Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Some may say it's "so over," but the party's still very much on at the Delano. Recession be damned, good times can still be had ... for a price.
There might be recessions and wars and pandemics, but not at the Delano. Despite pricey standard rooms (and small ones, at that) and buzz that the place isn't the hot spot it was a decade ago, it's still, miraculously, full. Around the pool, times are good. Well-off, but not over-the-top fabulous, late-20- and 30-somethings order drink after drink. They pour champagne into glasses, sloshing a bit into the pool -- no worries. Buff girls in bikinis nibble on heaping plates of french fries. The Delano, it seems, is immune from consequences -- caloric, financial, or otherwise.
But it's not as crazy as you might expect from a hotel dreamed up by the original onwer, Ian Schrager, the man who brought Studio 54 to the world. There are live DJs, $17 mojitos, and tight security, but it's not all coked-up models and sugar daddies. In fact, it's mostly just well-off 30-somethings who paid good money for a room with some bragging rights.
By night, things get far less exclusive. The beautiful lobby, designed by Philipe Starck and decorated with billowing white curtains, chairs, and objects by the likes of Charles and Ray Eames and Salvador Dali, becomes a mob scene. Anyone and everyone wants to get their picture taken in the hotel's famous oversized chair, and they do.
George Clooney reportedly stayed at the hotel while filming Up in the Air, and Justin Timberlake is also said to have laid his fair head down at the Delano. Players on the Miami Heat have been known to grab a drink at the Rose Bar.
In the center of it all
Located on posh, upper Collins Avenue, the Delano is a South Beach navigational icon. Originally built in 1947, the bright white Art Deco building with its crownlike cap is hard to miss. The hotel sits in the center of Miami's Art Deco Historic District, which covers one-square-mile and offers walking tours. Beyond is aesthetics, Delano is packed in every direction with dozens of bars, restaurants, and attractions, all within easy walking distance.
To its north are some of the most popular, high-end hangouts at the W South Beach or Fontainebleau hotels, as well as some of Miami's most exclusive clubs, like Mokai. To the south, things get less exclusive and more populist along the famed Ocean Drive, with its busy boardwalk, outdoor bars and cafes, and more affordable boutique hotels.
The hotel sits right on the beach, which is easily accessed by walking out of the pool area and underneath an elegant arch that reads SEA. The beach is part of a huge, busy stretch of public Miami Beach, but the Delano does its best to make its sand feel exclusive.
As at the pool, attendants don't just lay a towel on a lounge chair -- they make it like a bed, with a fitted terry cloth sheet that wraps around the cushion. Surrounded by a string of other hotels and independent beach service stands that cater to guests staying at cheaper hotels, the Delano stakes its claim in white.
Since it's a bit of a free-for-all on the larger beach, guests go up to the service cabana for a lounge chair. Food and drinks service is available, though it's not particularly elegant -- food comes in disposable plastic containers.
Renovated in 2006 and 2007, the still all-white rooms have just three dramatic touches of color: the green-stone-topped desk; a large, real, potted plant; and a single green apple resting on a metal plinth engraved with the words "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." The abundance of stark white is stunning and sexy but not exactly homey. It feels more trendy than truly luxurious. Take, for example, the huge, faux tarnished mirror opposite the bed.
Classical music plays underwater, and an ornate silver table and chairs sit right in the pool for whoever snags them first. In front of the pool, there's a beautiful orchard of manicured ficus trees. A giant chessboard and huge mirror within the orchard, like the giant chair in the lobby, try to create an Alice in Wonderland feel. Of course, after over a dozen years, many of the highly publicized Delano design elements seem to simply reference themselves rather than Lewis Carroll novels.
Live DJs, tasty but pricey food and drinks, cabanas with flat-screen televisions, and whimsical, hedge-lined bungalows make the pool sceney but still relaxing -- at least by day, when only hotel guests are allowed in. When the sun goes down, it changes from pool to lively bar scene as pretty young and older things from all over crowd around the water's edge.
This is not a family hotel. But the crowd has grown up a bit over the last decade, and the Delano offers welcome goodies and a beach play area for kids.
Children receive free welcome treats, like a "D is for Delano" bucket and shovel, at check-in. The beach has a large kids' play area with lots more colorful shovels and pails, umbrellas, and a small boat hull. Of course, one could also imagine rambunctious, drunken big kids playing in the area.
Given that the party goes on pretty late into the night, families intent on staying at the Delano should request a quieter room on a higher floor. Both restuarants and room service have children's menus.
Ambience is the priority, not the food. The hotel's two restaurants serve solidly good but not great cuisine, all at premium prices.
The Delano's 195 all-white rooms don't come cheap, but you're paying for surreal, Philippe Starck style and all-night parties at the "water salon." To some, its hip factor has been bested by the Gansevoort or Shore Club, but their style doesn't compare, and good times are still to be had.