Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Miami V nice

My Transatlantic adventure continued when I waved goodbye to the girls and the handyman at JFK after a fabulous weekend and hopped on a flight to Miami. I got a flavour of what to expect at Miami airport waiting for my baggage at midnight....the skirts were short, the tops were even shorter and there were a lot of mahogany tans and varying shades of pink clothing going on.

On arrival at the W South Beach, however, good taste and cool vibes returned with a vengeance and even though it was 1am, I spent the next hour marvelling at my suite. Overlooking South Beach, it was enormous, with a mammoth bed boasting the best pillows I’ve ever slept on, and Wi-Fi, iPod docking station, DVD/CD player, plasma screen and a huge bathroom full of Bliss Spa products. Given that this was home for the next five days, I had to indulge my OCD tendencies and unpack immediately as you never know on a work trip when you are next going to see your room. This is why Miss Emma Cox and myself made full use of the lounger above at any given opportunity.

Breakfast was on the terrace with a balmy breeze blowing, and given the spread on offer, eggs Benedict, pancakes, bagels, smoked salmon, fruit, granola etc it was tempting to eat a day’s worth of food at one sitting...until I remembered that I was going to be hanging out with Elle ‘The Body’ Macpherson and the finalists of this year’s Britain’s Next Top Model, which returns to Sky Living later this year. That thought alone was enough to keep me in check, funnily enough.

While a touch of luxury is important, what is most important of all is great service and the service at the W is top notch. I’ve sampled their outposts in Sydney, San Francisco, New York, Montreal and LA and they all deliver on this score. The staff are friendly, full of initiative and eager to help without being in your face.

The pool, which is set back from the beach, is the perfect place to lounge during the day and the bar is a cool hang out for a cocktail in the evening. What more could you ask for...oh yes, the Wall Lounge, adjacent to the hotel, which had to be sampled purely in the interests of research of course, and was packed on Tuesday evening. It would give any West End club a run for its money.

I’m lucky enough to be invited on quite a few foreign jobs (commonly referred to in my house as journos holidays, I know not why) and sometimes you don’t know who you are going to be thrown together with, or how it is all going to pan out. You just have to hope for the best.

I have to say my fellow scribes and PR supremos Jakki and Justin were on top form, even when faced with a potential hijack situation in a taxi. We’d asked to go to the Miami Dolphins sports stadium but somehow ended up in Fort Lauderdale on a two hour $200 ride from hell. The driver stopped for petrol twice and the second time, with one of our number desperate for a pee and the rest of us fearful of ending up in a Miami Vice crack den, all of us piled out throwing ourselves over car seats as the driver paid for his petrol in our haste to escape a grisly fate. It turns out that when you ask for a destination in Miami, you must actually say Miami, otherwise you might end up in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Worth or maybe even Fort Knox.

Interviews done (Elle and designer Julien Macdonald were my highlights, she looks AMAZING and he is naturally a very funny man) we even found time for a swim in the waves, but not before Justin had scared the life out of everyone with his constant reminder to beware of sharks, followed by a very convincing impression of a shark attack (the fact that this took place in the pool meant that we lived to tell the tale.)

So, if you are lucky enough to be leaving the blink-and-you-miss-it UK spring sunshine for toasty Miami shores anytime soon, here are my top tips.

• The W South Beach on Collins – simply the coolest hotel in the best location with sublime service. We popped into a couple of other hotels while there...they didn’t even come close.
• Soho Beach Club – the Florida outpost of Soho House, this retro bar and restaurant is decorated with white pea lights and has exactly the feel you would expect of the London club on its holidays. You need your name on the door.
• Blue Door Fish restaurant at the Delano – this legendary hotel in Miami still has what it takes to impress. The Blue Door Fish was buzzing on a Tuesday night with a lively crowd who were ready to party after finishing supper. I am heartily recommending the crabvacat as well as the scallops...perfection. Wish I’d had the time to sample the rest of the menu.
• Sushisamba on Lincoln Boulevard – Craig David, who lives in a hotel suite in Miami, met our own lovely Kay from Heat for drinks here on Tuesday so we thought we’d give it a whirl the following night, minus Craig who was otherwise engaged on Wednesday...and Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The sushi is fantastic – tempura prawn iso rolls and spicy tuna rolls were my highlight and the prawn and vegetable tempura we kicked off with defy description. Just remember to take your ID if you want a glass of wine, the laws are strict and the waitress wouldn’t serve me until I flashed my Amex saying member since 93! I know I should be flattered but when that glass of prosecco was slipping from my clutches it wasn’t pretty.
• Quattro Gastronomica on Lincoln Boulevard – a cosy Italian trattoria which does a great spaghetti alla vongole, rivalling any I’ve had in Sestri Levante and San Remo.
• The Everglades at Coopertown – no great restaurants but plenty of alligators to admire as you power down the water channels in an air boat - just don’t trail your hands in the water!

Arriving back last Saturday night in Nice after three flights and 28 hours on the road (it’s tough at the top) was no anti-climax as the weather has finally turned to proper spring/summer temperatures. All angst ridden memories of almost missing my New York flight back due to ridiculous queues at security (a worrying pattern is emerging at airports) were wiped out by seeing the wisteria blooming, the pool climbing up to double figures in less than two weeks and the spring jasmine starting to flower and smelling divine. Much as I love being on the road and having adventures, it’s always good to get back home.

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