room renovation and the results are sumptuous "barefoot luxury." The Ritz eschews minimalist Miami for plush seaside comfort. The update also pays homage to the building's heritage as the DeLido Hotel, fashioned by famed art deco architect Morris Lapidus, and provides a luxe backdrop the hotel's extensive art collection - an impressive mix of contemporary and experimental pieces. No stay is complete without a visit to the 14-room spa, whose "Signature Massage" might just be the best in all of Miami. (The spa is also offering a "Primp & Prosecco" experience on Thursday afternoons this winter - at $35 for a wash, style, and bubbly, it's a dreamy steal!)
4. Art Attack.
It's not just the gorgeous bodies you can't take your eyes off in Miami - it's increasingly the Very Important art. In addition to the aforementioned annual Art Basel, the brand new Perez Art Museum of Miami opened this week, with modern pieces and contemporary installations perched on the shore of Biscayne Bay. The impressive museum strengthens the city's already buzzy art scene - which ditches gallery stuffiness and embraces playful experimentation.
5. Sipping at Soho House.
Where did Vanity Fair host its Art Basel party last week? Cecconi's restaurant at the Soho Beach House, naturally. This international members' club is perhaps the ultimate cool crowd magnet in Miami, with celebs and creative types flocking to its whimsical interiors, rooftop pool, sultry cocktail veranda, and chic Cowshed spa. Luxe vintage with a touch of Spanish flair is the name of the game here (you don't have to be a member to book a room). And compared to its slightly staid New York and London counterparts, this outpost isn't afraid to loosen its tie and salsa in the sand.
6. Double dinner at the SLS.
The only stress in Miami is whether to indulge in some of the best sushi in town from renowned chef Katsuya Uechi or experiment with the ingenious Spanish-themed small bites from James Beard-winner Jose Andres. At the buzzy SLS South Beach [http://slshotels.com/southbeach/], you don't have to decide. Start with some mouth-watering crab hand rolls, shishito peppers and sashimi at Katsuya, then walk a few steps and make a "dessert" out of the intoxicating Cubano sandwich (Jamon Iberico atop a crispy hollow bread infused with molten swiss cheese foam) at The Bazaar. Finish it all off with a liquid nitrogen caipirinha concoction from Bar Centro as a trophy bull's head wearing a hot-pink luchador mask watches the scene from above. Ole!
7. Beaching it.
Sure, you may want to party all night with the beautiful people at LIV at the Fontainebleau or SL Miami at The James. Or feast on the amazing food and cultural scene. But when it comes down to it, the ultimate reason to go to Miami this winter? That alluring, captivating stretch of sand and gentle, azure waves. Go ahead, dive right in!
What's your favorite excuse to go to Miami?
Originally published and reposted courtesy of Fodor's Travel.