Miami is Miami because of the design. Yes, there are the people, the parties, the endless sweep of beach and, for kiting obsessives like me, the year-round winds ready to catch anything remotely sail-like. Miami is all these things - but the secret to its unique, exciting vibe is the architectural context, the backdrop to all these activities. As a place, its identity is defined by its design - and it's never more apparent than in its hotels.
There are four I consider to be gamechangers: the Delano, The Edition, the Faena (renowned for its opulence and luxury) and 1 Hotel South Beach. They change the rules by elevating hotel architecture above function, somewhere nice to stay, and into emotional engagement - somewhere you grow to love, to evoke the first stirrings of homecoming.
Every time, I find it tough to leave 1 Hotel South Beach. It combines the skills of Liabasha Rose and Meyer Davis (a New York City–based design boutique), and it was created by Barry Sternlicht, the founder of Starwood Hotels. The talent behind it meant it was always going to be something special - but it only really sinks in when you arrive for the first time.
Every touch-point has a story, all underpinning by an overarching ethos of "Do all the good you can". The lobby features three types of wood and three ranges of textures - all recycled and reclaimed and used in a thoughtful way. Smart wood-harvesting means that every tree used in its construction was replaced by two others. Other winning touches: where possible, they've incorporated driftwood, recycled paper (used for clothes-hangers) and hemp (mattresses).
Continuing the "less impact in luxury" theme, the triple-filtered water means that the shower water is cleaner than Evian. Meatless Mondays and paper-smart "think before use" features - like the replacement of bedside notebooks with chalk-boards) all further reduce the carbon footprint, and plants are used as part of the design fabric of the whole building, filling it with colour, light and delicious aromas (I love their use of eucalyptus oil).
Designing business with a social consciousness really should be standard practise and not the exception - and this is a hotel that leads the way. Bravo, 1 Hotel - you really are a singular experience.