The wrought iron gates of the Versace Mansion—lined with the designer’s signature Greek key pattern and the ever present medusa logo in gold bas relief—has been a fixture of fascination for passersby on Ocean Drive since the designer’s untimely murder on its steps in 1997 at the age of 50.
Curiosity about the lavish world that exists beyond those gilded gates is what lends the home its mystique. With a stern and ever present security guard and velvet rope at the entrance, it's not open to the public for visitation or tours. While the property has changed hands a few times since Gianni Versace’s death, its most recent acquisition was by the Nakash family of Jordache Enterprises for $41.5 million dollars in October 2013. The family also purchased the Hotel Victor next door.
It remained dormant during the acquisition, but the Villa by Barton G. (1116 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-576-803, email@example.com) has been reinstated as of this February with a new restaurant concept Il Sole, a 10-room boutique hotel and a private event space.
Amongst the first guests to the newly opened hotel? The Kardashian clan (sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe) made a splash when they checked in last Thursday to open their Dash store on Collins Ave.
The digs beyond the gate certainly are lavish. Perhaps the most impressive sight is the Mosaic Garden courtyard with an enormous pebbled medusa inlaid in the deck leading to the 54’ Thousand Mosaic swimming pool lined in 24 karat gold and designed by Versace, himself.
And it only gets more over the top from there. With custom bedrooms originally designed for Versace’s friends and frequent guests, including Madonna, Elton John, Princess Diana and his sister Donatella, the original artwork and flourishes are a feast for the eyes. Palm fronds are painted on ceilings as the centerpiece to twinkling chandeliers. Elaborate gilded wooden headboards adorn double-king sized beds and tapestries are layered on top of marble floors in an array of detailed Baroque patterns.
The effect is excessively luxurious, bordering on gaudy (Donatella’s room is covered in animal print on every surface imaginable) and sometimes has the musty smell of a museum. But you’re never at a loss for a new discovery, as general manager Roaseann Grippo points out, showing us a tiny medusa head she only recently discovered adorning a storm drain while rearranging patio furniture.
Access to the sumptuous world created by Versace can be gained one of three ways. You can reserve a room with rates starting at $795 per night. The designer’s former 1,174 square-foot Villa Suite bedroom is even available for a truly intimate peek into the man. Perhaps more cost effectively, dinner guests at Il Sole can enjoy an evening lingering in the courtyard by the pool while feasting on Chef Scott Linquist and Executive Pastry Chef Luis Vasquez's creations served on Versace-designed Rosenthal china. And the mansion is available for buyouts, often catering to corporate events and weddings.