After suffering a sluggish period because of the recession and a drop in tourism after September 11, Miami is suddenly coming alive again. Aqua, the new Deco-style high-rise on Allison Island, destined to be Miami’s most high-end community, is drawing impressive architects like Walter Chatham and Alexander Gorlin (even Architectural Digest editor Paige Rense is buying there). On 16th Street, a new performing-arts center is finally under way. Meanwhile, the restaurant world is heating up: Michelin-starred La Broche has opened an outpost (305-415-0070) on Brickell Bay Drive, and chef Tim Andriola’s Timo debuts on Sunny Isles next month (305-936-1008). New York restaurateurs continue to head south—the owners of Bice just opened Sabor on Ocean Drive (305-532-4131), and Cafeteria and the Prime Grill have offshoots opening in early spring. Even spa culture is evolving—with two sybaritic centers opening in the Trump Sonesta Beach Resort and at the Clinton, on the heels of the Shore Club’s oceanview spa and the new Brownes Beauty Lounge. Making this all the more accessible, JetBlue will soon be running up to sixteen flights a day on its New York–to–Fort Lauderdale route, which smart travelers have found much cheaper than flying nonstop to Miami. Beth Landman Keil
SoFi’s Choice There’s a reason people are calling Sofi (south of Fifth) Miami’s last frontier: Developers are gobbling up every last inch of this tony district sandwiched between the ocean and the bay. Already home to hot spots like Nikki Beach Club, China Grill, and Joe’s, Sofi will soon house a William Morris agency and Philippe Starck’s first-ever residential tower, Icon, where buyers can choose from four preplanned décor schemes. A branch of New York’s own Flûte champagne bar opened last week.
New York Magazine readers get 35 percent off the rack rate, plus free breakfast, when they book a brand-new Deluxe Cabana room at Miami’s National Hotel during April or May. Discounted rooms are $300 a night, down from $465 (800-327-8370).
The country’s hippest hoteliers are taking over South Beach, one boutique at a time.
It all started with Ian Schrager’s new interest in the Shore Club, whose additions include L.A. transplants Ago and Skybar (305-695-3100; from $375).
The Pomeranc brothers (of Soho’s 60 Thompson) snatched up the Sagamore, a boutique hotel recently renovated to the tune of $43 million (305-535-8088; from $400).
André Balazs just bought the Raleigh. The Art Deco gem will remain open during its extensive renovations (305-534-6300; from $225).
Jeff Klein of City Club chic has his keen eye on the National (305-532-2311; from $340).
Donald Trump (okay, maybe he’s not so hip, but still …) opens his first Miami property, the Sonesta Beach Resort, next month.
Mario Eats Hawaii Get a taste of what it’s like to cook at the side of superstar chef Mario Batali when he hosts a small class March 21 to 23 at Mauna Lani, on the Big Island. Todd English and Lee Hefter (Spago) will be in residence later this year (from $3,500; 888-424-1977 or maunalani.com). Learn As You Go Butterfield & Robinson’s new Sojourn trips—to places like Mexico and Tuscany—are hosted by yoga instructors, top chefs, and famous authors (from $3,195; 800-678-1147 or butterfield.com). Hot Chile Ritz-Carlton makes its South American debut with the May opening of Ritz-Carlton, Santiago. They’re calling it a boutique hotel (205 rooms), but you can count on the usual Ritz amenities and exquisite service (800-241-3333 or ritzcarlton.com; rooms from $320).