The Lavish Miami Beach Hotel From Your Film Fantasy

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Pao Banquet_Photo by Todd Eberle
© Faena Hotel Miami Beach, photography by Todd Eberle

With artwork by Jeff Koons and interiors by Baz Luhrmann, the Faena Hotel Miami Beach presents the ultimate travel fantasy, straight out of the cinema

All of pop culture’s greatest love stories, it seems, have played out in hotels befitting them. Take Dirty Dancing’s irresistible central romance, for example, which is set at the family-run Kellerman Resort in the Catskills, a venue perfectly suited to Baby’s teenage rebellion; or the pastel pink interiors of the seedy mid-west motels in Wim Wenders’ melancholic Paris, Texas. What, then, if Faena Hotel Miami Beach were to generate a cinematic dream of its own? We venture that it would be an opulent melodrama of a love story, played out between a revered old artist and his glamorous protégé; inherently adult and yet somewhat dreamlike from opening scene to closing credits.

The connection between film and the Faena Hotel isn’t a purely fantastical one, of course; from its inception to its opening in December last year, Len Blavatnik and Alan Faena, the creative collaborators behind it, sought to create a central hub for the creative communities drawn moth-like to Art Basel Miami Beach (which has been based in the surrounding area since 2001). As such, the hotel is the ultimate manifestation of the meeting point between art and luxury. There’s the attention to detail, of course, which spans red velvet soft furnishings and the cool, hardwood floors. But there’s also the artwork itself; Jeff Koons and Alberto Garutti are among the many artists to have created pieces for its open spaces, transforming traditional dining areas, receptions and passageways into exhibition halls more reminiscent of a museum of modern art. It’s not every day that one can take a stroll outside and find themselves confronted with the life-size skeletal structure of a mammoth rendered in gleaming yellow gold from within a giant glass box – but then again, not every hotel can boast of having Gone But Not Forgotten, by none other than Damien Hirst, in its grounds.

The design concept, too, is innately luxurious, and somewhat retro in its appeal; it was created in the image of the historic Saxony Hotel, which was originally built in 1947 by George Sax and designed by Roy F. France. “Once known as the ‘Queen of Collins Avenue,’ the hotel reigned in the 50s and 60s as the lodestar of glamour,” a source at the hotel explains, “where Hollywood icons Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin performed and dazzled the crowds.” Inside, this sense of classic cinematic reverie continues: the visual language behind all 169 of the hotel’s rooms and 13 penthouse residencies was dreamt up by none other than filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and costume designer Catherine Martin, and is underpinned by the Art Deco glamour of the 1950s. Outside, Miami’s joyfully retro agricultural codes dictate the cinematic allure of the palm tree-lined pools.

What, then, to do if you’re in town for Art Basel and looking for an excuse to extend your trip? We’d recommend booking yourself into a penthouse suite stat, complete with a trip to the spa to sample the elixir of youth. And if an impromptu holiday isn’t an option? Then, buy a ticket to the movies and commence the search for its silver screen equivalent – we're sure it's out there somewhere.