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Review: Shelborne South Beach, Miami is Revamped for Families

by Irvina Lew

Sep 3, 2020

Photo: Shelborne South Beach


Florida’s oceanfront Shelborne South Beach, an iconic and glamorous 1960s destination, was revamped for 21st-century families. Its fanciful allure — and fabulous pool and tropical beach access — is an exciting family destination in the heart of the historic and walkable Miami Art Deco District.


Now owned by hotelier Keith Menin of Menin Hotels, the property was originally designed in 1940 by modernist Igor Polevitzky, and stunningly improved in the 1950s by famed Miami Beach architect Morris Lapidus. Lapidus, the architect of Miami Modern and a Neo-Baroque design master, shared some of his lifetime experiences with my late husband and me on a memorable Sunday afternoon in the late 90s, when he was in his late 90s. He was proud of his floating white porte cochère above the entry drive and the curved glass-windowed entry with a view of the reception area, impressing guests as they arrive.

Photo: Shelborne South Beach


The recent $150 million revitalization project incorporated some of the property’s original elements in the historic venue, including the original Tennessee Rose granite. In the recent refurbishment, designers incorporated 1950s vintage elements, including crystal chandeliers, terrazzo floors and mid-century modern furnishings and added modern elements throughout. A wide gallery leads back to the lobby lounge with animal prints and tufted banquettes, a pool table and photo wall and to Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s Bar Tanaka.


A wide, white exterior walkway leads to the new infinity pool, a MiMo-style staircase with glass bubble roof and a sun deck with an arc of shower water connected by a catwalk bridge. On the pool deck, in addition to the cabanas and kid-friendly pool, there’s a lovely Oasis beach garden; the Vesper American Brasserie, named for a James Bond movie; and Lucy’s Cantina Royale, a poolside taco stand. A keyed gate gives access to the Miami Beach boardwalk, a paved path, and the private beach club with its lounges and umbrellas and water sports activities.


The Shelborne South Beach welcomes families with a children’s area, family programming and a package for families with kids under 5 years old. The package includes a welcome toy and a kid’s cup for unlimited soda and juice refills. Kids eat free breakfasts at the Shelborne Caffe (the menu offers chicken tenders, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches and other kid-friendly foods). Also included in the price is a one-day rental of a poolside cabana with no food and beverage minimum. Blackout dates apply.


Drawing Room Bar. Photo: Shelborne South Beach


The 200 well-designed new hotel rooms mix vintage chic with contemporary sophistication. Ours had an ocean view, crisp white bedding and decorative pillows. Bathrooms feature custom wood and marble vanities, and polished white marble flooring. Rooms with two double beds work for families as does the 980-square-foot duplex Townhouse suite with a full kitchen and the two-bedroom suite. And there’s a spa on the lower level.


The hotel offers handicapped access to rooms, restaurant and restrooms and two mechanical chairs, one for the pool, the other for the Jacuzzi. Even with a stroller, walker or wheelchair, the distance from Collins Avenue at 18th Street to Lincoln Road, Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach Convention Center and New World Symphony (with outdoor family concerts) and countless shops, restaurants and Time Out Market (a food court) is definitely and easily doable.


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