Luxury Travel Tips in Miami: Art Basel, Wynwood District & the Grand Beach Hotels

by Elena

Pure luxury. “So how do you end up affording all these fancy hotels?!”, my brother still asks me via email only a couple of days ago. I smile at the memory, while unlocking the door to my room on the 14th floor of the Grand Beach Hotel Miami Beach. All of a sudden, I freeze. My jaws drop. “Oh my God, is this for real …?!” Don’t get me wrong, I still very much enjoy hostels & convivial lounge areas, but every now and then, a little luxury is a wonderful treat. Absorbed in my thoughts, I open the door to the balcony – and freeze yet again. Within a split second, my eyes travel across the magnificent bay of Miami, steeped in crystal-clear, turquoise blue waters and framed by the hotel’s beautiful palm beach. My nose pick up the scent of the ocean. My skin feels the warmth of the wind. My ears attune to the rhythm of the breaking waves, again and again, urging almost yet ever so smooth, a most natural rhythm that has the power to soothe the soul …

 

I have arrived. And there is no better way of arriving in Miami than being welcomed by and suffused in the luxury of both the Grand Beach Hotel Miami Beach & the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside.

“Our Grand Beach Hotel Surfside is only four months old”, the friendly staff tells me with a sense of pride. “Have you already been down by the beach?! Come on, I’ll show you! Oh wait, let’s have a welcome drink at the bar here first … it’s on the house you know!” As with my stay at the rather luxurious Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, I am once again confirmed that luxury can be both lightweight & personal. At the Grand Hotel Beach Miami Beach, only about half an hour north of Miami’s famous South Beach & Ocean Drive, I talk with Alex & Charlene about all matters life in Miami, and the luxury world of the hotel they work in. Meet with Harald, sales manager of both the Grand Beach Hotel Miami Beach & the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside here in Miami: We both share being from Austria, having turned into world citizens travelling & working around the globe, and almost finding it strange to “talk normal German” together, such is our natural use of English (and other languages, that is, in my case). “I lived and worked in Hawaii for 13 years, and have now been in Miami for another 12 years … I just love it”, he marvels at the city’s laid-back atmosphere and work-life-balance. And just like Faruk, my Miami Food Tour Guide said a day earlierMiami, it just grows on you. You actually end up not wanting to leave … 😀

Starting with: The view from the 14th floor of my Grand Beach Hotel Miami Beach. Simply. Mesmerising. I end up just standing here for a few minutes on end ...

Starting with: The view from the 14th floor of my Grand Beach Hotel Miami Beach. Simply. Mesmerising. I end up just standing here for a few minutes on end …

 

... while right inside, in the lobby, we are welcomed to & reminded of the actual Christmas season … A true difference in culture for someone hailing from snow-covered Austria, I must say!

… while right inside, in the lobby, we are welcomed to & reminded of the actual Christmas season … A true difference in culture for someone hailing from snow-covered Austria, I must say!

 

Whatever the story, I intend to focus on the luxury of … luxury, for a while ...

Whatever the story, I intend to focus on the luxury of … luxury, for a while …

 

... enjoying my dinner to the full: Oh how I missed my seafood & fresh glass of Chardonnay after these equally beautiful, but different weeks of Northern New Mexico cuisine recently!

… enjoying my dinner to the full: Oh how I missed my seafood & fresh glass of Chardonnay after these equally beautiful, but different weeks of Northern New Mexico cuisine recently!

 

Breakfast, as almost all other dishes being served here in the USA, is just HUGE.!

Breakfast, as almost all other dishes being served here in the USA, is just HUGE.!

 

And just as much as the Grand Beach Hotel Miami Beach, its younger sister Grand Beach Hotel Surfside welcomes me to a warm, spacious, luxury room for the night ...

And just as much as the Grand Beach Hotel Miami Beach, its younger sister Grand Beach Hotel Surfside welcomes me to a warm, spacious, luxury room for the night …

 

... here, I especially love the colours and flavoursome taste variety of their bar in the lobby!

… here, I especially love the colours and flavoursome taste variety of their bar in the lobby!

 

"Welcome to Miami , Bienvenido a Miami", Will Smith’s classic song having turned into a happy haunting melody during my stay here!

“Welcome to Miami , Bienvenido a Miami”, Will Smith’s classic song having turned into a happy haunting melody during my stay here!

 

From the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside, I enjoy walking right up to the beach. Just. Beautiful. Don’t you think? :D

From the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside, I enjoy walking right up to the beach. Just. Beautiful. Don’t you think? 😀

 

If like me you only end up spending a couple of days in Miami, make sure you do not miss the Wynwood Arts District: Street Art Graffiti is not only being lived, but truly celebrated here.

“For a start, I recommend you to visit Café Panther, right here on the corner. The coffee is just great, as you will notice from the queue out here … It is worth getting in line though!” Suzie Sponder of the city of Miami Convention & Visitor Bureau gives me an encouraging smile. “Enjoy your Arts Experience Tour around Wynwood Walls!”

