Ring-a-ding-ding is back in the swing at a longtime classic designed by Morris Lapidus in the 1950s a couple of dozen blocks above South Beach—with today’s glam supplied not by Elvis, Marlene Dietrich, and the Rat Pack but the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Pitbull. Renovated and expanded to the tune of a cool billion dollars in 2008, this three-tower behemoth sprawling over 20 acres provides enough amenities and variety to please a wide spectrum, from party-hearty types and urban sophisticates to families and conventioneers (those seeking a quiet hideaway, not so much). A dozen bars, lounges, and eateries include three top destination restaurants: Scarpetta (Italian), Hakkasan (Chinese; my favorite for atmospherics), and Gotham Steak. The main lobby Bleau Bar, meanwhile, is quite the nighttime vision in glowing pink and blue. Out back is an impressive network of pools large and small, loud and laid-back. The 40,000-square-foot Lapis Spa lays on water circuits, rain rooms, the works. Guest rooms, both comfortable and functional, are contemporary with a touch of retro (just watch that minibar; lift it for more than 20 seconds, you’ve bought it).
- David Paul Appell