With the completion of a five-month, eight million-dollar renovation led by the design firm Yabu Pushelberg, the 91-room Hotel Victor South Beach (1144 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-779-8787) reopened this month under independent management. The storied Art Deco boutique hotel on Ocean Drive built in 1937 and designed by architect L. Murray Dixon has been in flux over the last few years with changes in both ownership and management.
The property reemerged on the market in 2005 operated by Hyatt Resorts, after being restored by French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. Some of its most novel features were tanks of live jellyfish and kitschy jellyfish lighting fixtures in the dimly lit purple and black lobby.
In 2010, the Nakash family of Jordache Enterprises, whose Miami assets also include Hotel Breakwater, Hotel Ocean, Casa Victoria Orchid, and 10 units at The Setai, purchased the property. They later struck a deal with Thompson Hotels to manage the hotel and transform it into Thompson Ocean Drive.
Fast forward to September 2013, Thompson is out of the picture, and the Versace Mansion next door is in. Recently acquired by the Nakash family for $41.5 million, it will become part of the Hotel Victor’s inventory when the sale is complete on October 10, 2013.
After structural changes within Thompson Hotels—resulting from its merger with Joie de Vivre to create Commune Hotels + Resorts—and delays in onsite renovations, Nakash and Thompson went their separate ways.
What remains is a modern reinterpretation on an Art Deco classic with the goal to lead a luxury lifestyle revival on Ocean Drive.
“We’re holding onto the historical value, and also getting the word out that there’s something new here,” says Wadeh Constance, acting General Manager and 13-year hospitality veteran. “The jellyfish are gone. The dim lighting’s gone. We have new custom furniture by Yabu Pushelberg. You can go across the street to the beach, come back, and relax in a lobby that feels intimate and not overcrowded.”
While the hotel is open for business with luxuriously appointed guest rooms, and a redesigned lobby and poolscape, it's still very much a work in progress. Renovations to the penthouse and some suites are still underway, as well as the construction of a new central entranceway.
The 10,000 square-foot V Spa will reopen on October 15, as a new brand in partnership with NFC Amenity Management, while celeb publicist Jonathan Cheban’s Sushi Mikasa is slated to open onsite during the first quarter of 2014. The removal of Thompson Hotel branding is still underway.
The lobby retains its historic Art Deco charm with the original terrazzo flooring, decorative logo paneled walls, and a mural by Earl LaPan depicting an Everglades idyll that was the fashion in South Beach hotel lobbies in the 1930s. Ice block detailing is found in the lobby bar, as well as along the rim of the ornate baroque pool, whose elevated deck overlooking Ocean Drive, Lummus Park, and the Atlantic Ocean received an upgrade, including 10 new cabanas.
The original marble is found in guest bathrooms, offset by the addition of luxurious, oversize soaking tubs, spacious showers, and modern fixtures. The redesigned rooms utilize comfy, organic materials and colors in a sleek minimalist aesthetic.
The lobby's new beach house look is created with light, natural colors and comfortable seating areas that include cushy couches and low-slung leather beach chairs. There’s also a business center, which feels more like a computer lab, plunked down in the middle of the lobby with four WiFi-enabled computers and free printing, in addition to the free WiFi available in all guest rooms.
Beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas, as well as the use of custom beach cruisers designed by Republic Bikes (alas, still emblazoned with the Thompson Hotels logo) are all available to guests complimentary, and covered by the addition of a resort fee.
The new Hotel Victor is certainly dipping its toes into the lap of lifestyle luxury with its upgrades and works in progress. A November grand opening is slated, and in the meantime, the hotel is operational with rates starting at $249 for a King Deluxe room this weekend, according to its website.
With the long view in mind, Constance hopes to cater to the “non-price point shopper” who’s after the boutique luxury experience, and he envisions the Hotel Victor South Beach as the flagship of its own upscale brand of hotels in the future.