We love Miami Beach. There is just something about the colors, the sunlight, the beach, the people, the architecture, the Latin pulse – the whole thing. Mark says there’s no place on earth where he’s just happier. So after all that road trip from Duluth and all the visiting friends we settled in to a full week in Miami Beach.
And after a week there it’s possible I love it even more than I did when we arrived. We stayed at the Shore Club, once perhaps the hottest spot in South Beach. It’s where we spent our brief honeymoon in 2004 (while Mark was deep into the Kerry campaign) and we’ve been back several times since then. We weren’t inclined to stay there this time – the scene can be just too young for us – but it was priced much lower than other hotels. So we booked our week there.
And then we learned why it was priced so much lower than other places. Over the years, the hotel has kind of gone to hell. It had the feeling of a hotel that the managers had quit taking care of because they figured they would sell it. Actually, that’s exactly what happened: there was a plan a year or so ago to do a serious renovation and connect it to high-end condos. That plan fell through due to a lack of financing, though, and for now then it’s still open as a hotel. A hotel that no longer has the sizzle it once did. And a hotel that now charges a mandatory “resort fee” for stuff that used to be included in the price of the room. Resort fees are just a way to hide the true cost of a hotel. They suck.After we got over the modest disappointment, though, we settled in pretty nicely. The pool is still nice, the beach is fabulous. It still has a great feel in the lobby and great views from our room. (They kindly moved us to a higher floor when we asked.)
What do you do in Miami Beach for a week? Normally you go for nice runs and walks, alternate between pool and beach, and explore the restaurant scene. We had an additional mission though: explore real estate. We’re starting to be pretty serious about finding a home again, someplace we would live maybe half the year while still exploring the world the other half, and Miami Beach is one of the finalists along with New York City and Paris.
We kind of randomly reached out to an agent who was listing one property that intrigued us and she set up two days of pretty intense house hunting. It turns out that she actually knew little about the South Beach market (OK, she didn’t know anything about it) but she still did a good job of setting up tours of maybe a dozen condos. It was all pretty exciting and there were moments when I could see myself making an offer then and there. We’re actually not ready to do that yet and of course it would be insanely stupid to be quite that spontaneous. The fantasy was attractive though.
In the end living in Miami Beach is probably not likely. The climate is wonderful and there is a lot we love, but ultimately I think we would get bored living here. Late in the week we reached out to an old college friend of Mark’s who is a real estate agent here (Mark was initially reluctant to do so as doing business with friends can be a mistake) and he had great insights for us, suggesting that our ideal situation of finding a run down unit and designing our own space was definitely possible. Still, after a burst of excitement about living here, now we’re both skeptical. After stops in Key West and Boston we’re planning on spending two weeks in New York and we suspect we’re going to find that a lot more appealing than Miami Beach, more interesting.
And then our week was over. It’s a place we’ll always return to but for now it’s off to Key West.