Indeed, I do! Up until the tour starts, I am still left with two hours of time, having come here much earlier on purpose just to soak up the atmosphere of Miami’s special Wynwood District & Wynwood Walls. “It was only five years ago that development here really started”, Shane & Nicole tell me unanimously. “Before, it was almost considered dangerous to be out here!” Hard to believe, as today everything is very relaxed, international, cool & hip here! I meet both Shane & Nicole at the Café Panther; one of the many advantages of the USA as it is very easy to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. In addition, I am lucky once more: Nicole and her mum, through the support of an arts foundation “Footsteps To Freedom“, are curating a unique arts exhibition “whose main exhibition ground are just round the corner: Come with us, then, and we’ll show you everything! You are going to love this, what with your creative travel mission!” Nicole of course is very right, I end up joining them all too gladly!

My experience of the Wynwood Art District in Miami starts with coffee art at Café Panther: Truly recommend you to come and stop here! Plus, they offer free WiFi – always handy for us international travellers.

My experience of the Wynwood Art District in Miami starts with coffee art at Café Panther: Truly recommend you to come and stop here! Plus, they offer free WiFi – always handy for us international travellers.

 

The vegan muffins are great, too – and finally, I have found a serving size I am much more comfortable with as a “European” ...!

The vegan muffins are great, too – and finally, I have found a serving size I am much more comfortable with as a “European” …!

 

Walking up to the arts exhibition "Footsteps To Freedom”, I end up tracing my own footsteps (and those of other artists!) on the streets of Wynwood.!

Walking up to the arts exhibition “Footsteps To Freedom”, I end up tracing my own footsteps (and those of other artists!) on the streets of Wynwood.!

 

"Footsteps To Freedom" curates a unique exhibition featuring real Afghan soldier boots, which have been turned into works of art by artists from all over the world, with the goal of raising money for the purpose of "ipads for soldiers" in order to keep the communication with the soldiers and their families back home going. Wow!

“Footsteps To Freedom” curates a unique exhibition featuring real Afghan soldier boots, which have been turned into works of art by artists from all over the world, with the goal of raising money for the purpose of “ipads for soldiers” in order to keep the communication with the soldiers and their families back home going. Wow!

 

Last but not least, I am met & greeted by Antonio Vasquez on a unique and very personal Arts Experience Tour around the so-called “Wynwood Walls” of Miami. Antonio is a nice chap with a broad grin, who has actually been to high school right here in Wynwood, now enjoying to host visitors on Street Art Graffiti tours to “his” neighbourhood. “The great thing about your visit is that in only a few days from now, Art Basel is going to take place – THE festival of the year! That is why you can see so many artists actually working in the streets. It is THE opportunity, therefore, to literally take a sneak preview of their finished work”, Antonio chimes in with my open enthusiasm for this vivid arts scene on display here in Wynwood, Miami. “And now this artist here … oh wait, he is actually Austrian”, Antonio says now and points over to a rather unusual graffiti painting by my fellow countryman. “No wonder his work of art is here and not in Vienna, for example”, I smile. “Back home, we do not celebrate Street Art Graffiti nearly half as much, let alone exposing it in an international festival such as this one.” The unique charm of a fluorescent metropolis such as Miami, I guess.

Auf geht's zur Tour durch die Wynwood Walls von Miami's hippen "Art District" ...

Off we go on our Wynwood Walls “The Arts Experience Tour” around Miami’s hip Wynwood Art District …

 

... hier sticht mir vor allem gleich mal dieses Kunstwerk ins Auge, welches direkt von der Wand auf die Straße überzugehen scheint ...

… here, I am especially impressed by this large work of art that seemingly spills over from the wall and onto the street …

 

... dieses Kunstwerk beispielsweise ehrt einen der Gründerväter Miami's, Henry Flaglan, wie ich von Antonio erfahre ...

… or this piece of art here, honouring one of the city’s founding fathers, Henry Flaglan …

 

... und gleichzeitig sind viele lokale Berühmtheiten samt ihrem Pressegefolge erschienen - Stimmung unter Stars macht sich breit!

… at the same time, a lot of “apparent stars” are among the audience, making for commotion on the streets!

 

Street Art Graffiti ...

Street Art Graffiti …

 

... ist hier wirklich überall ...

… is truly everywhere here …

 

... überall. ;)

… everywhere. 😉

 

Schade, dass ich zum Art Basel Festival nicht bleiben kann, doch eines Tages muss ich wiederkehren und mir die ganzen Veranstaltungsreihen hier ansehen. Lässt sich auf jeden Fall toll an hier in Wynwood Art District!

Such a shame I am actually not staying for the entire length of the Art Basel Festival, but one day I ought to come back to see that as well. Very cool first impression of Miami’s Wynwood Art District!

 

Das wirklich Schöne: Ich habe (schon wieder) neue Freunde & Bekanntschaften

And the truly cool thing of course being that I have already managed to make new friends & acquaintances, who have even organised a T-Shirt for me: FOREVER GRATEFUL it says, supporting the arts campaign “iPads for soldiers”. Lovely: I will wear that very proudly on my trip, as forever grateful I truly am. 🙂

 

Fancy some more? Enjoy these photos of my creative food lover stay here in Miami, serving you even more tips and ideas to inspire and enjoy … Buen provecho – Bon appetit everyone!

Disclaimer: I have been invited by the Grand Beach Hotels & The Arts Experience in Wynwood. All opinions are my own.

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