Moon Over Miami

| Monday, 31 Mar. 2014
The new Metropolitan by COMO hotel is a pre-cruise oasis  in party-plenty South Beach 
 
 

 It’s a calm pool scene at Metropolitan by COMO, Miami

 
Ships sail in and out of South Florida like waves to the beach.  Miami and nearby Ft. Lauderdale are behemoth cruise hubs for year-round voyages to the Caribbean, Panama Canal and beyond.  Many cruisers prefer staying in Miami’s glamorous South Beach – where restaurants, nightlife and ravishingly remodeled Art Deco hotels rule.  However, most hotels in the historic district are giant party scenes.  That's why the new Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach delivers such a knockout punch.  It’s at the heart of South Beach's pulsating action, yet is decidedly anti-South Beach, a haven for those seeking serene elegance amidst the frenzy.
 
Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach is the first U.S. venture by COMO Hotels and Resorts.  Its founder, Singapore-based Christian Ong, is a fashion icon, and dots the globe with stylish hotels (mostly in tropical paradises) in such disparate locales as Bali, Bhutan and Bangkok.  Parrot Cay by COMO, a private island resort in Turks and Caicos, may be COMO’s most known; Bruce Willis and Donna Karan are among famous faces with homes there.  
 
No matter the locale or size, all COMO hotels share a common philosophy of an uncluttered, holistic, yoga-influenced lifestyle to revitalize body and soul.  The new Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach may be urban and small (just 74 rooms), but the COMO core philosophy rules.
 
The hotel, a historic Art Deco building completely rebuilt, reflects a strong sense of place.  It takes its aesthetic cues from the 1920s and 1930s, with a mix of vintage hues and geometric shapes married with contemporary Italian design and modern technology.  The result?  Much like other COMO properties, a hotel unlike any other - even its siblings.  And that, I’m sure, is the point.
 
The locale is golden, situated between two residential properties, providing a soothing setting of local joggers rather than that of margarita-swilling tourists and DJs’ blasting music from hotel pools so common to other South Beach resorts.   
 
A small lobby leads to The Traymore, the airy hotel restaurant, and the adjacent Traymore Bar with indoor and outdoor seating.  Colors in public areas and guest rooms are muted to a pleasing palate of beachy white, soft grey and pale pistachio, with marble accents.
 
Be My Guest

 A guest room peek

 
Choose from several categories of guest rooms and suites.  Entry-level City Rooms are between 330-to-392-square-feet and feature king beds with accoutrements like rainfall shower, complimentary bottled water, coffee and tea maker (Nespresso) and turndown service.  Bath toiletries are by COMO Shambhala, COMO’s much-admired international spa.  Jetsetters in-the-know are hooked on COMO Shambhala products’ purity and captivating scent.  
 
Many Metropolitan and Metropolitan Ocean View Rooms have balconies.  Suites have separate sitting rooms and can run 790-square-feet.   COMO Suite is a penthouse that can expand into a private wing. 
 
Fishing for Compliments
  
The Traymore restaurant showcases stunningly fresh seafood in a modern-meets-Art-Deco ambiance
 
The Traymore has been one of Miami Beach’s most hotly anticipated restaurants, and now in soft opening, is greeted by local (often the toughest) praise.  As befitting a beachside restaurant, it showcases seafood, with modern American and Mediterranean influences.  The casual design belies the cuisine’s complexity.
 
Executive Chef Jonathan Lane, whose illustrious background includes Four Seasons hotels, is one smart (pardon the pun) catch.  It’s difficult to cook modern food that tastes pure and simple, yet Lane does it well.  This chef favors intense flavors prepared with minimal fat, in keeping with COMO’s health-driven philosophy. For instance, the fresh lobster is so inherently sweet it needs but light dressing and the citrusy spark of blood orange to make a sensational salad.
 
I last tasted grilled octopus salad this tender in the Greek Islands.  And the gentle poaching of halibut in olive oil keeps the fish moist and its flaky texture intact.  Sunchokes (Jerusalem artichoke), lemon, fava beans and olives add Mediterranean vibrancy to the delicately cooked fish.   
 
Breakfast receives the same passionate attention as the evening meal.  French pastry chef Emanuel Alves should soon expect national attention for his sophisticated dinner desserts, but also, for morning pastries.  He bakes Parisian-perfect flaky croissants served with house-made chunky preserves – European-style, more about fruit than sugar.
 
The banana bread alone might put Alves on the culinary map.  Think bananas and sweet butter bound together with barely any flour, unspeakably moist and light.  Ricotta hotcakes with Key lime butter and lime syrup, and baked eggs with Cuban sausage, are among savory highlights.  For each meal, a COMO Shambhala alternative spa menu is also offered, including sunflower seed bread toasted with heirloom tomatoes, avocado and parsley to kick-start the day.
 
The Traymore Bar takes it distinction from more than 30 different artisanal gins.  And, to no one’s surprise, also pours great bubbly by the glass – best enjoyed on the rear patio with the gentle sound of waves and soft music as background.
 
Up on the Roof
Any COMO hotel takes its spa seriously, and in Miami, flaunts a chic city style.  Called COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, the spa offers therapies for body and face.  (Indian head massage, anyone?)  On the terrace, guests sip fresh-squeezed juices at the Juice Bar and soak up the sun and view.  Yoga classes are held here, too.  Guests can take a steam or soak in a hydrotherapy pool on the rooftop, with Atlantic Ocean views.  The spa sells Shambhala bath and beauty products and prices are surprisingly affordable.    
 
Making a Splash
The posh pool features cabanas, lounge chairs, bar and tables, all of striking design.  With the grassy lawn and manicured palm tree setting, the ambiance is more European private club than Florida hotel.  Even the outdoor made-in-Italy showers display elegant simplicity.  Dine until 7 p.m. on crudo (marinated raw fish, Italian-style) crisp crusted pizzas from the brick oven, thick burgers or Floridian and Mediterranean-inspired salads.   
 
Beachy Keen 
Only the highest echelon South Beach hotels provide beach service.  Guests recline in shade-providing cabanas and on lounge chairs, inches from the turquoise waters, on soft white sand.  COMO is so detail-obsessed the company surely picked this property in part for this beach.  It’s tropical-perfect, more St. Barts than Miami.  Consider this COMO the perfect pre-cruise launch pad.  (http://www.comohotels.com/metropolitanmiamibeach)  
 
 

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