You all have the song Miami stuck in your head now, right? Good, because that’s how I felt for weeks after Visit Florida and iHeartRadio invited me to Miami to be a part of the Ultimate Summer Pool Party. I literally could not have jumped up out of my seat fast enough to accept that invitation. First of all, I am a lover of both pools and parties, as any reader of this blog is well aware. Second of all, I have a deep and not-at-all shameful love of Ke$ha, one of the show’s headliners. And finally, Miami is a city that I’ve had a long running obsession with. Despite having never been prior to this trip, I always had a feeling this was a city with the potential to be my home
if I ever when I finally settle down.
I love myself a big metropolis — something about all that urban energy really gets me going. But I’ve also accepted that I’m happiest when I live my life outdoors and in the sun, and preferably next to a big beautiful ocean. I want to live somewhere where I can attend a cutting edge gallery opening on Friday night and then go SUPing on Saturday morning. There are a few places on Earth that I can think of that fill both criteria, and I hope I’ll call one of them home someday — Barcelona, Honolulu, Rio de Janiero…. and Miami.
When the day finally arrived and my cab raced towards downtown Miami, I realized I loved the city already. From the airport to downtown in twelve minutes? Palm trees swaying in the hot, sticky air? Cuban reggae on the radio? Yes, yes, and sí, mami!
While I was officially in town for the weekend’s events, I flew down on Wednesday to spend time with my cousin Eric first. Eric’s modeling career has kept him on the move (way to siphon away all the good genes in the family, jeez!) and so we hadn’t seen each other in a couple years. Now that he is finally settled in Miami, along with my family in Tampa I’m thrilled to have two excuses to visit relatives in the Sunshine State.
Eric’s digs at the Icon building downtown had me practically dragging my jaw across the floor. When he told me what he paid for it, it drooped even further. Florida real estate is shockingly affordable compared to its counterparts in New York and California. Let’s just say that I could live in a windowless closet in Manhattan for what it costs to reside in a building like this in downtown Miami!
While we spent most of our time lounging around Icon and working out at Eric’s gym — he’s also a personal trainer — we did get out to explore a little bit of Miami Beach. Despite the cloudy weather I was able to enjoy many of the what would soon be my favorite Miami activities — and by that I mean gratuitous exclamations over Art Deco architecture, standing with my toes in the sand with a skyline behind me and an ocean in front of me, and sipping down multiple rounds of mojitos.
Yes, I could get used to this.
Thursday night we hopped down to South Beach — cue several rounds of me trying on different outfits and forcing Eric to answer the question dreaded by males everywhere, “IS THIS WHAT PEOPLE WEAR IN [INSERT LOCATION HERE]?!” Things kicked off with drinks at The Broken Shaker, the buzzed-about bar in the garden of the Freehand Hostel. While the prices didn’t strike me as hostel-like ($14 for a cocktail!) the atmosphere was incredibly enticing. The pool was lined with strings of bulb lights, kitschy plastic flamingos, retro furniture, and painfully good looking people.
I could have stayed there all night if we weren’t late to meet my dear friend Andi over at SLS for her husband’s over-the-top birthday celebrations. This was the moment in the night where I realized that The Broken Shaker perhaps had been a decent deal. Good thing everyone in Miami has such affordable rent, because I’m not sure how else they afford $23 vodka red bulls!
Friday morning I woke up to blue skies and a shining sun — just in time for the weekend! Andi and her crew were spending the day poolside at a cabana at the Loews Miami, and I was all too happy to take her up on her offer to join them.
By mid afternoon it was time for my official weekend itinerary to start, so I hopped in a cab up to Fountainbleau (New Yorkers, take note — cabs in Miami are cash only!) So far I had had the chance to peek into a few of Miami’s finest hotels, and let me tell you — Fountainbleau stands high among them. While this iconic hotel has been a part of the Miami skyline for more than fifty years, it has enough modern touches to wow even the most jaded traveler. My favorite details were the bow-tie tiles in the lobby and the complimentary iMacs and internet in each room. Hotels of America, please take note — free internet means copious Tweets and Instagrams declaring love for your establishment!
The best part of the day was being joined by my guest for the weekend, my childhood best friend Kristin. This girl is absolutely terrified to fly and so when I presented her with a weekend in Miami as a graduation gift from her Master’s of Public Health program, I wasn’t sure if she wanted to thank me or stab me. Thanks to a flirty flight attendant feeding her vodka tonics while slipping her his number (can you blame him?), she made it to Miami sans mental breakdown.
And that was well worthy of a
champagne nutella gelato toast poolside, don’t you think?
Soon it was time to assemble for the kickoff party to the weekend events, a cocktail party at the Eden Roc with our hosts. Nighttime looks good on Miami, don’t you think?
I had been pretty excited about this weekend right from the get-go, but when I found out that long time blog buddies Kristin and Angie (who I hung with in Kauai back in October) were going to be there, things got a little out of hand. Like, a spontaneous dance party in my kitchen followed by intercontinental “SHUT UP” style text exchanges out of hand.
Here they are looking adorable in the limo bus that brought us to the Delano for dinner. Wouldn’t you want to hang out with these cuties all weekend?
Dinner at Bianca at the Delano was fantastic. There was Miami glamor in the air and delicious food on the table — I was a happy girl indeed. I continued my gelato tour of the city with a dessert of the Amaretto flavor variety, which I’d gladly make a return trip to Bianca just to taste again.
Back at the Fountainbleau, we checked out iHeartRadio’s Welcome Party. Our VIP passes gave us access to a special area with a great view over the concert lawn, but to be honest we turned in fairly early. It was a big day, with an even bigger one looming!
Saturday kicked off with a blogger forum — I don’t know about you, but when I’m preparing my notes for a “forum” I picture a conference room and three ring binders. Well, our friends at Visit Florida have a different visions of a forum, and it involves yachts. I’m thinking their versions wins.
It was a great morning out on the water and I really enjoyed our talk about travel and media and reaching out to millennials and the many other topics that I am passionate about but mostly end up discussing with my dog Tucker.
Back on land, we headed straight to the pool for the second annual Ultimate Daytime Pool Party. I kind of felt like I was in the middle of an MTV Spring Break party — the kind I wasn’t allowed to watch when I was younger — and I loved it. Music reverberated from the speakers, drinks flowed freely, big white beach balls soared through the air, and hot people in bikinis splashed each other in the pool.
It was the Miami I always dreamed of.
Visit Florida had a sweet cabana set up by the stage where we snarfed down Dippin’ Dots, spied on celebrity presenters and took turns cooling off in the giant ice chair. And no, Kristin and I did not plan to match bikinis. But after more than a decade of friendship, I guess we have a little ESP going on.
As I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to concepts like “germs” and “hygiene,” I had absolutely no qualms about jumping into a pool filled with sweaty, boozing people. And neither, it seems, did Jason Derulo, who jumped right into the water to finish off his last set from the shallow end. For fantastic stage presence (or should I say pool presence), most impressive backup dancers and a great all around set, Jason was my favorite performer of the day — though Icona Pop and Krewella did give him a run for the title.
I managed to record a short clip of the action thanks to my waterproof iPhone case, which was worth it just to see the reaction of fellow blogger Adam and his guest Denise when I whipped out my smartphone in the pool.
I was actually relieved that the pools closed at 4pm, forcing us to go inside and rest before the big concert that night. The group reconvened again for a lovely dinner at Gotham Steakhouse, right inside the Fountainbleau. Good thing I was wearing a corset and therefore had to regulate what I was eating somewhat — otherwise I may have rolled right out of that steakhouse.
Post dinner, we headed to the Meet and Greet room to line up and have our photos taken with various artists. I was assigned to meet with Icona Pop, and they could not have been more warm and lovely. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be photographed with Ke$ha though, so I snuck my way into that line as well — I think Ke$h would approve, no? That photo op was a bit more rushed and let’s just say that one of the handlers made a green “only green M&M’s!” joke — amazing what a difference a few years of notoriety can make!
The concert, held out on the main lawn of the Fountainbleau, was a parade of celebrities from presenters Miley Cyrus, LL Cool J and Enrique Iglesias to performers Afrojack, Pitbull and miss Ke$ha herself. We alternated between cooling off and sipping drinks in the VIP section, elbowing our way stage-side through the sea of fans, and playing in the iHeartRadio photo booth.
While I was admittedly shocked by some of Ke$ha’s onstage vulgarity, I can’t argue with the fact that this chick is a fantastic performer and in my opinion a very shrewd businesswoman (I’m still waiting for her announcement that her career has been a well-crafted piece of performance art.) The crowd favorite, however, was undoubtedly the “Mayor of Miami,” Pitbull himself. I never realized how many of the songs I love to sing along to on the radio are his and I cheered louder than anyone when he called out to the crowd, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what happens in Miami… never happened!”
We ended up bouncing out before Pitbull’s set was over, my one sad moment of the weekend. It was a fair trade off though, as we were walked through the velvet ropes into LIV, one of Miami’s hottest nightclubs — with the long lines, high prices and short skirts to prove it. We stayed out a perhaps a little too late and threw back perhaps a few too many cocktails, but how else could a night that included a Ke$ha concert possibly end?
Sunday found us recovering by the sea before heading back to our respective flights. As I dunked headfirst into the salty wave — my personal favorite hangover cure — I couldn’t help but think how Miami really has it all. A turquoise ocean, a trendy downtown, a kickin’ nightlife and unique brands of style and culture and history to boot. I know I’ll be back to Miami — and I can’t help but flirt with the idea that someday, it might be for good.
I only came for two days of playing
But every time I come I always wind up staying
This the type of town I could spend a few days in…*
* Yes, indeed. I did quote Will Smith twice in one post. Next question.
Many thanks to iHeartRadio and VISITFLORIDA for their amazing hospitality. Kristin and I were official guests of the event and as always, all thoughts and opinions (and gratuitous Will Smith references) are my own.